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Wall Street Class of 2020 Scores Record Pass Rates

Against the backdrop of a global pandemic, Knopman Marks’ summer training candidates pulled out all the stops to achieve an extraordinary 99% record pass rate across the major exams, the highest in the company’s history.

“We’re really proud of our students, who stayed focused and disciplined during a challenging summer,” says Brian Marks, president of Knopman Marks. “We’re committed to delivering the best training program for our students, always.”

That commitment was challenged when COVID-19 brought uncertainty, confusion, not to mention some anxiety, to summer training programs. Traditional in-person classroom training halted amid shelter-in-place protocols while exams moved from testing centers exclusively to include remote testing.

In response, Knopman Marks pivoted to a brand-new training model, The Blend, to accommodate students remotely. The Blend, a flipped classroom approach, invites students to watch recorded lectures on their own and then participate in live-streamed, interactive, faculty-led reviews and check-ins several times a day.

“The Blend showcases our ability to adapt quickly to a changing landscape while continuing to deliver pass rates that are consistently above the industry average,” says Marks. “But we didn’t expect to achieve our highest pass rates to date.”

Wall Street’s Class of 2020, By the Numbers

Knopman Marks trained more than 4,000 new analysts and associates, who took approximately 12,000 FINRA exams this summer. The students came from 50 firms and 333 different programs. To become registered, securities professionals must pass qualifying exams, administered by FINRA, to demonstrate competence in the securities activities that they will perform.

How Did Pass Rates Compare with Last Year’s? 

This summer’s 99% overall pass rate is 3.5 percentage points higher than the 95.5% overall pass rate in 2019. Pass rates edged up on the major exams compared with last year. The success of this summer’s training can be attributed, in part, to the launch of the blended training model, Marks says. “With The Blend, we were able to identify students who needed intervention before it was too late,” he adds.

SIE, Series 7, Series 79 Pass Rates Rise Year Over Year 

FINRA ExamWall Street Class of 2019 Pass RateWall Street
Class of 2020
Pass Rate
Securities Industry Essentials (SIE)99%99.9%
Series 79 Top-Off Exam97%99.0%
Series 7 Top-Off Exam96%98.7%

Decrease in Number of Students Who Fail SIE,   Series 7, and Series 79 Exams

The data reflect the success of the faculty in catching students at risk of failing their exams: The number of failures on these major exams declined by 74% compared with last year. By reducing the failure rate, an estimated 15,000 study hours were saved. This represents the time that candidates were able to spend “on the desk” at work, rather than studying to take an exam a second time.

Feedback from Students

Students surveyed about their blended learning training experience with Knopman Marks had high praise:

  • 91% prefer the blended model to an all-day live-streaming virtual class
  • 94% felt they were able to study in a more targeted manner
  • 99% reported faculty as accessible to answer questions either “usually” or “always”

To hear Knopman Marks faculty discuss summer pass rates and do a deep dive into the firm’s pivot to The Blend and the outcomes, watch our webinar.

“Our biggest differentiators continue to be our expertise, our high-touch approach, and going above and beyond for our students,” Marks says. “The Blend gives our students one more advantage.”

Suzanne Riss is an author and Director of Communications at Knopman Marks Financial Training. Previously the award-winning Editor-in-Chief of Working Mother magazine, she is a fierce advocate for issues facing working moms and an authority on work/life trends. Her expertise has been tapped in interviews by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Good Morning America, the Today Show, and CNN. Suzanne's third book, Work Disrupted, published by Wiley, was released in January 2021.