Passing the Series 6 Exam requires diligent preparation and concept mastery. Though there’s no easy way to breeze through the prep process, it helps to know what to expect. The tips below will help you study smart and earn that extra boost of confidence that is so important to your success.

How to Pass the Series 6 Exam 

1. Remember what you learned for the SIE.

Even though the Series 6 Exam is a “top off” exam that goes beyond the foundational concepts of the SIE Exam, you will need to remember some of the fundamentals that you studied for the SIE. A review of SIE general securities rules and markets is a good idea, especially if you took the SIE Exam some time ago. To avoid “SIE leakage,” we encourage you to take the Series 6 soon after taking the SIE.

2. Tax consequences are a focus.

The Series 6 is concentrated on mutual funds and variable annuities, how they function, and why they are suitable for customers. Without a doubt, you need to know their unique product features, charges, and applicable regulations. You’ll also need to know about tax matters, even though you can’t give tax advice as a registered representative.  Expect tax questions that involve growth within investment company products, all types of distributions, liquidations, gifting, and inheritances. These questions can be some of the more complicated questions on the exam, especially if you have little experience in tax matters.

3. Series 6 is not a math test.

Don’t be surprised if you don’t use your calculator at all while taking the Series 6 Exam. Proving you know how to perform a mathematical calculation isn’t as important as being able to identify the formula that is used to solve for a particular outcome. For example, you might not need to calculate the POP of a mutual fund when given the NAV and the percentage of the sales charge, but you might need to identify the formula to do so: POP = NAV/100 – SC%.

4. Series 6 focuses on customer situations, not just facts.

As an introduction to the securities industry, the SIE Exam covers a broad range of concepts at an introductory level. Questions on the SIE are typically definitional and factual rather than situational. Fast-forward to the Series 6: This exam covers functions that representatives perform, including soliciting business, opening accounts, making suitable recommendations, processing orders, and keeping records. While the facts need to be mastered, the Series 6 questions demand a higher level of application, analysis, and understanding, not just the ability to recall facts.

5. The Series 6 Exam may be shorter, but it’s not easier.

For many test takers, a shorter exam is a welcome change. It’s tough to stare at a screen for several hours and stay focused while the questions keep on coming. With just 55 questions (including 5 that are unscored) and a completion time of 90 minutes, the Series 6 Exam is one of the shortest securities exams. But this means that you can only miss 15 questions to earn your 70% passing score. There are no throw-away questions on such a short exam—you need to be in top form for deliberating every question and every answer choice.

How to Study for the Series 6 Exam

We encourage you to follow the Knopman Marks study process to streamline your Series 6 prep. The best-practice study strategies below will help you make the most of your study time and put you on your way to passing the first time.

    • Complete practice questions early in the study process. It’s important to understand how the information is tested and working through questions is the way to learn. Don’t worry about low practice scores—get those 50s out of the way early on. The practice questions help expand your knowledge base, and your scores will climb if you use them correctly. Waiting until the last few days to start answering practice questions usually spells disaster and creates significant anxiety.
    • Take notes during on-demand lectures or class. Commit to taking notes when watching the on-demand lectures or attending class. Taking notes will boost learning and can double your memory, or increase it by as much as 70%if you go through your notes within 24 hours of taking them. How you take notes matters too: studies show that handwritten notes are even better for retention than typed ones.
    • Don’t take advice from friends who have passed. What helped your friends pass the Series 6 might not work for you. Remember, these tests are dynamically generated—the financial topics and concentration can vary between them.
    • Don’t define your weaknesses with a single practice exam. Use the exam breakdowns to find your weak areas, but recognize that you need a reliable sample size to get a good reading. A single exam won’t do. The Knopman Marks diagnostic and benchmark exams are designed for this purpose, so if you follow the study plan, you’ll know exactly where they fit in. Work through several Series 6 practice exams, compare your performance breakdowns, and fill in gaps with targeted quizzes, i.e., quizzes on topics where you score below 65%. Go back to full exams on all topics after this process to gauge your progress.
    • Keep track of concepts you repeatedly miss. One of the best ways to fix problem areas is to jot down a note to yourself after you’ve missed a question. Keep a notebook with you as you take practice questions for this purpose, and you’ll have an excellent, customized review tool. But don’t just copy down the explanations from the questions you missed. Go the extra mile to research the concept and make the note meaningful.

Learn more about how to pass the Series 6 ExamSign up for Series 6 training with Knopman Marks to set yourself up for success.

Written by Marcia Larson
Marcia Larson is Vice President, Faculty, at Knopman Marks Financial Training, New York, NY. She has extensive experience in financial licensing and regulatory training, having authored, developed and presented courseware for numerous securities and insurance exam preparation and continuing education and compliance programs. Before joining Knopman Marks, Marcia was Director of Annuity Products and Business Development at CUNA Mutual Group, where she developed and marketed industry-leading annuity products and retirement solutions and implemented distribution relationships. She was previously VP, Securities Products for Kaplan Financial, managing securities training products and subsequently, international training and businesses development. Marcia has trained thousands of financial industry exam candidates throughout their careers, and also college students as an adjunct professor. Marcia was a summa cum laude graduate of Wartburg College with degrees in Business Administration and Piano Performance. Marcia also holds the designations of Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®), Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU®), Certified Employee Benefit Specialist (CEBS), and Fellow Life Management Institute™ (FLMI®). She currently teaches the SIE, Series 6, 7, 24, 50, 52, 63, 65, and 66 exams.