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The Most Heavily Tested Topics on the Series 6 Exam

If you recently passed the SIE exam, congratulations. You have a huge head start on your Series 6 exam prep. The knowledge gained on your SIE journey will be invaluable as you gear up to pass the Series 6 exam. 

Will Passing the SIE Help You Pass the Series 6? 

Your SIE prep will serve you well. The few remaining questions on the Series 6 exam will come from areas you have already studied while preparing for your SIE exam. Yes, there will be questions about account types, general rules and regulations, retirement plans, stocks, bonds, and derivatives, but very few of each. 

While the SIE is a broad-based exam that tests your financial services knowledge in many areas, the Series 6 exam focuses on two key products, mutual funds—both open-end and closed-end—and variable insurance products, specifically variable annuities. What you are likely to find on your Series 6 is that most of the graded 50 questions (plus five ungraded experimental questions), will revolve around either mutual funds or variable annuities.  

Let’s dive into each of these products and cover what you need to know about each of them to pass your Series 6 exam. 

Key Mutual Funds Topics to Study to Pass the Series 6  

Mutuals funds have been the dominant investment vehicle in the U.S. for several decades and are, by far, the star of the Series 6 exam. If you have ever participated in a 401(k) plan at work or put money into a 529 plan for a child’s education, you have likely invested in a mutual fund.  

Practically any element of mutual funds is fair game. You might recall from your SIE exam that questions about open-end and closed-end funds are plentiful. The differences between the two will definitely be tested on the Series 6 exam. However, the Series 6 exam’s focus will always be on open-end funds given the trillions of dollars invested in them.  

Heavily tested open-end mutual fund topics include: 

  • Why mutual fund investment is so widespread 
  • Mutual fund share classes (especially Class A) 
  • Ways clients can reduce Class A sales charges (breakpoints, letters of intent, rights of accumulation) 
  • Mutual fund taxation (both from the fund’s standpoint as well as investors’) 
  • Suitability of types of funds 
  • How customers buy and redeem mutual fund shares 
  • The growing role of ETFs 
  • Mutual fund governance structure 
  • Mutual fund rules and regulations 

What You Need to Know About Annuities to Pass the Series 6

The other major product tested on the Series 6 exam is the variable annuity, arguably the most tested non-qualified supplementary retirement planning vehicle on the FINRA exams. Variable annuities are most suitable for investors in their late 40s to mid-50s, especially if they have maxed out on plans such as the 401(k) and IRA. They are unique products because they allow investors the opportunity to receive a lifetime stream of income in retirement. Much like mutual funds, every element of variable annuities represents testable material. 

Heavily tested variable annuity topics include: 

  • How they are structured 
  • The contrast with fixed annuities and equity index annuities 
  • Accumulation vs. annuity period 
  • How Assumed Interest Rate (AIR) works 
  • Annuity payout options 
  • Taxable consequences of annuity investing 
  • Annuity rules and regulations 

Any FINRA exam is a challenge, and the Series 6 is no different. If you can master mutual funds and variable annuities, you have an excellent chance of succeeding on the Series 6 exam. Learn more about the Series 6 here. Learn about our high-performance techniques that can help you approach the challenge of studying for your exam from a growth mindset.  

Dr. Ernesto (Ernie) Varela, CFP® has worked for decades as a professor, trainer, and thought leader. He has held his Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) license for more than 20 years, and has worked for several financial service companies in leadership roles. His doctorate is in Organizational Leadership, and he also holds advanced degrees in Business and Literature. Ernie has taught adults in classroom and online settings for decades.