sie exam tips

FINRA Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) Exam Tips

August 11, 2021 |

The Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam covers a wide array of financial topics. Although this exam covers in-depth knowledge of the financial services industry, it is not impossible to pass. The following study guide lays out the basic securities industry information you need to know for the SIE exam.

Changes in Securities Industries Essentials Exam (SIE) Qualifications

One of the main benefits of the SIE exam is that it replaces sections of previous financial tests. These qualification exams include:

  • Series 6
  • Series 7
  • Series 22
  • Series 57 (or 55/56)
  • Seri​​es 79
  • Series 82
  • Series 86/87
  • Series 99

Part of the reason for the Securities Industries Essentials exam is to avoid repetitive information on different tests. The SIE combines all of the essential financial information related to corporate and government entities into a single, albeit challenging, test.

Although passing the SIE does not guarantee immediate success, it does open the door to more opportunities. This is especially true since individuals do not have to be involved in a FINRA member firm to take the test.

What Topics Does the SIE Cover?

The SIE test is an introductory-level exam that covers four sections.

  1. Capital markets knowledge: This section of the exam has 12 questions pertaining to market structure, economic factors, offerings, and regulatory agencies.
  2. Products and Their Related Risks: The second section of the exam consists of 33 multiple-choice questions. For this part of the exam, you will want to know about investment risks and products.
  3. Customer accounts, trading, and prohibited activities: The third section of the exam covers actions in trading and settlement, prohibited activities, customer accounts, and compliance considerations. You can expect 23 questions in this part of the exam.
  4. Regulatory Framework Overview: The final section of the exam is seven multiple-choice questions regarding SRO Regulatory Requirements for Associated Persons, reportable events, and employee conduct.

Study Materials and Practice Tests for the SIE

SIE Exam Study Material: STC

The Securities Training Corporation, or STC, has a 95% first-time pass rate for its students. The STC prep course has been helping aspiring professionals prepare for the SIE exam for over 50 years and provides the most comprehensive SIE exam study material options.

Surgent SIE Review

Surgent SIE Review is another comprehensive course that prepares students to pass the SIE exam the first time. Surgent coursework includes four months of access, two practice exams, 2,400 multiple choice questions, and a ReadSCORE performance gauge.


Securitiesce is an online study platform that offers video classes, a physical textbook, practice exams, and much more to help you prepare for the SIE. One of the key highlights of Securitiesce is its guaranteed-to-pass policy. If you pass one of their Greenlight practice exams but don’t pass the SIE, you get your money back.

Achievable Me

Achievable Me students have an average success rate of 98.2%. This site offers a personalized course to help you prepare for and pass the SIE exam on the first try. Achievable Me is an online study resource that provides review quizzes, practice exams, and a convenient online textbook that you can access anytime.

SIE Exam Study Material: Kaplan

Kaplan offers three-course package options: premium, essential, and basic. Through Kaplan, students gain access to checkpoint exams, practice exams, test tips, a study calendar, and several other valuable tools. They recently updated their course from 4 units to 32 to give students more straightforward study sections.

SIE Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Does the SIE Exam Cost?

Taking the Securities Industry Essentials exam cost $60. Although this is already an affordable fee, many companies in the securities business will act as a sponsor for employees and pay for the exam fee.

Does Passing the SIE Exam Help Me Earn a Securities License?

Yes, although passing the SIE exam does not automatically earn you a securities license, it is required to do so. To gain a license for securities products and register with FINRA on FINRA’s website, you must also pass the specialized knowledge qualification exam for the particular job you want to apply for.

The SIE is considered a “top-off” exam for those looking to enter the financial services industry professionally. Many of these positions include investment banking representative, securities trader, private securities offerings representative, and research analyst.

What Is the Format of the SIE Exam?

The SIE exam is taken on a computer at a designated Prometric test center. Students can study and take the practice tests at home, but the actual exam must be officially proctored.

How Long Do I Have to Complete the SIE Exam?

The Securities Industry Essentials exam consists of 75 multiple choice questions plus ten additional questions not scored. You have one hour and 45 minutes to complete the test.

Does Your SIE Exam Score Expire?

Yes, your SIE exam score expires after four years. During this time, you will only need to take and pass the Series 7 exam to register as a general securities representative.

How Long Should I Study for the SIE Exam?

Every student has different study habits, so there is no single correct answer to this question. For example, some participants pass the exam after studying for 20 hours, while others require over 100 hours. Generally, students with a financial background are encouraged to study at least 50 hours; those without financial experience should increase their study time.

What Is the Pass Rate for the SIE Exam?

Although the Securities Industry Essentials exam is known to be difficult, over three-quarters of test-takers successfully pass. In 2019, 74% of students passed the exam on the first try.

What Happens if You Fail the SIE Exam?

If you don’t pass the SIE exam on the first try, you can retake it. However, after taking your initial exam, you will have to wait 30 days before scheduling to retake it at the testing center. If you fail a second time, the same waiting period applies.

If you fail the SIE exam more than twice, the waiting period increases by 180 days for each test that does not receive a passing score.