How to Pass the MSRB Series 53 Exam

What is the Series 53 exam? Learn what a Series 53 license qualifies you to do, what the exam covers, and how you should prepare for it. Continue reading

What is the Series 53 exam?

The Series 53, also called the Municipal Securities Principal Qualification Exam, is a Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) exam. The MSRB is a self-regulatory organization that establishes rules for municipal securities dealers and municipal advisors.

Passing the Series 53 exam qualifies you to oversee the municipal fund securities activities of a securities firm or bank dealer. You’ll also be qualified to supervise associates who engage in various municipal securities activities. In this capacity, a Municipal Securities Principal manages, directs, or supervises one or more of the following activities:

    • underwriting of municipal securities
    • trading of municipal securities
    • buying or selling municipal securities from or to customers
    • rendering of financial advisory or consultant services to issuers of municipal securities
    • communications with customers about any of the above activities
    • maintaining records of the above activities
    • processing, clearing, and safekeeping of municipal securities
    • training of principals or representatives
Are there any prerequisites for the Series 53?

Yes. To take the Series 53 exam, you must have already passed the Series 52, Municipal Securities Representative Qualification Exam, and the FINRA Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) Exam. However, if you had passed the FINRA Series 7 exam before November 7, 2011, then that qualifies you to take the Series 53.

Like the Series 52, you must be employed and sponsored by a broker-dealer to take the Series 53 exam.

About the Exam

The Series 53 exam consists of 100 scored multiple-choice questions covering the six topic areas of the MSRB Series 53 Content Outline.

Series 53 exam details

Note: Scores are rounded down to the next lowest whole number (e.g. 69.9% would be a final score of 69% – not a passing score for the Series 53 exam).

Topics Covered on the Exam

The MSRB divides the questions on the Series 53 exam into six main areas:

Series 53 exam topics

The MSRB updates its exam questions regularly to reflect the most current rules and regulations. Solomon recommends that you print out the current version of the MSRB Series 53 Content Outline and use it together with the Solomon Series 53 Study Guide. The Content Outline is subject to change without notice, so make sure you have the most recent version.

Question Types on the Exam

The Series 53 exam consists of multiple-choice questions, each with four options. You will see these question structures:

Closed Stem Format:

This item type asks a question and gives four possible answers to choose from.

Which agencies enforce MSRB rules for broker-dealers?

    1. FDIC and FINRA
    2. SEC and FINRA
    3. Federal Reserve Board and MSRB
    4. SEC and MSRB
Incomplete Sentence Format:

This kind of question has an incomplete sentence followed by four possible conclusions.

Municipal securities dealers are required to maintain records of customer complaints for:

    1. Six years
    2. Three years
    3. Two years
    4. Four years
“EXCEPT” Format:

This type requires you to recognize the one choice that is an exception among the four answer choices.

A person must be registered as a Municipal Securities Representative to engage in all of the following except:

    1. Communicating with public investors in municipal securities
    2. Underwriting municipal securities
    3. Providing investment advice about municipal securities
    4. Trading municipal bond funds
Complex Multiple-Choice (“Roman Numeral”) Format:

For this question type, you see a question followed by two or more statements identified by Roman numerals. The four answer choices represent combinations of these statements. You must select the combination that best answers the question.

Which of the following must the underwriter give to a customer who purchases a municipal bond subject to a negotiated offering within the first 25 days following the end of the underwriting period?

    1. The final official statement
    2. The investor brochure
    3. The amount of the underwriting spread
    4. The percentage of orders that were filled in the presale period
    1. I and III
    2. I and II
    3. III and IV
    4. II and IV

This format is also used in items that ask you to rank or order a set of items from highest to lowest (or vice versa), or to place a series of events in the proper sequence.

Arrange the following order types from highest priority to lowest priority:

    1. Designated orders
    2. Group net orders
    3. Member takedown orders
    4. Presale orders
    1. I, II, III, IV
    2. IV, I, II, III
    3. IV, II, I, III
    4. I, IV, III, II

 

Answers: 1. B   2. A   3. B   4. A   5. C

For an even better idea of the possible question types you might encounter on the Series 53 exam, try Solomon Exam Prep’s free Series 53 Sample Quiz.

Taking the Series 53 Exam

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) administers the Series 53 exam, and you must take it at a Prometric test center. Like all qualifying exams in the securities industry, the Series 53 is closed-book, and you’re not allowed to bring anything into the exam. The test center will provide you with any materials you need to complete the exam. For instance, the test center will likely provide a whiteboard with markers or scratch paper and a pencil, as well as a basic electronic calculator. The inspection and sign-in requirements at test centers are stringent, so plan to arrive at least 30 minutes before your scheduled test appointment.

Test-Taking Tips

When taking the exam, it helps to keep some test-taking strategies in mind. Try not to spend too long on one question—this may cause you to run out of time and not get to other questions you know. If you don’t know the answer to a question, guess at the answer and “flag” it. There’s no penalty for guessing, so it’s beneficial to answer every question.

After you’ve finished all the questions, you can come back to any flagged questions. This strategy allows you to efficiently answer the ones you know. You might also learn something later in the exam that helps you answer an earlier question. Just remember to save enough time to return to the questions you didn’t answer. However, it’s not a good idea to simply skip all of the difficult questions with the plan to answer them later. You should make a serious effort to answer each question before moving on to the next one since your thoughts are often clearer earlier on during the exam.

How to Study for the Series 53 Exam

Follow Solomon Exam Prep’s proven study system:
    • Read and understand. Read the Solomon Study Guide, carefully. Many students read the Study Guide two or three times before taking the exam. To increase your ability to focus while reading, or as an alternative to reading, the Solomon Series 53 Audiobook will be launching soon! The Audiobook is a word-for-word reading of the Study Guide.
    • Take chapter quizzes in the Exam Simulator. When you finish reading a chapter in the Study Guide, take 4–6 chapter quizzes in the Exam Simulator. Use these quizzes to give yourself practice and to find out what you need to study more. Make sure you read and understand the question rationales.
    • Take full practice exams in the Exam Simulator. When you’ve finished reading the entire Study Guide, review your handwritten notes once more. Finally, start taking full practice exams in the Exam Simulator. Aim to pass at least six full practice exams and try to get your average score to at least 80%. When you reach that point, you’re probably ready to sit for the Series 53 exam.
Use these effective study strategies:
    • Take handwritten notes. As you read the Study Guide, take handwritten notes and review your notes every day for 10–15 minutes. Studies show that taking handwritten notes in your own words and then reviewing them strengthens learning and memory.
    • Make flashcards. Making your own flashcards is another proven method to reinforce memory and strengthen learning.
    • Research. Research anything you don’t understand. Curiosity = learning. Students who take responsibility for their own learning by researching anything they don’t understand get a deeper understanding of the subject matter and are much more likely to pass.
    • Become the teacher. Studies show that explaining what you’re learning greatly increases your understanding of the material. Ask someone in your life to listen and ask questions, or explain it out loud to yourself. This helps almost as much as explaining to an actual person (see Solomon’s previous blog post to learn more about this strategy!).
Take advantage of Solomon’s supplemental tools and resources:
    • Use all the resources. The Series 53 Resources folder in your Solomon student account has helpful study tools, including documents that summarize important exam concepts. There’s also a detailed study schedule that you can print out – or use the online study schedule and check off tasks as you complete them.
    • Use Ask the Professor. If you have a content-related question, click the Ask the Professor button in your account dashboard and get personalized help from a Solomon professor.
  • Good practices while studying:
    • Take regular breaks. Studies show that if you’re studying for an exam, taking regular walks in a park or natural setting significantly improves scores. Walks in urban areas or among people did not improve test scores.
    • Get enough sleep during the period when you are studying. Sleep consolidates learning into memory, studies show. Be good to yourself while you’re studying for the Series 53: exercise, eat well, and avoid activities that will hurt your ability to get a good night’s sleep.

You can pass the MSRB Series 53 Exam! It just takes focus and determination. Solomon Exam Prep is here to support you on your path to becoming a Municipal Securities Principal!

Explore all Solomon Exam Prep Series 53 study materials, including the Study Guide and Exam Simulator.

And join the Solomon email list to find out when the Series 53 Audiobook is released! Just click the button below:

Series 53 Solomon Study Guide, 4th Edition, Now Available

The 4th edition of the Solomon Series 53 Study Guide covers everything you need to know to pass the Series 53 Exam and become a Municipal Securities Principal. Continue reading

If you’re already working as a Municipal Securities Representative (Series 52), then you may be considering taking the Series 53 exam as a next step. Passing the MSRB Series 53, or Municipal Securities Principal Qualification Exam, qualifies you to oversee the municipal fund securities activities of a securities firm or bank dealer. You’re also qualified to supervise others working in several capacities related to municipal securities.

The Series 53 exam is 100 questions long and tests your knowledge of six main topics:

    • Federal regulations
    • General supervision
    • Sales supervision
    • Origination and syndication
    • Trading
    • Operations

Given this broad scope, you shouldn’t take the Series 53 exam lightly. How can you prepare for exam day?

Solomon Exam Prep has just released the 4th edition of “The Solomon Exam Prep Guide: Series 53 MSRB Municipal Securities Principal Qualification Examination.” With this updated version of the Study Guide, professionals seeking their Series 53 license can learn the content they need to know to pass the Series 53 exam. Solomon Study Guides are continuously kept up-to-date and cover all key exam topics.

“Preparing for the Series 53 requires significant study time with high-quality materials. Solomon's innovative study system ensures you learn the information you need to know as efficiently as possible.”
Jeremy Solomon
Solomon Exam Prep President and Co-founder
What changes with this new edition?

While the core content of the study guide remains the same, some key changes include:

    • More detailed coverage of the MSRB’s advertising rules
    • Expansion and update of the process for close-outs
    • Revised coverage of 529 plans
    • Greater detail about how to handle customer complaints
    • Expansion of the taping rule section
    • Additions to the free-to-trade wires section
    • Expansion and update of material on limitations on gifts, gratuities, and non-cash compensation
    • A new appendix summarizing the most important and relevant MSRB rules

Content updates for these new editions are also reflected in the Solomon Exam Simulator. The online Exam Simulator complements the Study Guide with over a thousand practice questions for the Series 53. Hone, track, and assess your knowledge by taking unlimited chapter quizzes and full exams to practice what you’ve learned.

Series 53 Study Materials

The Series 53 Study Guide is available as a digital subscription with a hardcopy upgrade option. It can be purchased individually or in a package with accompanying Series 53 study products. Customers also have access to free tools and resources, including a study schedule in digital and pdf formats, which helps students master the exam material with maximum efficiency.

To learn more about Solomon Exam Prep’s Series 53 study materials, including Study Guide and Exam Simulator, visit the Solomon Series 53 product page.

Also coming soon is the Solomon Series 53 Audiobook! The Audiobook is a word-for-word recording of the Solomon Series 53 Study Guide, giving you greater flexibility in where and how you study for the Series 53 exam.

Related Posts

Curious about the Solomon Learning System? Watch the video overview!

Watch the latest Solomon Exam Prep video for a complete look at the Solomon learning system and what it offers students and firms. Continue reading

Solomon Exam Prep has helped thousands of financial professionals pass their FINRA, NASAA, MSRB, and NFA licensing exams. Watch the video for a complete look at the Solomon learning system and what it offers students and firms.

To explore Solomon Exam Prep study materials for 21 different securities licensing exams, including the SIE and the Series 3, 6, 7, 14, 22, 24, 26, 27, 28, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 63, 65, 66, 79, 82, and 99, visit the Solomon website.

November Study Question of the Month

This month’s study question from the Solomon Online Exam Simulator question database is now available. Continue reading

This month’s study question from the Solomon Online Exam Simulator question database is now available.

***Comment below or submit your answer to info@solomonexamprep.com to be entered to win a $20 Starbucks gift card.***

This question is relevant for the SIE and Series 7, 14, 24, 26, 27, 28, 51, 53, 65, 66, and 99 exams.

Question:

Which situation would a CTR need to be filed?

Answer Choices:

A. When a customer regularly, but on different days, deposits $9,900 into their account in cash.

B. When a person deposits checks for $11,000 every week.

C. A customer withdraws $10,500 from their account in cash.

D. A customer makes a $20,000 Venmo transaction.

Correct Answer: C

Explanation: A currency transaction report (CTR) is filed with FinCEN on cash transactions that exceed $10,000 in a single day, whether conducted in one transaction or several smaller ones. The transactions can be either deposits or withdrawals and they must be in cold, hard cash.

If you have ADHD and you are studying for the SIE exam or the Series 7 or the Series 65 … Solomon Exam Prep can help

It’s no small feat to study for and pass a securities licensing exam, especially if you have ADHD. With that in mind, Solomon has compiled a list of skill-based strategies to support ADHD learners through the process of studying for their securities licensing exams. Continue reading

Studying for a knowledge test, like a securities licensing exam, requires significant effort over time. Solomon offers some helpful tips for studying and passing your securities licensing exam(s).

Study Strategies for People with ADHD

It’s no small feat to study for and pass a securities licensing exam, especially if you have ADHD. Two areas that can be especially challenging for people with ADHD are time management skills and study skills. Time management can be difficult because it requires a person to prioritize tasks, organize their day, and plan for short- and long-term goals, all of which are potential stumbling blocks for those with ADHD. And when it comes to studying, people with ADHD often have trouble concentrating and haven’t acquired effective study habits.

However, studies suggest that people can learn specific behaviors and strategies that help them work around ADHD symptoms and succeed in their studies. With that in mind, Solomon has compiled a list of skill-based strategies to support ADHD learners through the process of studying for their securities licensing exams.

Time Management

If you’re planning to study for a securities licensing exam, such as the Securities Industry Essentials exam or the Series 7 or the Series 65, managing your time effectively is crucial. Depending on the exam, Solomon Exam Prep recommends studying for between 30 to 100 hours over the course of ten days to several weeks. It’s a daunting prospect for anyone. How can someone with ADHD get better at managing his or her time?

Use schedules and planners to stay on track. Whether you use a paper or digital planner, the following tips will help you use it to your advantage:

  • Refer to the Solomon Exam Prep study schedules located in the resources folder of your online Solomon account to help create an effective study plan.
  • Fill in your planner with study targets for each week and smaller goals for each day. People with ADHD often get overwhelmed when confronted with a large task, so breaking the task up into smaller pieces will make it more approachable.
  • Be realistic about how long things take for you and build in some breathing room for when things takes longer than expected. Also build in time for frequent short study breaks.
  • Begin the day by checking your planner to see which activities you need to do. Try to complete each day’s to-do list, but don’t panic if you don’t finish everything – you built in extra time, remember?

Build structure into your day with consistent routines and rituals.

  • Figure out your best time for study. Are you more alert in the morning, afternoon, or evening? Try to study at your optimal time as much as possible.
  • Use alarm clocks, timers, and alerts to help you structure your time, build routine, and remind yourself of important tasks. This article has some great tips on how to use your smartphone to stay organized.
  • Give yourself small rewards as you study and complete tasks. This article recommends people with ADHD improve their focus by routinely rewarding themselves for achieving small goals. A reward can be as simple as taking a 10–15 minute break to have a snack or take a walk around the block, which also helps prevent fatigue and loss of concentration.
Study Skills

Studying for a securities licensing exam can make you feel like you’ve landed back in high school or college, when you were forced to study and retain large amounts of information with the end goal of passing a test. If you were a successful student, the strategies that worked for you then will probably work for you now. But individuals without prior academic success, and those with ADHD, can increase the effectiveness of their study time by applying the strategies that follow.

Make note-taking a core aspect of your studying. Studies suggest that becoming a better note-taker can increase concentration and help learners make better use of their time by learning actively rather than passively. Here are some specific ways to boost your studying with note-taking:

  • If you have a hardcopy of your Solomon Exam Prep Study Guide, then highlight, underline, and write notes and questions in the margins as you read. If you are reading your Study Guide online or listening to your Audiobook, take notes on paper using a note-taking system that works for you, such as the Cornell, outlining, or mapping method, all described here.
  • Use color-coding to organize your notes. Invest in colored pens, highlighters, and sticky notes and use them strategically.
  • Return to your notes frequently: review them several times; rewrite them; read them aloud; create possible test questions from them.

Do A LOT of self-testing. Studies have found that incorporating more self-testing, or retrieval practice, into a study routine can significantly improve retention of material, especially for people with ADHD. The Solomon Exam Prep study system has two features specifically designed for self-testing:

  • Solomon Exam Prep Online Exam Simulator: with a large question bank and tools that help you identify areas that require more study, the Solomon Exam Simulator is the perfect way to incorporate self-testing into your study time.
  • Solomon Exam Prep Digital Flashcards: interactive true/false and definitions flashcards that can be organized by chapter and customized to target the terms and concepts you need to study more.

Teach the content to someone else. To be well-prepared for a securities licensing exam, candidates must truly understand the content. What better way to check your understanding than to teach the content to another person? Becoming the teacher to a friend or family member is a highly effective learning technique. This list of study tips for learners with ADHD includes talking about the concepts aloud to yourself or others. Even if you don’t have a study buddy or captive family member to lecture to, imagine that you’re teaching a course on the material and write up a lesson plan. Deliver your lesson to an empty room if need be, but the act of trying to explain the material out loud is a great way to confirm which areas you have a strong command of and which you need to study further.

November Study Question of the Month

Submit your answer to info@solomonexamprep.com to be entered to win a $10 Starbucks gift card. Continue reading

Submit your answer to info@solomonexamprep.com to be entered to win a $10 Starbucks gift card.

Question

Relevant to the Series 50Series 51, Series 52, and Series 53.

 

 

 

 

 

A municipal finance professional decides to donate his time to a municipal official’s campaign. He donates his time outside of work hours. Which of the following is true?
 
A. This would not be considered a contribution under G-37, and would not need to be disclosed and would not trigger the ban
B. This is considered a contribution that will need to be reported and may trigger the ban
C. This will need to be disclosed by the dealer, but it would not trigger the ban

D. This is considered a contribution that may trigger the ban, but will not need to be reported

Answer: A. An employee of a dealer generally can donate his or her time to a municipal official’s campaign without it being considered a contribution to the official, as long as the employee is volunteering his or her time during non-work hours, or is using previously accrued vacation time or the dealer is not otherwise paying the employee’s salary (e.g., an unpaid leave of absence). Because the volunteering takes place outside of work hours, it would not be considered a contribution and will not trigger the ban or need to be disclosed.

It’s Settled: SEC Shortens Regular-Way to T+2

If you’ve ever traded securities or studied for a securities licensing exam, then you’ve probably come across T+3. No, it’s not an herbal supplement or an embarrassing medical procedure. Continue reading

If you’ve ever traded securities or studied for a securities licensing exam, then you’ve probably come across T+3. No, it’s not an herbal supplement or an embarrassing medical procedure. T+3 refers to the regular-way settlement period for most securities transactions. This means that securities must be paid for and delivered by three business days from the trade date. T+3 also means you don’t become the owner of record of a security until three business days after you purchase it.

Well, add T+3 to the list of things that have gone out of style. Effective May 30, 2017, the SEC will shorten the regular-way settlement period to two business days. And so will begin the age of T+2, which is intended to “increase efficiency and reduce risk for market participants,” according to SEC Acting Chairman Michael Pinowar.

This shorter settlement period for the trading of secondary market securities has been discussed by the SEC for years. The change is expected to lower margin requirements for clearing agency members, reduce liquidity stress when markets are volatile, and harmonize settlement with European markets, which moved to T+2 in 2014.

This settlement period will not apply to every securities transaction, though. T+2, like T+3 before it, will apply to:

  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Municipal securities
  • Exchange-traded funds
  • Mutual funds traded through a brokerage firm
  • Unit investment trusts
  • Limited partnerships that trade on an exchange

The securities industry moves fast. Don’t get left behind! Visit www.solomonexamprep.com or call us at 503-601-0212 for more information about the latest securities exam preparation and education.

Solomon has helped thousands pass their Series 6, Series 7, Series 24, Series 26, Series 27, Series 28, Series 50, Series 51, Series 52, Series 53, Series 62, Series 63, Series 65, Series 66, Series 79, Series 82, and Series 99.

Study Question of the Month – October 2016

This month’s study question from the Solomon Online Exam Simulator question database is now available! Continue reading

This month’s study question from the Solomon Online Exam Simulator question database is now available!

***Submit your answer to info@solomonexamprep.com to be entered to win a $10 Starbucks gift card.***

studyQuestion

Question (Relevant to the Series 6, Series 7Series 24Series 26Series 27, Series 51, Series 52, Series 53, and Series 82):

Which of the following claims would be covered by SIPC?

A. Claims of officers or partners of the failed firm

B. Claims involving nontransferable assets

C. Claims of subordinated lenders

D. Claims of persons who own more than 5% of the failed firm

Answer: B. SIPC only covers losses due to firm bankruptcy. It does not cover market losses. Nontransferable assets, such as proprietary funds and bonds in default, are covered as long as they are within the $500,000 limit for the account.

Additionally, the following claims are excluded from SIPC coverage:

  • Claims of officers or partners of the failed firm
  • Claims of persons who own more than 5% of the failed firm
  • Claims of subordinated lenders

Announcing the Release of the Solomon Exam Prep Android Mobile App!

With the release of the Solomon Exam Prep app, you have full mobile access to your Solomon study materials with the click of a button. Continue reading

Do you need to take a securities licensing exam?

Do you wish you had more time to study?

With the release of the Solomon Exam Prep Android app, you have full mobile access to your Solomon study materials at the click of a button.

  • Easier and quicker—Just click the Solomon Exam Prep icon on your phone to be taken directly to your account.
  • Access all your materials—The app provides full site functionality and access to your study guide, exam simulator, audiobook, and video lecture.
  • No typing on tiny keyboards—Don’t worry about typing in a web address! Our app will take you right where you need to be.

Move into the future of mobile securities exam prep with the Solomon Exam Prep app!

To download the app, please visit: goo.gl/IkNceh

Solomon Exam Prep has helped thousands of financial professionals pass their FINRA, NASAA, and MSRB licensing exams, including the Series 6, Series 7, Series 24, Series 26, Series 27, Series 28, Series 50, Series 51, Series 52, Series 53, Series 62, Series 63, Series 65, Series 66, Series 79, Series 82, and the Series 99.

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