Series 54 Solomon Study Guide, 3rd Edition, Now Available

The new 3rd edition of the Solomon Series 54 Study Guide covers everything you need to know to pass the exam and become a Municipal Advisor Principal. Continue reading

If you’ve already passed the Series 50 exam and are working as a Municipal Advisor Representative, then you’re well-positioned to consider taking the Series 54 exam. The MSRB Series 54, or Municipal Advisor Principal Exam, qualifies you to supervise associates who conduct municipal advisory business. But how should you prepare for the exam?

Solomon Exam Prep is excited to release the 3rd edition of “The Solomon Exam Prep Guide: Series 54 MSRB Municipal Advisor Principal Qualification Examination.” With this updated version of the Study Guide, professionals who want to become registered Municipal Advisor Principals can learn the content they need to know to pass the Series 54 exam.

About the Series 54 Exam

The Series 54 exam is 110 questions long and tests your knowledge of three main topic areas:

    1. Understanding the Municipal Advisor Regulatory Framework
    2. Supervising Municipal Advisory Activities
    3. Supervising Municipal Advisor Firm Operations

Passing the Series 54 requires you to study and master a wide range of municipal advisory knowledge. This is because, as Solomon Exam Prep President and Co-founder, Jeremy Solomon, explains, “Municipal advisors have a crucial responsibility to establish and enforce compliance procedures at their firm, which is why the Series 54 exam is so challenging. To pass the Series 54, high-quality study materials are a must, and Solomon delivers just that with a consistently high pass rate to prove it.”

“Municipal advisors have a crucial responsibility to establish and enforce compliance procedures at their firm, which is why the Series 54 exam is so challenging. To pass the Series 54, high-quality study materials are a must, and Solomon delivers just that with a consistently high pass rate to prove it.”
Jeremy Solomon
Solomon Exam Prep President and Co-founder

What changes with this new edition?

The core content of the Series 54 Study Guide remains the same, but some key changes in the 3rd edition include:

    • Expanded and updated coverage of the MSRB’s pay to play rule


    • Expanded coverage of the MSRB’s advertising rules

    • Expanded and updated discussion of the MSRB’s rules about giving and receiving items of value

    • Supplemental information on continuing disclosure agreements

    • Expanded coverage of mandatory recordkeeping for municipal securities transactions


    • More detail on mandatory recordkeeping of customer complaints

Content updates for this new edition are also reflected in the Solomon Exam Simulator. The online Exam Simulator complements the Study Guide with hundreds of practice questions for the Series 54. Hone, track, and assess your knowledge by taking unlimited chapter quizzes and full exams to practice what you’ve learned.

Series 54 Study Materials

The Series 54 Study Guide is available as a digital subscription with a hardcopy upgrade option. You can purchase the Study Guide individually or in a package with supporting Series 54 study products. Customers also have access to free tools and resources. These include 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 54 study materials, including Study Guide, Exam Simulator, Audiobook, and Video Lecture, visit the Solomon Series 54 product page.

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Mask Policy Change at Prometric Test Centers

Prometric will no longer require test candidates and test center staff to wear masks at test centers, effective May 1, 2022. Continue reading

Prometric, the testing vendor for several securities licensing exams, has announced a change to one of its COVID-19-related policies. Beginning May 1, 2022, Prometric will no longer require people to wear masks at its testing centers, unless required to do so by building management or local government mandates.

This policy change applies to both candidates and test center personnel. However, Prometric encourages anyone who would like to wear a mask at a test center to do so. The choice to wear a mask or not is up to the individual, regardless of vaccination status.

According to Prometric, this policy change is in response to current trends and guidance from world health organizations. Prometric will continue to follow guidance from local government and health officials in determining its COVID-19 policies. For more information, visit Prometric’s COVID-19 Update page and COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions.

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Series 52 Solomon Study Guide, 5th Edition, Now Available

The Solomon Series 52 Study Guide, 5th edition, covers everything you need to know to pass the Series 52 Exam and become a Municipal Securities Representative. Continue reading

For those interested in becoming Municipal Securities Representatives, passing the Series 52 exam (plus the co-requisite Securities Industry Essentials, or SIE, exam) is necessary. The MSRB Municipal Securities Representative Qualification Exam, also known as the Series 52, qualifies you to work in many capacities related to municipal securities. These include selling, underwriting, trading, advising, conducting research, and communicating with public investors.

Passing the Series 52 exam requires you to learn about many topics within the three main subject areas of the exam:

    • Municipal Securities
    • Economic Activity, Government Policy, and the Behavior of Interest Rates
    • Securities Laws and Regulations

At 75 questions, the Series 52 might not be the longest securities licensing exam. However, you’ll need to master a lot of knowledge, and Solomon recommends 60 hours of study time. A good study plan is a must. How should you prepare for the Series 52?

Solomon Exam Prep has just released the 5th edition of “The Solomon Exam Prep Guide: Series 52 MSRB Municipal Securities Representative Qualification Examination.” With this updated version of the Study Guide, professionals seeking their Series 52 license can learn the content they need to know to pass the Series 52 exam.

The Series 52 Study Guide is comprehensive and presents exam topics in easy-to-understand language. Charts, graphs, and practice questions throughout the text support learners in understanding and applying key concepts.

“Passing the Series 52 can be challenging because of the vast amount of material it covers. It helps to have study materials written in plain English and guided by research-based teaching methods, like the Solomon system.”
Jeremy Solomon
Solomon Exam Prep President and Co-founder
What changes with this new edition?

The core content of the Series 52 Study Guide remains the same, but the 5th edition of the Series 52 Study Guide includes the following content updates:

    • Expanded and updated coverage of 529 college savings plans
    • Additional information about the order period for new issues
    • Expanded and revised coverage of inflation and interest rates
    • Expansion and update of the process for close-outs
    • 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

Updates are also reflected in the Solomon Series 52 Exam Simulator, which complements the Study Guide with over a thousand practice questions.

Series 52 Study Materials

The Series 52 Study Guide is available as a digital subscription with a hardcopy upgrade option. You can purchase the guide individually or in a package with accompanying Series 52 study products. You also benefit from free tools and resources, including Study Schedules in digital and pdf format, which guide you every step of the way.

To learn more about Solomon Exam Prep’s Series 52 study materials, including Study Guide and Exam Simulator, visit the Solomon Series 52 product page.

Also coming soon is the Solomon Series 52 Audiobook! The Audiobook is a word-for-word recording of the Solomon Series 52 Study Guide, giving you greater flexibility in where and how you study for the Series 52 exam.

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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.

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How to Pass the MSRB Series 52 Exam

What is the Series 52 exam? Learn what a Series 52 license qualifies you to do, what the exam covers, and how you should prepare for it. Continue reading

What is the Series 52 exam?

If you work for a municipal securities dealer and want to underwrite, trade, and sell municipal securities, then you’ll need to pass the Series 52 exam. You’ll also need to pass the Series 52 exam if you work for a municipal dealer and want to do the following activities:

    • Offer financial advice and consultant services to issuers of municipal securities
    • Conduct research and give investment advice on municipal securities
    • Communicate directly or indirectly with public investors about municipal securities

Also known as the Municipal Securities Representative Qualification Examination, the Series 52 was created by the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB). The MSRB is the principal regulator of the municipal securities market. It establishes rules and professional qualification standards for municipal securities dealers and municipal advisors. Those standards include qualification exams for professionals who work in the municipal securities industry. Passing the Series 52 qualifies you to work as a Municipal Securities Representative.

What are municipal securities?

Governments need to finance their activities by raising money, but they can’t sell stocks like businesses. Instead, governments issue municipal bonds (munis) to fund day-to-day operations and special projects.

Are there any prerequisites for the Series 52?

Yes. To become a Municipal Securities Representative, you must also pass the FINRA Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam. The SIE is an entry-level securities qualification exam. Unlike the Series 52, you don’t need to be employed and sponsored by a broker-dealer to take the SIE. It’s “co-requisite” with the Series 52, so you can take the exams in any order, but Solomon recommends you take the SIE first. The SIE is a foundational exam, and the knowledge you learn studying for the SIE will help you when you study for the Series 52.

About the Exam

The Series 52 exam consists of 75 scored and five unscored multiple-choice questions covering the three topic areas of the MSRB Series 52 Content Outline. The five additional unscored questions are ones that the exam committee is trying out. These are unidentified and are distributed randomly throughout the exam.

About the Series 52 exam

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 52 exam).

Topics Covered on the Exam

The MSRB divides the questions on the Series 52 exam into three main areas:

Topics on the Series 52 exam

Within these three main parts, you’ll need to learn about many topics, including:

    • Municipal bonds
    • Municipal fund securities
    • MSRB rules
    • Customer accounts
    • Municipal securities trading
    • Recordkeeping
    • Suitability
    • Settlement and delivery
    • Taxation
    • Federal securities acts
    • The SEC
    • Municipal securities underwriting
    • Marketability
    • Political contribution rules
    • Supervisory obligations
    • Market indicators
    • Economic theory
    • Fiscal and monetary policy
    • Interest rates
    • Business cycles
    • The Federal Reserve Board

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 52 Content Outline and use it in conjunction with the Solomon Series 52 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 52 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 of the following is a reason that a municipal government might issue a revenue bond instead of a general obligation bond?

    1. The issuer wishes to pay less interest to the bondholders.
    2. The issuer has met its statutory debt limit and does not want to seek voter approval for the issue.
    3. The issuer wants the bond to have a higher credit rating.
    4. The issuer has the ability to impose taxes.
Incomplete Sentence Format:

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

A make whole call provision is a provision in a bond that allows the issuer to:

    1. Call the bond and pay the bondholder a lump sum payment that includes not just the principal but also the net present value of all future coupon payments that the bondholder would have received if not for the call.
    2. Call the bond and pay the bondholder a lump sum payment that includes the call price of the bond.
    3. Redeem the entire issue early to issue a new set of bonds at a lower interest rate.
    4. Call the bond when the total amount of the interest payments is equivalent to the amount of the principal.
“EXCEPT” Format:

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

A financial advisor may buy securities from an underwriter for its own or its customers’ accounts if all of the following are true except:

    1. The advisor must not receive any additional underwriting compensation when buying securities for their own account.
    2. The advisor must not receive any additional underwriting compensation when buying securities for customer accounts.
    3. The advisor must disclose the conflict of interest to their customers at or before confirmation of the sale.
    4. The advisor must disclose the conflict of interest to the issuer.
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.

_________ risk is a concern for bondholders when interest rates _________.

    1. Interest rate; rise
    2. Call; rise
    3. Interest rate; fall
    4. Call; fall
    1. II and IV
    2. II and III
    3. I and IV
    4. I and III
  1.  

Answers: 1. B   2. A   3. D   4. C

For an even better idea of the possible question types you might encounter on the Series 52 exam, try Solomon Exam Prep’s free Series 52 Sample Quiz.

Taking the Series 52 Exam

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) administers the Series 52 exam, and you must take it at a Prometric test center. Like all qualifying exams in the securities industry, the Series 52 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 52 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 52 Audiobook will be launching soon! The Audiobook is a word-for-word reading of the Study Guide.
    • Answer practice questions 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. When you’re 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 52 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. Studies show 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 52 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 52: exercise, eat well, and avoid activities that will hurt your ability to get a good night’s sleep.

You can pass the MSRB Series 52 Exam! It just takes focus and determination. Solomon Exam Prep is here to support you on your path to becoming a municipal securities representative!

Explore all Solomon Exam Prep Series 52 study materials, including the Study Guide and Exam Simulator.

And join the Solomon email list to find out when the Series 52 Audiobook is released! Just click the button below:

How to Pass the MSRB Series 50 Exam

How do you prepare for a challenging securities exam like the Series 50? Solomon shares insights about the test and how to study successfully. Continue reading

The Series 50, also known as the Municipal Advisor Representative Qualification Examination, was developed by the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) to set professional standards and ensure a basic level of industry knowledge for municipal advisor representatives. Passing the Series 50 exam qualifies you to provide advice about municipal financial products to, or on behalf of, municipal entities. That means you will be able to help municipalities through the process of issuing securities and advise them on how to invest their proceeds. 

The registration category, “Municipal Advisor Representative,” was created to comply with the Dodd-Frank Act, which Congress passed in response to the 2008 financial crisis. Municipal advisor firms must have at least one individual who has passed the Series 50 in order to engage in municipal advisory activities. 

Whether you have years of professional experience, or you’re just starting out in the industry, the Series 50 can be a challenging exam and requires ample study time. Solomon recommends studying for 60 hours over a four-week period. That might seem daunting, but understanding what the test is like and how to study for it will set you on the path to being well-prepared for exam day.

About the Exam

The Series 50 exam consists of 100 scored and 10 un-scored multiple-choice questions covering the five topic areas of the MSRB Series 50 Content Outline. The 10 additional un-scored questions are ones that the exam committee is trying out. These are unidentified and are distributed randomly throughout the exam. Before the test starts, you have 30 minutes to watch a tutorial about the exam’s administration, and this time is included in the total exam time of three and one-half hours.

Series 50 exam details

Note: Scores are rounded down to the next lowest whole number (e.g. 70.9% would be a final score of 70% – not a passing score for the Series 50 exam).

Topics Covered on the Exam

The questions on the Series 50 exam cover the five major job functions of a municipal advisor representative, as determined by the MSRB:

Series 50 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 50 Content Outline and use it in conjunction with the Solomon Series 50 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 50 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 from which to choose.

Which of the following is true of the MSRB?

    1. The MSRB creates rules that govern issuers of securities.
    2. The MSRB is composed of 20 members who are knowledgeable about municipal securities.
    3. The MSRB does not have the power to enforce its own regulations.
    4. The MSRB was created by the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
Incomplete Sentence Format:

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

Advisors prohibited from engaging in municipal advisory business under the pay to play rule may qualify for an automatic exemption if:

    1. The advisor discovered the contribution within a reasonable time from the date it was made.
    2. The contribution did not exceed $250.
    3. The person who made the contribution obtained its return before the advisor discovered the contribution.
    4. The advisor has only used three automatic exceptions in the last 12 months.
“EXCEPT” Format:

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

All of the following might be found in the MD&A except:

    1. A summary of the major events of the year for the municipality
    2. A comparison of the current financial year to the previous one
    3. An organizational chart of governmental employees
    4. A discussion of whether the budget was met or exceeded
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 are true?

    1. Municipal advisors may, under certain circumstances, act as underwriters.
    2. Underwriters may, under certain circumstances, act as municipal advisors.
    3. Municipal advisors may never act as underwriters.
    4. Underwriters may never act as municipal advisors.
    1. I and IV
    2. II and III
    3. I and II
    4. III and IV
  1.  

Answers: 1. C   2. B   3. C   4. B

For an even better idea of the possible question types you might encounter on the Series 50 exam, try Solomon Exam Prep’s free Series 50 Sample Quiz.

Taking the Series 50 Exam

The Series 50 exam is administered by FINRA and must be taken at a Prometric test center. Like all qualifying exams in the securities industry, the Series 50 is closed book, which means you are not permitted to bring anything into the exam. The test center will provide you with any materials needed 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. Due to COVID-19, you are required to wear a mask the whole time you are at the test center. Solomon recommends taking timed practice exams in the Series 50 Exam Simulator while wearing a mask to get used to this added discomfort.

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 is no penalty for guessing, so it is beneficial to answer every question.
 
After you have finished all the questions, you can come back to any flagged questions. Not only does this strategy allow you to efficiently answer the ones you know, but it can also help because you might learn something later in the exam that may help you answer an earlier question. Just remember to save enough time to return to the questions you didn’t answer. However, it is not a good idea to simply skip all of the difficult questions with the intention of answering them later. You should make a serious effort to answer each question before moving on to the next one, as your thoughts are often clearer early on in the exam-taking process than they will be later.

How to Study for the Series 50 Exam

Follow Solomon Exam Prep’s proven study system:
    • Read and understand. Read the Solomon Study Guide, carefully. The Series 50 is a knowledge test, not an IQ test. 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, listen to the Series 50 Audiobook, which is a word-for-word reading of the Study Guide.
    • Answer practice questions in the Exam Simulator. When you’re done with a chapter in the Study Guide, take 4–6 chapter quizzes in the Solomon 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. When you’re finished reading the entire Study Guide, review your handwritten notes once more. Then, and only then, 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 an 80%; when you reach that point, you are probably ready to sit for the Series 50 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 to 15 minutes. Studies show that the act of taking handwritten notes in your own words and then reviewing them strengthens learning and memory.
    • Make flashcards. Making your own flashcards is another powerful and proven method to reinforce memory and strengthen learning.
    • Research. Research anything you do not understand. Curiosity = learning. Students who take responsibility for their own learning by researching anything they do not 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 are learning greatly increases your understanding of the material. Ask someone in your life to listen and ask questions. If you don’t have anyone, explain it to yourself. Studies show that 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 50 Resources folder in your Solomon student account has helpful study tools, including documents that summarize important exam concepts. There is also a detailed study schedule that you can print out – or use the online study schedule and check off tasks as you complete them.
    • Watch the Video Lecture. This provides a helpful review of the key concepts in each chapter after reading the Solomon Study Guide. Take notes to help yourself stay focused.
  • Good practices while studying:
    • Take regular breaks. Studies show that if you are 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 are studying for the Series 50: exercise, eat well, and avoid activities that will hurt your ability to get a good night’s sleep.

You can pass the MSRB Series 50 Exam! It just takes focus and determination. Solomon Exam Prep is here to support you on your path to becoming a municipal advisor representative.

Explore all Solomon Exam Prep Series 50 study materials, including the Study Guide, Exam Simulator, Audiobook, and Video Lecture.

Looking for more support as you prepare for the Series 50 exam? Solomon offers Live Web Classes for the Series 50

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MSRB Announces Results of Series 54 Exam for Municipal Advisor Principals

Solomon Exam Prep congratulates the 810 individuals who have passed the Series 54 exam and are now qualified to work as municipal advisor principals. Continue reading

On December 16, 2021, the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) announced that 810 individuals at 474 municipal advisor firms have passed the Series 54 exam and are now appropriately qualified as municipal advisor principals. Individuals who manage, direct, or supervise a firm’s municipal advisory activities must pass The Series 54, or Municipal Advisor Principal Qualification Examination.

Initially, the MSRB gave municipal advisors a one-year period within which to pass the exam. Due to COVID-19, the deadline was extended twice, and November 30th, 2021, was the final deadline.

Solomon Exam Prep has helped many of those 810 individuals prepare for the Series 54 exam. Solomon offers several study materials for the Series 54, which can be purchased individually or in four package options. Visit the Solomon Series 54 product page to learn more.

The Solomon material was invaluable in helping me pass this exam [Series 54]. The organization of the content, the tests, the video and lecture material, were all exactly on point. Thank you!
Mark Melio
Melio & Company, LLC, Northfield, IL

Before taking the Series 54 exam, individuals must have already passed the Municipal Advisor Representative Qualification Exam, also known as the Series 50. The Series 50 is required of anyone working as a municipal advisor. Passing the Series 50 qualifies individuals to provide advice about municipal financial products to, or on behalf of, municipal entities.

According to the MSRB, 2,953 people have passed the Series 50 exam and are currently associated with a municipal advisor firm.

Solomon Exam Prep has helped 1732 students prepare for the Series 50 exam. Solomon offers materials for self-study, plus live web classes for the Series 50. The Series 50 live web class is five days of intensive instruction with a Solomon professor, focused on the major content areas of the exam. For more information about Solomon Series 50 study products and live classes, visit the product page here.

I prepared for the Series 50 (Municipal Advisor) exam using your materials and was extremely satisfied. Having the materials in multiple written and audio formats provided a lot of flexibility in where and when I could study. The scope of the Series 50 exam is so broad that even very experienced individuals would benefit by this type of preparatory course. I highly recommend this product.
Derek Morse
Morse Associates Consulting, LLC, Reno, NV

What Does “Tender” Mean on Securities Exams?

For a number of securities exams, you should understand the term “tender.” Solomon explains what the term means and how it’s used in the securities industry. Continue reading

When studying for a securities exam such as the FINRA Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam and the Series 7, Series 14, Series 24, Series 79, or the MSRB Series 50, Series 52, Series 53, or Series 54, it’s likely you will encounter the word “tender.” This bit of terminology may be confusing at first. But learning the ways “tender” is commonly used in the securities industry will prevent you from getting tripped up when you see it on an exam.

You may have heard this word in connection with stock buybacks. When a company offers to buy its shares back from stockholders, the company is said to be conducting a tender offer. The stockholders who take the company up on the offer are said to be tendering their shares. A company may also make a tender offer to a different company’s shareholders, for example if it wants to acquire the other company. 
  
The word “tender” comes from the field of law. To tender is to make a binding offer to enter into an agreement. (It also has a second meaning of presenting payment, which is why your dollar bill has the phrase “legal tender” on it.) So when you tender a security you own, you are offering to sell it on terms that have been spelled out between you and the other party. In the case of a tender offer, the company must specify these terms when it makes the offer and shareholders must take them or leave them. In many cases, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires that these terms include a window of time during which shareholders who tendered their shares may change their minds. In that case, the “binding offer” is not binding right away. 
  
Another securities-related use of “tender” is when a security gives its owner the right to sell it back to the issuer. Exercising this right is sometimes called tendering the security. For example, a municipal bond might have a tender option that gives the bondholder the right to sell it back to the municipality at a certain time for a certain price. Additionally, some variable-rate municipal securities come with a mandatory tender that is triggered when the rate is adjusted. When this happens, the bondholder must choose between tendering the bond or accepting the new rate. 
  
So if you see the word “tender” on a securities exam, it means that the owner of a security is offering to sell it under specific terms and conditions, and the owner’s ability to back out of the offer may be limited.

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Update: Series 54 Deadline Extended to November 30

Principals at municipal advisor firms must pass the Series 54 exam by November 30, 2021, to continue acting as principals. Continue reading

As we covered in a previous blog post on the Solomon Industry News Blog, the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) had announced plans to push back the deadline for municipal advisor principals to take the new Series 54 exam. However, the MSRB did not say how much of an extension they intended to give.

Now we know. On September 2, the MSRB filed a request with the SEC to extend the Series 54 deadline from November 12 to November 30.

The SEC must still approve the extension before it becomes official.

UPDATE – September 30, 2021: The MSRB issued a notice stating that November 30, 2021, is the deadline for passing the Series 54 exam.

Read the full MSRB notice here.

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