How to Pass the NFA Series 3 Exam

What is the Series 3 exam? Learn what passing the Series 3 exam allows you to do, what the exam covers, and how you should prepare for it. Continue reading

What is the Series 3 exam?

The Series 3, also called the National Commodities Futures Examination, is an NFA (National Futures Association) exam. NFA is the self-regulatory organization for the U.S. derivatives industry and is designated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) as a registered futures association. The goals of the NFA are to ensure the integrity of the derivatives markets, protect investors, and enforce regulations.

Individuals and entities that do business as futures professionals must register with the CFTC and meet certain proficiency requirements. This usually means passing the Series 3 exam.

You may need to take the Series 3 exam in order to work as an associated person at one of the following:

    • Futures commission merchant (FCM)—a brokerage firm that solicits orders from customers and executes trades. It may also provide credit to its customers to enable trading.
    • Introducing broker (IB)—a brokerage firm that solicits orders from customers but is not permitted to execute them. It must send its orders to an FCM to execute and clear the trades.
    • Commodity trading advisor (CTA)—an individual or firm that analyzes futures markets, issues reports, offers advice, and makes recommendations.
    • Commodity pool operator (CPO)—an individual or firm that solicits funds from the public and pools them into a single account to invest in futures contracts.
    • Retail foreign exchange dealer (RFED)—an individual or entity that acts as a counterparty to an over-the-counter foreign currency transaction.
What does the Series 3 qualify me to do?

Passing the Series 3 exam qualifies you sell commodities, futures contracts, or commodity pools. The term “sell” includes soliciting customers, customer orders, customer funds, or customer accounts on behalf of the entities listed above. It also qualifies those who work for a CTA to analyze, issue reports, and offer advice on futures markets. You’ll also be qualified to manage other individuals who sell commodities or futures contracts.

Note that simply passing the Series 3 exam does not allow you to act as a registered commodity broker. You’ll also need to complete a lengthy online registration application with the NFA, which includes submitting a fingerprint card and other required filings.

Are there any prerequisites for the Series 3?

There are no prerequisites for the Series 3 exam, and you can enroll to take the exam without firm sponsorship. You must sign up for the exam and pay the exam fee to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), which administers the Series 3 exam.

About the Exam

The Series 3 exam consists of 120 scored and five unscored multiple-choice or true/false questions. The five unscored questions are experimental questions and appear randomly.

Series 3 exam details in a table

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 3 exam).

Topics Covered on the Exam

The NFA divides the questions on the Series 3 exam into two parts. The first part, covering market knowledge, includes several topics. The second part covers U.S. regulations and includes only one topic. The NFA updates its exam questions regularly to reflect the most current rules and regulations. You must receive a score of 70% on both parts of the exam to pass.

Series 3 topics in a table

Question Types on the Exam

The Series 3 exam consists of multiple-choice questions, each with four options. You may see the following question structures. However, keep in mind that these sample questions don’t necessarily represent the difficulty level or subjects covered in the actual exam.

Closed Stem Format:

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

Which of the following is not classified as a commodity?

    1. Livestock
    2. Automobiles
    3. Corn
    4. Oil
Incomplete Sentence Format:

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

All foreign exchange futures contracts are quoted in:

    1. American terms
    2. European terms
    3. The same terms in which the foreign currency is quoted in the spot market
    4. American and European terms side by side
“EXCEPT” Format:

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

All of the following are characteristics of a Treasury bill except:

    1. They are sold at discount to the par value.
    2. They pay low periodic interest payments.
    3. They are considered the safest of Treasury securities.
    4. They have a maximum 52-week maturity.
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.

A forward conversion combines which two of the following?

    1. A long futures contract
    2. A short futures contract
    3. A short call and a long put on the futures contract
    4. A long call and a short put on the futures contract
    1. I and III
    2. I and IV
    3. II and III
    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.

Put these futures contract events in the proper sequence:

    1. Last delivery date
    2. First delivery date
    3. First notice date
    4. Last trade date
    1. IV, II, III, I
    2. III, II, IV, I
    3. III, IV, II, I
    4. II, III, I, IV


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

Try a free sample of the Solomon Series 3 Exam Simulator. You receive instant feedback on each question with a robust explanation of the correct answer.

Taking the Series 3 Exam

You can take the Series 3 exam at a Prometric test center or remotely online using Prometric’s ProProctor system. If taking the exam at a test center, you will receive any materials you need to complete the exam. These may include 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.

If you decide to take the test online with ProProctor, you should learn about the strict procedures you must follow. See this ProProcter user guide or the FINRA online testing page for complete details. And for a first-hand account of the remote testing experience, read this Solomon blog post.

Test-Taking Tips

Whether you take the exam at a test center or online, 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, take your best guess 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 return 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 3 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. 
    • 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 3 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 3 Resources folder in your Solomon student account has helpful study tools, including 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 3: exercise, eat well, and avoid activities that will hurt your ability to get a good night’s sleep.

You can pass the NFA Series 3 Exam! It just takes focus and determination. Solomon Exam Prep is here to support you on your path to becoming a Futures Professional!

Explore all Solomon Exam Prep Series 3 study materials, including the Study Guide and Exam Simulator.

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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.

Recent Blog Posts

Should Cryptocurrency Be Regulated as a Security or a Commodity? Solomon customers speak.

Read the results of Solomon Exam Prep’s latest poll on the topic of cryptocurrency regulation – and learn which license you’d need for either outcome. Continue reading

With the regulatory status of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies still up in the air, a recent Solomon LinkedIn poll found that 60% of Solomon customers think cryptocurrencies should be treated as commodities, while 40% said they thought cryptocurrencies should be regulated as securities.

Thus far the SEC has avoided clearly stating that cryptocurrencies are securities. To do so, the SEC would likely have to show that cryptocurrencies meet the “Howey Test,” which says that securities must have four characteristics. According to this test, a security involves (1) an investment of money that (2) involves a common enterprise (3) in which the investors expect to make a profit, and (4) the profits will be derived from the efforts of someone other than the investor.

If the SEC, Congress, or the courts declare that cryptocurrencies meet the Howey Test and are therefore securities, Solomon’s got you covered with the Series 7 General Securities Representative Exam Guide. This FINRA license allows you to engage in “the solicitation, purchase and/or sale of all securities products.”

If cryptocurrencies don’t meet the Howey Test, they could be regulated as commodities. These are goods such as wheat, gold, and pork bellies. Why might cryptocurrencies fit in with these others? Because commodities are all highly standardized so that they can be freely bought and sold on exchanges without worrying about differences in quality—every ounce of gold is pretty much like every other ounce of gold. Likewise, every Bitcoin is like every other Bitcoin.

If cryptocurrencies end up being treated like commodities, consider the Solomon Series 3 National Commodities Futures Exam Guide. The Series 3 is the main qualification exam for the National Futures Association and is required if you want to become a Commodity Trading Advisor.

Solomon Study Question of the Month for April

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

Study Question

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

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

This question is relevant to the SIE and the Series 7, 14, 50, 52, and 54.

Question: A Municipal Finance Professional (MFP) hosted a $500 plate fundraiser for a governmental issuer. Does this event trigger a ban on business for two years?

A. Yes, it will trigger a ban because an MFP may not host a fundraiser.

B. Yes, it will trigger a ban because the cost per plate is above the de minimis amount.

C. No, it will not trigger a ban because the MFP did not contribute money, only time and space.

D. No, it will not trigger a ban because the MFP was holding the fundraiser, not the municipal dealer.

Correct Answer: A

Explanation: MFPs are not permitted to solicit funds for municipal issuers or their officials without triggering a two-year ban on business for their firm. Thus, holding fundraisers is not allowed. Municipal dealers are also forbidden from holding fundraisers.

To explore free samples of Solomon Exam Prep’s industry-leading online exam simulators for the SIE, Series 7, Series 14, Series 50, Series 52, Series 54, and other FINRA, MSRB, NASAA, and NFA exams, visit the Solomon website here.

Online Testing Now Available for the Series 3 Exam

For those planning to sit for the National Commodity Futures Exam, or Series 3, FINRA is now offering candidates the option to take the exam online via Prometric’s ProProctor platform. Continue reading

For those planning to sit for the National Commodity Futures Exam, or Series 3, FINRA is now offering candidates the option to take the exam online via Prometric’s ProProctor platform. 

Since mid-2020, FINRA has offered online delivery of certain securities exams via the ProProctor remote service, allowing you to choose where and when to take your exam.

The ProProctor platform features an easy-to-use interface and 24/7 proctor support for a smooth test-taking experience. But it’s a good idea to be aware of the technical and security requirements before sitting for your exam remotely. 

In addition to the Series 3 and other NFA exams, these exams can be taken online: the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE), Series 6, Series 7, Series 63, Series 65, and Series 66 exams. 

For detailed information about taking exams online, including technical and procedural specifications, visit FINRA’s information page:  

And to read a first-hand description of the remote testing experience, see this blog post from August 13, 2020: