Solomon Exam Prep is delighted to announce a partnership with Claflin University and Lincoln Financial Advisors. Continue reading
Test candidates are bound by guidelines that prohibit cheating or using any unfair means during the exam. Continue reading
On July 13, 2020, FINRA and NASAA responded to the pandemic testing challenge posed by in-person test centers with Prometric’s ProProctor, an online testing service, for certain qualifications exams. The exams for which online testing is permitted are the FINRA Securities Industry Essentials (SIE), Series 6, Series 7 and the NASAA Series 63, Series 65, and Series 66 exams. Read more about the announcement here.
Curious about what the ProProctor online testing experience looks like? Click here to find out.
It is interesting to note that although the exams are proctored remotely, candidates are still bound by guidelines that prohibit cheating or using any unfair means during the exam. The checks that have been put in place especially for remote testing are as follows:
- Candidates are required to provide a 360° view of his/her workstations and surrounding environment;
- A camera (external or embedded) is required during the course of the exam. If an embedded camera is used, a large free-standing mirror is also required in order to reflect unseen areas;
- Candidates are asked to participate in a visual person check (including a sleeve, pocket and glasses check);
- While the exam is in progress, candidates are prohibited from leaving, moving out of or obstructing the camera view while the exam is in progress without prior authorization from the proctor; and
- Additional requirements that are listed in the ProProctor User Guide.
Warning: a candidate found cheating in an online test will be subject to the same disciplinary actions that he/she would be subject to in a physical test, and if found guilty, can be permanently barred from the broker-dealer industry.
FINRA partner Prometric has developed ProProctor for online, remote test taking. Here are some takeaways about the process. Continue reading
In person licensing exams have been a staple in the securities industry for decades, but with the novel Coronavirus COVID-19, FINRA has been tasked with providing a safer method for testing. Given this, FINRA partner Prometric has developed a new product titled ProProctor for online, remote test taking. Prometric is a giant in the testing industry, and operates hundreds of testing centers.
With all this as the backdrop, one month ago I was tasked with studying for and taking the SIE as a junior associate at Solomon Exam Prep. Using the ProProctor product seemed like the most convenient way to take the exam, and proved easy enough. However, for the benefit of Solomon exam takers, I would like to share some takeaways about the process.
I registered for the test three weeks ahead of time on the Prometric website, and there were still many time slots available, but the most convenient ones had been taken. The most feasible slot for me ended up being at 7:45 AM, so if you prefer to test later in the day, register ahead of time!
I immediately received a confirmation email detailing all of the procedures that I would need to follow for test day. It was a lengthy email. This is due to Prometric’s desire to avoid cheating and duplication of the test, so they are rightfully cautious. The full procedures can be found in this PDF. That being said, there are a few procedures that are very important to understand ahead of time. First is your testing environment. Ideally one is able to test in a bare, white room, at a desk, with no decorations of any kind. However, this is not always possible, so it is helpful to have a bed sheet or tarp on hand to cover anything that your proctor determines to be unacceptable. Furthermore, you cannot have any interruptions during the test, so it is imperative to notify your office mates! Prometric also recommends having a mirror on hand for the check in process. Ultimately, this is simply for the purpose of inspecting your laptop keyboard/screen if you cannot remove your webcam, so a medium sized mirror is fine. The more easily you can position it in front of your screen the better (I did not take my own advice here and had a giant mirror, which was tough to position so that my proctor could see my keyboard).
Leading up to the exam day, you should do one of Prometric’s system readiness checks, test your microphone specifically, and download/install their application. On exam day, you will be asked to follow a unique web link that is in your confirmation email to launch your exam. Once there, you will input user specific information, and it will automatically launch the application. Be warned, once you launch the exam application, you cannot access any other settings or applications on your computer, so adjust your volume or microphone controls ahead of time. Once there, you will be asked to photograph yourself, take a picture of your photo ID, and you will be sent to the security proctor.
Ultimately two different proctors will communicate with you. The process for meeting with them is seamless, and they will answer any questions you may have. The first will conduct the security checks and you will have a webcam view of them. The security checks are detailed on the ProProctor website, as well as in the confirmation email, but here are a few tips. I wore pants with lots of pockets, which was a mistake. Wearing as few items of clothing as possible, with as few pockets as possible, is helpful because they will ask you to empty them. Additionally, they advise no jewelry. Ideally, the only things in the testing room are you, your photo ID, and your computer. There is nothing else allowed (with the exception of tests that have certified testing materials).
The security checks also include room checks, which necessitates either an external webcam or an easily portable laptop. The fewer furniture items in the room, the easier the check will be. Finally, the security proctor will detail their break policy. I did not use the break, and it should ultimately be seen as an emergency asset. The test time does not stop while you take it, and you will have to redo all security checks upon returning.
Once all of the security protocol is over with, your security proctor will pass you on to another proctor. The new proctor will greet you via the application chat, but you will not see them on screen. They will, however, see your video and hear your audio. Additionally, they prohibit you from speaking out loud during the exam. You may mouth or whisper the words, but they do not allow you to speak. Once the exam commences, it is straightforward. There is a calculator in the application, as well as a “scratch pad” where you may type things. Be warned, you may not go back to questions once you move on.
When I was taking the SIE, I felt confident once I got to this point, since I was mostly worried about complying with the security checks. However, there is protocol from Prometric should you be disconnected from the application for any reason. I was disconnected with just six questions left (!), so it would have been helpful to know this ahead of time. Needless to say, I panicked. Prometric recommends a wired internet connection for this reason, but I gambled with wifi. Ultimately this was not the reason I was disconnected (my internet connection was fine), but the application automatically closed and I was forced to consult the FAQ.
From here, Prometric recommended that I check my internet connection, wait three minutes, restart my computer, and relaunch the exam. This proved to be perfect advice, and I was readmitted to the system. I had to re-do the entire security check with a new set of proctors, but my test time was paused and my progress had been saved. I finished my last six questions without a hitch. In other words, if you are disconnected, do not panic and simply follow their directions on the FAQ. If the issue persists, they recommend that you contact support.
As with the in person exams, my preliminary results were shown at the conclusion of the exam, and I was free to continue with my work day. All in all, the process was relatively user-friendly, and well worth it since I was able to avoid going to a testing center.
Get both general home-study tips and specific home-study tips for securities exams. Continue reading
GENERAL HOME-STUDY TIPS
- Find a quiet place that you feel comfortable in – try to study in this same place every day
- Unless you’re using your phone to study with, put the phone in another room.
- Wake up early – getting started is the hardest part, and starting in the morning will make studying easier. You will get in several hours before you know it.
- Make small goals.
- Reward yourself – try to get up and walk around at least every 30 minutes. This will rest your eyes and mind.
- If you start to feel anxious – take a deep breath, counting to four as you inhale, then slowly exhale, counting to seven as you exhale. Repeat. This will lower your anxiety. This is a good strategy to use before your exam.
- Ask for help being accountable: find someone in your life to query you every day about what you have accomplished.
- Go for a walk in a natural or green setting. Studies show that your mind relaxes and you remember more if you take regular walks in a natural or green setting.
- Get a good night’s sleep – try to go to sleep at the same time each night and wake up at the same time.
SPECIFIC HOME-STUDY TIPS FOR SECURITIES EXAMS
- Read the Solomon Study Guide. Remember: the number one reason people fail their securities exam is they didn’t read the Study Guide.
- If you’re having trouble reading the Study Guide, listen to the Solomon Audio Guide while you read the Study Guide.
- Read Exam Notes in the Resources folder.
- If you don’t understand a question or concept, email Solomon’s Ask the Professor.
- If you’re having trouble with something, create note cards and try to teach it to someone else. Becoming the teacher is the most effective tool to learn something you find challenging or difficult.
- After reading the Solomon Study Guide, take at least six practice exams in the Solomon Exam Simulator.
- Use Interactive Review to review the Exam Simulator questions you get incorrect.
Solomon Exam Prep has helped thousands pass 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. For more information, go to www.SolomonExamPrep.Com or call 503.601.0212.
In preparation for the October 1 launch of the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam, Solomon Exam Prep teamed with NASA to send Solomon SIE exam study materials to the Red Planet. Continue reading
In preparation for the October 1 launch of the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam, Solomon Exam Prep teamed with NASA to send Solomon SIE exam study materials to the Red Planet.
Unlike other FINRA securities licensing exams, the SIE exam will be open to anyone 18 years or older who is interested in the securities industry. FINRA has not publicly stated whether Martians will be permitted to take the SIE exam but since FINRA is dedicated to “investor protection” and to promoting “market integrity” Solomon takes the position that investors and markets on other planets can benefit from securities education, and the SIE in particular. Solomon has helped thousands of earthlings pass their Series 7, Series 6, Series 65, Series 63, Series 24, Series 50, Series 79 and other securities licensing exams.
Elon Musk has not responded to the news of the joint NASA/Solomon Exam Prep mission.
November 3, at the 2015 National Society of Compliance Professionals Annual Conference, in National Harbor, MD, FINRA gave a presentation on its proposed restructure of the FINRA qualification Exam Program. Attendees learned the following regarding the new exam restructure – Essentials Exam and top-off exams… Continue reading
November 3, at the 2015 National Society of Compliance Professionals Annual Conference, in National Harbor, MD, FINRA gave a presentation on its proposed restructure of the FINRA qualification Exam Program. The primary presenter was Joseph McDonald, the FINRA staff member in charge of the Qualification Exam Program.
Attendees learned the following regarding the new exam restructure:
- Existing qualification exams will be divided into a single “core” exam, currently called the “Essentials Exam,” and then a “top-off” exam (Series 6, Series 7, Series 79, etc.). FINRA says this will reduce redundancy in the current exams. This means that if the Essentials Exam will be 100 questions long, the revised Series 7 will be approximately 150 questions. Currently, the Series 7 is composed of 250 questions.
- Content on the Essentials Exam will be stable and will cover core subjects such as the structure and functioning of the securities industry, the regulatory agencies and their responsibilities, basic economics, product knowledge (stocks, bonds, mutual funds), regulated and prohibited practices and professional conduct.
- The Essentials Exam will be different in that a person will not need to be associated with a member firm (you will not need to have a job in the securities industry) in order to take the Essentials Exam. Also, passing the Essentials Exam will be valid for four years. Current exams are valid for two years.
- FINRA hopes that non-registered employees of member firms will take the Essentials Exam and increase the level of industry knowledge among all employees.
- Passing the Essentials Exam alone will not be enough to qualify an individual to be registered. This means that the Essentials Exam will not appear in BrokerCheck, FINRA’s public online database of registered individuals and firms. FINRA says it’s building an enrollment management system that will permit people to take the Essentials Exam without using the U-4 and having to get fingerprinted.
- FINRA plans to maintain the 30/30/180 day rule for those who fail exams.
- Currently registered individuals will be grandfathered into the Essentials Exam and, if such a person leaves the industry, it would be valid for four years.
- FINRA hopes to launch the Essentials Exam and top-off exams in early 2017.
FINRA also mentioned plans to retire the following exams and categories because they say that too few take these exams to make them worth continuing. Individuals registered in these categories will be permitted to retain their registration:
- Series 62 (Corporate Securities Representative)
- Series 42 (Options Representative)
- Series 72 (Government Securities Representative)
FINRA is also considering retiring the Series 11 (Order Processing Assistant).
Fun Fact: The FINRA qualification exam program began in 1956 with the Series 1 exam.
FINRA plans to reduce the number of representative-level examinations, currently numbering 16, in order to simplify the examination program and reduce the amount of redundancy across exams. Continue reading
On May 28, 2015 at the FINRA annual conference in Washington, DC, a panel of FINRA and industry representatives discussed proposed changes to restructure FINRA’s representative-level qualification program and fielded questions from attendees present at the meeting.
According to Joe McDonald, Senior Director, Testing and Continuing Education Department, FINRA plans to reduce the number of representative-level examinations, currently numbering 16, in order to simplify the examination program and reduce the amount of redundancy across exams. FINRA proposes to do this by restructuring the current exam program into a format whereby all potential representative-level registrants would take a core general-knowledge exam and then additional specialized knowledge exam(s). The general knowledge exam is being called the Securities Industry Essentials Examination (SIE) or “essentials exam,” and the specialized exams are being called “top-off” exams. According to McDonald, the proposed changes will restructure the exam program without rewriting registration rules.
The SIE, or essentials exam, content would include knowledge fundamental to working in the securities industry, such as basic product knowledge, structure and functioning of the securities markets, regulatory agencies and their functions, basic economics, professional conduct, and regulated and prohibited practices. A significant change in this restructure proposal is that individuals taking the SIE would not need to be associated with or sponsored by a FINRA member firm. Also, since the content of the essentials exam would be stable and less likely to change than the content on the top-off exams, a passing result on the SIE would be valid for 4 years, instead of the current 2 years for FINRA exams. This should make employment in the securities industry more accessible, flexible, and appealing.
Passing the SIE alone would not qualify an individual for registration with FINRA. To be eligible for registration, an individual who has passed the SIE would also need to pass the appropriate top-off exam pertaining to one’s job function. If, following an individual’s registration with a firm, the job functions for which the individual is registered change and one needs to become registered in an additional or alternative representative-level position, one would not need to pass the SIE again. Rather, the registered individual would need to pass only the appropriate top-off exam.
Each top-off exam would correlate to a current representative exam and registration position (e.g., Series 7 and General Securities Representative) and would test content specific to that registration category or job function. In addition, several of the current registration categories would be retired, reducing the number of representative-level qualification exams from the current 16 to the following 9:
- Investment Company and Variable Contracts Products Representative (Series 6)
- General Securities Representative (Series 7)
- Direct Participation Programs Representative (Series 22)
- Equity Trader (Series 55)
- Investment Banking Representative (Series 79)
- Private Securities Offerings Representative (Series 82)
- Research Analyst (Series 86 and 87)
- Operations Professional (Series 99)
The essentials exam is expected to be 75-100 questions in length and the specialized top-off exams are expected to be shorter than the current representative exams. For example, the Series 7 is expected to be 150 questions in length, rather than the current 250 questions.
As part of the restructuring, FINRA is proposing to retire the current registration categories of Options Representative, Corporate Securities Representative and Government Securities Representative as well as the associated exams, the Series 42, Series 62 and Series 72, respectively.
FINRA is considering retiring the U.K. Securities Representative registration (Series 17) and the Canadian Securities Representative registrations (Series 37 & 38). Additionally, due to technological changes, FINRA is considering retiring the Order Processing Assistant registration (Series 11).
Under the proposal, representative-level registrants who are registered, or had been registered within the past 2 years, prior to the effective date of the proposal would be eligible to maintain those registrations without being subject to any additional requirements. This means that most currently-registered individuals would be considered to have taken the SIE and it would be valid for 4 years after they leave the securities industry. Further, such individuals, with the exception of an Order Processing Assistant Representative, would be considered to have passed the SIE in FINRA’s CRD system; thus, if they wish to register in any additional representative category after the effective date of the proposal, they could do so by taking only the appropriate top-off exam. However, with respect to an individual who is not registered on the effective date of the proposal but was registered within the past two years prior to the effective date of the proposal, FINRA will administratively terminate the individual’s SIE status in the CRD system if such individual does not register with FINRA within 4 years from the date of the individual’s last registration.
FINRA says it will begin implementing changes in late 2016, starting with the SIE exam and 3 specialized exams that make up the majority of all registrations: the Investment Company and Variable Contracts Products Representative (Series 6), the General Securities Representative (Series 7), and the Investment Banking Representative (Series 79) registration categories. FINRA says the remaining top-off exams will be implemented in the first half of 2017.
Panelists at the FINRA meeting said that they are beginning to look at the principal-level qualification exam program to identify an opportunity for similar restructuring.
Questions and answers from the 2015 FINRA Annual Conference audience included:
Q. Will it be possible to take the essentials and top-off exams on the same day?
Q. What about failing and retaking?
A. If you fail the first time, FINRA says it will keep the same 30/30/180 day requirement.
Q. Will the exam question style change?
A. No, FINRA says the current question and answer style will remain the same: a multiple-choice question with four answer choices.
Q. Will the essentials content be on the top-off exams?
Q. Will there be a CE requirement for the essentials exam?
Q. How will you keep the essentials exam questions secure?
A. New security measures to prevent questions from being stolen are being developed. Also, FINRA says it has exam question pool rotation will be increased, meaning the exam questions will cycle faster than they have historically.
Q. What about the FINRA exam waiver program, will it be affected?
A. Yes, it will affect the program, but FINRA is not sure exactly how.
Q. Will the restructure affect state registration?
A. FINRA has been in touch with NASAA about the proposed exam changes and since FINRA, with the exception of retiring some registration categories, is not modifying registration rules, state registrations should not be affected much if at all.
You can find more information about the proposed restructure at: http://www.finra.org/sites/default/files/notice_doc_file_ref/Notice_Regulatory_15-20.pdf
The FINRA Notice seeks comment on the proposal from the industry and other interested persons. You can email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. The comment period ends July 27.
Before becoming effective, the proposed rule change must be authorized for filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) by the FINRA Board of Governors, and then must be filed with the SEC.
A FINRA spokesperson at the 2015 ARM Annual Education Conference recently proposed some important changes to securities exams. FINRA recently released the accompanying PowerPoint slides that cover the upcoming changes and outline other plans for the coming year. Continue reading
A FINRA spokesperson at the 2015 ARM Annual Education Conference recently proposed some important changes to securities exams. Solomon Exam Prep previously covered the main points made in FINRA’s address in our original blog post: FINRA Says Big Changes Coming to Securities Exams.
FINRA recently released the accompanying PowerPoint slides that cover the upcoming changes and outline other plans for the coming year. You can view the slides from FINRA’s presentation here (with the exam restructure information starting on slide 64): ARM 2015 Annual Educational Conference – FINRA Registration & Disclosure Systems and Policy Updates.
*Solomon Exam Prep will continue to keep you up-to-date on the latest information regarding these changes. Make sure to follow us to be alerted of any new developments.
Solomon Exam Prep has learned that FINRA is considering making the following changes to the securities exam system… Continue reading
Solomon Exam Prep has learned that FINRA is considering making the following changes to the securities exam system:
- In 2015, the Series 55 and the Series 56 will be combined to become the Series 57. The Series 57 will not have a prerequisite. A Series 57 rep will need the Series 24 to become a principal.
- In 2016, FINRA will begin a new exam, to be called the Securities Industry Essentials exam (SIE). The SIE will cover basic security industry knowledge and will become a prerequisite to the Series 6, Series 7, Series 22, Series 57, Series 79, Series 82, Series 86/87, and Series 99. You will not need be sponsored by a FINRA member firm to take the SIE. SIE exam results will not appear in BrokerCheck.
- After passing the SIE, individuals can continue on to what FINRA is calling a “top-off exam” for the Series 6, Series 7, Series 79, Series 82 and Series 99. So, for example, if someone wants to be Series 7 and Series 79 registered, the individual will take and pass the SIE then take and pass the top-off exams for the Series 7 and Series 79. FINRA says the SIE is estimated to be 100 questions, and the top-off exams will consist of the remaining balance of questions (i.e. Series 7 currently has 250 questions, so the Series 7 top-off would contain 150 questions.)
- Those who are currently registered will be grandfathered in and will not need to take the SIE.
- Individuals who have been out of the industry 2-4 years will only need to take the top off. Individuals who have been out of the industry for more than four years will need to take the SIE and top off.
- FINRA will be retiring the Series 62 exam.
Follow Solomon Exam Prep as we keep you up-to-date on these important changes.