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Series 79 Exam Study Guide
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  • "The Solomon Exam Prep Guide to the Series 79", now in its 2nd edition, conveniently covers all of the exam topics in just the right detail and even has practice questions to give you a taste of what to expect on the exam. Once you read the book, you will understand concepts such as WACC, ROI, Green Shoe and shelf registration, not to mention Reg D, Reg S and WKSI … then you’ll be ready to start taking practice exams on the companion Solomon Exam Prep Series 79 Online Exam Simulator.

    The exam study guide is available as an online digital manual via your online student dashboard (requires Internet connection/not downloadable) or as a hard copy textbook (shipping & handling will apply).

    To view a sample click here.

  • Who needs to take the Series 79 Exam?

    If you work for a FINRA member firm (are an “associated person” in the language of the regulators) and you work as an investment banker, according to FINRA rules, you must pass the Series 79 exam and register as an Investment Banking Representative. FINRA and the SEC define investment banking as being work that falls into the following two broad categories:

    “Advising on or facilitating debt or equity securities offerings through a private placement or a public offering, including but not limited to origination, underwriting, marketing, structuring, syndication, and pricing of such securities and managing the allocation and stabilization activities of such offerings, or

    Advising on or facilitating mergers and acquisitions, tender offers, financial restructurings, asset sales, divestitures or other corporate reorganizations or business combination transactions, including, but not limited to rendering a fairness, solvency or similar opinion.”

    If you do any of the above, according to FINRA and the SEC, you need to have the Series 79 investment banking registration.

    If you want more detail, read FINRA Rule 1031, Registration Requirements, and FINRA Rule 1032, Categories of Representative Registration.

    What does the Series 79 qualify me to do?

    A Series 79 license qualifies an individual to advise on or facilitate debt or equity offerings through a private placement or public offering or to advise or facilitate mergers or acquisitions, tender offers, financial restructurings, asset sales, divestitures or other corporate reorganizations or business combination transactions. The Series 79 proves one of the most difficult exams offered by FINRA, even for the most experienced students.

    Are there any prerequisites for the Series 79?

    There are no official prerequisites for the Series 79 exam. However, accounting, finance and a fairly sophisticated understanding of the capital markets are unstated prerequisites for the Series 79. They are unstated because the industry, as represented by the FINRA Series 79 exam-writing committee, assumes that if you want to be an investment banker you need to know your stuff. Quoting FINRA “As a qualification examination, it is intended to safeguard the investing public by seeking to measure the degree to which each candidate possesses the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to perform the major functions of an entry-level investment banker.” 

    Do I need to be sponsored by a FINRA member firm?

    Yes.  In order to take the Series 79, you must be “associated with a member” which means you must be employed and sponsored by a FINRA member firm. Also, your employer has to approve your registration for the FINRA “Limited Representative -- Investment Banker” registration category. The member organization must file form U-4 on behalf of the registrant and pay the fee. Once your application has been accepted, FINRA will give you a 120-day “window” in which you can schedule and take your examination at a testing center. 

    What is on the Series 79?

    The exam is divided into four functional sections.

    Section one is “Collection, Analysis and Evaluation of Data.” With 75 questions (43% of the exam) this is the largest section of the Series 79, and, for many, it is the most challenging part of the exam. To answer questions in section one of the Series 79 exam, you need to have a working knowledge of accounting and finance. Section one of the exam requires the test-taker to be able to read financial statements and analyze based on the data.

    Section two of the exam, “Underwriting/New Financing Transactions, Types of Offerings and Registration of Securities,” is 43 questions long (25% of the exam). It is the second largest section of the 79 exam and it focuses on the registration of securities with the SEC as well as safe harbors and exemptions from registration.

    Section three, “Mergers and Acquisitions, Tender Offers and Financial Restructuring Transactions,” rings in at 34 questions (19% of the exam). Section three focuses on acquisition structures, taxes, accounting methods, bankruptcy, and the role of the sell-side and buy-side advisor during a sale. For most test-takers section three of the Series 79 is the second most challenging section of the exam, in part because much of the material is unique to the investment banking industry.

    The fourth section of the exam, “General Securities Industry Regulations,” contains 23 questions (13% of the exam). The material in section four is tested in other FINRA exams and tends to be the part of the 79 exam that most test-takers have the least difficulty with.

    What is on the Series 79?

    The exam is divided into four functional sections.

    Section one is “Collection, Analysis and Evaluation of Data.” With 75 questions (43% of the exam) this is the largest section of the Series 79, and, for many, it is the most challenging part of the exam. To answer questions in section one of the Series 79 exam, you need to have a working knowledge of accounting and finance. Section one of the exam requires the test-taker to be able to read financial statements and analyze based on the data.

    Section two of the exam, “Underwriting/New Financing Transactions, Types of Offerings and Registration of Securities,” is 43 questions long (25% of the exam). It is the second largest section of the 79 exam and it focuses on the registration of securities with the SEC as well as safe harbors and exemptions from registration.

    Section three, “Mergers and Acquisitions, Tender Offers and Financial Restructuring Transactions,” rings in at 34 questions (19% of the exam). Section three focuses on acquisition structures, taxes, accounting methods, bankruptcy, and the role of the sell-side and buy-side advisor during a sale. For most test-takers section three of the Series 79 is the second most challenging section of the exam, in part because much of the material is unique to the investment banking industry.

    The fourth section of the exam, “General Securities Industry Regulations,” contains 23 questions (13% of the exam). The material in section four is tested in other FINRA exams and tends to be the part of the 79 exam that most test-takers have the least difficulty with.

    What is on the Series 79?

    The exam is divided into four functional sections.

    Section one is “Collection, Analysis and Evaluation of Data.” With 75 questions (43% of the exam) this is the largest section of the Series 79, and, for many, it is the most challenging part of the exam. To answer questions in section one of the Series 79 exam, you need to have a working knowledge of accounting and finance. Section one of the exam requires the test-taker to be able to read financial statements and analyze based on the data.

    Section two of the exam, “Underwriting/New Financing Transactions, Types of Offerings and Registration of Securities,” is 43 questions long (25% of the exam). It is the second largest section of the 79 exam and it focuses on the registration of securities with the SEC as well as safe harbors and exemptions from registration.

    Section three, “Mergers and Acquisitions, Tender Offers and Financial Restructuring Transactions,” rings in at 34 questions (19% of the exam). Section three focuses on acquisition structures, taxes, accounting methods, bankruptcy, and the role of the sell-side and buy-side advisor during a sale. For most test-takers section three of the Series 79 is the second most challenging section of the exam, in part because much of the material is unique to the investment banking industry.

    The fourth section of the exam, “General Securities Industry Regulations,” contains 23 questions (13% of the exam). The material in section four is tested in other FINRA exams and tends to be the part of the 79 exam that most test-takers have the least difficulty with.

    How long is the exam?

    The exam is five hours long. You can take a break but the clock is ticking while you do so don’t to dawdle. There is no penalty for wrong answers, so if you run short of time, try to answer every question, even if you have to guess.

    How many questions are on the exam?

    There are 175 scored questions and 10 unscored “pretest” questions, making the Series 79 exam 185 questions long. The 10 unscored ”pretest” questions are not identified and distributed randomly throughout the exam. 

    What score do I need to pass the exam?

    FINRA has not published a passing score for the Series 79, instead they say that they grade the exam on a “floating curve” which means that “the passing score will fluctuate moderately from examination to examination.” Those who have taken the Series 79 and passed, generally report getting a minimum score of 73% or 74%. 

    How much does the exam cost?

    The cost of the exam is $305 at this writing.

    How often is the exam updated?

    The 14-member FINRA Series 79 exam committee meets regularly and they work hard to keep the questions fresh, accurate and relevant. You should assume that the 79 exam will test current laws and practices.

    How hard is the Series 79 exam?

    Solomon Exam Prep customers who have passed the Series 79 exam say that it is a difficult exam, particularly for test-takers who do not have education and work experience in accounting and finance. Additionally, the Series 79 exam requires a broad knowledge of the rules, regulations and industry practices that govern US capital markets and investment banking. 

    How hard is the Series 79 exam?

    Solomon Exam Prep customers who have passed the Series 79 exam say that it is a difficult exam, particularly for test-takers who do not have education and work experience in accounting and finance. Additionally, the Series 79 exam requires a broad knowledge of the rules, regulations and industry practices that govern US capital markets and investment banking. 

    How does the Series 79 compare to the Series 7?

    Quotes from individuals who have taken and passed both exams:

    “The Series 79 is ten times harder than the Series 7.”

    “Like comparing Earth (Series 7) to Jupiter (Series 79).”

    “The Series 7 was easy compared to the 79, the 79 is more like the CFA.”


    How should I study for the Series 79?

    Solomon Exam Prep recommends the following study schedule: read the "Solomon Exam Prep Guide to the Series 79 Exam." As you read the guide, take handwritten notes, or make flashcards, preferably in your own words. Taking handwritten notes or writing flashcards strengthens learning and memory. Review your notes or flashcards every day. At the end of each chapter, log on to the Solomon Exam Prep Series 79 Online Exam Simulator and take six 20-question practice quizzes. Read the rationales and do not worry about your scores. Read each chapter in the book in this way, and when you have finished reading the entire Solomon Exam Prep Series 79 Study Guide, review your handwritten notes or flashcards once more. At this point, you are ready to practice on the Online Exam Simulator; take several full or half practice exams on the Solomon Exam Prep Series 79 Online Exam Simulator. Your goal should be an average score in the high-80s.

    As you study for the Series 79, strive to understand the concepts, terms, and formulas and how they relate to each other. Rote memorization is not enough. The 79 exam asks complex questions that require analysis and insight. If you have trouble mastering the material for the Series 79 exam, consider using the Solomon Exam Prep Series 79 On-Demand Study Course.

    Overconfidence is the #1 reason people do not pass. Successful test-takers often say that they “over-studied.” By “over-studying” they are able to pass the Series 79 the first time. Generally, this means that they read the book, often more than once, and they research anything they don’t understand. They make flashcards. They seek help if they feel they need it. Successful 79 students take responsibility for their own success, and they work much harder than those who do not pass.

    Test-taking strategies for the Series 79 exam

    Monitor your time. Most test-takers say that time is a factor. Remember that the exam clock keeps ticking if you take a break.

    When you encounter a long question, before you read the entire question, skip to the final lines to find out what is actually being asked, then go back to the beginning of the question and read the question carefully.

    You are not penalized for wrong answers so make sure you answer every question.

    Where/when can I take the test?

    Like other securities exams, you take the Series 79 at FINRA’s testing vendors: Pearson or Prometric.

    You can take the test daily, excluding holidays. Not all testing centers are open Sundays. Details on testing centers can be found here.

    When can I take the test?

    Daily, excluding holidays.

    Note: Not all testing centers are open on Sundays. Check your preferred testing center for availability.

    What do they give me when I go into the exam?

    You will receive an exhibits booklet, a simple calculator and a small whiteboard and pen or scratch paper and pencil. You are not allowed to bring any materials with you into the exam room. No food or water, for example. People who have taken the exam recommend being well hydrated before going into the exam.

    What can I expect at the testing center?

    Testing centers can be hot, cold, loud, smelly, crowded, empty … you name it. Be mentally prepared. Also, to prevent cheating, testing centers have become like airports in their security measures. So be prepared to be wanded, poked, and scrutinized.

    Basic calculators are available at testing centers. You are not allowed to bring your own. Don’t expect a financial calculator. Scratch paper is often not provided. Instead, you will likely be provided with a small erasable whiteboard to use.

    If you don’t know the answer to a question, guess at the answer and “flag” it. You will not be penalized for guessing. After you have finished all the questions, you can come back to any flagged questions. Don’t spend too long on one question—this may cause you to run out of time and not get to other questions you know.

    Come to the exam rested, hydrated, and nourished—no food or drinks (including water bottles) are allowed in the testing room. Watches are also not allowed—your computer screen will have a timer at the top, left-hand corner to remind you of the time.

    Map out where the testing center is the night before, and DON’T FORGET YOUR ID!

    When will I learn whether I passed?

    Immediately at the testing center.

    If I fail can I take the Series 79 again?

    If you fail the exam, FINRA makes you wait 30 days before you can reschedule. If you fail the test three times, the waiting period is six months.

    If you were within ten points of a passing score, Solomon Exam Prep recommends that you redouble your efforts, work very hard, and retake ASAP. The longer you wait, the more you will forget and have to relearn. Also, the sooner you retake the exam the more likely you will encounter questions that you saw before. But the key when you retake is to prepare and learn what you need to. Take a class if you didn't the first time. Take notes on anything you don't understand. Re-read the textbook. Make flash cards. Get a study buddy if you can. Try not to leave anything to chance. You came close the first time and you don't want to have to take the exam a third time.


    Is there an alternative securities license?

    If your investment banking work is limited to structuring private securities, FINRA says you can register either as an Investment Banking Representative and pass the Series 79 or as a Private Securities Offerings Representative and pass the Series 82 Exam instead. Ask your firm’s compliance officer.

    Do I need to take any other securities exams?

    According to FINRA the Investment Banking Registration does NOT cover sales or marketing of debt or equity securities to investors or potential investors. In order to make investor presentations an investment banker with the Series 79 registration would also need to be “registered as an General Securities Representative (Series 7), Corporate Securities Representative (Series 62) or Private Securities Offerings Representative (Series 82) depending on the type of offering being made.” 
    Additionally, in order to comply with state securities regulations most individuals with the 79 investment banking registration pass the NASAA Series 63 exam as well. Check with your firm’s compliance officer to determine if this registration applies to you.

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    Should you wish to return part or all of your purchase the following return policy will apply:

    Merchandise is nonreturnable and nonrefundable once it has been received. The definition of received is as follows :

    • Shipped products including Study Guides and Audiobooks - Any item that is shipped will be considered received once it has been removed from its paper wrapping.
    • Exam Simulators, Video Lectures/On-Demand Classes, and audiobooks (MP3 Streaming + Download) - These products are considered received if an individual has activated the product, logged in for more than 15 minutes, and/or has logged in more than once.
    • Live Online Classes- Classes are considered received once an individual has logged into a session even if they do not participate in the duration of the lesson(s).

    Shipping and Handling is nonrefundable under any circumstances.  Solomon Exam Prep is not responsible for any Shipping and Handling costs required to return any merchandise.

    All shipped products must be returned in original condition.

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    Once a purchase is complete all return requests must be received within the following time line:

    • 72 hours from receipt for online and downloadable products
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    If returned merchandise meets all of the above requirements, a credit will be added to the credit card used at the time of purchase.  The refunded amount will be the amount paid for the product at the time of purchase less the $10 processing fee and will not include any shipping and handling fees. 

    If returned merchandise does not meet all of the above requirements, no refunds will be awarded.

    All products purchased from Solomon Exam Prep either online or by phone are subject to this return policy. If you have any questions about this policy please contact us by phone at 503-601-0212 or email at info@solomonexamprep.com.

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