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?
You will also be required to take the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam, unless you have passed certain other licensing exams (such as the Series 7) prior to October 1st, 2018.
How long should I prepare for this exam?
We recommend studying 110 hours over a six-week period.
What is on the Series 79?
The questions on the Series 79 exam are drawn from three different subject areas that FINRA deems to represent the major job functions of entry-level investment bankers:
Number of Test Questions on the Series 79 Exam by Major Job Function
Major Job Function
Number of Questions
Collection, Analysis and Evaluation of Data
Underwriting/New Financing Transactions, Types of Offerings and Registration of Securities
Mergers and Acquisitions, Tender Offers and Financial Restructuring Transactions
The questions are presented randomly; in other words, the exam itself is not divided into three sections. Questions from each section appear throughout the exam.
How long is the exam?
The exam is 2 hours and 30 minutes 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 75 scored questions and 10 unscored “pretest” questions, making the Series 79 exam 85 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?
A score of 73% is required for passing.
Note: Your score will be rounded down to the next lowest whole number (e.g. 72.9% would be a final score of 72%--not a passing score for the Series 79 Exam).
How much does the exam cost?
The cost of the exam is $245 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 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.”
Where/when can I take the test?
Like other securities exams, you take the Series 79 at FINRA’s testing vendor: Prometric
You can take the test daily, excluding holidays. Not all testing centers are open Sundays.
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.
What do they give me when I go into the exam?
At the test center, you will be given a dry erase pen and whiteboard or a pencil and scratch paper, a basic electronic calculator, and an Exhibits Book. The Exhibits Book may be presented on your computer or as a physical pamphlet. You may not bring notes, paper, or your own calculator. Phones and watches are not permitted either. Many of the questions will refer to tables or charts in the Exhibits Book, and some questions will require you to perform calculations. The exam is administered electronically—no bubbling in the oval required—but the computer format can be tricky. Before the exam, you will have the opportunity to take a tutorial on how the electronic system works. You should take the tutorial, since some people find the system awkward to use at first, and you don’t want to use valuable test time dealing with technical issues. You will be given your results immediately after you press the submit button.
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.”
You will also be required to take the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam, unless you have passed certain other licensing exams (such as the 7 or 82) prior to October 1st, 2018.
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.
Where can I get additional information about the Series 79?
Additional information can be found on the FINRA website: http://www.finra.org/industry/series79
If I stop working for my firm, how long will my Series 79 license remain active?
You will have two years between jobs before the license expires.
When you cease working for a firm, your employer will file a Form U5 to terminate your registration. Your next employer will file a Form U4, which will re-register you. As long as you do not exceed two years between employers, your Series 79 license will remain active.
General exam questions? See our general FAQs.
For information about Solomon Series 79 exam study materials, please click here.
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