Frequently Asked Questions
About the SIE exam
When did the SIE exam begin?
October 1, 2018.
What does the SIE exam test?
The SIE exam tests fundamental securities-related knowledge, including knowledge of basic products, such as stocks, bonds and mutual funds. It will also test securities industry rules and regulations.
Do I need to be employed or sponsored in order to take the SIE?
No, unlike other FINRA licensing exams, you do not need to be employed or sponsored in order to take the SIE exam.
Do I need to take the SIE before other licensing exams?
Not necessarily, the SIE is a corequisite for the representative-level top off exams, and the MSRB Series 52. You may take your top-off exam before the SIE, but you must pass both in order to become a registered representative. Most municipal and NASAA exams do not require the SIE (with the exception of the Series 52). Finally, if you passed a representative-level exam on or prior to October 1st, 2018, you do not need to take the SIE exam.
What is a Top-off exam? Can I take it with the SIE?
The SIE covers basic or "essential" securities industry knowledge. When FINRA introduced the SIE, they also introduced new, shorter versions of their specialized representative-level exams (such as the Series 7, Series 6 or Series 79). These exams “top-off” your knowledge of the industry with more specific information based on which one you take, thus the name “top-off exam." You may choose to study for your SIE and top-off exam simultaneously, and even take them on the same day if you would like. However, most people take the SIE first and then take a representative-level (top-off) exam. Note: for students taking the SIE and a top-off exam, see discounted Solomon Exam Prep Top-Off bundles here.
Does the SIE make me a “registered representative?”
No. In order to be a registered representative, in addition to passing the SIE exam, you must get hired by a broker-dealer. Your employer must then sponsor you to take a representative-level qualifying exam, also known as a top-off exam, such as the Series 6, Series 7, or Series 79. Once you pass a top-off exam, you will be registered with FINRA and then be considered a registered representative.
Who needs to take the SIE
If I was registered before the SIE started to be required, do I have to take the SIE?
If you were a registered representative before October 1, 2018, and you have maintained your registration after October 1, 2018, FINRA has credited you with the SIE automatically.
If I was once a registered representative but my registration lapsed, do I have to take the SIE if I want to re-enter the securities industry?
If your registration lapses, you can be outside the industry for up to four years before you would need to take the SIE. In other words, you will not have to take the SIE, provided you register as a representative within four years from the date of your last registration. After four years pass, you would need to take the SIE before reentering the industry. For example, if you left the industry on October 31, 2018, you have until October 31, 2022, to become registered again before you would need to take the SIE.
However, a two-year timeline applies to the top-off exams, such as the Series 6 or Series 7. In other words, after two years outside the industry, if you want to become registered again, you will have to retake the top-off exam.
What if my registration lapsed or terminated before October 1, 2014?
In order to get re-registered, you will have to pass the SIE and any relevant top-off exam, such as the Series 6 or Series 7.
What if I am registered in an exam license that is being retired by FINRA, will I have to take the SIE exam?
If you are registered in an exam license that FINRA is retiring, such as the Series 11, Series 62, Series 42 or Series 72, you will not have to take the SIE. You will only have to take the SIE if you left the industry for more than two years and your license expired.
If you return to the industry within two years, you will not have to take the SIE.
What if I want to become a municipal securities representative? Is the SIE relevant?
The MSRB has coordinated its licensing exams with the new SIE. After October 2018, to become a Municipal Securities Representative you will need to first take the SIE and then a revised “top-off” version of the Series 52 exam.
If I hold a representative level securities license (a Series 6 or Series 7, for example) and I want to get another representative level securities license (the Series 79 or Series 82, for example), do I have to take the SIE?
No, regardless of whether you took the SIE originally or not (based on the date of your registration), if you are already a registered representative and your registration has not lapsed, you don't need to take the SIE to get another representative level license.
Do I need the SIE to sell variable annuities?
Yes, you must take the SIE, as well as a representative level exam (such as the Series 6) to sell variable annuities. You must also be employed by a registered broker-dealer.
Preparing for the SIE exam
How long should I prepare for the SIE exam?
Solomon recommends studying for 60 hours. Depending on your timeframe, you can choose a 4, 6, 8, or 11-week Solomon study schedule.
How do I prepare for the SIE exam?
Solomon offers a complete SIE study program, which includes digital Study Guide, Exam Simulator, Audiobook, Video Lecture, Flashcards, and Live Web Classes. Visit the Solomon SIE page to learn more.
Signing up for the SIE exam
How do I enroll to take the SIE?
To enroll for the SIE Exam, follow the instructions on the FINRA website here.
Where should I go to schedule my exam?
After you register with FINRA to take the SIE Exam, you must then schedule a time to sit for the exam with Prometric, FINRA’s testing service. Prometric offers online or in person exam sessions.
Does the 120-day “exam window” still apply to the SIE?
Yes, FINRA gives you a 120-day window within which you may schedule your SIE exam.
If I work at a FINRA broker-dealer, how do I register an individual to take the SIE exam?
FINRA member firms have two options for registering an employee:
1. File Form U4 requesting a registration position. When a person takes the SIE this way, the result will be visible in CRD just like any other exam.
2. Request the SIE through CRD via a non-Form U4 enrollment process. The firm will be able to view the SIE result as part of this process if the firm subsequently files a Form U4 requesting a registration position for this person. Once this happens, the SIE result will become viewable in the Exam History section in CRD.
Taking the SIE exam
Who can take the SIE exam?
Anyone 18 years and older can take the SIE.
How is the exam administered?
The exam is administered via computer, either remotely or in a testing center.
How much does it cost to take the SIE?
The SIE costs $80.
Do I need any materials on test day?
You need not bring any materials on test day apart from the required forms of identification. A calculator is provided on the testing application, as well as a virtual “notepad” for you to jot things down. If you are testing remotely, this notepad does not carry over from one question to another, and you must input your entries on your keyboard. If you are testing in person, they will provide you with a physical notepad as well.
How many questions are there on the SIE exam?
There are 85 questions, 10 of which are unscored, for a total of 75 scored questions.
How much time do I have to take the exam?
You will have 105 minutes to take the exam.
Can I skip between questions on the exam?
If you choose to take the exam in a testing center, you may navigate back and forth between questions, and thus go back to a question if you want to change your answer. If you take the exam remotely, you are unable to go back.
What are my options to take the SIE with COVID-19 precautions?
Prometric launched their service ProProctor in June 2020, which allows exam takers to sit for certain exams online. There are many anti-cheating regulations that FINRA requires, so consult Prometric’s ProProctor Info, or our blog post on the process to see how it works.
When taking an exam in person at a Prometric testing center, there may be certain safety precautions in place. Consult this page on Prometric’s website to see their updates.
Will there be other students present at the exam?
If you are testing in a testing center, there may be other individuals taking their exam while you take yours. Prometric has taken steps to assure that COVID-19 regulations are followed in this case.
Is it possible to take the SIE and a representative-level exam on the same day?
Yes, but you must schedule each exam separately.
SIE exam results
What is the passing score of the SIE?
When do I receive my score on the SIE exam?
The Prometric system will notify you of whether you passed immediately after you finish your exam. You will only receive a score if you fail the exam. If you take the exam in person at a testing center, you will receive a printed confirmation of your result. If you take the exam remotely using ProProctor, you will receive an encrypted email with your SIE pass results.
How long is a passing score on the SIE valid?
The SIE exam is valid for four years from the date you pass.
What happens if I fail the SIE exam?
If you fail the SIE, you can retake it, but you will have to wait 30 days. FINRA maintains a 30/30/180-day rule with respect to the SIE, as well as all other exams. This means that you must wait 30 days after the first time you fail, and another 30 days if you fail again. If you fail a third time, you will have to wait 180 days to retake the exam. For any attempts after the third attempt, the waiting period is also 180 days.
If I am an employer and I work for a broker-dealer, am I able to find out whether a job candidate or any individual passed the SIE?
The SIE alone does not appear on FINRA BrokerCheck or CRD, but once a firm files a U4, it will be pulled into the individual’s CRD history. Once an individual passes a representative-level exam, the SIE will appear in BrokerCheck.