Series 63 Exam Breakdown: Not the Hardest Exam, But Not Easy

Series 63 Exam Breakdown dancing photo

At Professional Exam Tutoring, we pride ourselves in our experience teaching FINRA exams – not so much in our dance abilities. The Series 63 Exam breakdown is a little different however. First of all, the exam is administered by FINRA but actually a North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) exam.  Second, the exam is one of the shortest out there. We mention a few other important points below.

Since this is usually the last of the regulatory exams our students take on their way to becoming registered reps it doesn’t get much attention. That said, we have seen many fail it. Today we break down why that’s the case.


Series 63 Breakdown

Let’s first tackle some important points of the Series 63 exam (as mentioned by FINRA’s website):

  • The exam is multiple choice
  • 60 questions
  • 75 minutes (1 hour 15 minutes)
  • Passing score is 43/60 (or 71.67%)
  • No corequisite (you can take it in any order – E.g., before the SIE, or after)
  • Cost = $135

You may notice that the Series 63 exam is slightly different than the SIE Exam and the Series 7 Top-Off exam in that there are no additional “experimental questions.” The Series 63 exam has 60 questions, and only 60 questions. The exam does not typically take our students very long at all, and time is not usually an issue in our students’ experience.

However, what we most consistently see as a sticking point are the many double negatives. But that’s a different topic altogether.


Double Negatives

When preparing for the Series 63 exam, you might feel more like you are studying for law school than finance. The exam involves a lot of legalities and rules related to requirements when registering with a state or at the federal level as an investment advisor, and/or broker-dealer. Deciphering the difference between a security that is exempt from registration vs non-exempt, or a transaction that is exempt from registration or non-exempt trips up a lot of people. To complicate things, practice questions can be worded in such a way that you may be asked to identify all “non-exempt securities EXCEPT…”

An “exempt security” is one that mustn’t register. A non-exempt security is one that must. But when you throw in “except”, it takes you back to not having to register.

Now imagine 60 questions like this…


Don’t Take it Lightly

In short, aim as high as you can. We have (recently) seen a student score in the low 80s on their Kaplan practice exams and miss the real exam by five points. Unfortunately their work pressured them into taking the exam sooner than later so there was no room to push the date back. This can happen. The best thing to do is start as early as you can and study as long as you can. Aim for scores in the mid-80s at a minimum. If you can score in the high-80s and 90s, even better. This exam is not as difficult as the Series 7 Top-Off exam, but still requires quite a bit of work. Most of it will be memorization. It typically represents one last hurdle before becoming fully licensed. Keep running as fast as you can until you are a foot or two past the finish line. For help, try a Series 63 tutor. Otherwise, we wish you the best of luck!

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