The SIE exam explained
The SIE, short for the Securities Industry Essentials exam, is a new test required by FINRA for those looking to get a job in finance. The test covers all of the fundamentals you will need to know while working in the finance industry.
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Why take the SIE?
In order to engage in securities business, you are first required to pass the FINRA Securities Securities Industry Essentials (SIE or Essentials) Exam.

Applying to financial firms with your SIE credentials in hand is the best way to get a hand over the competition. It shows your potential employers that you already grasp the basics of the profession, and that you've taken the initiative to learn about and pass this required test. Not only that, but hiring a pre-qualified applicant also saves them the time and money of training someone without the credentials.

Which candidate do you think is stronger?
What's on the SIE?
The SIE covers the fundamentals that you'll need for any role in finance, regardless of the specific field you might want to specialize in.
Knowledge of Capital Markets
The basics, laws, and regulations of the financial markets. You’ll need to know the primary and secondary markets, the regulators (SEC and FINRA), and their rules (Act of 1933, etc).
12 questions, 16%
Understanding Products and their Risks
The products of the financial markets, which include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, and options. You’ll need to know what these products are, the risks of investing in them, and how they benefit investors.
33 questions, 44%
Understanding Trading, Customer Accounts and Prohibited Activities
How customers buy and sell securities in their accounts. You’ll need to know different types of orders and accounts, how those orders are entered into the market, and the regulations that govern these activities.
23 questions, 31%
Overview of Regulatory Framework
How financial professionals operate in their jobs and the rules that govern their activities. You’ll need to know FINRA and SEC rules, ethics of working with clients, and general procedures for financial professionals.
7 questions, 9%
TopicDescription
Knowledge of Capital Markets
12 questions, 16%
The basics, laws, and regulations of the financial markets. You’ll need to know the primary and secondary markets, the regulators (SEC and FINRA), and their rules (Act of 1933, etc).
Understanding Products and their Risks
33 questions, 44%
The products of the financial markets, which include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, and options. You’ll need to know what these products are, the risks of investing in them, and how they benefit investors.
Understanding Trading, Customer Accounts and Prohibited Activities
23 questions, 31%
How customers buy and sell securities in their accounts. You’ll need to know different types of orders and accounts, how those orders are entered into the market, and the regulations that govern these activities.
Overview of Regulatory Framework
7 questions, 9%
How financial professionals operate in their jobs and the rules that govern their activities. You’ll need to know FINRA and SEC rules, ethics of working with clients, and general procedures for financial professionals.
From there, you will take what's called a 'Top-off Exam' based on your specialty.

Common top-offs include:
  • Series 6: Investment Company Representative (IR)
  • Series 7: General Securities Representative (GS)
  • Series 22: DPP Representative (DR)
  • Series 57: Securities Trader (TD)
  • Series 79: Investment Banking Representative (IB)
  • Series 82: Private Securities Offerings Representative (PR)
  • Series 86 and 87: Research Analyst (RS)
  • Series 99: Operations Professional (OS)
You should take the SIE before applying to entry-level roles, but you will need to be employed by a FINRA-registered firm to sit for a top-off exam.
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Key stats for the SIE exam
Number of questions: 75
Passing grade: 70% (53/75)
Format: Multiple choice
Duration: 1 hour and 45 minutes
Cost: $60
Who should take the SIE?

Anyone looking to improve their chances of getting a job on Wall Street should take the SIE. It demonstrates that you know the material and can successfully execute against it, AND that you took the initiative to research the industry and go the extra mile for your application. What recruiter doesn’t want that?


Another important trend is that the hiring profile for major financial institutions is changing. Employers are no longer just interested in finance students and spreadsheet jockeys – they know that their business is becoming people and service oriented, and are shifting their efforts towards hiring smart and driven people from those majors and industries. The clients we work with tell us that they are actively looking to hire qualified bartenders, baristas, liberal arts majors, drama majors – not only the traditional hiring profile you might have thought! Regardless of your background, passing the SIE will give you a BIG advantage by showing mastery of the subject matter versus other applicants.

What jobs require the SIE?

Practically every role in finance requires passing the SIE.

  • Research Analyst
  • Wealth Management Adviser
  • Investment Banker
  • Investment Adviser
  • Equity Trader
  • Bond Trader
  • Insurance Sales
  • Mutual Fund Sales
  • Compliance Officers
  • Operations Analyst
  • Financial Consultant

... just to name a few.

How hard is the SIE?
The SIE is an entry-level exam, meant to be challenging but approachable to anyone - including people that do not have a traditional finance background.
Problem solving
You will be expected to use logic and the evidence presented to deduce the correct answer from multiple choices. This isn’t too different from what you’ve already done with the SAT or in school – the difference is the subject matter and remembering which rules or calculations apply.
Math
Finance has math – there’s no way around it. Fortunately, the math in the SIE is straightforward and more a matter of how you apply it rather than doing complex calculations. It's the standard PEDMAS: parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction.
Memorization
It’s maybe not everyone’s favorite part of the test, but you will need to memorize some key regulations and other information to pass.

Achievable has adaptive, memory-tracked flashcards built into our course to ensure you'll remember all the material you've learned on test day.
How long does it take to prepare for the SIE?
FINRA expects students to spend around 50 hours to be suitably prepared to pass the SIE. Keep in mind - the test is pretty new, so the industry is still collecting data on this.

We can't study for you, but the learning science behind Achievable is tremendously efficient. We track your progress through the content and schedule reviews at the optimal time to improve you retention - getting you the most out of every minute you spend studying.
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