The Series 7 exam is by no means easy and requires a lot of concentration and preparation. Not only do you need a deep understanding of the material covered, you must also perfect your test-taking skills. The more practice questions you take and review, the better.
Topics covered on the Series 7 Exam
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or FINRA, administers the Series 7 exam, which consists of questions from several different categories. The following is FINRA’s breakdown of the Series 7 exam:
FINRA’s Breakdown of the Series 7 Exam
|Major Job Functions
|Number of Questions
|Seeks business for the broker-dealer through customers and potential customers
|Opens accounts after obtaining and evaluating customers’ financial profile and investment objectives
|Provides customer with information about investments, makes recommendations, transfers assets, and maintains appropriate records
|Obtains and verifies customers’ purchases, sales instructions, and agreements; processes, completes, and confirms transactions
You are graded on a total of 125 multiple choice questions. However, the computerized examination includes 135 questions of which 10 questions are experimental (for future exams) and don’t count for or against your grade. These questions are randomly distributed throughout the test, and you won’t necessarily know which ones they are.
You are given up to 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete the exam.
When taking the exam, you have to answer each question before you can move to the next. If you aren’t confident in your answer, you can mark it for review and look at it again before you end the exam. Quite often, students change a right answer to a wrong one; so only change your answer if you are sure that you’ve made a mistake.
You will receive your grade and a printout detailing your score shortly after submitting the second half of your exam. The passing score is 72 percent, so each question is worth eight-tenths of a point.
Preparing for the Series 7 Exam
Test taking is a skill. It is important that you take a lot of practice exams before attempting the real deal Series 7. And take the practice exams as much like the real exam as possible.
This means timing yourself, taking 125-question practice exams from start to finish, using scrap paper, and improving your test-taking ability. No matter what multiple choice exam you are taking, the following tips will definitely help you score higher on the exam:
- Don’t jump to conclusions. By the time you take the real Series 7 exam, you will probably have taken so many practice questions that you will be ready to answer the question before reading the answers. Read each question fully to make sure that you know what the question is asking. If you are not sure, read it again. Pay particular attention to the last sentence of the question.
- Look out for key words that can change the question such as: EXCEPT, ALWAYS, NOT, ALL, NONE, and so on. I suggest that when you first start taking practice exams that you either highlight or underline these words so that you focus on them.
- Use a calculator when necessary to avoid making careless math mistakes.
- If the answer isn’t apparent to you right away, eliminate any wrong answers that you can. In other words, don’t “C” your way through. Every wrong answer that you eliminate increases your chance of getting the answer correct. Considering the size of the Series 7 exam, this approach could be the difference between passing and failing.
- If you can’t answer the question right away and you have eliminated whatever wrong answers you can, take your best guess from the remaining answers and mark it for review. Very often, another question will turn on the light switch and help you answer a question that you have marked for review earlier in the exam.
- Don’t stress about questions that take a long time to answer. The Series 7 is designed in such a way that some questions will take you 20 seconds, and some will take you 2 minutes. It is very rare for people to run out of time. Questions are weighted in a way that makes more difficult questions worth more than average, and the easier ones are worth less than average.
- Focus on just the information in each question that will help you get the correct answer. Very often, the test developers add superfluous information to the questions, which is meant to distract you and make it harder to get the right answer.
- Only review the questions that you have marked for review. At the end, you will have a choice of reviewing the questions that you have marked for review, or you can review all of the questions. The test is long and hard, so you don’t need to be sitting there wasting time second guessing yourself.
- Only change an answer if you are sure that you’ve made a mistake. This is very important advice. More often than not, your first guess will be better than your second guess.
Use your scrap paper (or whiteboard) for questions besides those requiring math equations. Obviously, when you are taking a written practice exam, it is easy to cross off wrong answers or underline key information in the question. When taking the real Series 7, you will be working on a computer and won’t be able to underline or cross anything out.
Use your scrap paper for the questions that you are going to mark for review. You can write down the question number, note any keywords, write down your letter choices (or Roman numeral choices), and then cross off the wrong answers.
- Make flash cards of the formulas and/or definitions that you are having trouble remembering. The Series 7 contains so much information that it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to commit everything to memory. Arrive at the test site early and sit in your car to study those flash cards. When you go in to take your exam, immediately write down those formulas and/or things you’re having trouble remembering.