How to Prepare for the Series 7 — Preparation Tips

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The Series 7 examination, administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), gives candidates the qualification to trade all securities, direct participation programs, options, investment company products and variable contracts. It's the first requirement for a securities professional to pass in order to advance his career and expand his services. Exam candidates usually study for considerable periods of time to attain the expertise and knowledge required to pass this test.

Review the Content Outline

  • The FINRA provides a comprehensive outline that breaks down the content of the examination so you know what subject areas to study. Even though you can get an overview of the test from other sources, such as course prep courses or online descriptions, learning about the test first-hand is a necessity as you get organized for the test. The most helpful details you'll obtain from the outline include how the four main subject areas relate to each other and intertwine. For instance, certain knowledge statements and tasks apply to job functions. All elements work together to create an effective standard of trading, and they are all integral parts of the examination. Matching up your studying components with the details listed on the outline will help you organize your thoughts into the subject areas included on the exam.

Focus on Key Content Areas

  • The four major content areas of the test are job functions, tasks, knowledge statements and rules/regulations. Within these four areas, five major job functions -- which encompass knowledge statements, tasks and rules/regulations -- are the main focus of the exam. And of these five, three job functions make up 78 percent of the content of the exam: F1 (business solicitation through customers and potentials), F4 (information sharing and making recommendations) and F5 (follow through efforts with customers). Spend most of your preparation time on these three areas to gain sufficient knowledge to pass the exam. The other two areas -- F2 (customer need/status evaluation), and F3 (account management and record keeping) -- should be studied as well. However, since they only account for 22 percent of the test, less time should be spent studying F2 and F3 than the other job functions.

Practice, Practice, Practice

  • The examination is administered using a computer terminal at the test site. All answers to multiple-choice questions must be given electronically. Because the test is given in two three-hour intervals, the 250-question exam can be quite tiring and stressful, without the added worry of botching it through computer use error. Numerous online sites provide practice examinations that simulate the experience you will receive on test day. As you practice, keep in mind that you will be given some scratch paper and a basic calculator when you arrive for the examination at the site. Practicing with anything more complex might put you at a disadvantage. Practice exams are essential to your success because they prepare you for how questions will be worded and allow you to experience what it's like to complete an exam using a computer.

Prepare Physically and Mentally

  • Not only do you have to study and practice to successfully pass the Series 7 exam, but you should also prepare your mind and body for the test. Psych yourself up beforehand, visualizing a successful outcome. Rationalizing the exam in your mind will prevent high levels of anxiety on the day of the test. Additionally, get a good night's rest and eat a small breakfast prior to exam day.

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