The Series 3, or National Commodities Futures Examination, is a test administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). You’re eligible to sell commodity futures contracts once you pass this exam— which makes it an important stepping stone in your professional commodity trading career.

With 120 multiple choice questions, it’s a little shorter than the Series 7. However, you shouldn’t assume that you’re ready to take this exam if you’ve already earned your SIE and top-off; you’ll want to study the specific concepts covered on this test and meet all of the National Futures Association (NFA) proficiency requirements. 

Sounds like a lot of work? Here’s the good news:

There are tons of great online Series 3 exam study guides you can use to help you prepare for the exam. With a lot of the busywork taken care of, you’ll be able to focus on the most important thing: passing the Series 3 and starting your career trading futures and options.

4 Best Series 3 Exam Prep Courses

1. Best Series 3 Study Guide: Securities Institute of America Series 3

2. Runner-up Best Series 3 Exam Prep Course: Securities Training Corporation Series 3

3. Series 3 Exam Prep: Kaplan Series 3 Online Course

4. Series 3 Study Materials: Knopman Marks Series 3 Exam Prep Course

Check out our top picks and see how they stack up:

1. Securities Institute of America Series 3 Study Material

Securities Institute of America Course

Securities Institute of America is the best option due to their excellent materials and high pass rates. All of their course materials have been written by industry experts and published by Wiley, and their course boasts a 90% pass rate.

Course Details

Securities Institute of America tailored their course to fit all learning styles. You can get textbooks, videos, and practice exams to prepare for many different FINRA/NFA exams on your own terms. 

Their Series 3 exam prep course is no less impressive; the whole curriculum effectively demonstrates professional knowledge, shows you how to apply it, and then offers additional insight into real-world applications.

Here’s what you get:

  • 2021 Study Guide & eBook
  • 850 Test Questions
  • Unlimited Practice Exams
  • 9 Hours of Video Lessons
  • Pass Guarantee
  • 6 Month Course Access

Securities Institute Series 3 Pros and Cons

  • Multiple Learning Styles: Every online course comes with several different types of study materials in order to appeal to all learning styles. This includes self study, video lectures, qualification exams, and more. According to Securities CE students, it’s easier to stay engaged with the exam prep course material when presented in these different ways. 
  • Modular Purchases: If you want, you only need to buy a few specific resources instead of the entire course. Don’t want the textbooks? You don’t need to pay for them. Just focus on what you care about and lower your study costs at the same time.

  • No Classroom Course – Unfortunately, Securities Institute of America doesn’t offer any live, in person courses. Fortunately, they do offer live online classes that mimic this kind of study environment, but it’s still not as good as the real thing.

Bottom Line:

Securities Institute of America is an excellent choice for anyone looking to study with multiple types of materials. This company will keep you engaged and learning for far longer than other Series 3 courses.


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2. STCUSA Series 3 Study Guide

Securities Training Corporation Exam Prep

Next up is the Securities Training Corporation Series 3 course. Their exam prep course is much more traditional and focuses heavily on live lectures. This allows you to make a consistent study schedule and meet your goals naturally by following along with each lesson.

Course Details

STC’s materials have been carefully designed to simplify the process of preparing for your exam. Their technology and curriculum are always being updated to deliver current information in a direct and understandable way.

How to Study For Your Securities and Insurance Licensing Exams

You can choose from three different Exam Preparation Packages depending on your budget and personal preferences. Here’s a short list of the things included:

  • Crunch Time Facts
  • Instructor Hotline
  • 6-Month Enrollment Period
  • Study Guides
  • Progress Exams
  • On Demand Lectures
  • Flashcards
  • Live Classes
  • Pass Guarantee

STC Series 3 Pros and Cons

  • Live Lectures – STCUSA focuses heavily on their live lecture format. These are available both online and in person. Each of these teaches you essential test concepts in a traditional classroom format; it also means you can get quick answers to your questions.
  • State of the Art Technology – Each online course comes equipped with different analytics, progress trackers, and a mobile app. This lets you know exactly how well you’re doing at any time and work whenever you want. It all ties into practice tests that evaluate when you’re ready to pass the exam.

  • Limited Individual Purchases – If you’re only interested in one or two aspects of the exam prep course, you should look elsewhere. Currently, the only materials that can be purchased individually are flashcards and webinars. If you want just the study guides or practice problems then you’re simply out of luck here, as those are gated behind the full course purchase.

Bottom Line:

STCUSA is an excellent choice for someone who wants a more traditional study experience. Each live classroom has been designed to help you through the process as quickly and effectively as possible.

3. Kaplan Series 3 Study Guides

Kaplan Financial Education FINRA

All of Kaplan’s Series 3 exam materials are designed with the essentials in mind; the aim is to provide you with a fast and easy study plan that effectively prepares you to take the exam. It’s a great pick if you want to save a lot of time and don’t mind a quick schedule.

Despite the reduced time requirements, you’ll still have free reign to build your own study calendar. Once you enter your exam date, you can determine how long you want your study schedule to be. After that, you’ll be guided through a series of lessons, quizzes, and reading assignments designed to prepare you for the test.

You’ll also get these materials once you enroll:

  • Exam Tips and Content Updates
  • Practice Exam and Mastery Exam
  • SecuritiesPro QBank
  • Performance Tracker
  • Class Notes
  • Checkpoint Exams
  • Study Calendar

Kaplan Series 3 Pros & Cons

  • Checkpoint Exams: Although you’re mostly given free reign to work through Kaplan’s study materials, regular checkpoint exams are available. These help you gauge whether you’re on track to pass your exam according to a specialized study schedule— so it’s highly recommended that you take advantage of this feature!
  • Extra Notes: Each class session included with Kaplan’s Series 3 exam prep course comes with corresponding notes available on both digital and physical formats. This is a great way to follow along with your instructor and reinforce each point they make. You can even write extra notes in the margins for a personal touch.

  • Refund Policy: Although Kaplan will refund your course if you’re unsatisfied within 30 days of your purchase, they will keep a small administrative fee. Keep that in mind if you’re on the fence about signing up, since you won’t actually receive a full refund on your course if you change your mind!

Bottom Line:

Even though their materials aren’t quite as good as others on this list, Kaplan is definitely the fastest at getting you ready for the exam. It’s also very affordable— although you can save more money selecting a custom package at Securities Institute of America.


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4. Knopman Series 3 Exam Prep

Knopman Marks Study Material

  1. Similar to the Securities Institute of America, Knopman provides several types of materials in order to prepare you for the Series 3 Exam. Even better, all their content is kept up-to-date free of charge and taught by a team of expert instructors.
How to Pass the Series 3 Exam

Knopman’s study course mainly operates through their online Training Center. From there, you can access a wealth of study guides, videos, practice exams, and much more. In addition, instructors make sure to stay in regular contact with you in order to assess your progress.

Knopman’s exam prep course has several key features that make them an attractive option, including:

  • Series 3 Textbook/eBook
  • Mobile Study App
  • Downloadable Supplements
  • 3+ Hours of Video Lectures
  • Online Practice Exams/Training Center

Knopman Marks Series 3 Pros & Cons

  • Pass Rates: Students who use Knopman Marks have some of the best pass rates out of all online securities courses. This company’s secret is regular check-ins with students to track their progress, offering notes on ways to improve their chances of passing as exam day draws near.
  • Goes The Extra Mile: After providing a benchmark exam prior to your actual exam date, Knopman Marks will continue to provide support through regular emails containing extra pop quizzes and additional info. This way, you’ll have insightful study materials delivered directly to your inbox all the way up to your exam date.

  • Live Classes: Although Knopman Marks offers live classes for many of their FINRA study guides, they currently don’t offer any for the Series 3 exam. If you’re interested in live instruction, you’re better off with STCUSA instead.

Bottom Line:

Knopman offers a twist that you don’t often see from other FINRA prep courses. Plus, their instructors are much more involved than the usual self study program— so it’s perfect if you need some extra one-on-one assistance.

Series 3 Exam Prep FAQs

Q: What score is required to pass the Series 3 Exam?

A: In order to pass, you need a minimum score of 70% on both exam sections. Doing so proves that you understand the general knowledge and regulations required to work in this field.

Q: What can I do with a Series 3 license?

A: After passing the Series 3 exam, you’ll be allowed to register as a member of an NFA firm. Doing so allows you to transact business in many types of futures contracts. You can also trade commodity futures contracts and earn commission on executing orders for clients.

Q: What are the continuing education requirements for the Series 3 Exam?

A: Currently, there are no continuing education requirements to maintain your license. However, your workplace may mandate that you complete periodic ethics courses.

Q: How much does it cost to take the Series 3 Exam?

A: Enrollment for the exam costs $130. However, you’ll likely spend a couple hundred more if you choose to enroll in an exam prep course, self study package, or purchase exam simulators before attempting the exam.

Kenneth W. Boyd is a former Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and the author of several of the popular "For Dummies" books published by John Wiley & Sons including 'CPA Exam for Dummies' and 'Cost Accounting for Dummies'.

Ken has gained a wealth of business experience through his previous employment as a CPA, Auditor, Tax Preparer and College Professor. Today, Ken continues to use those finely tuned skills to educate students as a professional writer and teacher.