A part of a newer, introductory level FINRA license, the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) Exam serves to ensure that individuals have a fundamental understanding of securities topics. The exam is divided into multiple choice and experimental sections, covering topics that are essential to working within the industry and furthering your career. For many, this exam will be one of their first hurdles on their path to their professional career goals.

But with a newer exam, where do you even begin to study? We’ve got you covered there:

We’ll be discussing the fundamental information needed in order for you to know who the big players are in the SIE study materials space. We’ll also become better acquainted with the prep courses surrounding these top providers.

Looking through our findings we’ll not only break down who these providers are, but also what makes their services stand out and what types of learners they’ll most likely appeal to.

Let’s get to it– the sooner you make a selection the sooner you can get to studying!

Best SIE Exam Study Materials

  1. Securities Institute of America
  2. Surgent SIE
  3. Securities Training Corporation
  4. Achievable
  5. Kaplan SIE
  6. ExamFX
  7. Knopman Marks


1. Securities Institute of America

Securities Institute of America covers all of the sections on the SIE Exam (as well as content for other FINRA exams) and employs a proven method to help students obtain higher test results. Lessons are segmented into shorter sections to allow for a greater number of opportunities to test your knowledge. By breaking the lessons into smaller chunks and quizzing you more frequently, you’re more actively able to retain information and better recall key facts.

The good news is that you can feel safe here as well. Securities Institute of America understands that their students will do better when learning with top tier content. For that reason, they’ve included video lessons shot with state of the art technology and featuring actual industry professionals and instructors.

The course also has complete coverage of fundamental topics like economics, corporate fundamentals, equity and debt securities, and much more. 

In addition to providing useful information, this SIE study guide aims to keep you on track as they progress. You’ll be provided with access to a Performance Dashboard including key metrics and progress indicators. Additionally, you’ll have a personalized study calendar for scheduling out your agenda as you work through more than 35 hours of online video lectures.

Are you someone that loves to thoroughly study every subject on an exam? Securities Institute of America has a lot for you to love:

Enrolling in their SIE exam study materials will grant you access to additional review tools like a complete question bank, simulated final exams, and an SIE Test Bank. The best part is that they’re all included and will be updated at no additional cost— right up until you pass your exam! As if that wasn’t already a great deal, Securities Institute of America offers their course bundle for less than $200 total, even if you were to select the print/physical textbook option.

Pros and Cons

  • Video Instruction: Once you sign up for this online review course, you get access to a library of in-depth video lectures covering all the subjects on the SIE exam. With over 12 hours of content in total, that’s more than enough to get you up to speed on all the relevant securities industry topics! 
  • Choose Your Practice Method: There are 15 different ways you can customize Securities Institute of America’s SIE practice exams. These include separating each exam by specific subjects — which is a great way to quickly eliminate any knowledge gaps — or making fully randomized exam simulations that provide an accurate depiction of the real thing.
  • Mobile Friendly: Although there is no dedicated mobile app for this FINRA review course, you’re able to easily access all of their online study materials through your tablet or smartphone’s browser— as long as it’s a newer model. Additionally, you get a physical textbook with 400 pages of study material that you can easily take with you for on-the-go studying.

  • A Little Excessive: Since the SIE exam only has 75 questions, practicing for this exam by answering 1,000 practice questions may seem like overpreparing. Because of this, you can probably stop long before answering every single practice question included with this course and still earn a passing grade on the actual exam.

Bottom Line: We came away from Securities Institute of America more than thoroughly impressed. Their offerings, while very fairly priced, are so comprehensive that it almost feels like you enrolled in an insanely discounted college course. Their online platform benefits greatly from expertise— which is thankfully passed on to their students.

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2. Surgent SIE Review

Although the vast majority of their educational catalog covers accounting certifications such as the CPA exam and CMA exam, Surgent has recently started offering study materials for the SIE exam. Anyone who has used their prep courses in the past will know how big of a deal this is, especially when it comes to their implementation of adaptive learning technology.

What does that mean? 

Put simply, it means your course will change to reflect your experience. After completing an assessment, Surgent generates a ReadySCORE with the help of their proprietary A.S.A.P. Technology. This will update as you work through their bank of 2,400 practice questions over a 4-month access period. 

The closer you are to being ready for the test, the higher your ReadySCORE will be. This is meant to be an accurate reflection of your actual SIE exam score once you sit for it— which is why their guarantee promises a full refund if you’re not satisfied with your results.

Amazingly, all of the content and technology provided by this course is available for less than $200; you can even pay in installments if you have to. So whether you prefer to study on a computer, tablet, or smartphone, this is one of the most powerful, effective, and affordable resources to prepare you for your securities career.

Pros and Cons

  • Free Trial: There’s no need for you to take my word for it— just try Surgent’s FINRA review course yourself free of charge! They offer a 3 day trial that doesn’t require you to put a card on file, so there’s no reason not to give their study materials a look.
  • Adaptive Learning: Surgent is known for their impressive adaptive learning technology known as ReadySCORE. This is a persistent progress tracker that updates every time you complete a practice test or finish watching a video lecture— once it reaches the score you want on the test, you’re ready to sit for the SIE exam!
  • Guaranteed Results: If you sign up for Surgent’s SIE prep course, you’re guaranteed to pass your licensing exam on one attempt. According to their guarantee, you’ll receive a full refund if you complete all of their materials, earn a high ReadySCORE, but still somehow fail your SIE exam.

  • Practice Exams: Unfortunately, Surgent only includes two practice exams with their SIE review course. This is a lot less than many other courses available to help you study for this exam, so it may not be a great fit if you want to prepare through repetitive practice in realistic exam conditions.

Bottom Line: You might think it’s overkill, but it’s by far the best way to ensure you can walk into the testing center with maximum confidence in your ability to pass on your first try!

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3. Securities Training Corporation

Securities Training Corporation

While Securities Training Corporation might not be a familiar name, their site provides an effective Exam Prep review worth considering.

There are two main packages to choose from: the SIE Premier and the SIE Premier Plus packages. These packages include features like OnDemand Lectures, Digital FlashCards, Progress Exams, and 24/7 Customer Support. The Premier option allows for students to attend Live Virtual or In-Person courses as well.

But set the package details aside. How has Securities Training Corporation prepared students like yourself? 

Quite well, actually. They boast a 95% first time pass rate and have trained over 1.5 million students in the past 50 years. This is actually owed to a very specific specific path of action that’s mapped out for you within their courses. 

First, you’ll want to take their Progress Exams which will gauge your preparedness at the start of the course. The next step is to ensure that you are hitting the designated passing percentages for their final exams and at least one Green Light Exam. If you receive a 75% or higher on this test, you’re essentially guaranteed to pass the real exam. Even if for some reason you didn’t pass, Securities Training Corporation will give you a full refund or assist you with passing your next attempt.

Pros and Cons

  • Multiple Success Stories: According to Securities Training Corporation, over 95% of their students who enroll in a test prep course will pass their exams on the first attempt. This data is pulled from over 1.5 million students who have achieved their goals over the past 50 years— so you’re in exceptionally good hands with STCUSA!
  • Pass Guarantee: If you’re interested in this company’s study materials, I recommend enrolling in their Premier or Premier Plus packages. That’s because these two options come with a pass guarantee that stipulates you will ace your SIE exam after finishing this course.
  • A La Carte: It’s possible that you may not need a full prep course to pass your SIE exam, or you don’t want to spend that kind of money on your test prep materials. In either case, STCUSA offers an excellent alternative— separately priced individual study materials such as flashcards, supplemental exams, and virtual webinars for a fraction of their full course’s cost.

  • Video Lectures: The good news is that STCUSA includes live instruction and Q&A sessions with your instructor. The bad news is that these features are only included with their most expensive package— their two affordable alternatives only offer pre recorded lectures.

Bottom Line: This is an excellent choice if you’re interested in simplicity when preparing to take the SIE exam. It’s a fantastic resource that respects your time and won’t make you feel like you’re in over your head.


4. Achievable Test Prep

If you want to put your best foot forward when moving towards your securities career, a great way to do so is with Achievable. Companies like BlackRock, Goldman Sachs, and Edward Jones — among many others — rely on this test prep provider to train their own employees. Naturally, this means you’ll be in a better position to work at one of these institutions if you train with them as well!

When you’re ready to start your test prep, all you need to do is create a free account on their website. Then, you’ll have access to several resources right away— you don’t even need to put any money down. Take a look at some of their textbook entries or try their complementary practice quiz before deciding if you want to enroll in the full package.

When you do enroll, you’ll be free to use any and all of their securities questions and quizzes for a full year, with a guaranteed refund if you don’t pass your actual exam at the end of your course. Best of all is that this comes at one of the most affordable prices out of any other exam prep on this list—plus, you can get our Achievable promo code for a discount!

Unfortunately, there is a downside to the reduced cost— no lecture content. If Achievable Test Prep were to incorporate some kind of audio or video component to this course, it could easily be one of the best options available. However, it would probably mean they would need to make it more expensive, which might not be a tradeoff you’re interested in making.

Pros and Cons

  • Student Success: If you’re looking to establish a securities career, Achievable is fully capable of providing you the necessary knowledge to succeed. That’s why some of their students have gone on to work for top financial firms such as Blackrock, Fidelity, and Goldman Sachs.
  • Very Affordable: This is the only full SIE review course with adaptive learning that costs less than $100. If you’re trying to save money but don’t want to skimp on any features, you should absolutely consider signing up for Achievable’s course!

  • Lectures: As I mentioned above, there aren’t any video or audio lectures included with Achievable’s SIE review course— which is probably why it costs so little to enroll. Fortunately, that means you can easily fit supplementary video lectures into your budget without the risk of financial hardship.

Bottom Line: Unless you absolutely have to have lecture content to prepare for the SIE exam, you’ll be in great hands if you enroll with this SIE study guide. But if you’re still not sure, at least check out their free materials for a quick refresher.


5. Kaplan SIE Exam Prep Review

Kaplan is a well-known company that provides popular study materials for a wide range of certifications and post-grad trades. Their SIE Series course catalog has offerings that sound pretty similar to ExamFX on paper. However, it has a few aspects that make it a little less accessible to the average student. 

Just like with ExamFX, Kaplan’s Basic package comes with self-study tools. Their Essential Package throws in a video library, and their Premium option comes with an option to get help from a Live Instructor. 

Sound familiar? The key difference here is in the finer details:

Kaplan offers fewer SIE practice exams than other study materials—compare the one end-of-course exam simulation and handful of Checkpoint Exams to the 4 complete practice exams included with Knopman Marks. Additionally, they don’t offer any kind of pass guarantee, so you might prefer to enroll in Securities Institute of America for their GreenLight Guarantee.

Pros and Cons

  • Regular Checkpoints: There’s a big difference between reading a section of your textbook and actually understanding it. To make sure you’re making real progress as you study with this SIE prep course, Kaplan included Checkpoint Exams at the end of each section. These will help you immediately determine whether you can move on or if you should spend more time focusing on the material.
  • Discount Lectures: For some students, video lectures are the best and most effective way for them to prepare for their exams. But if you don’t have a huge budget to devote to your test prep, Kaplan offers a more accessible version of their Premium Instruction Package; for $100 less, you can access pre-recorded versions of the lectures offered in the more expensive Live Online Package.

  • Audiobook: The good news is that Kaplan offers an audio-only version of their License Exam Manual for the SIE exam, which can help you prepare for your test while multitasking or commuting. The bad news is that this is sold separately from their other courses, and it costs more than the standard textbook without including it as part of the package.

Bottom Line: Kaplan is a solid, dependable company that would do a great job of helping any student prepare for their SIE exam. That being said, the values of their offerings just don’t compare with the top SIE exam prep materials currently available.


6. ExamFX SIE Review

ExamFX is an online platform that really focuses on how their students learn. By analyzing this data, their end goal is to provide the most effective toolset to prepare for the Securities Industry Essentials exam. 

In addition to having some similar study materials to the previous entries on this list, one thing that sets this course apart is its structure: Self-study, Video, and Live Online Packages. 

The Self-Study package is essentially what its name implies. You’ll have 90 days of access to an interactive Online Learning Portal and simulated Online Exams. You can even reach out for assistance from an Instructor, even though this is technically intended for working on your own.

Moving on, the Video package includes everything that the Self-Study package did. However, in this bundle you’ll also receive OnDemand Video Lecture access and a collection of Digital Flashcards.

If you enroll in the Live Online bundle, you’d receive all of the previously mentioned study materials as well as the ability to attend Live Online courses. This is a great choice for anyone currently stuck at home that really wants some direct assistance. All of these options are available for less than $200 total, making them all very fairly priced.

Still not sure if the ExamFX SIE Review would be a good fit for you? Let’s look at one last feature:

There’s one final feature included with all of their SIE study courses: a Guarantee Exam. Prior to taking the SIE exam, you’ll take this text to ensure you are fully prepared with a score of 80% or higher. But if you fail the exam after passing the Guarantee Exam, ExamFX will give you a full refund.

Pros and Cons

  • Confidence Guaranteed: Students who struggle with pre-exam anxiety can benefit from two different practice exams included with this online review course. ExamFX’s Readiness Exam will show you how prepared you are for the test based on your previous efforts, and their Guarantee Exam offers a realistic simulation of your performance once you sit for the real thing. These two features combined can provide a huge confidence booster!
  • Live Instruction: Although you’re required to enroll in their highest-priced package, you can receive live assistance from instructors with this FINRA review course. These instructors are experienced as professional broker-dealers and representatives, but they also have a rich educational background to draw from as well.

  • Flashcards: While it’s a welcome feature when any educational course includes flashcards for memorization, ExamFX’s implementation leaves a lot to be desired. You won’t have access to their cards if you enroll in their Self-Study Package, and they’re only available online with no current option for physical cards or offline access.

Bottom Line: ExamFX has the distinct strength of providing students with choices that best fit their learning style. It’s also extremely helpful that they still offer you a way to get that old-fashioned, in-classroom learning experience. Definitely take a look at ExamFX when weighing out your final options.

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7. Knopman Marks Financial Training

KnopmanMarks Financial Traiing FINRA

Currently, Knopman Marks has a pass rate of 97% among their students; it’s easy to see why they’ve left such a great impression on so many students!

Their SIE Exam Prep offerings are quite in-depth, featuring your choice of an electronic or physical textbook. You’ll also benefit from digital and printable practice exams, as well as over 17 hours of video lectures.

There’s also more than 1,100 Digital flashcards, a mobile app that supports cell phone and tablet access on the go, downloadable resources, and even direct access to Personal Instructor Support. Throw in 4 full SIE practice exams (1 Assessment, 2 Diagnostic, and 1 Final Benchmark), and it’s no wonder that Knopman Marks has such a high success rate among their students.

One feature you’ll appreciate about the Knopman Marks website is their helpfulness. Alongside all of their pricing and course information they also include resources like links to info concerning the SIE Exam outline. Additionally, they provide an easy path to further certifications with their affordable combo packages— such as their SIE + Series 7 package.

Pros and Cons

  • Almost Perfect: Knopman Marks gathers a great deal of data on their current and former students to measure how effective they are at preparing you to pass your exams. And according to their internal metrics, almost 100% of all students who take this SIE course will pass on their first attempt!
  • Extra Credit: For most securities professionals, the SIE exam is just one step in a longer career journey. To make the process of advancement a little easier, Knopman Marks has several affordable bundle offers combining their SIE prep course with study materials for Series 7, Series 57, Series 99, and many more.

  • Comparatively Pricey: When you consider the awesome features that are included with Knopman’s SIE prep course, it’s a worthwhile investment. However, you can save money by choosing one of the other courses listed above without missing out on too many features.

Bottom Line: Knopman Marks is close to the best option for students who want to start their SIE series of certifications. They have a unique identity that has proven results for securities students. Ultimately, their detailed content is conveniently accessible and their proven track record should leave their students feeling secure in their enrollment decisions.


How to Choose the Best SIE Prep Course For You

When selecting an SIE prep course, it’s crucial to consider your individual learning style, budget, and specific needs. Here’s a detailed guide with examples to help you make an informed decision:

Budget Considerations

  • Affordable Option: If you’re on a tight budget, consider Securities Institute of America’s SIE Exam Prep. It’s cost-effective and provides essential study materials.
  • Premium Choice: For those willing to invest more for comprehensive resources, Knopman Marks’ SIE Exam Prep offers extensive materials and support, albeit at a higher price.

Learning Style and Course Features

  • Visual Learners: If you prefer learning through videos, Securities Training Corporation (STC) SIE Course offers high-quality video lectures.
  • Interactive Learning: For an interactive learning experience, ExamFX SIE Review provides engaging simulations and interactive study tools.
  • Self-Paced Study: If you prefer studying at your own pace, Kaplan SIE Exam Prep offers flexibility with its self-paced online courses.

Course Content and Depth

  • Comprehensive Coverage: Knopman Marks’ SIE Exam Prep stands out for its thorough coverage of all exam topics.
  • Focused Study: If you need to concentrate on specific areas, Achievable SIE Exam Review allows customization of study plans focusing on your weak points.

Support and Resources

  • Personalized Support: Knopman Marks offers one-on-one coaching, making it ideal for those who need individual guidance.
  • Extensive Practice Questions: STC SIE Course provides a vast question bank, beneficial for extensive practice.

Course Accessibility and Convenience

  • Mobile Learning: For learners on the go, Achievable SIE Exam Review offers a mobile-friendly platform.
  • Offline Access: If you prefer studying offline, Securities Institute of America provides physical textbooks along with online materials.

Pass Guarantee and Course Updates

  • Pass Assurance: Kaplan and Knopman Marks offer a pass guarantee, adding confidence to your investment.
  • Regular Updates: Ensure the course you choose, like STC, regularly updates its materials to reflect the latest exam trends.

Trial Periods and Demos

  • Free Trials: ExamFX and Achievable offer free trials or demos, allowing you to test the course before committing.


SIE Exam Overview

Who Should Take the SIE Exam?

Aspiring Securities Professionals

Ideal for individuals seeking a career in the securities industry, such as in brokerage firms, investment banking, or trading. The SIE exam is often the first step for those looking to become licensed brokers or advisors. It’s a foundational exam that tests your basic understanding of the securities industry.

Finance Students

Students pursuing finance or business degrees who want to enhance their resume and gain a competitive edge in the job market. The SIE exam is a valuable credential that demonstrates a solid grasp of industry basics, making you a more attractive candidate for internships and entry-level positions.

Career Changers

Professionals looking to transition into the securities industry. The SIE exam is an excellent way to demonstrate your commitment and knowledge to potential employers, even if you’re coming from a different field.

Why Should You Take the SIE Exam?

Career Advancement

Passing the SIE is a prerequisite for many registered representative-level qualifications in the securities industry. It’s the stepping stone to more advanced certifications like the Series 7 or Series 63, which are required for specific roles in the industry.

Knowledge Demonstration

It showcases your foundational understanding of securities industry concepts, products, and regulations. This knowledge is crucial for anyone looking to work in the securities industry, as it forms the basis for more advanced learning and professional practice.

Professional Development

The exam provides a solid base for further specialized qualifications in the securities field. It’s an investment in your career that can open doors to new opportunities and growth.

SIE Exam Format

Structure

The SIE exam consists of 75 multiple-choice questions. These questions are designed to test your knowledge across a broad range of topics relevant to the securities industry.

Duration

Candidates have 1 hour and 45 minutes to complete the exam. This time frame requires efficient time management skills, as you’ll need to answer questions accurately and promptly.

Content Areas

The exam covers topics such as types of products and their risks, the structure of the securities industry markets, regulatory agencies and their functions, and prohibited practices. Understanding these areas is crucial not just for passing the exam but also for your future career in the securities industry.

By expanding on these sections with more detailed, first-hand experience writing, the content becomes more helpful and detailed, providing readers with a clearer understanding of the SIE exam and its relevance to their career paths.

Study Techniques for Passing the SIE Exam

Passing the SIE exam requires a strategic approach to studying and understanding the exam format. Here are some effective study techniques and exam tips to help you prepare and succeed.

Understanding the Exam Format

  • Familiarize with the Structure: Know that the SIE exam consists of 75 multiple-choice questions covering various topics related to the securities industry.
  • Time Management: Practice managing the 1 hour and 45 minutes allotted for the exam. This helps in pacing yourself during the actual test.

Effective Study Habits

  • Regular Study Schedule: Create and stick to a consistent study schedule. Regular studying helps in retaining information better.
  • Balanced Approach: Mix different study methods like reading materials, watching video lectures, and taking practice tests. This caters to different learning styles and keeps the study process engaging.

Utilizing Practice Exams

  • Frequent Practice Tests: Regularly take practice exams to familiarize yourself with the question format and identify areas where you need more focus.
  • Analyze Your Performance: Review your practice test results to understand your strengths and weaknesses. Focus on improving areas where you score lower.

Active Learning Strategies

  • Note-Taking: Write down key concepts and summaries. This helps in better retention and quick revision.
  • Teach What You Learn: Explaining concepts to others can reinforce your understanding and uncover any gaps in your knowledge.

Stress Management

  • Regular Breaks: Take short breaks during study sessions to avoid burnout.
  • Healthy Lifestyle: Maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine. A healthy body contributes to a sharper mind.

SIE Exam Taking Tips

  • Rest Well Before the Exam: Ensure you get a good night’s sleep before the exam day.
  • Arrive Early: Get to the exam center early to avoid any last-minute stress.

During the Exam

  • Read Questions Carefully: Take the time to thoroughly read and understand each question before answering.
  • Manage Time Wisely: Don’t spend too much time on a single question. If unsure, mark it for review and move on.

Post-Exam Review

  • Reflect on the Experience: After the exam, take some time to reflect on the questions and topics that were challenging. This is helpful if you need to retake the exam.

Continuous Learning

  • Stay Informed: Keep updating your knowledge about the securities industry even after the exam. This is crucial for your career in the long term.

By incorporating these study techniques and exam tips into your preparation plan, you can increase your chances of passing the SIE exam and set a strong foundation for your career in the securities industry.


Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly is the SIE exam?

The Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam is a foundational test for those aspiring to enter the securities industry. It assesses a candidate’s basic understanding of securities industry concepts, regulatory framework, and the structure of the markets.

How much time is recommended for studying for the SIE exam?

The recommended study time for the SIE exam varies based on individual familiarity with the material, but generally, 50-70 hours of dedicated study over several weeks is advisable for thorough preparation.

Is the SIE exam considered difficult?

The difficulty of the SIE exam can vary based on your background and understanding of the securities industry. It’s designed to test fundamental concepts, so with proper study and preparation, it is manageable for most candidates.

What is the cost of taking the SIE exam?

The cost to take the SIE exam is typically around $60. However, this fee is subject to change, so it’s advisable to check the latest fee structure on the FINRA website.

How do I register for the SIE Exam?

You can find additional information and register here on the FINRA website.

Where do I take the SIE Exam?

SIE Exams are conducted by Prometric Testing Centers. You can give them a call directly at (800) 578-6273 or visit the Prometric website for additional details.

Do I need to be a student to enroll in these courses?

You do not have to be a student in order to enroll in any of the above SIE Exam Prep Courses, however a few of these providers do offer student discounts off the total cost.

Which additional qualification exams should I consider after the SIE?

After passing the SIE, consider pursuing exams like the Series 7 or Series 63, depending on your career goals. The Series 7 is ideal for those aiming to become general securities representatives, while the Series 63 is suited for those looking to engage in securities transactions at the state level.

How many questions are included in the SIE exam?

The SIE exam consists of 75 multiple-choice questions, which cover a range of topics pertinent to the securities industry. Candidates are given 1 hour and 45 minutes to complete 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.