SIE Exam Difficulty – How difficult is the FINRA SIE?

Tyler York
Tackling a difficult challenge

SIE Exam Difficulty

The SIE Exam is a co-requisite exam for the FINRA license you will need to start your finance career, whether that’s the Series 6, Series 7, Series, 79, or another major license. The test was just released in 2018, so naturally we get a lot of questions about SIE Exam difficulty. So how hard is the SIE Exam? FINRA has made it clear that this is not supposed to be an “easy” test – it’s supposed to be the first gateway to entering the finance industry. Most people with some experience in the field are giving it a “Medium” difficulty rating.

How long to study for the SIE exam?

We’ve researched as well as compiled our own data, and what we’ve found is that people are reporting studying between 20 and 50 hours for the SIE Exam. This varies so widely because of the vastly backgrounds of people that are taking the SIE. If you have a finance degree, you will have less to learn than someone who has no experience in finance. That said, Order types, Options, and Bonds rarely get taught in classrooms.

If you do not have a finance degree, it might be worth doing some background research into finance as a whole. I recommend Investopedia, the Wall Street Journal, and WallStreetOasis as great places to start (and WSO is especially great for those interested in investment banking).

What is the SIE Exam Pass Rate?

70% is a passing score for the exam, but FINRA will adjust it to reflect the specific mix of questions each candidate faces. Through the first 16,000 individuals to take the test FINRA found that 74% passed the exam. This was right in line with their expectations.

What’s on the SIE?

SIE Exam Difficulty and Question Breakdown
Source: WallStreetOasis

The SIE Exam is meant to be your gateway into the finance industry. It covers the basic topics at a high level to help you understand finance and also to help ensure that you’re prepared for it.

The test is mostly comprised of:

  • Rules and regulations – What rules do you need to follow on the job (there’s a lot), and what regulations do you need to stay abreast of in your job (also a lot).
  • The theory and reasoning behind investments – In what situations would you be better served investing in bonds rather than stocks? Et cetera.
  • Suitability – A type of questions that is essentially applying your knowledge. You’re given a customer scenario, and you are asked to come up with the most suitable investment decision for that person.

Additionally, some topics like securities law, SEC regulation, and FINRA rules are only tested in the SIE, so those will be tested thoroughly.

The good news is that the test is widely thought of as straightforward – there are few issues with “tricky” questions or confusing ones.

Recommendations for passing the SIE Exam

When putting together a study plan that is appropriate for the SIE Exam difficulty level, we recommend the following:

  • Take practice exams and question banks to identify problem areas for re-studying. Aim for a mid-to-high 80s score consistently on the practice exams.
  • Take the practice SIE Exam offered by the FINRA Website – LINK. The SIE Exam difficulty of the official FINRA test is pretty similar to the real thing – so if you score a high 80 or above on that exam after doing so on the practice exams, you should be in great shape.

With that simple action plan, the SIE Exam is in your crosshairs! All you have to do is execute and you can pass. Good luck!

Achievable SIE - $74
Achievable's SIE course includes our easy-to-read online textbook, 2,000+ review questions, and 20+ full-length practice exams.
View course
Desktop and mobile screenshots of
All rights reserved ©2016 - 2020 Achievable, Inc.