Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) Exam

What is it like to take a FINRA exam at a Prometric Test Center?

Prometric Test Center Experience

Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash

One of the most commonly asked questions of FINRA instructors is “what is taking the test actually like?” We wanted to share some insights with you on the Achievable Blog with the help of our partner Brandon Rith.

Today’s post covers the Prometric Test Center experience that Brandon outlined in his video: My Prometric Test Center Experience. Check that video out for a video version of this post, otherwise let’s get started.


Preface: preparing for test day

Before talking about what happens on test day, we wanted to remind you that how you approach test day makes a big difference in your experience. Make sure you’re bringing your best self to the test day: get plenty of sleep the night before, eat a bit of food beforehand, and maybe perk yourself up with a workout or some jumping jacks. This also helps a lot with nervous energy: you’re going to perform much better if you are cool, calm, and confident going into the exam.

Now that we’ve covered that, let’s get into the details of what happens at the test center.


Checking in

Don’t be intimidated by the test center. The building is more like a doctor’s office than anything else.

When you first walk in the door, you’ll need to tell them what test you’re taking and give them a current government ID like a driver’s license or passport. Then you’ll need to sign a disclosure form that’s pretty straightforward: no cheating, don’t bring weapons into the test center, etc. After that, you put your belongings into a locker except for that same ID. They will also ask you to turn off your cell phone before putting it in the locker.

Once that’s done, you’ll be taken to another part of the test center to be ‘admitted’ to the test environment. This consists of answering a couple more questions and being patted down like you were going through an airport security checkpoint. This is to ensure you’re not somehow bringing notes in. They will also take a picture of you for their records, in case there is a dispute about someone else taking the test on your behalf.


The Test Experience

Once you’re admitted, you will enter a completely silent room with a bunch of computers and other test takers. They’ll often be taking other tests than the one you’re taking, so there’s no sense in trying to take a peek. The room is also fully covered by security cameras.

You’re sat down at your computer and given your ‘scratch paper’, which is really a laminated sheet and a dry erase marker. You are also given a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, which is great for concentration – some test centers will also give you earplugs if asked as well. You then need to take a tutorial of the computer test system to ensure you know how it works. Then, finally, it’s time to take the test.

The test experience you have taking the test will depend on the test itself, but a couple things commonly happen that you can plan for. First, if you have anything you want to keep track of, whether that be key equations, notes, or frameworks – write them down immediately after your test starts. That way you won’t need to re-remember them later in the exam and can stay ‘in the zone’ of answering questions. And second, don’t be distressed if you do end up getting nervous at this point. Even experienced test takers will get nervous at the beginning of a new test – focus on answering the first 10 questions and your nervousness should go away.


Wrapping up

Once you finish the test, you’ll be prompted (sometimes at length) to confirm that you’re happy with your answers and ready to submit your exam answers. For most FINRA tests, you will get a score back immediately following that screen. This will tell you whether you passed right away!

Then, you just need to gather your belongings and head out. You may be asked to fill out a survey about the experience (was the test center accommodating, etc) but otherwise you can just pick your stuff out of your locker and sign out. When signing out, be sure to get a printout documenting your score if you passed so that you have a paper copy for your records. And that’s it! Your test is complete.


Thanks for reading!

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