If the Series 79 is in your future, you’ve probably heard that it’s one of the hardest of the FINRA Series exams. There’s no question that the exam is a challenge. But you can pass it on the first attempt if you prepare effectively.

It all boils down to three key ingredients. If any one of them is missing or under-emphasized, your plan for passing the Series 79 may be in jeopardy.

Three tips for passing the Series 79 exam

Tip 1: Choose the right materials and support

For the best Series 79 study experience, take time to find the best textbook, question bank, and training resources on the market. For many candidates, interaction with a professional instructor in a live class or through on-demand lectures makes all the difference.

Our top recommendation (yes, we're biased) are Brainscape's mobile Series 79 flashcards. We use the scientifically proven method of confidence-based repetition to help you study large amounts of study materials over time. The Series 79 is a detail-oriented and technical exam that will require a large degree of memorization that is best tackled with ... you guessed it, flashcards.

Candidates will also benefit from mobile access to question banks, predictive exams, and complete training packages. Training packages offer access to instructors for questions, insights about your process, or just moral support; that kind of support can be a huge differentiator.

Because the Series 79 exam is so specialized, be diligent in choosing your vendor and materials. Find out if the company you are considering does a large amount of Series 79 business. Ask who they train, and most importantly, ask about their pass rate. Also find out from the vendor when its materials were most recently updated. The rules on S79 are dynamic, and if materials weren’t updated within the last year, it’s likely you’ll learn information that is out-of-date.

Knopman Marks Financial Training is well known among major investment banking firms for its Series 79 training materials and classes. This New York-based training firm has consistently delivered Series 79 first-time pass rates of 98% or higher over the past several years for thousands of candidates in analyst and associate programs. Peruse their materials and resources at www.Knopman.com.

Knopman helps candidates direct their study focus on the most testable information. For example, below are four points that Knopman instructors have shared with candidates to help them improve their study process.

  1. Although candidates tend to focus on the math and valuation content, it accounts for only about 10-15% of the exam. Regulations and processes are much more important in terms of number of questions.
  2. Series 79 exam candidates should expect to see some non-traditional investment banking questions, including characteristics of equity securities, suitability, and bond math.
  3. The questions on the exam are quite lengthy—expect to use much more time on the actual exam than on the practice questions.
  4. Knowing about the permitted interactions between investment banking and equity research personnel is a popular topic. Detailed review of this topic is a must in 79 exam prep.

Tip 2: Plan ahead and commit yourself

Passing the Series 79 the first time requires a winning strategy. For best results, put your plan in writing and block time on your calendar to achieve it. Overall, assume that you'll need about 100 hours of study time (6–8 weeks while working full-time) if you’re new to the field. Experienced bankers who are comfortable with financial statements, valuation, and M&A can cut back to about 50–75 hours (2–5 weeks while working full-time). This includes time to complete at least 700 online practice exam questions plus at least 4 additional final exams of 175 questions each.

A standard study approach that is recommended by Knopman Marks is below:

  1. Read the book. Do not take notes. Read to get exposure and familiarity with the testable topics and concepts.
  2. Attend a live class or watch the on-demand lectures that cover all the material.
  3. Study your digital Series 79 flashcards in Brainscape's online or mobile app
  4. Complete at least 1,000 online practice questions. Begin with shorter exams of 30-50 questions to drill and practice on a single topic or smaller set of topics. Always choose a setting that allows you to see questions you have not seen before, and review the correct answer and explanation after each question. After completing 600-700 questions and achieving scores 73% or higher, begin taking full-length timed exams (185 questions in 5 hours). Remember to review all missed and unclear questions.

Tip 3: Be confident

Success on the Series 79 is earned, and only through hours of hard work. When you begin questions, don’t be discouraged by low scores. Instead, view each missed question as an opportunity to learn. With that attitude, you’ll soon experience score improvement as you continue to complete practice questions. Through working up to an average of 73% or more on each practice exam you take, you’ll build in a margin of comfort. It’s all about feeling confident in your ability to score 73% on your actual test—and your hard work will get you there.

To learn more about the Series 79 exam, contact Knopman Marks Financial Training. Their team is fully committed to your success and will answer your questions about Series 79 and help you pass the exam with confidence.