Key Series 65 Exam Insights

Modified on by Andrew Cohen

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If you plan to be in the business of providing investment advice for a fee, an exam is in your future. You become qualified to work as a representative of an Investment Advisory Firm only after passing the Series 65.  Whether or not you’re using the premium Knopman Marks web & mobile Series 65 flashcards in Brainscape, the FAQs below will give you the best path to Series 65 exam success on your first attempt.

1) How is the exam structured?

The Series 65 Uniform Investment Adviser Law Examination is 140 questions. Of these questions, 130 are scored, and a candidate must answer at least 94 of them correctly to pass the exam (72%). The other 10 questions are experimental questions that appear randomly throughout the test and don’t count toward the candidate’s score. You’ll have 3 hours to pass the S65, and most candidates consider it a hard test.

2) What are the questions like?

All questions are multiple choice with 4 answer choice. Many are situational in nature. Although the exam is described as a “minimum competency” exam, you’ll feel significantly challenged, because the range of material tested is very broad, and the questions can be lengthy and confusing. Be ready for questions on all types of securities products and investment strategies.

3) What does a sample question look like?

The question below is an idea of the subject matter and situational style of many Series 65 questions. The correct answer is marked in bold. The question requires analysis and recognition of key elements for making a suitable recommendation based on a given set of facts and circumstances.

A husband and wife are 55 and 57 years old, respectively. The husband plans to retire at 62 and the wife at 65 and both are healthy. What is the most appropriate estimate of the time horizon for their retirement portfolio?

  1. 5 years
  2. 7 years
  3. 8 years
  4. 20+ years


4) How much time do I need to prepare?

How long before you are ready to test depends on whether you are working full time or have more available time to spend on your study process. Most people must devote at least 50–100 hours to the study process. If working full-time, you should expect to commit about 6-8 weeks to studying to be well prepared.


5) Do I need to read the book? 

Many people seem to think that reading the text isn’t nearly as important as completing questions in getting ready for this exam. The Knopman Marks recommendation is that reading the text is a critical, absolutely essential part of the preparatory process. But, don’t stress over every detail as you read, and don’t spend more than about 1/3 of your overall study time in getting through it. Think of approaching the text like a novel, and read for general concepts and background. Don’t try to overthink and make sense of every minor point. The detail you need to comprehend will come from drilling with practice questions over and over. By approaching the text this way, you’ll keep from spending valuable study time on areas that are tested more lightly.


6) How many questions should I complete?

To ensure you are acquainted with the broad range of topics this test addresses, you need to do a lot of questions. Knopman Marks recommends you complete at least 1,500–2,000 Qbank questions. Before you test you should shoot for an average score of 75-80% on practice exams.


7) Should I try to memorize questions in the Qbank?

Memorizing questions is not the way to succeed on securities exams. Actual questions are never released by the exam provider, so the questions you practice will not be exactly the same as the ones you see on the exam. That’s why completion of so many questions is critical to the prep process. You need exposure to lots of subjects and rules, and you’ll gain it by seeing the material presented in many different contexts through repetition in the Qbank. With good prep, you’ll feel familiarity and comfort with the subject matter, but the questions will not be identical.


8) How will I know I am ready to test?

Your score on practice exams is the best indicator, which is why the materials you choose are so important for your success. Knopman Marks recommends that you aim for an average score on Qbank exams of at least 75-80% on practice exams including all topics. If you use Knopman Marks materials, you also have access to a highly predictive exam called the Benchmark Exam that should be used near the end of your prep process. It gives a very realistic indication of your readiness. If you score 72% or above on the Benchmark Exam, you should feel confident about your chances for success on the actual Series 65. You’ll also know identify areas of weakness that you can fix before the actual exam.


Do yourself a favor in preparing for the Series 65 Exam. Make high quality Series 65 materials and an industry leading exam prep partner a top priority. Knopman Marks Financial Training has earned the highest pass rates on Wall Street, and can help you get Series 65 right the first time around.

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