How Hard is the Series 65 Exam? Unveiling the Truth!

The Series 65 exam is a uniform investment advisor law examination that is designed to qualify the candidates as investment advisor representatives. This exam is designed to test the knowledge and understanding of federal and state securities laws and regulations, as well as the ethical principles and practices that are necessary to conduct business as an investment advisor representative. It is essential to understand the level of difficulty that is associated with this exam to prepare for it. So, how hard is the Series 65 exam? Let’s dive in!

What is the Format of the Series 65 Exam?

The Series 65 exam consists of 130 multiple-choice questions, and the candidate has 180 minutes (three hours) to complete the exam. The exam is computer-based, and the candidate can take the exam at any Prometric testing center that the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) approves.

The exam covers various topics such as economic factors and business information, investment vehicle characteristics, client investment recommendations and strategies, laws, regulations, and guidelines, and ethical practices and fiduciary obligations. The exam is designed to assess the candidate’s understanding of these topics to ensure they meet the requirements to register as an investment advisor representative.

What are the Different Sections of the Series 65 Exam?

  • Economic factors and business information – 24%
  • Investment vehicle characteristics – 25%
  • Client investment recommendations and strategies – 19%
  • Laws, regulations, and guidedelines – 30%
  • Ethical practices and fiduciary obligations – 2%

The sections in which candidates are tested are similar to the topics covered in the Series 7 exam – which is for general securities representatives. However, the Series 65 exam differs in the questions posed, as the Series 65 exam only pertains to investment advisor representatives.

What are the Prerequisites for Taking the Series 65 Exam?

Candidates must meet some prerequisites before they can take the Series 65 exam. One of the prerequisites for taking the Series 65 exam is that the candidate must be affiliated with a state-registered investment advisor or a federal covered investment advisor. Exception for this is the documents on file section of the examination.

Candidates must also have a FINRA Exam Sponsorship before taking the Series 65 exam. The exam sponsorship is issued by the company with which either the candidate or a company personnel is employed.

How Hard is the Series 65 Exam?

The degree of difficulty that a candidate faces while taking the Series 65 exam depends on several factors such as their professional background, educational qualifications, and work experience in the industry.

A candidate who has studied finance or has worked in the financial services sector for several years could find the exam comparatively easier than someone who is from a different educational background or has limited industry experience.

However, the passing score for this exam is set at a challenging level, with a passing score of 72% or higher required. Hence, candidates must prepare well and cover all the necessary topics to increase their chances of passing the exam.

How Doe the Candidate Prepare for the Series 65 Exam?

To prepare for the Series 65 exam, candidates can enroll with educational providers offering online and traditional courses, as well as private tutors. Candidates can access coursework, study materials, and practice exams to prepare themselves adequately for the exam.

Furthermore, financial professionals recommend candidates read study material like “The Essentials of Investment Adviser Regulation,” Ninth Edition, which is written by Clifford E. Kirsch, Rhett Campbell, and Kate McBride.

Some candidates prefer to self-study. In this case, they follow a systematic approach and take the process seriously. Candidates can purchase study material from FINRA and SEC websites, which they can use to prepare for the exam.

The Bottom Line

The Series 65 exam is challenging, but if candidates prepare thoroughly for the exam and familiarize themselves with the study guide, they may find it less challenging. It’s crucial to remember that passing the exam requires more than just memorization, and the candidate must demonstrate an understanding of the concepts presented in the exam.


Q: What is the cost of taking the Series 65 exam?

A: The fee for taking the Series 65 exam is $165.

Q: How many times can I take the Series 65 Exam if I fail?

A: If you fail the exam, you can take it again after a 30-day waiting period. The Series 65 exam has no maximum attempt limit.

Q: How many hours of studying should I prepare for the Series 65 exam?

A: Most investment professionals recommend 100-120 hours of study for the Series 65 exam.



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