Series 7 Test
The General Securities Representative Qualification Examination, more commonly known as the Series 7, was created in 1974 by the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) to provide an industry-wide qualification examination for general securities representatives, more commonly known as stockbrokers. The examination received several major revisions in the following decades, including in 1986, 1995, and 2011.
The Series 7 examination qualifies individuals for registration with self-regulatory organizations to trade corporate stocks and bonds; rights; warrants; real estate investment trusts (REITs); collateralized mortgage obligations (CMOs); municipal securities; options-equity, index, and foreign currency; investment company products and variable contracts; direct participation programs; and exchange traded funds (ETFs).
In the major 2011 revision, the Series 7 examination was revised to narrow its scope. One major change lies in the area of municipal securities. Prior to the 2011 revision, test takers who passed the Series 7 examination were able to "trade municipal securities, structure municipal securities underwritings and perform certain other activities involving municipal securities." Following the 2011 revision, test takers who pass the Series 7 examination are "qualified to engage only in municipal securities sales to, and purchases from customers." Individuals who wish to become qualified to perform all of the municipal securities actions previously permitted by passing the Series 7 examination must now also pass the Series 52 examination, titled the "Municipal Securities Representative Exam."
Between major revisions, the Series 7 examination is continually updated and tweaked by FINRA, which reports that the bank of test questions "changes constantly" to reflect additions and changes to industry rules and regulations as well as the introductions of new products and changes in industry practice.
Function of the Test
The Series 7 is an assessment of the competency of entry-level general securities representatives. It acts as a safeguard to ensure that the investing public is not harmed by general securities representatives who lack the knowledge and competence necessary to perform their jobs.
Candidates for the Series 7 examination must be sponsored by a FINRA member firm.
Upon passing the examination, candidates are eligible to become Registered Representatives—in other words, licensed stockbrokers.
The Series 7 is administered by computer. Test takers have six hours to complete the examination, which totals 250 multiple choice questions. The test is administered in two parts of 125 questions each. Questions are drawn randomly from a bank of test questions, so no two candidates' examinations are identical. The questions on the Series 7 examination reflect five "major job functions" of a general securities representative. Some test questions require calculations. Scratch paper and calculators are provided by the test administrator. Only the calculator provided by the test administrator may be used during the examination.
Candidates who fail the Series 7 examination must wait 30 days before retaking the exam. Individuals who fail three or more times must wait 180 days between exam dates.
Candidates who require special accommodations to take an examination may request any appropriate form of accommodation, such as extra time to complete the examination, a reader, or a large print examination booklet. Requests must be made using the FINRA Special Accommodations Eligibility Questionnaire and Special Accommodations Verification Request Form. FINRA makes decisions regarding accommodations on a case by case basis based on whatever documentation is submitted by the candidate.
|Sections of the Series 7 Test|
|Major Job Functions|| Percentage of
| Number of|
| F1: Seeks Business for the Broker-Dealer through Customers and
| F2: Evaluates Customers' Other Security Holdings, Financial Situation
and Needs, Financial Status, Tax Status, and Investment Objectives
| F3: Opens Accounts, Transfers Assets, and Maintains Appropriate
| F4: Provides Customers with Information on Investments and Makes
| F5: Obtains and Verifies Customer's Purchase and Sales Instructions,
Enters Orders, and Follows Up
The Series 7 Exam is made up of 250 multiple choice questions divided into two, 125 question sections. The test taker is allowed three hours to complete each section. There are five major content topics that are covered in the Series 7 Exam that tests the knowledge of five job functions: Seeks Business for the Broker-Dealer through Customers and Potential Customers; Evaluates Customers' Other Security Holdings, Financial Situation and Needs, Financial Status, Tax Status, and Investment Objectives; Opens Accounts, Transfers Assets, and Maintains Appropriate Account Records; Provides Customers with Information on Investments and makes Suitable Recommendations; Obtains and Verifies Customer's Purchase and Sales Instructions, Enters Orders, and Follows Up.
The Series 7 Exam is computer based. There is a tutorial at the beginning of the exam, which doesn't count against the six hours provided to complete the test. Scratch paper and calculators are allowed, but will be provided by the test administrator and must be returned at the end of the testing period. Although each test-taker will have an equally challenging exam, none of them are the same. This is to ensure there will be no cheating.
Because every candidate takes a slightly different form of the Series 7 examination, FINRA does not use raw scores to determine whether a candidate passes or fails. In a statistical equating procedure, raw scores are adjusted upward or downward based on the difficulty of an individual candidates' examination. The standardized passing score is 72%.
Immediately after completing the examination, candidates receive a score report indicating pass/fail status along with a score profile detailing candidates' performance on each of the major job functions addressed in the examination. This report enables candidates to focus future professional development efforts on those job functions which the candidate is weaker in.
- FINRA: Implementation Dates of Qualification Exams March 2 2014
- Federal Register Volume 60, Number 39 March 2 2014
- MSRB Notice 2011-62: Changes to Registration of Municipal Securities Professional and Reminder of Supervisory Obligations of Principals March 2 2014
- FINRA General Securities Representative Qualification Examination (Series 7) Content Outline March 2 2014
- FINRA: Qualifications Frequently Asked Questions March 2 2014
- FINRA Registration and Examination Requirements March 2 2014
- FINRA Test Center Locations March 2 2014
- FINRA: How to Schedule an Exam or Continuing Education (CE) Appointment March 2 2014
- FINRA: FINRA Administered Qualification Examinations March 2 2014
- 1070: Qualification Examinations and Waiver of Requirements March 2 2014
- FINRA: FINRA Special Accommodations March 2 2013
- FINRA: Arrangements for Candidates with Disabilities March 2 2014
- Series 7 Content Outline 13 June 2014
- Agent Broker Training Center: How to Pass Series 7 Exam March 2 2014
- Hedge Fund Law Blog: Series 7 Exam Overview March 2 2014
- Laws.com: Guide to the Series 7 March 2 2014
- HedgeFundBlogger: Series 7 Guide March 2 2014