For aspiring financial professionals, the Series 6 exam is the gateway to a career in financial services selling mutual funds and variable annuities. To sit for the Series 6 exam, you must be sponsored by a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority member firm. There also is a co-requisite for the Series 6 exam, the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam, which can be taken before or after passing the Series 6 exam. It's highly recommended that you take the SIE exam before the Series 6 exam, especially since you don't need to be sponsored to take it.
While the Series 6 exam may not be as difficult as some of the more advanced licensing exams, it still requires a diligent effort to prepare. Depending on your educational or career background, the material can be somewhat difficult to absorb. For most people, passing the exam hinges upon the methods, materials, and resources used to study.
Using a Series 6 exam prep course is one of the most effective ways to study. As with any type of exam prep service, the offerings vary. So, it's essential to choose a service that best meets your particular study needs and preferences. We reviewed 15 of the more widely used Series 6 exam prep services to identify the best course providers in six different categories.
Best Comprehensive Offering : Kaplan University
Kaplan makes our list with the best comprehensive offering for students with any learning style and budget. Its exam prep course lineup starts with self-study at $79 and ranges up to $149 for its premium classes with on-demand and online live formats.
Long track record of successful Series 6 exam prep
Comprehensive list of offerings for any learning style
Robust question bank and practice test application
Course access for five months with a 5-month extension for $49
No money-back guarantee
No mobile app platform
Kaplan stands out as one of the more established educational programs in the financial industry with a track record of successful exam prep since 1938. It's no surprise then that Kaplan has the most comprehensive offering of study tools and packages, beginning with its widely acclaimed licensing exam manual for $79 and topping off with its $149 premium classes offered in online formats both live and on-demand. Its most comprehensive study package is the Premium Instruction Package that includes everything needed to prepare for the exam, including access to an experienced instructor.
All courses can be accessed for five months. If additional study time is needed, students can purchase a five-month extension for $49.
One of its more popular tools is the SecuritiesPro™ QBank that allows users to access unlimited exam attempts and pinpoint weaknesses while providing exam progress with checkpoint scores. Users can customize their practice exams based on their studying needs or test their performance with realistic practice and mastery exams. Practice tests can be downloaded for offline studying. The SecuritiesPro™ QBank can be purchased separately for $39 or bundled with any premium package. Currently, Kaplan does not offer a mobile test prep app.
One of Kaplan's drawbacks is its lack of a money-back guarantee as other providers on this list do. However, it does have a published success rate of 90% for first-time test takers.
Best Reputation : Securities Training Corporation
Founded in 1969, Securities Training Corporation (STC) has garnered praise from individual and corporate clients for its cutting edge approach to exam preparation.
Exceptionally high passing rate
Packaged course for any budget and learning method
All packages provide access to instructor support
In-person instruction available
Mobile app available only on Apple devices
No money-back guarantee
Securities Training Corporation has been a standard-bearer in the financial industry since 1969, not long after securities exams were first introduced. It remains a preferred exam prep provider for 3,500 worldwide corporate clients who know a thing or two about passing exams.
To maintain its reputation, STC always has been on the leading edge in course development and delivery, especially in the age of digital learning. Students can choose from several delivery options, including live virtual classes, in-person instruction, or on-demand lectures. Study materials are available in online and print formats. STC's mobile app is available only for Apple devices, but its web platform is mobile-friendly.
STC has three packaged course offerings for just the Series 6, all including a study manual, practice exams, and 24/7 tech support. The Standard course with all the basics is $112.50. At $157.50, the Premier course includes additional practice quizzes, practice exams, video lectures, and more than 900 online flashcards. For $225, the Premier Plus course includes everything in the Premier package and adds live virtual classes. All packages provide an instructor hotline during business hours.
No money-back guarantee is offered, but if you fail to pass your exam, you can retake the same prep course free of charge.
STC publishes a success rate of 95% across all its securities exam courses. With the Series 6 exam being among the easier securities licensing courses, one could assume that the success rate must be close to the average.
Best Value : ExamFX
We chose ExamFX as the best value for its high-quality but reasonably priced courses and money-back guarantee.
Money-back guarantee on the first attempt
Reasonably priced courses
Full access to instructor support for all students
No in-person instruction
Course access limited to 90 days
As an exam prep provider, ExamFX has established itself as a forward-looking company that emphasizes value without sacrificing quality since its founding in 1996. Its combination of reasonably priced and well-stacked course packages and a money-back guarantee makes ExamFX the best value among its peers.
ExamFX offers a full suite of course packages starting with its $89.95 self-study course. For $129.95, you can choose the video study package, and for $40 more ($169.95), you can select the live online package. All courses include 90-day access, an interactive learning portal, online exam simulations, and instructor support. The video study package adds on-demand video lectures and online flashcards. The live online package also includes live online training.
For its simulated online exams, ExamFX utilizes adaptive learning technology that reacts to your test answers by pinpointing areas that need further review. Its bank of 1,200 questions provides a continuous stream of new questions for each new practice exam.
ExamFX adds to its value by providing all students with email access to trained instructors Monday through Saturday. Because instructors have access to your learner profile, they can zero in quickly on your areas of need.
Few things can boost value more than a money-back guarantee, which ExamFX offers to students who pass its Guarantee Exam within three days of their scheduled exam date.
Best Question Bank : Pass Perfect
Pass Perfect makes our list for its massive question bank that it claims is the largest in the industry.
Extensive question bank
Mobile app with practice exams
Live online review classes
No in-person instruction
No published passing rate
Founded in 1967, Pass Perfect's primary objective has been to create challenging but realistic study conditions that over-prepare its students. A cornerstone of its Series 6 course offering is its massive question databank, which they boast contains three times more questions than any of their competitors. The question bank can feed many unique full-length practice exams and quizzes.
All of Pass Perfect's course packages include an interactive program that records and measures your progress from start to finish, and adapts to provide extra help where needed. They start with the $99 Pass Plus, a comprehensive self-study package that consists of an interactive dashboard, dynamic study calendar and unlimited knowledge tests at the end of critical milestones.
For $149, the Pass Plus Pro adds digital flashcards, and instructor email and phone support. For $169, the Pass Promise course adds live online classes led by industry experts in an interactive setting.
Pass Perfect provides a money-back guarantee if you don't pass your Series 6 exam on your first attempt, provided you meet certain criteria. If you don’t pass on the first attempt, a full refund is offered or students may keep the study materials for free until they pass the exam. However, the Pass Promise claims a 97%+ chance of passing if you complete the Pass Perfect program.
Best Passing Rate : Knopman Marks
Knopman Marks boasts high passing rates for many financial exams.
Strong, personalized instructor support
Mobile app for offline training (only for iOS)
One-year access to course materials
Only one course - No options
No money-back guarantee
No in-person instruction
Knopman Marks was established in 1991 by Harvey Knopman, who has years of experience developing and delivering securities training courses. While its course offering is fairly plain, its 95% passing rate across all exams is a strong indication of the quality and depth of its materials and methods.
Knopman offers a single Series 6 study course, but it is all-inclusive. When you order the course for $150, you receive physical and electronic textbook versions, practice exams, more than six hours of video lectures, and downloadable class supplements, all with one year of access. Students also have access to a mobile app (iPhone and iPad) for offline training.
To keep students on track, Knopman provides a series of diagnostic, benchmark, and practice exams that use data-driven success indicators to accurately measure exam readiness and the likelihood of success.
There also is instructor support that follows each student from start to finish with proactive, personalized guidance along the way.
While Knopman does not offer a money-back guarantee, its high passing rate and hands-on instructor support should instill the confidence students need to pass the test on their first attempt.
Best Priced All-Inclusive Package : Securities Institute of America
Securities Institute of America (SIA) packs everything Series 6 students need in a high-quality course package for $159.
Big bang for the buck
Backed by renowned financial publisher, John Wiley & Sons
No mobile app
SIA has been providing exam prep courses since its founding in 1996 and has the backing of one of the oldest and largest publishers of financial information globally, John Wiley & Sons. That may explain why it can do so much for so little with its signature course package.
SIA's Series 6 Complete Self-Study Solution is a cornucopia of high-quality study materials and technology that includes a 384-page textbook, interactive online exams with a question bank of 1,500 questions, 10 hours of online video classes, and an e-book. It comes with unlimited access for six months and sells for $159. SIA doesn't offer a mobile app, but its content is responsive to mobile devices.
For students who prefer a more self-paced study, SIA offers its Series 6 Textbook and Exam Prep Software that includes the textbook and six-month access to the test bank. The package goes for $98.90. The book includes 199 test questions and can be purchased separately for $69.95.
In recent years, the company has invested heavily in technology to produce state-of-the-art video lectures that are more engaging, and interactive online exams that can be customized for a student's needs and preferences.
SIA even gives students a chance to test-drive its materials with access to a free, no-obligation five-part exam prep course that includes practice exams and video classes.
SIA guarantees its results with its Greenlight Exam Guarantee for all students. To qualify, students must pass the Greenlight Exam within five days of sitting for the Series 6 exam. If they pass the Greenlight Exam and fail the actual test, SIA refunds the full purchase price.
What Is a Series 6 Exam Prep Course?
A Series 6 exam prep course contains the materials, resources, and study support a person needs to prepare for the exam. Many of the courses offer a range of learning methods that can meet individuals' particular study needs and preferences, including self-study, virtual interactive instruction, video instruction, live instruction, or a combination.
A vital component of a Series 6 exam prep course is the practice exams that enable users to gauge their progress in mastering the material continuously. The courses are designed to lead users systematically through the sections covered in the exam. Once users score at least 70% on the practice exams for a section, they are ready to move on to the next section. When they score 70% or better on the final practice exams, they are deemed ready to sit for the exam.
Is the Series 6 Exam Difficult?
While Series 6 is not the most difficult of the FINRA licensing exams, it can be challenging. A lot depends on your experience level with the subject matter, your ability to deduce the essential information from the questions, and how well you prepare for the exam.
The exam consists of 55 multiple choice questions that must be completed in 90 minutes. The minimum passing score is 70%. While the questions are not designed to trick you, they can be lengthy, and many are posed in a way that requires careful reading. Many questions contain detailed information, some of which can be relevant or distracting, which is why the practice exams are so important. Because the exam covers a narrow range of investment products, it requires a deeper understanding of the material.
How Long Does It Take to Study for the Series 6 Exam?
The length of time it takes to study for the Series 6 exam can vary based on several factors, including individual study habits and each student's ability to absorb the material. Allowing for those variances, course providers suggest a range of 40 to 80 hours as ample time to prepare for the test. The determining factor is how long it takes to score 70% or more on all the practice exams. In planning your study time, it might make sense to plan for 40 hours as your first benchmark for determining your progress, with the possibility of adding new benchmarks as needed.
What Is the Pass Rate of the Series 6 Exam?
FINRA doesn't publish the pass rate for first-time test-takers. All you can look at is the passing rates published by each of the course providers. We limited this review to providers with a published passing rate of 85% or better.
What you should know is that because enough people don't pass the exam on their first and second attempts, FINRA has imposed a 30/30/180 rule. If you fail the exam on your first attempt, you must wait 30 days to retake it. The 30-day wait also applies to a failed second attempt. If you fail on the third attempt, you must wait 180 days to retake the exam, which can be a career-crusher for many people.
How Much Does a Series 6 Exam Prep Course Cost?
The cost of Series 6 exam prep courses varies widely, depending in large part on the learning method you choose. Interactive online courses cost as much as $300, while self-study or self-paced courses can cost as little as $49. While many candidates receive financial support from their sponsoring broker-dealers, others might not. However, if you have to pay for an exam prep course out of your own pocket, you should consider it an investment in your future. Some course providers offer a money-back guarantee if you fail the exam on the first attempt, which can keep your costs down.
How We Chose the Series 6 Exam Prep Courses
With 31,032 people joining the ranks of FINRA-registered representatives in 2020, the market for Series 6 exam prep courses has become very competitive.
Although there are more than two dozen prep course providers, we limited our review to 15 based on their more extensive track records.
To narrow down the choices for the best Series 6 exam prep courses, we considered several factors, such as their published pass rate, available learning methods, course comprehensiveness, quality of technology and materials, instructor support, and cost. Exam prep courses that are well-stacked with these critical components give you the best opportunity for passing the exam on your first attempt.