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 FINRA member firm. There is also 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.
The 6 Best Series 6 Exam Prep Courses of 2020
Kaplan University: Best Comprehensive Offering
Kaplan makes our list with the best comprehensive offering for students with any learning style and budget. Their exam prep course lineup starts with self-study at $79 and ranges up to $149 for its premium classes with on-demand, online live, and 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
In-person instruction for students living near class facilities
Course access for five months with a 5-month extension for $49
No money-back guarantee
Lowest passing rate of the providers on this list
No mobile app platform
Kaplan stands out as one of the more established educational programs in the financial industry with a 50-year track record of successful exam prep. 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 on-demand online, online live, and live formats. 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.
Kaplan is one of the few providers to offer live, in-person instruction for students who live near one of its facilities in select cities in 18 states.
One of its more popular tools is the SecuritiesPro™ QBank that allows users to access hundreds of practice exam questions 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 it doesn't offer a money-back guarantee as other providers on this list do. However, it does have a published success rate of 87% for first-time test takers.
Securities Training Corporation: Best Reputation
For more than 50 years, 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 in major cities across the country
Money-back guarantee not available with standard course
No mobile app
Securities Training Corporation has been a standard-bearer in the financial industry since 1969 when securities exams were first introduced. It is still a preferred exam prep provider for the top 10 banks and the top 25 broker-dealers, who know a thing or two about quality exam prep courses.
To maintain its reputation, STC has always 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. All study materials are available in online and print formats. While STC doesn't offer a mobile app, it's online apps are mobile responsive.
Headlining STC's course offerings are three packaged courses, all including a study manual, practice exams, and study calendar. The Standard course with all the basics is $125. At $175, the Premier course includes additional practice quizzes, practice exams, video lectures, and over 900 online flashcards. For $250, the Premier Plus course includes everything in the Premier package and adds a two-day live online or in-person seminar (available in Illinois and New York only).
While STC only offers a money-back guarantee on its Premier and Premier Plus courses, all packages provide an instructor hotline during business hours.
STC publishes a success rate of 95%, but that is inclusive of all its securities exam courses. With the Series 6 being among the easier securities licensing courses, one could assume that the success rate must be close to the average.
ExamFX: Best Value
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
High passing rate
Limited in-person instruction
Course access limited to 90 days
In its 20 years as an exam prep provider, ExamFX has established itself as a forward-looking company that emphasizes value without sacrificing quality. 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 self-study course. For $129, you can choose the video study package, and, for $40 more, 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 question bank provides a continuous stream of new questions for each new practice exam, which are unlimited.
The Exam FX mobile app provides users with a quick knowledge check for assessing your readiness to sit for the exam. ExamFX recommends using this app just before entering the exam facility for a quick refresher.
ExamFX adds to its value by providing all students with phone or email access to trained instructors Monday through Saturday. Because instructors have access to your learner profile, they can quickly zero in on your areas of need.
Nothing can boost value more than a money-back guarantee, which ExamFX offers to students who pass their Guarantee Exam within three days of their scheduled exam date. However, with an impressive 92.3% published passing rate, ExamFX doesn't have to issue too many refunds.
Pass Perfect: Best Question Bank
Pass Perfect makes our list for its massive question bank containing over 4,000 questions.
Extensive question bank
Mobile app with practice exams
Live online review classes
No money-back guarantee
No in-person instruction
No published passing rate
For more than 30 years, Pass Perfect's primary objective has been to create challenging but realistic study conditions that overprepare its students. A cornerstone of its Series 6 course offering is its massive question databank of more than 4,000 questions that can feed 30 unique full-length practice exams and an unlimited number of quizzes. The questions are purposely more difficult than the actual exam questions to ensure students are continually challenged.
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 Online Study Guide, a comprehensive self-study package that consists of an interactive dashboard, dynamic study calendar, audio tutorials, and unlimited knowledge tests at the end of critical milestones.
For $149, the Pass Plus Pro adds digital flashcards, instructor email and phone support, and an online virtual review. For $169, the Pass Plus Promise course adds live online classes led by industry experts in an interactive setting.
Pass Perfect claims its students have a 97% chance of passing the exam on the first attempt, but if they don’t, a full refund is offered or students may keep the study materials for free until they pass the exam.
Knopman Marks: Best Passing Rate
At 95%, Knopman Marks posts the highest first attempt passing rate among all its peers.
High first attempt passing rate
One-year access to course materials
Strong, personalized instructor support
Mobile app for offline training
Limited course package offering
No money-back guarantee
No in-person instruction
Knopman Marks was established in 1991 by Harvey Knopman, who has more than 40 years of experience developing and delivering securities training courses. While its course offering is fairly plain vanilla, its 95% passing rate 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, online and printable practice exams, more than six hours of video lectures, and downloadable class supplements, all with one-year 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 is also instructor support that follows each student from start to finish with proactive, personalized guidance along the way. Students may contact instructors during days and evenings, seven days a week, to get their questions answered.
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.
Securities Institute of America: Best Priced All-Inclusive Package
Securities Institute of America (SIA) packs everything Series 6 students need in a high-quality course package for just $159.
Big bang for the buck
Free five-part exam prep course to test-drive the content
Backed by renowned financial publisher, John Wiley & Sons
Limited course offering
No mobile app
SIA has been providing exam prep courses for 24 years 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 400-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 90% on the practice exams for a section, they are ready to move on to the next section. When they score 90% or better on the final practice exams, they are deemed ready to sit for the exam.
Is the Series 6 Exam Difficult?
While the Series 6 is not the most difficult of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (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 90% 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 to is the passing rates published by each of the course providers. For this review, we only included providers with a published passing rate of 85% or more.
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. But, 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 vary 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 more than 25,000 people joining the ranks of FINRA-registered representatives each year, 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, as well as 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.