Prior to October 1, 2018, if you wanted to land a job in the financial services sector you essentially had to be offered that job contingent upon you passing the relevant exam(s). This is a lot of pressure, particularly if you didn’t have a relevant degree or experience.
What if you made it all the way to the job offer, started studying for the Series 7 and 63, and realized you were bored to death or you just could not for the life of you remember why a bond curve might invert? The Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam is an answer to this. It requires no Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member sponsor offering you a job, so if you’d like to try out the sector intellectually, or bolster your resume with a new certification while not in a position or field which requires this credential, this is your chance.
That being said, if you pass the SIE test, you will have to take top-off exams, depending upon the exact position you’re after. And, for those top-off exams, you will need a FINRA member sponsor.
- It’s challenging to evaluate test preparation services online. In many cases, word of mouth from friends in the field—ideally, those that have used a service like this—may be helpful.
- It isn’t necessary to use a service like this if you are able and willing to prepare on your own.
- Taking exams is a solid strategy to impose disciplined learning on yourself. You may not have enjoyed this approach as a student, but having some sort of goal can make it easier to make progress, as life has a tendency of interrupting loose ambitions.
- There are many options to choose from when it comes to test-prep companies.
If the idea of studying by yourself for the SIE exam gives you no small amount of dread, there are a number of test prep services out there. Here are some general principles by which you can evaluate them:
Criteria for choosing a Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam prep service:
- The SIE exam is relatively new, so test-prep services may not be as robust as other professional qualifications. Be sure to do your own research, read reviews of anyone you may hire to help you prepare, and inspect their site to make sure they offer a legitimate service.
- The services are typically tiered. Do you want just the bare-bones prep material? Extra time with an instructor? An in-person classroom environment? A charismatic presenter? A beautiful user-experience? Make sure you know what you need in order to be accountable for your goals.
- Like many things in life, you get out of it what you put into it. Taking a course may not prepare you for the exam if you aren’t hungry to learn.
Keeping all of that in mind, here are the top options in the market for you to consider.
The 6 Best SIE Exam Prep Courses of 2020
Best Overall: ExamFX
ExamFX offers three packages for preparing for the SIE exam: Self-Study, Video Study, and Live Online. Pricing varies depending on the package you choose, but it typically ranges from $100 to around $210.
While the Self-Study tier includes features like an interactive learning portal, a readiness exam, a guarantee assessment, instructor support, and more, the video study package includes on-demand video lectures and online flashcards. If you're looking for the maximum amount of offerings, the Live Online service includes everything the aforementioned packages have, with the addition of live online training.
One highlight of ExamFX is the guarantee exam. At the end of the training if you score an 80% or above on the guarantee exam—and if you take the SIE exam within three days and fail—the company will refund you the cost of the material.
Be sure to book your exam time early so you can do it within the three-day window, just in case you think you'll need to take advantage of this offer.
Best Value: Solomon Exam Prep
Do you want flashcards and an audiobook, but no exam guide or video lectures? Then Solomon Exam Prep is the perfect choice for you. The company offers an unbundled range of materials and resources, making it more affordable and customizable than the other offerings in the SIE exam prep world.
The cheapest resource costs around $40 and increases from there, depending on the product, package, or bundle. If you're on a budget, this exam prep service would likely be appealing.
But Solomon Exam Prep encourages users to purchase bundles because they're offered at a discounted rate. There are four packages to choose from: Essentials, Video Premium, Audio Premium, and Total.
All tiers include a study guide, exam simulator, flashcards, and support from a professor. Should you opt for one of the pricier packages, add-ons like video lectures and audiobooks will be included with your purchase.
Most Comprehensive: Knopman Marks
If you're looking for in-person classes in the tri-state area, Knopman Marks is a great choice. There are a number of them available in New York City.
While their packages are more expensive than some others in this round-up— it's around $250 for the self-study option, about $200 more for an in-person course—Knopman Marks states that they currently have a 97% pass rate for the SIE, and list other statistics on their website.
If you opt for the bundle, you'll receive six diagnostic exams, one assessment, video lectures, digital flashcards, personal instructor access, a textbook, class supplements, and more. You'll also have access to all materials for up to one year.
Overall, Knopman Marks is a comprehensive option that provides unlimited resources to its users, from start to finish. While it might be pricier than some of the other offerings, the value is incomparable. Plus, if it means you pass on your first try, it'll be well worth the money.
Best for Career: Securities Institute of America, Inc.
The Securities Institute of America, Inc. (SIA) offers a variety of bundles if you're looking to get the SIE credential and then pass the requisite top-offs like the Series 6 or Series 7.
The materials distributed by SIA, Inc. have been created in partnership with John Wiley & Sons, the largest publisher of financial information in the world. SIA, Inc.'s products are intuitive and help guide you through the learning process step-by-step so that you feel prepared on the day of your exam.
Packages cost approximately $40 to $300, though it depends on whether you want to purchase the textbook, exam prep software, the online video class, the mobile ebook, or bundles.
While reviewing SIA, Inc.'s study supplements, you can chat with a representative online, or call the company during business hours to ask any questions you might have.
SIA, Inc.’s programming is tailored for someone looking for more than just professional enhancement: It's ideal for someone actually looking to move into a financial services career.
Most Informative: Securities Training Corporation
With the Securities Training Corporation (STC) featuring one of the bigger catalogs of financial services' training materials, there are a lot of options available.
If you excel face-to-face with an instructor, STC's in-person training sessions will be a draw, and you can attend them throughout major United States cities, like New York and Chicago. This can also be helpful you’re looking to take a more unusual Series exam. For instance, one of the most common is the Series 7 and Series 63 combination that allows you to become a general securities representative.
But there are quite a few Series exams covering all sorts of specialties within the financial services industry. If you know what you want to do and it isn’t going right for the Series 7 and Series 63, you might want to peruse the vast catalog at Securities Training Corporation and see if any of their offerings suit your needs.
Courses run from about $120 to $830 depending upon the bundle. Most bundles are on the lower end of that range, with the in-person and live webinar SIE-only trainings costing around $200.
Best for In-Person Classes: Kaplan Test Prep
You may already know about Kaplan Test Prep through the tutoring services they offer at various brick-and-mortar locations throughout the United States. But did you know that they can also help you prepare for your financial exams?
As you might infer, Kaplan appears to have the most extensive listing of live courses. If you are outside of a major financial center and want in-person training, Kaplan may be able to help.
Courses range from bare-bones to bundles, with a variety of options for in-person training sessions. All packages include a study calendar to help you prioritize your time, practice exams, a performance tracker, and more.
Premium packages offer live online or in-person classes or on-demand courses. Depending on the kind of service you're looking for, prices can range from about $100 to $230 for SIE exam prep, with Series 6 or Series 7 packages ranging up to about $480.
How We Chose the Best SIE Prep Courses
When evaluating the best SIE prep courses, we took into consideration price, class structure (whether they're available online, in-person, or both), what's included (study guides, access to a teacher when questions arise, practice exams, flashcards, etc.), as well as money-back guarantees when available.