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Passing the Series 79 exam is usually necessary for anyone who wants to work in investment banking.

You generally need a Series 79 license to work with debt or equity offerings through public or private placement. That includes pricing securities, underwriting and marketing. It’s also required for work involving mergers, acquisitions and financial restructuring, including tender offers and selling assets. An employee whose exposure is limited in these areas may not need a Series 79.

The exam has 175 multiple-choice questions, plus 10 more that do not count toward the final score. Candidates get five hours to finish. The test is taken on a computer, so results are provided immediately after completion.

The passing score changes from year to year but is usually around 73%. Candidates must be sponsored by a FINRA member to take the test.

Forty-three percent of the test covers collection and analysis of data. Twenty-five percent is on underwriting and new financing transactions, types of offerings and registration of securities. Nineteen percent deals with mergers and acquisitions, tender offers and financial restructuring, and 13% covers general securities and industry regulations.

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