Monthly Archives: December 2013

We often are asked about the best approach to taking practice exams. Your approach is crucial to preparing properly for passing an exam. Regardless of which exam you’re studying for, there are methods that will work for you and those that won’t.

The most important point is to make sure that you’re not consciously or unconsciously memorizing test questions. If you spend time doing this, you’re going to be in for a big surprise when you turn on your computer at the test center. FINRA and NASAA are clear about the fact that their exams are confidential and cannot be copied. So while every publisher of preparation materials attempts to simulate the regulatory exam, they cannot be identical because the regulators do not allow it.

Memorizing typically happens when you take the same exam over and over, hoping to improve your score, thinking a higher score means better comprehension. Higher scores come with understanding the material, not memorizing practice questions.

Imagine that I am going to give you a multiple-choice, 100-question physics test tomorrow. You study for it by skimming through a physics book, taking the test and, naturally, failing it. I supply the correct answers along with explanations for each question. The following day, if you take the same physics test, you will do a bit better because you know the answers to the questions. Several days later, I give you the same test again. Now, I suspect you will score in the 80s or 90s because it is the third time you have seen this exam. Based on this, can you call yourself qualified as a physicist? Of course not. 

What if I gave you a brand new physics test next week? Do you think you’ll pass that exam because you finally scored high on the third attempt of the last test? Doubtful isn’t it? If we repeat this three-attempts process with 10 physics exams over the course of a few weeks, you would eventually have aced all the physics exams. Are you a physicist now?

The same logic applies in studying for the Series 7 or Series 24 exam. It is comprehending the material, not memorizing the questions that results in a passing score.

The best approach to taking tests is to continuously challenge yourself with questions you have never seen before, just like the new questions you will see on your regulatory exam. We’ll talk about this more in our next blog.

Thanks for spending time with us. We hope you found it worthwhile.

-Securities Training Corporation

Many times we are asked, “What’s the best way to prepare for my exam?”

Not surprisingly, the starting point of any study program is to read the book first, then complete all the practice exams and, when possible, attend a class. However, we understand that your schedule may not allow for every step, so we modify our advice for those with industry experience. If you have spent years working in securities, you probably don’t need the same preparation that someone who is fresh out of school, without a financial background, does.

We recommend that you briefly review each chapter that covers information you have practical experience with. You should be able to determine quickly areas in which you have no experience and material that is unfamiliar. Once you do this, your study schedule will narrow to what is new.

Next, make sure you have a study calendar. We provide them for those who use our materials. However, it’s easy to make your own. The idea behind a calendar is to organize and discipline yourself, map your progress, and make the best use of your time.

Also, avoid marathon study sessions. You don’t want to read for three hours straight. Remember, you’re reading a textbook, not a page-turning novel. Try reading for half an hour and then take a brief break, 10 to15 minutes, before going back to the material.

Regardless of which regulatory exam you’re taking, there’s always that element of reading material you don’t care about but you need to know to pass the exam. It should come as no surprise that some information on the regulatory exam is less than exciting. Break your reading into small sections so it is more manageable. By tackling it in small pieces, the information is much easier to wrestle with and digest and not such a bear. Pun intended.

We’ll talk about how to approach practice exams in our next blog post.

Thanks for reading. We hope you found the advice worthwhile.

-Securities Training Corporation