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June 13, 2024


Last updated: June 29, 2024

How To Pass The Series 4 Securities Exam

By: Securities Institute Staff

How to Pass the Series 4 Exam: and become a Registered Options Principal

What is the best way to prepare for the Series 4 exam? We get asked this question all the time. The answers is that, while everyone learns in a different way, there are certain steps that everyone must take to pass the Series 4 exam. Reading the Series 4 textbook is absolutely essential to passing the exam. You must read the book completely and fully. Read the book, take notes and highlight the key points. Once you have completed the textbook, take as many Series 4 practice questions as you can. The Series 4 exam prep software is designed to help you master the application of the knowledge. The article that follows will provide you with additional insight on how to pass the Series 4 exam.

Passing the Series 4 Exam

By Trace Fasano, Director of Education, The Securities Institute of America

Have you ever heard someone say “I’m just a really good test taker” and wondered “What do they know that I don’t?” Well as it turns out, there are certain things you can do to improve your test taking. And the best part is you don’t have to know any more of the technical information in order to do this. All standardized, multiple choice tests have certain things in common; here’s how to out-test the test, and help you become a better test taker and ace your Series 4 exam! Read the full question. Sounds really simple right? But most people don’t. Most of us are conditioned to skim through information to find the one little nugget we are looking for. If you’re approaching Series 4 exam questions this way you’re sabotaging yourself. So let’s be clear. When you are answering Series 4 exam questions, read the entire question and read all the answer choices. Then read the last sentence of the question again. That last line is the punch line in all Series 4 exam questions, “what do they want from me?” Use “process of elimination”. Always get rid of the answer choices you know can’t be correct. If you have used process of elimination, have two choices left, and you’re still not sure answer is right; go with the statistics. If one of the choices you haven’t eliminated is “all of the above”, choose it! This is one of the keys to outsmarting the Series 4 exam. Statistically it’s probably the correct choice. On the other hand, if you’ve used process of elimination and one of the choices you have left is “none of the above”, don’t pick it. Odds are it’s not the correct answer. The test writers for the Series 4 exam like include a correct answer. If a question gives you an answer choice that reads “not enough information to determine”, do not choose that answer. There is always enough information to answer a Series 4 exam question. Chances are there is more information than you need to answer any question on the Series 4 exam. Consider it a gift, now you have a one in three chance of getting the question correct! The cardinal rule in taking the Series 4 exam is Don’t Change Your Answers. If you have taken your time, read the full question, used process of elimination, and made a decision; do not second guess yourself. Statistically, when you change an answer, you change it to the wrong answer more often than not, so stick with your gut! The Series 4 exam will not give you a lot of information that you can go back and use to answer a question better the second time. Keep your head in the game. That means you should do the questions you are sure of first. Leave the ones that cause you grief for last. Makes sense right? But here’s the rub: you need to answer each question in order for the computer to generate the next one; there is no “skip” button. So here’s how we skip questions in on the Series 4 exam: First, read the full question. If the question is confusing or asking about an area that you are unfamiliar with (really, whatever the reason, its ok) pick an answer, and click on “record and review”. The computer will then bring up the next question on your Series 4 exam. When you are done with all the questions, the computer will show you the questions you clicked record and review on. These are the ones you skipped. Now you can answer those questions. Since you didn’t answer them earlier, you chose a random answer, you don’t have to worry about the statistics of changing your answers, and you’ll have plenty of time to work on the difficult questions. The Series 4 exam is not a speeded test. A speeded test is one that is designed so that only the brightest students will have enough time to finish. The Series 4 exam is designed to provide enough time for all students to complete each question on the exam. Taking is the Series 4 exam is stressful, even if you are a good test taker. By following this simple advice you will be able to tip the scales a bit more in your favor. Coupled with diligent test prep, you are well on your way to passing the Series 4 exam! A Series 4 registered Options Principal is licensed to supervise a member firm’s option business. The Series 4 exam will be presented in a 125-question multiple-choice format. Each candidate will have three hours to complete the exam. A score of 72% or higher is required to pass the Series 4 exam. The Series 4 is as much a knowledge test as it is a reading test. Your textbook and software from The Securities Institute will ensure that you have the required knowledge to pass the test and that you are confident in the application of the knowledge during the exam. Our writers are subject matter experts as well as a Series 4 test experts. We understand how the test is written and our proven test-taking techniques can dramatically improve your results.

Taking the Series 4 Exam

The Series 4 exam is presented in multiple-choice format on a touch screen computer known as the PROCTOR system. No computer skills are required, and candidates will find that the test screen works in the same way as an ordinary ATM machine. Each test is made up of 125 questions that are randomly chosen from a test bank of thousands of questions. Each Series 4 exam will have several practice questions that do not count toward the final score. The test has a time limit of three hours and is designed to provide enough time for all candidates to complete the exam. Each Series 4 exam will comprise questions that focus on the following areas:

Objective# Questions
Option Investment Strategies34
Supervision of Sales Activities & Trading Practices75
Supervision of Employees, Business Conduct, Recordkeeping & Reporting Requirements16

How to Prepare for the Series 4 Exam

It is recommended that the individual spend at least from 40 to 50 hours preparing for the exam by reading the textbook, underlining key points, and by taking as many practice questions as possible.

What type of business may be conducted by Series 4 Registered Options Principal?

After passing the Series 4 exam, a registered person may supervise a member firm’s option business.

What score is needed to pass the Series 4 exam?

A score of 72% or higher is needed to pass the Series 4 exam.

Are there any prerequisites for the Series 4 exam?

The Series 7, 17, 37, 38, 42 or 62 can be used to meet the prerequisite of the Series 4 exam. All candidates must be sponsored by a FINRA member firm to take the Series 4 exam.

How do I schedule my Series 4 exam?

Ask your firm’s principal to schedule the exam for you or for a list of test centers in your area. You must be sponsored by a FINRA member firm prior to making an appointment. The Series 4 exam may be taken any day that the exam center is open.

What must I bring to the exam center?

A picture ID is required. All other materials will be provided, including a calculator and scratch paper.

How long will it take to get the results of my Series 4 exam?

The exam will be graded as soon as you answer your final question and hit the Submit for Grading button. It will take only a few minutes to get your results. Your grade will appear on the computer screen and you will be given a paper copy from the exam center.

Series 4 test-taking tips!

  • Read the full question before answering
  • Identify what the question is asking
  • Identify key words and phrases
  • Watch out for hedge clauses, for example, except and not
  • Eliminate wrong answers
  • Identify synonymous terms
  • Be wary of changing answers


FINRA has eliminated the compliance registered option principal (CROP) and supervisory registered option principal (SROP) designations. The Series 4 exam may still use these terms. This text uses the most up to date term registered option and securities futures principal ROSFP and makes note of the former duties of the CROP and SROP. Test takers should also use the terms ROP and ROSFP as interchangeable.