Student feedback – FINRA online testing

Since FINRA introduced remote online testing, we have had many students elect to take their FINRA exams in this new format.  We have spoken to literally hundreds of students who have taken the exam either from their office or home.  The results, opinions and experiences varied greatly among the candidates. In this article we will summarize the students’ feedback and provide you with information to help you better understand which  format is best for you. 

Case study number 1

This student was a 15-year industry veteran who had long ago passed their Series 7 and 63 exams. Like many in the business, he was seeking to add  managed accounts and to receive fee-based compensation.  As a result, he had to pass the series 65 exam. Having started to prepare to take the series 65 prior to the closure of test centers as a result of covid-19, the student was anxious to get the test behind him. Excited about the prospects of being able to take the exam remotely,  he made the appointment for the remote session during the first week of availability.  On  the date scheduled for his exam he arranged for his wife and children to be at his in-laws house to ensure that he would not be disturbed and that he remained in compliance with the FINRA testing procedures. Being able to take the test from his home office seemed to be a great solution for this agent. He had been looking to get the test behind him and to move on with his career. However, he was not expecting the remote testing rules to be quite as stringent as he found them to be. The greatest problem he found was that the remote testing does not allow students to mark questions to review later. While it is never a great idea to change a lot of answers on your exam, the student did feel that there were four or five questions that he wanted to take another look at.

Case study number 2

This student was a recent college graduate and had joined a broker-dealer just prior to the closure of the test centers. He felt fortunate that he was able to get the Securities industry Essentials exam out of the way and was now moving on to the series 7 top off exam. Unable to make an appointment at any test center, this student elected to take the test remotely through FINRA’s new online testing.  The student in his early twenties, thought he knew what to expect and was very comfortable taking the exam remotely.  He arranged to use one of the offices at the firm where he would not be disturbed.  Once the Proctor logged on to the session to ensure his identity, the security of the computer and the room,  he began his test. He found the remote testing environment to be quite comfortable and easy to navigate.  As the test moved into more complicated questions, the student began to realize the shortcomings of the remote testing environment. Specifically, the student was not allowed to use scratch paper and was only able to use a computer-generated notepad, which he found to be clumsy and uncomfortable. Of particular concern for the student, was the inability to quickly and conveniently layout and work through option problems.  The student had mastered all of the techniques we teach at the Securities Institute to help students answer option questions visually and without the need to remember formulas. The student felt that the electronic notepad negatively impacted his performance in the option section and on additional questions requiringmath and bond calculations.

Case study number 3 

An insurance agent with a large client base had passed the Series 6 and 63 exams and had been grandfathered for the Securities industry Essentials exam. She was now looking to conduct business in additional products and elected to take the Series 7 Exam. Concerned about being exposed to covid-19 and not wanting to wear a mask during the testing procedure, she found FINRA’s online testing to be the perfect solution. As the operator of her own insurance agency, she elected to take the test remotely from her office.  This student was a heavy computer user and a meticulous organizer, she had already been taking her notes on her computer exclusively using our online systems to prepare for the exam. She was already quite comfortable with organizing and answering questions without the use of scratch paper. 

There are numerous pluses and minuses to both traditional testing in a Prometrics Exam Center   and to taking the test remotely. For students who cannot find a testing location close to their home, remote testing may be the best solution. For those concerned about the negative impact of wearing a mask during the test, FINRA’s remote online testing is a great choice.  On the other hand, the inability to review questions and the negative impact of an electronic notepad are substantial drawbacks to the remote testing procedure.  Additionally, test takers who are in extremely busy offices or homes, who cannot ensure that they will not be interrupted, may want to reconsider taking the test in the traditional test center. So which testing solution is best for you? only you can decide. We hope that this article has helped you better understand some of the advantages and disadvantages to testing in traditional exam centers and to taking  your FINRA exam remotely.

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Good luck on your exam!

The Securities Institute of America

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