When we get asked about passing the SIE exam, our answer is always the same. Effectively preparing for this exam requires a mix of top shelf materials and a dedicated study process. And, while we understand that every candidate is different, and thus will have a slightly different path, there are a few things that we feel are effective no matter how you learn.
First, you should start your preparation with the Securities Industry Essentials Textbook. This Wiley Textbook will be the foundation of your efforts and contains everything you need to be successfully. Next, you need to take as many practice tests as you can with the Exam Prep Software. This will help you apply what you have learned as you work towards mastering the material and growing your confidence.
When it comes to the test, we know how intimidating it can be. The article below is a great resource for those individuals who want to improve their testing skills and learn how to “beat the test” when it comes to the SIE Exam.
Passing the Securities Industry Essentials Exam
By Trace Fasano, Director of Education, The Securities Institute of America
Have you ever run into someone who is just a “good test taker?” Frustrating isn’t it? You spend hours learning every detail only to have them breeze in on test day acting like the whole process is no big deal. I’ll admit, for years this baffled me and I didn’t know what they “had” that I “didn’t.” At the time I just didn’t understand how someone could be “good” at something as obscure as taking a test. Didn’t the material matter? Didn’t they study? Honestly I couldn’t understand.
Well, now I’ve learned a few things along the way and I have realized that being a “good test taker” is a skill set. It is an approach that doesn’t require a deeper knowledge of the material, it is simply a different approach to the exam itself. The truth here is that there are facets that all standardized multiple choice tests have in common and I’m going to spend some time with you today as I teach you how to “out-test” the test. The goal? To help you become one of those people who just “test well” and to help you successfully pass your Securities Industry Essentials Exam.
The first step? I need you to slow down and read carefully. It sounds simple, but you would be amazed at the number of questions people miss because they don’t read the full sentence before they jump to the answer. I don’t fault them. It’s actually a conditioned response. We have trained ourselves to read until we find that one little nugget that tells us what we need to know. We grab the tiny piece of the puzzle that’s relevant and keep going. Most of the time it’s a strategy that works well. Hence why so many people use it. But on a test, especially one like the Essentials Exam, it can be the difference between success and failure.
So don’t sabotage yourself. Take your time and read every word before you choose your answer. Then, just to make sure, go back one more time and read it again. This will help you ensure you fully understand what they are asking.
The next trick? Don’t make it all about what you don’t know, instead use process of elimination to capitalize on what you do know.
In a multiple choice test always get rid of the answers you know can’t be correct. In other words, I want you to use process of elimination to help you find the right answer. For example if you have 4 choices and you are certain 2 of them are wrong, mark them off. Now you only have two choices left and statistics are on your side. So if two are left, and one of the two is “all of the above” mark it! Statistically it’s probably correct.
On the other hand. If you have eliminated 2 choices, and you are left with one that states “none of the above” then that is an answer you want to avoid. Again, statistics show us this is not the correct choice. Exam writers like to include the right answer, its hard for them not to, so unless you are 100% certain the answer isn’t sitting in front of you don’t assume it’s not there.
Another choice to watch out for on the Securities Industry Essentials Exam? “Not enough information to determine.” If this you see this as part of multiple-choice question on the SIE exam do not choose it. There is ALWAYS enough information. In fact, there is generally MORE than enough information to answer any question they choose to ask. So consider it a gift and mark it off right away. Now you only have three choices to work through and your odds of answering the question correctly have drastically improved. Now for my Essentials Exam cardinal rule, “Never Change Your Answer.” Here’s the thing about changing your answer, it means you are second guessing yourself. And if you have taken your time to carefully read the question before you apply the process of elimination to come up with the best possible answer, then statistics are on your side. Second guessing yourself removes all logic from the process and makes your answer nothing more than a guess. Meaning that, more often than not, changing your answer will mean a wrong answer and a missed question. The lesson here? Use the process and then stick with your choice. You made it for a reason.
The SIE Exam is a fairly long exam that requires extended periods of focus. It can be tedious, but you have to keep your head in the game the whole time. This means that I want you to work through and answer the questions you are sure of first and then go back to work on the ones that you feel need more time. There’s only one problem. On the Essentials Exam there is no way for you to skip questions. It’s computer generated exam that requires an answer before you can continue. But there is a trick.
When you get to a question that needs more time simply choose any answer and then click “record and review.” This will allow you to move forward with the test and still come back to that question later on.
My friend I realize sitting for this exam is a stressful experience, even for all the “good test takers” out there. I can’t get rid of the stress. But I can make things just a little easier for you. If you are diligent in your preparation and use these tips then maybe we can tip the scales a bit further in your favor. And if we work together I’m sure we can set you firmly on the path to passing your Securities Industry Essentials Exam.
Working through this process, studying these materials and preparing for this exam means that you are well on your way to a rewarding career in financial services.