Series 65 Exam Frequently Asked Questions

These are the most often asked questions our students have asked us about the Series 65 license - and the general responses. Remember, though, you always should check with the state securities regulator where you’re domiciled and where you will solicit - to make sure you’ve got the correct information for your specific situation.

How do I apply for the Series 65 exam?

If you’re with a firm, the compliance officer files a Form U-4 form with FINRA. If you’re an individual you complete a form Form U-10 and send it to FINRA with the appropriate fee. You can also file the Form U-10 form online. Note that NASAA creates all the test questions, but they have an agreement with FINRA to administer the exams through Prometric Testing Centers testing Centers.

Is there a cost to taking the Series 65 exam?

The test application for the Series 65 exam is $175.00.

Do I need a sponsor in order to sit for the 65 exam?

You do not need a sponsor to sit for the Series 65 exam. Individual applicants (those not affiliating with an existing firm) can submit a Form U-10 form. Just fill in “Not Applicable” where the form requests a sponsor.

Are there prerequisites to the Series 65 exam?

No. There are no prerequisites in order to sit for the Series 65 exam.

What’s on the Series 65 exam?

The 3 hour, 130 questions exam covers: economic factors and business information (19 questions), client investment recommendations and strategies (40 questions), investment vehicle characteristics (31 questions), and law, regulations and guidelines including prohibition on unethical business practices (40 questions).

What is the passing score on the Series 65 exam?

Passing score is 72%. The test can include an extra 10 questions that are “sample” questions that NASAA includes for their own research – but they don’t count against you if you miss them.

Can I get old copies of the test questions?

Series 65 NASAA exam questions are copyright protected and are not disclosed to the public.

Do I have to be a U.S. citizen in order to sit for the Series 65 exam?

No. There are no citizenship limitations on taking the Series 65 exam.

If I’m not a U.S. citizen and don’t have a U.S. social security number how do I sign up for the Series 65 exam?

By using form Form U-10, and you don’t have a social security number, FINRA will assign an ID number to you for the purpose of taking the Series 65 exam.

Is there any allowance on the exam if English isn’t my first language?

FINRA can make special arrangements and grant you one extra hour to take the exam if English is not your first language and an allowance is necessary. When you contact the exam center for your appointment ask the operator what steps need to be made in order to get the extra time.

Can I take the Series 65 exam outside of the U.S.?

Yes. You can find information on all testing locations on the Links page of our website.

If I don’t take the exam for some reason can I get a refund of the test application fee?

No. There are no refunds.

Who updates the Series 65 exam, and how often is that done?

Usually every year NASAA reviews the data bank and creates new and revised questions based on changes in law, etc. The questions are then entered into the database on a trial basis. The Series 65 has ten extra questions added to your exam but they do not count towards the final score. NASAA is trying to determine if the questions are too difficult or too easy.

If they fit in, they’re added to the data bank – but the proper weighting of so many questions from each topic area is maintained when you sit for the Series 65.

Do I get a certificate when I pass the Series 65 exam?

No. Other than the print out of your scores that you are given at the exam site, there is no other notification or certificate.

When you take an exam, your score is permanently recorded in the Central Registration Depository (CRD) maintained by NASD. Employers and regulators have access to the records.

Once I pay the application fee, how soon can I take the exam?

After FINRA processes your payment you’re logged onto the testing system and given a 120 day window within which you study for and take the exam. It doesn’t take long after FINRA receives your documents to process them and you are mailed a notice/confirm. Once you’re logged onto the testing system you can call Prometric and schedule a testing date.

Where do I take the Series 65 exam?

Go to our Links page and click on “domestic and international test sites”. That will take you to FINRA’s link showing all Prometric testing centers. There will be an 800 number that you can call to make your appointment and it will show you the address of the nearest center to you.

Do I bring my own calculator and paper?

The test center, after you sign in and show proper identification (picture and signature, e.g., a driver’s license), will give you pencils, paper, and a calculator to use. You’ll store all your personal items in a locker and not be allowed to bring them into the testing area.

Are there any continuing education requirements after I pass the Series 65 exam?

No. At the present time there are no continuing education requirements for those who have passed the Series 65 exam.

Once I pass the test am I ready to conduct business?

No. Just passing the Series 65 exam is only one of the steps in becoming registered as an Investment Advisor Representative. Each state has its own requirements and they all must be met before you can solicit. The test center will give you a copy of your scores. Your record of passing the exam is also kept by FINRA’s “CRD” system for two years. Keep a copy of your score sheet for your own records.

General steps are: pass the Series 65 exam, pay an application and an annual registration fee to the necessary State(s), file a disclosure document (sometimes referred to as an “ADV”), and receive a letter saying your are registered. If you need help in creating a disclosure document, contact us.

Are there any waivers for the Series 65 exam?

Form U-4 has a box that can be checked that indicates the certification that you hold. The CRD computers then check databases of all active certificants prepared by the certifying organizations.

Most states will waive the Series 65 exam if you hold one or more of the following professional registrations:

    • CFP - Certified Financial Planner (CFP Board of Standards);
    • CIC - Chartered Investment Counselor (Investment Counsel Association of America);
    • ChFC - Chartered Financial Consultant (American College);
    • PFS - Personal Financial Specialist (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants); or
    • CFA - Chartered Financial Analyst (Association for Investment Management and Research).

Be advised that you may still have to go through other state licensing requirements such as a background check, payment of fees, etc. Check with the state securities administrator for specific state rules.

If I fail the Series 65 exam can I immediately retake it?

No. If you fail the Series 65 exam there is:

  • A minimum of 30 days after failing the first exam before the second taking; a minimum of 30 days after failing the exam for the second time before the third taking;
  • and a minimum of 180 days after failing the exam for a third time before the fourth taking (and each subsequent time).

This is basically the FINRA standard policy that NASAA has adopted.

How many times can I retake the Series 65 exam?

As long as you meet the waiting periods there is no limit.

If I failed the Series 66 can I immediately sit for the Series 65 exam?

You can submit a Form U-10 form for the Series 65 exam and sit for it as soon as you’re application is processed and your 120 day window is established. The waiting period applies only to the specific exam you did not pass.

Can I extend the 120 day window that is given for the test period?

If you only need more time to study an extension isn’t granted; if you don’t take the test within the 120 day period you’ll have to submit another exam and pay the fee again. If you’ve been injured or have been sick, an extension may be granted.

Why can’t I just sit for the Series 7 and Series 66 exams instead of the Series 65 exam?

The reason you sit for the Series 65 exam is to charge fees for your services; if you sit for the 7 and 66 exams your intent is to charge commissions of the securities your clients buy and sell through you (and your firm) in addition (or in lieu of) fees for your services. People who have the 7 and 66 exams are generally securities brokers who want to add the ability to charge fees instead of commissions. To sit for the Series 7 exam you have to have a sponsor which is a FINRA (NASD) member firm that has intentions of hiring you. If you’re planning on setting up an RIA and being an Investment Advisor Representative and have no registrations, the state securities administrators want you to sit for the Series 65 exam. Few states sponsor individuals for the 7 and 66 combination.

If I have passed the Series 65 exam but haven’t completed the registration process, do I have to sit for the exam again?

After you pass the Series 65 test you have two years to become licensed (registered) with a state or the exam expires. Once you are registered, the exam remains effective as long as you stay registered. If you quit your firm, the compliance officer files a Form U-5 showing your end of employment and with that the state registration terminates as well. You then have two years to be re-employed and re-registered – otherwise the exam will show as “expired” in the Central Registration Depository (CRD) and you will have to sit for the exam again to become registered.

I work in a state that doesn’t license representatives of an investment advisor - will my Series 65 exam “expire”?

Yes. After two years of not being licensed in a state requiring the Series 65, your exam will be shown on the CRD record as “expired.”

If you’ve been working as an investment advisor representative in a state that doesn’t require registration, most states have discretion to waive the requirement to retake the exam. Usually a statement from your employer regarding your duties is necessary.

If you’re registered in multiple states but live in a state that doesn’t require the exam, and the others do, then you’ve met the requirement of being continually registered.

If I change employment to another investment advisor, do I have to do anything special?

Generally, the firm you are leaving will file a form U-5 ending your employment and registration. The firm you join will file a form Form U-4 re-registering you. As long as you haven’t gone more than 2 years between jobs the transfer is usually smooth. There may be application fees to re-register with the new firm.

Do I need the Series 65 exam if I’m just getting referral fees from an investment advisor for clients that I am soliciting?

Many states require agents, solicitors, and those receiving referral fees to pass the 65 and register with the appropriate state administrators. It’s best to contact the state regulator where you reside and solicit to know the current rules.

If I work in a state that doesn’t register representatives of investment advisors can the company I want to join make me take the Series 65 exam?

Yes. The company can be more restrictive than state or federal rules if it chooses.