Differences between the Series 65 and the Series 66

Hedge fund managers who must register as investment advisor representatives with the SEC (through notice filings) or the state securities commission will need to have the proper FINRA exam licenses. Generally this means that the hedge fund manager will need to have passed the Series 65 exam within two years of registration (or the license must not have been inactive for two years prior to the registration).

However, if a manager has a Series 7 exam license, he will only need to take the Series 66 exam instead of the Series 65. This would generally be a good idea because the Series 66 exam is easier than the Series 65 exam and managers should be able to pass the Series 66 with less effort than the Series 65. I have detailed below the different requirements for the Series 65 versus the Series 66

Series 65 Exam

  • 140 multiple choice questions
  • 10 pre-test; 130 count towards score
  • 180 minutes to take the exam
  • Must achieve a 72% to pass
  • Test covers: economics and analysis; investment vehicles; investment recommendations and strategies; and legal and regulatory guidelines, including prohibition on unethical business practices.
  • NASAA test outline link.

Series 66 Exam

  • 110 multiple choice questions
  • 10 pre-test; 100 count towards score
  • 150 minutes to pass the exam
  • Must achieve 72% to pass
  • Test covers: much of the material included on the Series 65, but it does not include the product, analysis and strategy questions that are a large part of the Series 65.
  • NASAA test outline link.

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40 thoughts on “Differences between the Series 65 and the Series 66

  1. Chuck Lowenstein

    I must take issue with the statement that the Series 66 exam is easier to pass than the Series 65 for those with a Series 7 registration. Our experience with many thousands of students who have taken these tests indicates differently. An applicant with a Series 7 license will almost always have an easier time passing the Series 65 than the 66 and there are several obvious reasons for this.

    1) Passing score on the 65 is only 68.5% while it is an industrywide high requirement of 71% on the Series 66.
    2) The “extra” material added to the Series 65 is on subjects very familiar to most Series 7’s. For example, there are questions on common and preferred stock, mutual funds, options and limited partnership programs; all topics thoroughly covered on an Series 7 training program. There is extensive coverage of economics and analysis, but very little that is not part of the Series 7 exam.
    3) 80 of the 100 questions (80%) of the Series 66 are based upon state and federal laws, while only 45 questions (35%) of the Series 65 cover this topic. Because these questions deal with the intracies of the law, these are typically the most difficult questions for students to handle.

    The real advantage in taking the Series 66 is that, for those who will be selling securities as well as giving advice, is that it “kills two birds with one stone”. That is, instead of being required to sit for both the Series 65 and the Series 63 (Uniform Securities Agent State Law Examination), taking the Series 66 covers one for both.

    Chuck Lowenstein
    Senior Editor – Securities
    Kaplan Financial Education

  2. Pingback: Comments on the Series 65 and Series 66 Exam | Hedge Fund Law Blog

  3. Gloria

    I took my Series 66 today and unfortunatley did not pass with a 70% score. The questions were very difficult and 70% of the exam were unrelated to the test material and CD’s training I did with the STC material. Is there other material I can study that is more summarized and focused that will guarantee my passing this test the 2nd time around? There were even some questions that were NOT in my study material at all and I had to guess at those questions.
    I am very dissappointed with the test questions in this exam.
    Any suggestions you can give are greatly apprecited.
    Thank you,

  4. Trevor

    I am having to retake the series 66 as I scored a 70 on it and thus did NOT pass. I concur with Gloria that a bulk of the questions seemed to be on topics I had never seen using the Kaplan study guide. I passed my series 7 the first time but I am very much struggling with the 66.

  5. Michael

    I used STC to study for the Series 7 and Series 66. I scored a 97% on the series 7, so I’m fairly intelligent. STC did not adequately prepare me for the Series 66. While I passed, and scored a 89%, I felt that numerous questions on the 66 were not reflected in the STC materials — and I knew the STC questions pretty well. So my recommendation would be to use STC for Series 7 prep, but review a different test preparer for the Series 66.

  6. Laura

    I also used STC for my Series 66 test, which I failed horribly this morning. I have to agree with both Gloria and Trevor – there were things on the test that we not in any of the study material. I also used study prep on Investopedia’s website. While their questions were different from STC’s, they weren’t on the actual test either.

  7. Kevin

    Laura I just failed myself 2 days ago, I was scoring in the high 80’s with the STC material and got a 65 on the actual test, this is the new test as well where you need to score a 75% now to pass. I saw many questions that were completely foreign to me which I had to guess on, I will be looking at other alternatives to study this material, but I dont know where to look for one with the new revised questions.

  8. Ted J

    Used STC for S66 this morning. Passed with a score in the low 90s. Started studying for the exam 3 days ago. The STC material sucks hard. Material is wordy, misleading and repeatedly contradicts itself. The question bank is even worse. Very frustrating.

    Used STC for S7. Passed in the high 90s. Material was drastically different than the S66.

    Just out of curiosity, how can anyone actually fail the S66? FINRA exams are a joke even if you are handicapped with crappy STC material. If you fail a FINRA exam, you should be barred from the industry or at least banished to back office positions.

  9. Robert

    I have the 7, 24, and 63 from over 10 years ago. I now want to be an RIA and need either the 65 or 66. I have a strong background in investments, but it has been a long time since I had to take an exam. Which do you suggest and what is the best study material?

    1. Hedge Fund Lawyer Post author

      Hi Robert,

      First, I would recommend you take the Series 65 rather than the Series 66* because of the recent changes to the exam. Next, I think that both Kaplan and STC have strong products so I don’t think you can go wrong with either. The most important thing is that you are able to consistently pass the practice exams provided by the training company.

      With all that being said, I personally used the Kaplan guides to pass all of my exams and I have no problems recommending them. There are some guides that I would stay away from based on the experiences with my clients and if you want the names of those, you can email me directly. However, I think both Kaplan and STC would be good choices.

      Hope this helps and good luck with the exam.


      * Note: since your Series 7 is likely expired, you would need to take the 65 regardless.

      1. Robert

        Thanks Bart. Actually, my 7 is still active since I left my last job just 6 months ago, but it sounds like that does not change your opinion.

        1. Hedge Fund Lawyer Post author


          No, I would not change my opinion. Too many people have been failing the Series 66. It sounds like NASAA might need to take a look at the recent revisions they have made to the exam.


  10. Debbie

    I too just took my series 66 and failed with a 72%. I was scoring upper 80% and mid 90% on the STC material practice exams prior to testing. I was feeling very confident with the study material, however, as soon as I started taking the test I knew I was in trouble as several of the questions/topics were not even addressed on the STC material. I guess now I wait 30 days and try again.

  11. Anil K.

    Passed the 66 with Kaplan simulated tests and “Pass the 66” by Robert Walker. 66 exam was easier than the Kaplan tests in my opinion.

    Above material highly recommended.

  12. Vance G

    I took the Series 66 3 times
    1st attempt scored a 69% when passing was 71%
    2nd attempt scored a 70% when passing was 71%
    3rd attempt scored a 74% when passing was 75%
    After the 3rd attempt scheduled the Series 65 and Series 63
    2 weeks later –
    Scored 76% on Series 65 passing was 72%
    Scored 82% on Series 63 passing was 72%
    My point – The Series 66 is much tougher then taking the other two exams
    Attempt the Series 66 once – Then take the 65 and 63 the same day

  13. Cynthia

    I took the series 66 last week and fortunately passed with an 84%, but found a lot of the questions were not covered in the Kaplan study material. I too, had to guess at a fair number of questions (especially ones dealing with trusts, which were not covered in any great detail in the study material). I think NASAA is trying to increase the failure rate by making the exam pass grade higher, and the exam trickier.

  14. Barbara

    I also Passed my Series 7 on the first try but just failed my first attempt at the Series 66 yesterday. I was scoring upper 80’s on my practices tests and felt very solid about the exam, but failed it miserably. I used all of the current STC materials and felt well prepared, but not for the test I atually took. Is there anything out there that any of you have found that helps address what is actually on the Series 66? I must pass it on the next round or I’m looking for work. There were some questions that I absolutely KNOW had no correct answer, something is horribly wrong with the exam. I have four years of legal experience and it still was not logical, I need to figure out their convoluted thought processes! Please help!

  15. MB

    The series 7, I took and passed on my first attempt using a combination of both STC and Kaplan. Before taking the exam I was scoring in the 80s with STC practice exams and using Kaplan to confirm information.

    Did the same with the series 65 with a much more detailed approach to understanding the material using STC practice exams considering the degree of difficulty expressed by colleagues, and failed.

    I would recommend STC for series 7 but not series 65. I recognized about half the material on the actual exam. Not at all a good prep testing tool.

    Any suggestions for 66 study guides?

  16. Gretchen

    I passed my S7 yesterday and want to get my other test done ASAP. What is the advantages of taking the 66 or 65? Why would I choose one over the other? Either way it sounds like Kaplan is the way to go right?

    1. Hedge Fund Lawyer Post author

      Hi Gretchen,

      It really depends on your preference as to what exam to take. I would generally recommend the 65 because it has more general industry questions and the 66 has more of a regulatory focus. Either test will allow you to register as an IA representative.

      Best regards,

        1. Hedge Fund Lawyer Post author

          I’ve always used the Kaplan guides, but I like the way that both are set up and I think that both should work well.

          Hope this helps.


  17. Ryan

    I’m currently half way done with the STC study material for the 66 until I just read all these posts. It’s obviously too late for me to start studying something completely different now due to deadlines with my employer…It seems like STC doesn’t do a very good job with the 66 as it did with the 7 but this question is addressed to anyone that took the 66…What materials would you say study more on and what materials did you find most difficult? I’d really appreciate some insight into the actual test…

  18. dave

    I’ve taken 66 twice, did not pass. I thought the stc book was superior to kaplan on the 66 material. however the qbank of kaplan is second to none. I’m studying for 65 now as I just passed the 63.

  19. Big dog

    I also failed the 66 today with a 71. I felt that a lot of questions I did not know even thou I put in a lot of hours. The questions were very tricky. I passed the series 7 with a very high score of 86. Everyone said the 66 would be cake they were wrong. I am not taking the 66 again I’m gonna schedule my 63 and 65. I recommend to everyone else to do e same also don’t waste your time with the 66.

    1. Hedge Fund Lawyer Post author

      I think there are a lot of people in the same boat. The Series 66 covers a number of regulatory-only issues and so many people are not as familiar with this information as they are with the market knowledge questions which are more prevalent on the Series 65 exam.

  20. terry

    Passed my 7 using stc material and dearborn program when i started to memorize stc exams. STC’s flash cards helped BIG TIME.

    Using firesolutions now to study for the 65, we shall see

  21. Terry Bradshaw

    I passed my Series 7 using STC and Dearborn test generator to do practice exams when the 13 stc exams became to familiar. STC’s quesitons were very similar even some were the same on actual series 7 exam. STC and dearborn were both good study tools.

    4 weeks later i passed my series 63 with STC material.

    4 years later (last week) i took and failed my series 65 exam using firesolutions as was provided by my wirehouse. i was getting 85% on my practice tests and had made over 100 flash cards memorizing terms and definitions. there was a good 25-30% (roughly 30 questions) of the exam that spoke of topics i NEVER saw in the study material or even came close to preparing for. Also because i spent more time on these confusing questions i ended up running out of time in the end. Disaster.

    I have the option of taking a 66 instead of the 65. I am reading on these blogs that the 66 might be easier as it is shorter in length and less material. Anybody on here taken both?

    Also it seems after reading these blogs that “how to pass” book as well as the Solomon Exam course might be the best way to go for 65 & 66.

    1. Hedge Fund Lawyer Post author

      I personally prefer the Kaplan study guides for the securities exams.

      With respect to taking the 66 over the 65, the conventional thinking is to take the Series 65 even though it is longer because it has questions on both market knowledge and regulations. The Series 66 is geared more towards regulations. Because most people taking the exams are better at the market knowledge than the regulatory side, the thinking is that it would be easier to pass the Series 65.

      Hope this helps.


  22. J

    I passed the series-65 and series-7 exams. Found the 65 more difficult than the 7. Not needing a 65 Sponsor would render it a rather rigorous exam.

  23. Abigail

    I took the S66 today, and thankfully passed by the hair of my skinny chin chin – a 75%. Having taken and passed the S7, S63, S86, and S87 all on first try, I must say the S66 was by far the hardest. In many instances, I had to rationalize answers and was still left with a 50/50 shot (or worse, a 33/66 shot).

    Overall, I have to agree with the rest of the bloggers here: the actual exam tested details/concepts that were not even covered/touched upon in the study material. For example:
    – I got 4-5 questions regarding whole/universal/variable life insurance! 4 out of 110 questions! When whole/universal life insurance was covered in just TWO paragraphs of over 300 in my study material!! I looked them up after the exam was over and still wouldn’t have been able to derive the correct answers to the level of detailed the exam asked for).
    – I also got 3 overlapping questions regarding advantages/disadvantages of C Corps vs S corps vs Sole Proprietorships… but the case study/situational questions make it very tough
    – I did get about 3-5 questions regarding the power of the State Administrator, so that was nice.
    – But I got ZERO questions regarding civil/criminal penalties for violations of USA which was covered extensively in my study materials… too bad.

    Needless to say, the questions were very unfairly skewed/weighted. I used TestTeachersOnline, and aside from the lady in the videos, I thought the reading materials was pretty good (until I took the NASAA exam… it is like they are actively trying to fail you). I was flying through my practice exams with 90s and high 80s. I guess it’s the best for the teachers to drill the concepts and rules into you to enable you to apply them to scenarios presented on the exam.

  24. Abigail

    as a follow-up to my prior post, i would still recommend the 66 over the 63+65 to kill two birds with one stone, and it’s a much shorter exam (110 questions total, vs 65 for the 63 and another 140 for the 65). out of the 110 questions, only half are on regulations now, so if you’re not too good with law/regulation stuff, you at least have the client/product stuff on the other half to help balance it out.

  25. Life is to short!

    I failed the Series 66 today for the second time. Ugh! All time worst test. I concur with other individuals who stated above that approx 25 questions were concepts that I never came across in the study material. I also encountered 3 -4 questions that specifically focused on one concept in the whole chapter of Quantitative Measures. For instance, the section on Quantitative Measures had four questions on the test that I took on efficient portfolios, but not one question on Monte Carlo Simulations, Beta, Sharpe Ratio, Standard Deviation, Correlation and Coefficient, Central Tendency, Current Ratio, Quick Acid, Corporate Sec Filings, Dividend Models, NPV, PV, FPV, Rule of 72, etc. I agree the test is unfairly skewed. It is the luck of the draw on the test questions that you get. God forbid, that you don’t know the one section that happens to have 4 questions on it from every possible angle. I used Kaplan for my study material but I feel that I need other study materials to successfully pass this test. I am considering taking the 65 at this point. I have passed all of my other tests, Series 7, 63, 9/10 on first try.

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