Series 65 and Series 66 Passing Grade Increased

IA Exams Pass Rates Expected to Plummet

The North American Securities Administrators Association (“NASAA”) recently announced that the two central investment advisor exams (the Series 65 and the Series 66) will become even more difficult.  Starting January 1, 2010 candidates will need to attain a score of 72% in order to pass the Series 65 exam and a 75% in order to pass the Series 66 exam.  NASAA did not make any statements on its website or at its Annual Conference earlier this year about the change or the reason for the change.

I had a chance to talk with Chuck Lowenstein of Kaplan Financial Education about the announcement.  “The exams have been oddities,” said Lowenstein, “everything else in the business requires a 70% to pass and the 65 had been kind of weird at 68.5% and the 66 as well at 71%. With these new numbers, NASAA has entered new territory. I suspect pass rates will plummet, unless they feel that the new exams will be so much easier (never happened in the past) that they need to bump up the minimum.”

Chuck went on to discuss the likely future performance for people taking the exams.  “Based on our students’ performance, this will have a devastating effect on the overall pass rate. A significant percentage of exam takers pass with little room to spare and bumping the requirements by 4 or 5 questions on these exams (the 68.5% on the 65 was 89 correct – 72% is 93.6 questions so they’ll either round up to 94 or down to 93, that has not yet been disclosed) is going to catch many exam takers.”

We do not recommend that exam takers study any differently for the exam, but we urge all potential exam takers make sure they are adequately prepared.  If an applicant does not pass the 65 or 66 on the first try, they will need to wait 30 days to take the exam again which will obviously have an effect on the timing of a hedge fund launch.

For more information please see NASAA’s post on the Series 65 and Series 66 exams.

Thank you to Chuck Lowenstein for bringing this issue to my attention.


Other related hedge fund law articles:

Bart Mallon, Esq. of Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP runs the Hedge Fund Law Blog.  He can be reached directly at 415-868-5345.

36 thoughts on “Series 65 and Series 66 Passing Grade Increased

  1. Pingback: Securities Exam Changes in 2010 — Hedge Fund Law Blog

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  3. KIM S.

    I took the S66 yesterday. I was scoring 78 to 80% on the practice exams and felt prepared. I failed with a 67%, Ugh! It was a total disappointment after studying for hours and hours. I was using STC.
    Sometimes, I feel like it might depend on the test you end up with, but STC material did not seem adequate when I studied for my principals exam years ago. I just ordered Kaplan, but I sure hope they have better material? It is such a waste of time to study the wrong concepts. My S66 test had plenty of questions and concepts that were not in my STC study manual, and I had to guess on plenty of questions. Some questions were so confusing, I had to read them 2 to 3 times in effort to understand what they were asking. Learning the material is more important and trying to read trick questions! This is crazy, and not fair to the test taker.

    1. Hedge Fund Lawyer Post author


      Thank you for posting this information. Hopefully the Kaplan materials will help you to pass the exam the next time you take it.

      I wish you the best on the exam.


  4. Ben

    I too just took the S66 last week. I used the STC materials and felt very unprepared. I felt as if I knew perhaps 30% of the answers and the rest were my best guess. I did pass my first attempt with an 84%, but was very disappointed with the postion I was placed in. Best of luck to those about to take the exam. Don’t worry about the basic priciples covered in the 7, those were easy. Spend time on rules and regs of USA and 1940 Investment Act.

  5. David

    RE: SERIES 65
    My frien just took the s65 and he the 2010 s65 test contains a lot about pensions, trusts, and gift tax, etc. Are there different versions of the s65 test or just one test for the 65 ? I have the pass/perfect study guide – although they touch on these categories, the bulk of the guide is blue sky and legal guidelines. Is the Kaplan package updated to the current 2010 test format and are the streaming videos updated to cover this area ?

    Thanks in advance for taking the time to help.

    1. Hedge Fund Lawyer Post author

      Hi David,

      Thank you for your inquiry. Each Series 65 exam is generated from a bank of test questions so while no two tests will be exactly the same, they will generally all be the same “toughness” and generally cover the same topics in a similar manner.

      With respect to other products, I recommend you talk to the people at Kaplan and other study guide developers.


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  7. bruce walker

    Since it’s revision in Jan,’10, the series 66 exam has vastly increased in difficulty and an increase in the national fail rate ( some 50% ). Since most training vendors have access to the same information that is tested, the real key to success is preperation. This is not the series 7 !

    The actual test questions are extremly tricky and often confusing with 2 or 3 of the 4 answer choices appearing correct. In fact, some topics are not even on the test outline as prepared by NASAA.This is an applications and situational based exam wherein candidates must be able to apply the laws, rules and concepts in given situations. Memorization of practice questions will not cut it !

    In defense of STC, I believe we offer study materials that are second to none, with practice exams that are current to the test. I know hundreds of students who have passed the exam , many scoring in the 80% range as a result of using our materials and following our instruction. As I advise my students, the best practices for the 66 is to know the study manual inside and out, take the practice exams until scoring in the 90’s, do not memorize answers but focus on the concepts, take your time on the test, read questions carefully and…think !

    1. Hedge Fund Lawyer Post author

      Hi Bruce,

      Thanks for your comments.

      In addition to the comments here, I have heard many groups who have been very happy with the STC materials. I also agree that the Series 66 seems to be getting more difficult and that test-takers seem to be having a harder time with these issues.


    2. testtaker


      I used STC for the 66 and was scoring 90’s on the practice exams and I failed the exam with a 71%. Very frustrating. I am using Kaplan now and I beleive their manual is way more detailed and their test bank contains a lot more questions. The STC exams were off in my opinion versus the actual test, way too easy. STC was great for the Series 7, and its was O.K .for the 24. But for the 66, I think they have a lot of room for improvement. I wouldn’t say ALL STC materials are “second to none.”

  8. guy

    Used empire stockbroker software + investopedia = 95. Actual score =71.IE I prepared very well for the wrong test. I’m going to try 63 & 65 software. I agree with previous comment that software helped on aboutt 20 questions. Will update.

  9. Heidi Burkemper

    I used STC and thought I had all concepts down pat…scoring 90% and above on the practice exams. About 10 questions into the real exam I realized the material did not prepare me adequately. there were words and concepts I had never even seen before. I am using testeachers and will take the exam for the second time next week. I’ll let you know how it goes. So far, I’m loving the on line lectures and feel like things are explainged much more clearly.

  10. Jeff Presley

    For all taking FINRA exams, I highly recommend Kaplan. I have taken 4 FINRA exams now, and passed all on the first try (Series 6, 63, 65, and 7). Pay the money for the live classroom instruction (which I did every time), and you will be able to recall the rationales behind the rules and relationships, not just the actual rule or concept by rote memory. It makes a huge difference. My average passing score on FINRA exams is 84%, and I’m not “gifted” or anything.

  11. Baris

    I bought the study material to prepare myself for the series 66 test from STC .
    I DID memorize every single line in the book! Period…
    And I scored a 63!
    The STC book DOES NOT cover many subjects, go to finra website, read the outline, and look at STC’s study material…There were so many questions (esp “options” ) that is not covered in STC’s book.
    Make sure that you do not do the same mistake, first read finra’s website w/ outline of the series 66 test, then buy a book that DOES COVER all the topics.
    Good luck all

  12. Megan

    I used STC to prepare for the 66. I was scoring 90% on all the practice exams and felt like I was very prepared. I took the S66 yesterday and got a 71%-did not pass. I felt like STC did not prepare me for the exam at all. Many of the questions I had never seen before. I felt like I was guessing on most of them. I used STC for the 7 and got an 81% on that test. I think STC really needs to improve their 66 material. I am very dissapointed.

  13. EllaBella

    Used STC online flashcards, Kaplan Reading Material, and Pass Perfect practice examinations to study for the series 66. It is amazing the differences you can find in the material. Slight differences, but many. This is what I did for both the 7 and 66 and passed with an 86% on S7 and 90%on S66. It’s the way to go if you ask me.

  14. Oleg Zaytsev

    I took the test September 23 2011. I studied my butt of and was scoring great on the STC practice exams. I was studying, like I did for the S 7. Took each exam twice, read the book inside and out and went over anything I may not know perfectly. I was ready, at least I thought I was until I went through around 20 questions.. I scored a 74 on this test, one question short of passing. I am a bit frustrated now and have to go into work tomorrow, hope I still have a job.. I think they will give me one more shot. I think I will try Kaplan next, and a variation of other things to beat this beast the next time around.

  15. Kelli

    I completely agree with EllaBella. I passed the first time by using several different companies. STC, Kaplan, Investopedia, audio CDs. Anything I could find. What one didn’t cover the other did and if I didn’t understand it the way one company explained it, maybe the other helped me to understand it better. I would never study using only one company.

    1. Hedge Fund Lawyer Post author

      I agree. Additionally, some companies present the material slightly differently and it might help to see a concept expressed in different ways.

  16. Matt

    I just took the s66 today and unfortunately got a 74%. I still can’t believe it. If any of you are looking into the s66 I would focus strongly on USA & State Reg’s along with Federal Reg’s (Act 1940). I made B’s and A’s in all the other sections but the Reg’s section is so heavily weighted that it still brought me down to a 74. I used Kaplan self study material.

  17. Richard

    STC has got to be the worst studying material possible for the 65! I was getting scores ranging from the 80’s to the 90’s on the practice quizzes…and got a 60 on the first attempt. I purchased the Kaplan Qbank (which is like 3000 questions), went through all of them studied for 2 solid months…got an 86 on the simulated exam and failed yesterday with a 70. After reading this article, it makes absolutely no sense why they would raise the score even more other than they want to limit the people to get into the business…I’d like to create an exam that limits these regulators and politicians into Washington…can I do that?

  18. Patricia Camper Evitts

    I studied like a maniac for the Series 66 thru STC. Went over all the exams (by topic and just each and every separate one) TWICE and read the book twice as well – and felt extremely confident and prepared – scoring in the high 80s and low 90s. I failed with a score of 67!!!!

    Am extremely unhappy that I have to continue to study this most awful, boring material yet again!!!! The STC material did not translate even a LITTLE bit to the actual test. The questions were worded ridiculously. You had to read it 2, 3 even 4 times before you think you get what they’re asking. Riddled with trickery. Will try Training Consultants next to see if their material varies to at least resemble the actual material on the test. Would have helped if the material I studied so diligently was actually on this test!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This was not the case with STC, that’s for sure.

  19. Kevin

    I have taken the 63 and 65 and passed both exams on my first try. Unfortunately because I live in NYC the 65 is not recognized by the state and as a result my firm allowed for my 65 to laps. I am now in a new role and currently cover a larger territory and will need to re-register.
    Because it has been more than 2 years since I took the 65, I am required to retake the exam. As such, I am scheduled to take the 66 in mid Aug. I figured why not since I have taken both the 63 and 65.

    I have used STC in the past with no problem and had planed to use it again for the 66. However after reading this blog I have gone ahead and ordered Kaplan material as well. I plan on using both to prepare. I will let you know the out come in Aug!

  20. Kristen

    I also used the STC materials for the 66, and, like 3 others at my firm, failed by 2 points. I am scheduled to re-take the exam in two weeks. Prior to taking the 66, I felt adequately prepared; scoring 90 or better on the Green Lights. Yet, like many have said, about 10-15 questions in, I knew my fate. I purchased the Training Consultants package, and feel that it does provide more, indepth information and examples, but, most importantly, the test questions are much more similar to those on the actual exam. I would like to know if anyone used this program and passed? Or, is the general consensus that Kaplan products are best? I have Kapalan for the insurance test, but I haven’t spent much time with it yet (as passing the 66 is my main focus). I also bought Robert Walker’s “Pass the 66,” which is entertaining, yet not quite as concise as I need at the moment. I would appreciate any input that may help my (and all who visit this blog) cause.

  21. Brian

    Im taking the 66 tommrw. I am using Training Consultants and Kaplan for test questions and practice exams. For a book i read Robert Walkers Pass The 66. I did this same thing for the 7 and got an 84%… never scoring higher then an 85% on the practice exams before the 7. I failed the 7 the first time with a 68%. before getting questions from Training Consultants. I found that Training Consultants, at least for the 7, were right on point with the actual exam questions.

  22. Michael

    Each prep provider has its pluses and minuses. The most important factor in determining whether you pass or not is how much time you put into studying and how effective your plan is. You only need one manual but test takers should probably get more than question bank. You are unlikely going to see the same exact questions on the actual exam. As result, you want to see various styles of question writing. You probably don’t want to get locked into the question writing style of one provider. It would also be a good idea to look at original source material such as the Uniform Securities Act, etc. Another thing you might want to do is to takes notes on what you are reading.

  23. Travis

    I just took the S66 for the third time today. I have used Firesolutions each time…recieved the “green light” to sit and scored a 71! My exam scores were 71,74,71. I can’t tell you how frustrating this test is! It has no impact on how good you are at what you do! To me, it’s a tragedy to be this confusing to test takers! My firm suggested that I take the 63 (using STC) after I failed the 66 for second time, which I passed with no problem. Instead of signing up for the 65, I wanted one more shot at the 66. Looks like I’m headed for the 65…..rediculous!!!!

  24. Joshua Currence

    I passed the 66 today on my first try with a 76. I felt completely prepared and anticipated a score in the mid 80’s. I used fire solutions and was disappointed with the HUGE difference in difficulty and complete lack of information for insurance products, and differentiation of USA act and IA act. I felt totally confident walking in, but literally had chest pains midway through. The 7 was a cinch in comparison. Use multiple vendors, and don’t stop studying.

  25. Michael H

    Use Pass Perfect people!! It is spot on the RIGHT material, and has all the important conceptual type questions in their 10 practice exams. There is also a CD that has differently formatted quizzes and 5 more practice exams to give you a good understanding. I used the Pass Perfect material for my Series 7 – was getting 77-78 then 80% on the last practice exam…and I got 86% on the actual test. The Series 66 material is not hard – you just need to know the difference between Uniform Securities Acts, Federal Laws, etc. All of the metrics and calculations are cake. You will find that the questions will challenge you, as some will have multiple “correct” answers – but only one “best”. Review what you missed with the explanations, take practice exams every day until the test – and write out flash cards.

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