• Uncategorized
  • 15

How Long Does It Take To Prepare For the Series 7 Certification?


Today, I was presenting an investment seminar on indexed investing to a group of South East Asian based school teachers. 

Most of them were Americans.

I mentioned that the minimum requirement in the United States, in order to sell investment products, was a Series 7 certification.

Two financial sales representatives were among the attendees.  And they became very defensive when I stated that the Series 7 study period was just three weeks long.

One of them suggested that the exam itself takes 3 weeks to complete, and that I was “confused.”

Pasted from the American Training Centre  you can see that the study time required is minimal.

The suggested “home study” time requirement to prepare for the exam is 6-8 weeks, based on 1-2 hours per day.

Keen students wishing to expedite the process could study for 2-4 hours daily, feasibly being prepared for the exam in 3-4 weeks.

The exam itself consists of 250 multiple choice questions.

The passing grade is 70%.

I’ve pasted the details below from the American Training Centre website.


The Series 7 Exam is the NASD (FINRA) license for general securities representative. Our Series 7 training course covers all of the topics that are needed to pass the Series 7 exam.

The Series 7 test covers topics including:  

Equity Securities Prerequisite License: None
Debt Securities Questions on Exam: 250
Options and Derivatives Time to Complete: 360 Minutes
Securities Markets and Regulations Format: Multiple Choice
Retirement Plans Passing Grade: 70%
Investment Companies Availability: Test is given daily (Mon-Sat)
Taxation Where: Prometric or Pearson Test Centers
  Home Study Time: Generally 6-8 weeks (1-2hrs daily)


An additional online search complements the short duration of study time:

  • This suggestion recommends a 5 week completion time to study for the Series 7. …read more 
  • Here’s an online suggestion recommending 3-5 weeks of study time for preparation. …read more 
  • Global Career Schools recommends 6-8 weeks of study time:  1-2 hours daily. …read more 

And that’s it folks.

If you want to become a financial service representative, the minimum requirement in the U.S. is a Series 7 certification.

And from knowing nothing about money, you can complete the course in less than one month (if you’re keen) and then become certified after passing the 250 question multiple choice exam.

Although no prerequisite academic training is required for this certification, those taking the exam are required to be sponsored by a financial services institution.

What do you think? 

Should a mutual fund salesperson be required to take additional courses on market history, asset allocation, and a course detailing how investment costs impact returns?

Andrew Hallam

I’m a financial columnist for Canada’s national paper, The Globe and Mail, as well as for AssetBuilder, a financial service firm based in Texas. I’m also the author of Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School and Millionaire Expat: How To Build Wealth Living Overseas. My mission is to educate, motivate and inspire people on basic retirement planning and best practices for investing, using evidence-based strategies. I'm happy to comment on your questions.

You may also like...

15 Responses

  1. DIY Investor says:

    They should be required to take the additional courses but they won't be- especially the last one. The cost issue is big. Sometimes I think the industry goes out of its way to make sure the cost issue is swept under the rug so they are able to hire reps who are clueless. Bernstein's table showing typical fund costs is something the industry doesn't want to get around.

    I am very interested in how the requirement of 401ks in the U.S. to disclose all costs to participants works out.

  2. Hey DIY Investor (aka Robert)

    When the costs are disclosed, I wonder if the meaning of those costs will fly over most people's heads. I mean, a 2% annual cost doesn't sound like much, until the investor compounds how damaging a 2% annual fee can be over an investment lifetime.

  3. pgreensoup says:

    The only people who are "confused" are the people that willingly overpay "qualified" people to manage their money. Full disclosure: I was formerly "confused", but was shown they light. Thanks, Andrew.

  4. Hey P Green Soup:

    If everyone knew how minimal the educational standards were for most financial sales reps, we'd all be a bit more skeptical. And considering the industry's conflict of interest (in most cases) it's sad that cognizance of such a thing isn't more widely spread. That said, thanks for thanking me. I'm glad I could help.

  5. The Dividend Ninja says:

    Hey Andrew,

    Good post! The financial industry (specifically the mutual fund sales industry) is a well oiled machine. It's based on a foundation of deception, aggressive sales techniques, and ultimately poor investments for it's clients. Commissions, trailer fees, and incentives – the list goes on!

    People assume that when they see a mutual fund or investment dealer they are sitting across from a financial professional – but nothing could be further from the truth. I'm sure some of these people are well educated and do have their client's interests at heart, but I doubt most do.

    But then again the point of selling investments is sales, right? I wonder what the certification is here in Canada – probably much of the same. If at least one reader sees this post and goes to a fee only planner instead of a commision based mutual fund dealer – then your work is done!

  6. Jason Navallo says:

    I passed the Series 7 examination when I was 18 with only a couple weeks of studying and I scored way above the 80% mark.

  7. Hey Jason,

    Thanks for sharing that.

    Without knowing it, when giving a presentation at a recent conference, I metaphorically stabbed a financial saleswoman where it hurts, when I suggested that a Series 7 exam could be passed after just 3 weeks of studying. I didn't even know she was there, or I may not have said it. I don't want to be hurtful, after all.

    I realized, later, why she was so struck by what I said, and keen to lash out a bit. She brandishes her Series 7 certification to teachers where I work— as if it's a PhD in personal financial management.

    And you passed the Series 7 as an 18 year old after studying for just 2 weeks? Sweet!!

    Thanks again for sharing that!

  8. Hey Ninja,

    I found out later that one of the financial sales reps who attended the session speaks very highly of her status as a Series 7 professional. It's no wonder I ruffled her feathers! Her clients–who probably think her Series 7 certification is equivalent to some kind of degree—certainly wouldn't want to hear how insignificant it is.

  9. Tony says:

    Only thing Series 7 does is make a used car salesman suddenly qualified to sell securities. Those types of tests are pure memorization – no thinking required. Go over the question banks a few times, and then on the test a lot of the questions are the same, just with answers switched around.

    Licensing exams are the lowest bars the industry sets up. They're more for show than anything else.

  10. Muhammad Saeed says:

    I have a bachelors degree in Business and would like to take the Series 7 exam. I have recently relocated to Toronto from Dubai where I used to work as a Financial Application Support Analyst at Thomson Reuters. I have no sponsor to back me. Can you please advise what are the pre-requisites for Series 7.


    Muhammad Saeed

  11. Dave says:

    I want to take the Series 7 for the purpose of positioning myself to get into the financial advisory business sometime within the next 2 years but I’m not ready make the jump quite yet. Does anyone know of an organization that will sponsor forward thinking folks like me who don’t want to sign-on to work in the industry just yet?

  12. JDB says:

    @Dave. You have to be in the employ of a broker/dealer to get your series 7. You can’t just be sponsored. And Truth is right. The Series 7 is a difficult test. Obviously it’s not impossibly hard, but it will take more than 3 weeks of study to pass. What I do isn’t some clip out of Wold of Wall Street. My clients stay with me because I bring them value and I make more than a lot of Americans because I put in more time and effort than a lot of Americans are willing to. Andrew is a teacher. I like teachers. But if u want to talk about easy, becoming a teacher is easy. Not 1 test I took getting my bachelor’s degree was as difficult as the series 7… and a bachelor’s is a prerequisite at most firms before you get hired and take the 7.

  13. Paul Alexandander says:

    Good post! I want to take the Series 7, can anyone tell me anyone tell me about this Series 7 exam

  14. Mr. Adames says:

    I cant believe some of things I have read here. The guy passing the Series 7 with an 80% only studying for two weeks is either an exceptional human being or he is lying. Congratulations to him if he did, he is part of a less than 1% that has probably done so. The author of this post stating the amount of time it takes to study for such an exam is either clueless or again a descendant of Albert Einstein. He also stated as a minimum you need to pass the Series 7 to become a financial service representative–well not altogether true. Passing the Series 7 will give you the title of Registered Representative or General Securities Rep which means you will have the ability to sell securities, including bonds, alternative investments, and partake in other types of selling or trading. Here in the United States at a minimum you can have the title of financial services representative with a Series 6. It will allow you to sell mutual funds and mutual fund based products like annuities. It really all depends on what you want to do with your licenses as well. If you really want to serve the the financial services industry you can “get by” with a Series 6, if you want to actively trade stocks or be in that environment, you must have the Series 7. I see people fail the exam all the time because they didnt take the amount of time to study for it seriously. Since at the time when I was going to take it, I had my job and a family, I had to balance my study time and life–I spent 6 months studying using the materials from STCUSA.com, I passed on my first try with a 73%. BTW its not 70% needed to pass when I took it, its currently 72% needed to pass and has been for several years now. I used STCUSA because they actually write the test for FINRA, so in the past I had used Dearborn for other exams but wished I had used STCUSA. I am familiar with firesolutions but go with STCUSA. To say the Series 7 is akin to a car salesman is also unfair, two different cultures, two different requirements to get into the industry. Yes, I sold cars as well. You couldve murdered someone at one time, get out of prison and go sell cars. In the financial services industry, not gonna happen. Need to have a relatively clean record or not have a criminal history. Now in light of the new DOL fiduciary rule, you must demonstrate that you actually are doing the right thing for your clients (which I have felt I have always done). Unfortunately now the industry is making you get a designation to prove it. I bring that up because selling cars most salesman have no scruples, they will say or do almost anything for a sale. I can honestly say I never compromised my ethics in that industry and managed to sell a great deal of cars. Could I have sold a lot more cars, yes, but that was not my way. Again I cant stress the amount of time necessary to study for this test–I know three attorneys who decided to take the test and have all told me the bar exam was easier to than the Series 7 or actually didnt pass the S7 exam. Good luck to all of you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.