SIE Exam today and got a 68% (Missed by 2 points)

Hello, I was averaging 78% on practice exams and failed the SIE by 2 points. I used Achievable to study and have enjoyed it. After taking the SIE exam today, I felt like the questions on the exam were more situational and less obvious to understand exactly what they were asking.

My SIE Breakdown Results 68%:

Section 1: Knowledge of Capital Markets (Very Low Performance)
Section 2: Understanding Products and Their Risks (Low Performance)
Section 3: Understanding Trading, Customer Accounts and Prohibited Activities (Adequate Performance)
Section 4: Overview of Regulatory Framework (Adequate Performance)

Any advice on what specific sections to go over and specific study habits that you would recommend for a person taking the exam end of September. Also, is there a way to have practice tests for one section at a time to really concentrate on those areas?

Thank you!


Hi @Rapid_black_puffin - I’m sorry the exam didn’t go your way. 2 points is one or two additional questions right, so you’re not far off at all. Hang in there!

In general, I recommend generally doing two things over the next month. First, keep up on your Reviews, which are assigned to you on the home page. Our smart learning system continually analyzes your performance and filters practice questions to you when it thinks you need to see them again. This is one of our most powerful tools, so be sure to keep up on the assigned reviews at least once every day or two.

Second, continue taking and reviewing practice exams. Your average in the high 70s good, but I recommend attempting to get those score up into the 80s. If you can consistently attain scores in the low 80s or higher, I’m very confident you will pass your retake. When you review your exams, be sure to “think beyond the question.” Meaning, be sure to focus more on the underlying concept and avoid simply memorizing the correct answer to that question. As you already know, the exam questions are worded uniquely and it’s unlikely you’ll find questions structured in the same way as ours. FINRA closely guards their question bank, and you won’t know what you’ll encounter on your retake.

Beyond that, your exam breakdown shows where you faced challenges. Obviously, we don’t need to worry much about Section 3 or 4. I’m not telling you to completely forget about those sections, but there’s no need to specifically focus on them given your adequate performance. You’ll encounter these concepts when you take practice exams.

Section 1, which is primarily focused on market structure and securities regulators, was the biggest challenge. While our material is not structured to follow the FINRA outline in order, here are several important chapters that cover material in FINRA’s SIE outline under Section 1:

Section 2, which is focused on securities products and their risks, was low performance; here are the relevant chapters within this unit:

The linked chapters above do not cover every concept within Sections 1 and 2, but they involve the most important test topics. In addition to keeping up on your reviews and practice exams, it’ll be worth it for you to re-read these chapters and do quizzes after each reading.

I’m confident you’ll find success if you follow the recommendations above. Good luck!!!


Thank you for the recommendations!!


Dear Rapid Black Puffin,

I can’t speak to the exam itself because I haven’t taken the SIE but I am studying for it along with a few others. What I can tell you is to keep your chin up, schedule your retake and keep at it!

Getting discouraged and taking a break without a set date is an easy way to not keep everything you just learned fresh. Now you have the benefit of seeing the format of actual test questions. Which ones caught you off guard on the real thing? Think back to which answers you were least confident about and revisit that material. Like Brandon said, don’t memorize, learn the core concepts and it all gets easier. A lot of this stuff builds on itself so learning one thing helps with several others.

A 68% mastery of this material means you know a tremendous amount of information about the financial world and it’s economics. Celebrate what you have accomplished and stay focused on the rewards that will come from passing when you get into the industry.

Once you pass, your first attempt won’t mean anything. It’s just a small fee and a few hours compared to many hours you’ve already spent studying. Let us know when you do pass. Good luck!


Nutritious Rose Leec


@Rapid_black_puffin I have not taken the SIE; I am studying for the Series 65. However, as a retired business professor (I was full-time for 30+ years), I can tell you what works and does not work in terms of exam prep and studying in general.

The others who replied to you mentioned limiting memorization are absolutely on the mark. You might wonder what to do if you do not memorize. Instead of focusing on memorization, try to comprehend the material so that you could explain it to someone else, if necessary. While you are studying pretend that you have to be able to tutor someone else or explain it to someone else. Then, actually try to do that, even if you are talking to an empty room. It will feel awkward at first, but it gets easier with practice.

Comprehension of the material or being able to explain it to someone else (maybe try to think of examples if that helps), will mean that you know the content - memorization is usually no longer necessary.

It is true that most of us may have to memorize a few topics, formulas, etc. However, memorizing a lot of content does not work well for many students because it is hard to retain long enough to take a test. Second, it is very difficult to apply content to test questions if we do not truly understand the content. Third, exam questions may be written in a way that is different than how we memorize content. Fourth, it might actually be a good idea to retain the material since it may be useful in a future career!

I also agree that it will be valuable to strive to raise the percentage correct on your practice quizzes and exams. As you study to improve comprehension (knowing the material and being to explain it versus memorization), I think you will find that you can raise the percentage score. See below for more on this point.

I have a few other general suggestions. One is to click on “Explanation” when you take practice questions even if you are getting the correct answers. Read the explanations. I find that I pick up on nuanced, though critical pieces of information, in those explanations.

Take practice questions/quizzes every day even if you cannot do an entire practice exam. I take 10-question practice quizzes off and on during the day when I have a few minutes. I am striving to score between 92% - 100% on every topic before I take the exam. I will score in the 70’s and 80’s on some topics when they are new and feel like I will never get that percent up. Eventually, I get there, but it takes a while. Keep taking more practice quizzes on those topics, work on the explanations, and you will get your scores up. When you are stuck on content or do not understand something, post a question about it.

Pay attention to every word in a question and to every word in the possible answers. Be careful of changing your answer unless you are absolutely sure about it.

Good Luck!