Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Test World vs. Real World for Series 65 and Series 66

One of the most frequently heard sayings in the securities test prep industry is, "there is the test world . . . and then there is the real world." While it's also one of the most universally accepted truths about the Series 65 and Series 66 license exams, upon closer look, there's not much there there. In fact, after teaching this material for around 10 years now, I still cannot come up with a good example of something you learn for the Series 65 or 66 that is not also true in the so-called "real world." The fact that a candidate might know something about financial planning issues does not make an answer like "$10,000 indexed for inflation" incorrect when he or she was really looking for the more precise and up-to-date number of $14,000 for the annual gift tax exclusion. If you know the precise number for the lifetime estate credit, that does not make an answer like "$5 million indexed for inflation" wrong. In fact, it makes it a lot more workable than some precise number that goes up at some point during the year--exactly when, no one really knows.

Some folks seem to take comfort in assuming that the test is stupid, stupid, stupid. However, I've taken the 65 four times and the 66 once, and I can tell you there is nothing stupid about these exams. These exams expect you to know the vocabulary terms inside out, and understand important concepts about fraud, registration, securities risk, and economics . . . all of which relate to the so-called "real world." My impression is simply that you have to study and do some critical thinking in real-time at the testing center. That's it.
So, complain about the test if you must, put it down if it makes you feel better, but if you study with due diligence and avoid a meltdown at the testing center, you will pass the Series 65 or Series 66 exam. Pass your Series 65 exam


  1. Hi R Walker,

    I studied for Series 65 on my own, mostly by reading the acts and regulations (pdf) directly from the NASAA's site, websites(like yours) , going through different books in the library, book store et et and passed the exam.

    To my amazement I found most of the stuff that I read not much helpful(or not at-least what I expected). I was bombarded with questions on trusts & insurance products. Seemed like every 3rd or 4th question based off of it. In your test taking experience did you come across situation like that ?


  2. Good news. I've never quite followed that sort of statement though: I passed my test, but what I studied was not helpful at all. ??? How does that work? You were able to take a 25% chance and turn it into 72% or higher? If so, wouldn't Las Vegas be the place to use those skills?

  3. I took the 65 this past summer and found exactly as many questions on trusts and insurance products as indicated by the outline--about 7. "Every third or fourth question" would actually describe no topic on the Series 65. Look at the outline--there are no topics accounting for more than 1 or 2 questions. Experience is an interesting thing--glad you passed.

  4. Thanks. Let me clarify further as I exaggerated when I said 3 or 4th question. I would say roughly about 18~20, so that would be about 7th or 8th occurrence.

    And about 10~12 questions/topics I encountered for the first time. I took mental notes for couple of them and tried to look-up on the notes,pdf and couldn't find any reference. Of course found them someplace else later.

    Ok, I see your point . It did help but not much and to be fair, your blog q&a especially the one on eliminating was helpful.

  5. Mr. Walker,

    Would you be willing to help me out via email with some questions I had regarding the 65? Please let me know.

  6. sure--or post them here. passthe65@gmail.com