Series 65 or Series 66: "Which test should I take?"

Series 65 or Series 66: "Which test should I take?" This is the most often asked question I get in my classes, closely followed by: Which test is easier? Anecdotally, they have a lower pass rate than the FINRA exams; the Series 6 or Series 7. First, let’s look at the two exams together. They are both licenses that allow the individual to give fee-based advice. The 66 exam is only for those individuals who are registered for, or completed the Series 7 exam. It combines the Series 63 with the Series 65 exam. The Series 65 exam is designed for those who do not have a Series 7 license.

The content of both exams are similar though the Series 65 will be more heavily concentrated on Investment products and economics. Those topics, theoretically, that the individual has not had without a Series 7 license. The Series 66 exam has a little more State law and some esoteric investment products.

First, let’s look at the content breakdown and number of questions for each exam:

As you can surely see, the 65 exam is more concentrated on the content usually covered by the Series 7 and, also, is a more comprehensive test with 130 questions.

Also important to note, the authors of the exams, the North American Association of Securities Administrators (NAASA), tend to write questions a bit differently than one may be accustomed to after taking the FINRA exams. The test questions tend to be a bit more verbose and the answer choices a bit more ambiguous.

Now, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each exam:

Series 66

PRO: The 66 exam is a known entity. I have seen very little content on the exam that I haven’t seen or heard before. Despite the structure of the questions and answers as noted above, I have not had a student who have seen anything on the exam that is not covered in the textbooks – somewhere. Also, if you have scored above 80% on the Series 7 your chances for passing the 66 are very high! Another important factor to consider is the exam is only 100 questions and for Series 7 folks, you’re taking one exam as opposed to taking the Series 63 (60 quest.) and the Series 65 (130 quest.).

CONS: The 66 exam has the highest passing score of any exam: 75%. That is a significant hurdle not to be taken lightly. Also, again, I will mention the syntax of the questions and answers. Although the exam is in a linear structure like all exams, the questions and answers have a different look and feel to them than the FINRA exams. These, I believe, are some of the reasons some firms have opted to have their new reps go the 63/65 route rather than do the 66.

Series 65

PRO: I truly believe, in my opinion, the degree of difficulty of the questions on the 65 are not to the depth of the 66. Just one example are the option questions that are asked. The 65 will often, simply ask which option is bullish/bearish. A relatively easy question for a Series 7 student. Also, the passing score is 72% as opposed to 75% for the 66.

CONS: The 65 is far more comprehensive than the 66. It covers far more content. Again, for Series 7 students you will be taking two exams (63 and 65) as opposed to one.


I hope this sheds some light on the 65 and 66. Like all licensing exams, they are challenging and time-consuming. Your firm will most likely will make this choice for you but my hope is that you will be better informed going into whichever exam you take. Personally, I like the 66 for Series 7 students. This is merely a personal opinion but I do like the content and I like only taking one exam instead of two.

What's your take?

Have you passed one of these exams already? Give us your opinion below.