Congratulations, you’ve made it through all of the Series 65 Achievable material!
We won’t discuss any testable content in this last chapter, but we will review what to expect on the actual exam and some best practices as you approach your test date.
There’s no perfect answer to this question, but Achievable’s exam readiness score is your best gauge. At the top of your homepage, our system will assign you a 0-100% score reflecting the likelihood of passing. The closer your score is to 100%, the more likely you’ll succeed on test day.
Many factors are assessed to determine your score, including program completion (e.g., reading chapters) and practice quiz scores. If you’ve used the system as intended, you’ve probably taken hundreds or thousands of practice questions. Completing practice quizzes and assigned reviews is necessary to build the required knowledge to pass the exam.
One of the most significant factors contributing to your readiness score is practice exam performance, which includes scores and the number of attempts. Practice exams test your ability to “put the big picture together” by offering questions from all Achievable chapters in a similar format and structure to the actual test. The best way to improve your readiness score is to take more practice exams and attain higher scores.
Before taking a practice exam, put your notes aside. Using resources (e.g., the Achievable reading material, Google) will artificially inflate your score. We’ll discuss more about the experience of the actual exam later in this section (see below), but you will not have access to any resources on the exam other than a notepad and a calculator.
After every practice exam, be sure to perform a thorough review of each question and answer. Confirm you understand why you’re getting questions right or wrong. Also, think beyond the question. One of the biggest and most common pitfalls to avoid is studying questions instead of content. While our questions are written to emulate the actual exam questions, no one knows what questions they’ll encounter on the exam. The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) closely guards its question bank, and its test writers create uniquely worded questions. If you’re memorizing answers to our questions without understanding “the why,” you’re setting yourself up for failure.
The best way to do this is by asking yourself this:
“If I was given another question, with a completely different scenario and wording, am I confident I would know the answer?”
If the answer is yes, keep moving forward. If the answer is no, review the topic in the reading materials.
This question also has no perfect or uniform answer. You could pass without taking a single practice exam or fail after 20 practice exams. It depends on you and your understanding of the material.
Generally speaking, we recommend taking at least 10 practice exams. You may get lucky with the first few practice exams, but most students initially start scoring in the 50s or 60s. Build knowledge from each exam through your review, and continue pressing forward! Substantial improvements don’t happen overnight, but you will improve if you stay motivated and continue utilizing the Achievable program.
A consistent passing score (70% or higher) over five or more exams indicates a firm grasp of the material. The higher the score, the better. Be sure to spend quality time reviewing each exam right after taking it. That’s the only way to improve!
Another reason to take several practice finals is to expose yourself to enough questions covering various topics. The way we look at the exam, the Series 65 could test you on over 5,000 subtopics. If you take only one or a few practice exams, how many subtopics are you testing yourself on? A full-length practice exam only covers 130 questions - and there are thousands of topics you may need to know!
A passing score (70% or above) is always a good place to start. However, we recommend aiming higher. If you’ve averaged a 70% on your last several practice exams, you have a good chance of passing the exam. However, the real test is different from a practice exam. You’ll likely feel more anxious given the testing environment (discussed below) and that you’re sitting for the real thing. Anxiety usually doesn’t work in a test taker’s favor and could negatively impact your score.
We recommend aiming for a mid-high 70s average (or higher) on your last 2-3 practice finals. At that point, you’ve likely built a big enough buffer to cover for anxiety or other problematic issues on the exam. The higher your average grade, the higher your chances of passing.
At the height of the COVID-19 crisis, NASAA offered a virtual testing environment. However, this program ended in early 2022, essentially forcing all NASAA exams (Series 63, 65, and 66) to be taken in person at a Prometric test center. Regardless, candidates with certain disabilities or learning impairments may apply to obtain a testing accommodation for online testing. Check out this Achievable blog for more information.
Candidates will schedule a time and date for their scheduled exams, sometimes through their employer. This Achievable blog goes over the process of scheduling an exam.
After you arrive at Prometric on the test day, you will undergo a security screening to ensure no opportunities to cheat or unfair advantages exist. Think of it like a slightly more intense TSA screening. You’ll be “wanded” with a metal detector to ensure you have no electronic devices or weapons. Additionally, you’ll be asked to roll up your sleeves and flip your pockets inside out to prove you don’t have any notes or other resources.
Once the security check is complete, an exam proctor will walk you to your assigned desk. You’ll face a computer and be asked to complete a quick tutorial. While the system is similar to the Achievable practice exam system (you must answer to go forward, and you can flag questions for review), it will look slightly different. In particular, the color scheme is darker, plus there’s a built-in calculator and notepad.
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), which administers all NASAA exams, generally does not allow physical scratch paper to be utilized during the exam. It’s a little frustrating, but any “mental notes” you’ll want to write down will have to be produced in the computer notepad. You should practice on your own computer notepad if you’re concerned about this.
Once you finish the tutorial, the real exam will start. You’ll be presented with 140 test questions at that point, although only 130 will count toward your final score. NASAA introduces 10 “experimental” questions on every exam that won’t count for or against you. They are most likely trying out new questions on content that isn’t testable yet to gauge their test taker’s current understanding of that material. These questions may cover concepts not discussed in the Achievable materials, so don’t freak out if you encounter a question on a topic you don’t remember learning. You might see nine more of them!
You’ll have 180 minutes (3 hours) to finish the exam. Any question that goes unanswered is automatically marked wrong. Keep track of the remaining time on the exam every 10-20 questions to make sure you’re on pace to finish. You are provided roughly 1 minute and 17 seconds per question on average (180 minutes / 140 questions = 1.29 minutes).
When you reach the end of your exam, you can review any questions or submit your exam for grading. If you have adequate time, we recommend reviewing as many questions as possible (there are no extra points for finishing the exam quickly). However, you should not change answers unless you incorrectly read the question/answers or remembered something that skipped your mind when you initially encountered the question. The point of the review is to confirm you correctly read and answered each question. Don’t change answers just to change answers; your initial gut reaction is likely your best answer!
Once you hit the submit button, your results appear on your screen in a minute or less (it might be as short as a few seconds). If you passed, all you’ll see is a “pass.” NASAA does not provide scores to those who are successful on the exam; scores are only provided for failures. If the exam doesn’t go your way, you will be able to retake the exam in 30 days*.
*NASAA requires a 30-day wait period before a retake can occur after the first or second failure. Starting at the third failure (and every failure after that), a 180-day (6-month) waiting period is enforced.
Many test takers utilize “dump sheets” as study supplements and guides for “legal cheat sheets” on the exam. Dump sheets typically include visual guides and summarized notes of important test topics. As stated in its name, one could memorize these test topics, then perform a “data dump” onto their notepad at the beginning of their exam. These are allowed in the test center as long as they are created after the test has started (and not during the initial tutorial). While they aren’t necessary to succeed, some test takers find dump sheets helpful.
You can certainly create your own, but here are Achievable’s Series 65 dump sheets:
NASAA exams can be anxiety-inducing, but you CAN do it! Set yourself up for success by using the Achievable system as intended and following the best practices discussed in this section in your last days or weeks before the exam.
Guess who’s well on their way to passing the Series 65?
It’s you ;-)
It’s a big accomplishment to have made it this far, but you’re not at the end of your journey yet.
Thanks again for choosing Achievable for the NASAA Series 65. We’ve put a lot of love into the product, and we really hope you’ve enjoyed your time with us. If you have any feedback, please let us know!
Wishing you the best,