The Series 79 Exam: What Expect and How to Prepare
Overview of the Series 79 Exam
The Series 79 exam, also called the Investment Banking Representative Qualification Examination, is an exam administered by FINRA for investment banking professionals. As long as the investment banker is engaged exclusively in investment banking activities, this exam can be taken instead of the far broader (and less relevant) Series 7 exam. Specifically, someone who passes the Series 79 is permitted to engage in the following activities:
- Debt and equity offerings (private placement or public offering)
- Mergers and acquisitions and tender offers (read about tender offers vs mergers here)
- Financial restructurings, divestitures or other corporate reorganizations (learn about financial restructuring)
- Asset sales (learn about asset sales vs stock sales)
- Business combination transactions (learn about business combinations)
Prior to the creation of the Series 79, finance professionals engaging exclusively in investment banking had to take the Series 7 exam. The creation of the Series 79 exam was part of FINRA's effort to offer more relevant exams for professionals in more narrowly focused area of practice.
Changes to the Series 79 exam
Like the Series 7, The Series 79 will undergo a significant change starting in October 1, 2018.
The pre-Oct. 1, 2018 Series 79 is a five-hour long, 175 multiple choice question exam.
Starting on Oct. 1, 2018, the Series 79 is a 2-hour 30-minute long, 75 multiple choice question exam. In addition, a corequisite exam called the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) will test for the general knowledge that’s been removed from the Series 79 content outline. As with the Series 7, you must be sponsored by an employer to take the Series 79. However, you do not need sponsorship to take the SIE.
Series 79 format for registration prior to Oct. 1, 2018
|Number of Questions||175 (+10 experimental Qs)|
Series 79 format for registration on or after Oct. 1, 2018
|Number of Questions||75 (+10 experimental Qs)|
Series 79 topics
The Series 79 exam broadly covers the following topics:
- Data collection (required SEC filings and other documents)
- Various types of securities (debt, equity, options, derivatives)
- Economics and capital markets
- Financial Analysis
- M&A Process and Deal Structure
- General Securities Industry Regulation (no longer tested starting in Oct. 1, 2018)
Like most other FINRA exams, the Series 79 exam is undergoing a significant change beginning Oct. 1, 2018. While most topics will remain essentially unchanged, one notable difference is the elimination of questions on general securities industry regulation, which accounted for 13% of the pre-Oct. 1, 2018 Series 79. Meanwhile, there will be a corequisite exam, the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) which will test for the general knowledge that’s been removed from the Series 79 content outline.
To learn more about each topic and to compare how the old Series 79 will compare to the new Series 79, you can review this content outline.
Studying for the Series 79
Most investment banks will provide new hires with study materials and will dedicate a week of uninterrupted study time.
Unlike the Series 7, which is widely considered irrelevant to a finance professional's day-to-day work, the Series 79 test concepts applicable to real-world investment banking. This means some new hires will already be quite familiar with exam concepts (often through a Wall Street Prep training program), thereby reducing the amount of time required for Series 79-specific studying.
Depending on the amount of investment banking training you've gone through, expect to spend anywhere from 60 to 100 hours preparing for the Series 79 exam. Be sure to spend at least 20 hours of that study time on practice exams and questions (all the Series 79 test prep providers below provide question banks and practice exams). The Series 79 exam has a passing score of 73% (this may change after Oct. 1 , 2018). Until then, a good rule of thumb is that practice exam scores of 80 or above indicate Series 79 preparedness.
After Oct. 1, 2018, the Series 79 will be shorter, but will need to be taken along with the SIE (unless you take the SIE on your own before getting hired). Based on the content outline provided by FINRA for the Series 79, we expect that the combined study time required to pass both exams will be a bit higher than the current study time required to pass the Series 79 alone.
Series 79 Exam Prep Training Providers
Trying to pass the Series 79 without third-party materials is impossible, so your employer will provide study materials, or you'll need to seek out your own Series 79 exam prep.
Below we list the most well known Series 79 training providers. All offer a self study program with some combination of videos, printed materials, practice exams and question banks, and all fall roughly in the $300-$500 ballpark depending on how many bells and whistles you want. Note that most exam prep providers also offer an in-person training option, which we did not include here.
We will update this list once these providers revise their Series 79 study materials ahead of Oct. 1 2018.
|Series 79 Exam Prep Provider||Self Study Cost|
|STC (Securities Training Corporation)||$375-$625|
|Solomon Exam Prep||$487|
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