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What is Series 3?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 23 January 2020
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Series 3 is a certification allowing people to work as commodities and futures brokers. People who want careers as brokers must take and successfully pass this exam to be licensed to practice. The examination is relatively easy, especially for people with some experience in the markets, and study guides are available to provide assistance for people preparing to take the test. Proctored testing centers offer this examination year round, allowing people to take it as soon as they are ready rather than having to wait for a specific test date.

The Series 3, also known as the futures and commodities exam, includes 120 questions designed to test for knowledge needed by futures and commodities brokers. The test is broken into two sections, each scored separately. The market knowledge section includes 85 questions and the rules and regulations section has 35 questions. A 70% score on each section is needed to pass. This test is also used to qualify people for practice on foreign exchange markets.

People taking the Series 3 will need to demonstrate knowledge of topics like margin requirements, hedging, options, regulations, and futures. If people need scratch paper or calculators during the two and a half hour exam, they can be provided by request. Test takers may not bring materials into the exam, due to concerns about the potential for cheating.

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This test is administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the same agency that handles administration of other licensing exams for financial professionals. People preparing to take the Series 3 can obtain study materials from a variety of sources, including test preparation companies and education offices at stock exchanges. These student materials usually include sample tests people can take to assess their readiness. Students can also take classes to prepare for the Series 3 with other students.

People pursuing careers as brokers may have employers willing to pay for test preparation and the test itself. It is not uncommon for unlicensed people working their way up to receive support, including sponsorship, from their employers if they look like promising prospects. People who distinguish themselves in their duties, stay focused at work, and have good attendance records at work may be able to reach an arrangement with an employer to provide sponsorship and other assistance. These may also be advertised as employment benefits with some companies, and it is worth asking for a discussion about benefits when weighing job offers or receiving orientation at a new job for this reason.

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