About the Series 3

Who needs the Series 3
The National Commodities Futures Exam, commonly called the Series 3 exam, was created by the National Futures Association (NFA), the self-regulatory organization for the U.S. futures industry. The purposes of the exam is to screen an applicant's fitness to engage in business as a futures professional. The NFA test is administered by the FINRA via PROCTOR®, a computer system specifically designed for the administration and delivery of computer-based testing and training and given through local centers worldwide.

The Series 3 exam is required of firms that are a sole proprietor, futures commission merchant (FCM), retail foreign exchange dealer (RFED), introducing broker (IB), commodity pool operator (CPO) or commodity trading advisor (CTA) or for registration as an associated person (AP) of these categories must satisfy proficiency requirements. In addition to passing the exam, all individuals and firms that wish to conduct futures-related business with the public must apply for NFA Membership or Associate status.

For more information about who needs to take the exam and other requirements for Series 3 registration visit the National Futures Association's web site and review the section titled Proficiency Requirements

Series 3 Study Materials
The Institute offers self-study textbooks plus Series 3 PassMaster, a computer-based tutorial and test simulator. Click for information on IFM's Series 3 exam-prep packages. The Institute also offer a two-day Futures and Options/Series 3 Course to help participants prepare for the exam. Click for course details.

As a general guideline, we suggest that you invest a minimum of 35 to 40 hours preparing for the Series 3 exam; however, many candidates should expect to invest 100 hours or more. Study times will vary and depend on several factors including previous knowledge, ability to assimilate concepts and calculations, learning style and personal motivation.

Series 3 Registration Process
The NFA Series 3 Exam is administered by FINRA. There is a two-step process that a candidate must complete to be able to take the Series 3 Exam.

Step 1: The individual must apply with FINRA to take the NFA exam by completing and submitting an application form (Form U10, the Uniform Examination Request for non-FINRA candidates) online. The U10 form is designed for use by individuals not employed or associated with FINRA member firms who, as part of a registration process, have been specifically required by another regulatory authority to qualify by examination. Examination scheduling for a person associated with FINRA member firms must be made by the firm on a Form U4.) The testing application form is located on the FINRA's web site at www.finra.org. The fee for an individual to take the Series 3 exam $125. The online process on the FINRA website provides convenient credit card and electronic (ACH) payment options. Please note, new users to the FINRA site will need to click the "Register Now" hyperlink located in the upper right hand side of the login screen to receive a User ID and Password.

A candidate DOES NOT need to be sponsored by a firm to apply or sit for the NFA Series 3 Exam. (Note this is not the case for other FINRA administered exams.)

Step 2: Once the U10 registration has been approved and processed by FINRA, a Notice of Enrollment will be emailed to the candidate. FINRA will assign a 120-day window during which the exam can be scheduled and taken. The candidate may then contact their local test center to schedule an appointment to sit for the exam. Due to the many sessions administered at testing centers, the candidate should schedule test-taking as far in advance as possible to secure an appointment on the desired date.

Testing Locations
The exam is delivered via a computer system specifically designed for the administration and delivery of computer-based testing and training. Exams are given at conveniently located test centers worldwide and an appointment to take your exam can be scheduled online or by calling your local center. For a list of test centers in your area (U.S. and Non U.S.) click here.

Candidates requiring special accommodations should consult the FINRA web site and complete and submit the appropriate forms. Candidates with transitory or temporary conditions that are not impairments or disabilities, such as pregnancy, sprains and fractures, are not eligible for testing accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Individuals with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) can make advance arrangements and request an additional 60 minutes. For more information regarding the process please see the FINRA web site.

FINRA Authorized Testing Locations
You may schedule an appointment at either a Pearson VUE Professional Center or Prometric Exam Center at the FINRA website:

  • Pearson VUE at 866.396.6273 or go online for scheduling.
  • Thomson Prometric at 800.578.6273 or go online for scheduling.
  • For questions regarding the application forms, exam enrollment, policy and procedures, please contact the FINRA Call Center at 301.590.6500 or visit www.finra.org.

    Series 3 Exam Structure
    The Series 3 exam encompasses 120 True/False and multiple-choice questions; 85 questions cover industry and technical information (market knowledge) and 35 cover regulations and compliance (regulatory requirements). The two sections (market knowledge and regulatory requirements) are scored separately, with a 70 percent minimum score on each required to pass the exam.

    Please expect to spend approximately 3 hours at the Center as it will take time to sign in, go through the pre-test directions screens and answer any sample questions that you are given that affect neither your score nor count towards your test time. The Series 3 Exam contains five (5) additional experimental questions that do not count towards your grade. Extra time is built into the exam to accommodate these five (5) questions. You will have 2 hours and 30 minutes to complete the actual test and required 120 questions.

    Re-Taking the Exam
    If a candidate does not pass the exam, he/she will need to repeat the application process and make payment again. An exam may not be scheduled until re-application process has been completed. Also a candidate will be subject to the following waiting periods between exams if he/she has failed the exam within the past two years:

    • A minimum of 30 days after failing the first exam before the second taking or third taking of the exam can be scheduled.
    • A minimum of 180 days after failing the exam for the third time before the fourth taking of the exam (and each subsequent taking) can be scheduled.

    Need more information about the Series 3 Exam and IFM study options?
    Please contact the IFM by telephone at 202.223.1528 or by e-mail at info@theIFM.org.

    To order click here.