Study materials for Series 7: STC vs Kaplan

29 replies [Last post]
kineticsolution's picture
Joined: 2013-07-03

I am about to start my training/study pipeline to take the Series 7 and 66 tests. My company is currently providing us with STC materials. I've heard that some suggest Kaplan instead.

For those of you who have taken the test in 2013, which program did you use to study and would you suggest it to others? Is there really a difference between STC and Kaplan when it comes to "up to date" and "realistic" covered materials?

I plan on eating/breathing/sleeping around studying for these tests. If i have to use two different test preps to pass I have no problem doing so. I just want to know if it is worth it.

Thanks in advance!


ak157879's picture
Joined: 2013-09-06

I took the Series 7 3 weeks ago and failed with a 68%, and I was using STC. My first attempt scores were in the mid 70's on the Closed Book Exams, and in the low 90's by the time I retook all of the Closed Book Exams. There were A LOT of account discretion questions on the real exam that STC did not prepare me for. STC is good at teaching you the facts, but not good at teaching you the numerous ways to apply those facts on customer accounts.

So, I went out and purchased Kaplan Series 7 QBank practice tests. And, my gosh. There is a big difference. Kaplan's questions are much more detailed, and they have a lot more account discretion question than STC. The two aren't even comparable in this regard.

I don't have a problem with STC as far learning the facts is concerned, but if you are newer to the industry I would recommend Kaplan over STC, because STC seems to lack detail in key areas. Everyone has there own preference, but in my experience Kaplan tests are much closer, and give you a lot more flexibility than STC. I retake the the Series 7 in 2 weeks. Hopefully prepping with Kaplan made the difference : ). Good luck!

RPrescott's picture
Joined: 2013-09-09

Have you taken a look at I work for Solomon Exam Prep, and we produce materials for both the Series 7 & Series 66.

Margaret's picture
Joined: 2013-09-11

I have taken all of my exams using Test Teachers. Passed everything first time including life and health insurance exams. I tried to use Kaplan for my life and health exams but I did not have the time to study 26 chapters. Good luck with your tests:)

wvarner's picture
Joined: 2013-10-21

I am looking for a course that is mostly audio. Does anyone know where I can find this?

STCisgreat's picture
Joined: 2013-10-23

I passed the series 7 two days ago using STC with an 86. If you follow the calendar, read the book (don't cut corners) once through, test your understanding, watch the lectures, and take all of the quizzes as scheduled, all of the tests as scheduled, you will be as prepared as anyone could be.

I have found that a lot of people who did not pass simply were not honest with themselves about following the course. It isn't college. You haven't studied like this before. When you get to the closed book exams STC states that you should be scoring above 80% to show maximum retention of the material.

My average in the closed books was 83%, and I never scored in the 90's. I took ten of the closed books at the end of the course and one more the night before my exam. As I said, I followed the program and nothing more. STC has done this for years, and anyone who comments saying it wasn't enough is really saying the work was not put in and the calendar wasn't followed.

Follow their directions and you will more than pass. Another piece of advice, stop reading these forums. I just created an account so I could tell folks that. You will do nothing but worry yourself to death reading about others' failing the test.

Erodg's picture
Joined: 2013-10-25

I passed the 7 3 weeks ago with a 79. I first used STC provided by my firm and failed with a 67. I was getting in the mid 80's on the practice test and made a 94 on the greenlight exam first try the day before I took the test. I felt that I was completely un prepared while taking the test the first time. Luckily I was not laid off from the firm I currently work for and was able to study for 30 more days in order to improve S7 score and keep the job. I decided to pay out of pocket and get the Kaplan Series 7 Qbank test questions. There were many questions from Kaplan that were very similar to the actual test. I ended up with a 79 on my second try. Not the best but I will not have to worry about it again. I really think that the major improvement was from Kaplan so I strongly advise ordering the qbank tests for the Series 7. Good Luck!!

rosebiz's picture
Joined: 2014-04-10

for the person looking for audio I downloaded this program called natural reader its free.. I used it when I studied my 6 it's not the best voice as it does sound like a robot is reading to you but it did the trick of reading the book for me as I'm an auditory learner.. try it I passed my 6 with flying colors now studying for the 7 using STC.. not my favorite but I'll have to deal! Good Luck!

Wallstreet6485's picture
Joined: 2014-10-30

I recently used STC for the 7 and passed. I think the On-Demand lectures gave me the extra edge. I recommend this if you want audio, plus you can access the lectures anytime you want..loved that I could watch them at home on my own time.

mstudy's picture
Joined: 2011-10-05

I would think that both Kaplan and STC use the FINRA outline as a basis for creating content. I routinely recommend Pass Perfect's materials to my students. I think their material is very comprehensive and their questions can be very challenging.

Richard C. Garcia's picture
Joined: 2015-04-18

I'm currently studying for my series 7 this month and i borrowed the Stc and Kaplan study guide from my finance buddy. I'm terrible at math! i
Is there any way to bypass the math and just hit the key parts of the exam and still pass?

Thank you!

CCole86's picture
Joined: 2015-07-13

I came from a business admin background with no investment experience. My current Investment Advisor is not in the office much and all I do currently is paperwork. They would like me to take the series 7, but I am still new to all this. As far as never came easy but I worked hard. So I was wondering what the best program would be for me to use since I will be starting from scratch? Any advice would be great. Thank you!

MA09's picture
Joined: 2015-08-18

I took the Series 7 on 08/10 and I used the STC to prepare. 3 days before the exam, I was freaking out about memorizing questions so I bought the Kaplan Qbank for $124. Is anyone interested in purchasing it? It has two downloads and 3000 questions. $90 OBO

wallstreetsurvivor's picture
Joined: 2015-09-20

MA09 wrote:
I took the Series 7 on 08/10 and I used the STC to prepare. 3 days before the exam, I was freaking out about memorizing questions so I bought the Kaplan Qbank for $124. Is anyone interested in purchasing it? It has two downloads and 3000 questions. $90 OBO

Is this still available? I'm interested.

NewBroker50's picture
Joined: 2015-10-09

For those of you scouring the internet looking for the for update info on what to use as a baseline for studying for the Series 7, I hope this reaches you. Granted, results may vary from person to person, but I think that my input can be beneficial.

To start off, don't use Wiley or securities institute of America. Their book is pretty good, but their practice tests don't have a lot of questions and after a few tests, you start to memorize them. Granted the Greenlight is really tough, and if you ace that, youll ace the exam easy. I used Wiley the first time around and obviously failed. I was getting 87% pretty easily, and quickly (47 minutes)...
However, the only Wiley product I can promote with a good conscious is the series 7 for dummies. Easy read and explains the basic structures of what you need to know for the s7. use it as a supplemental guide.

I used STC as my study material the second time. I didn't read the entire book because it is daunting. However, every chapter that covered 10 or more questions on the test, I read it. I skipped a few chapters because I took a live 4 day class, and that benefited me the most. They give you a 70 page packet that you cover in detail, and its a great review tool to use before the exam.

Now for the practice test scores. The teacher at STC said that Merril uses their material and that principals/management of the incoming brokers, check the status of everyone of their tests to make sure they get through ALL of the QandA and closed book, and they have a 93% pass rate. I didn't believe it at first, I believe it now. I don't think i passed any of my QandA tests, *chuckle*, but I passed all my closed book ranging from 72-83%. I ended up getting a 80% this last Tuesday.

I know Kaplan provides good material, my friend used it and passed with it and i like the fact that they offer 3000 test questions to just keep repping out questions, but I can't attest to any of it because I didn't use it.

In closing, and looking back, I suggest as a study plan to read through the major chapters of the book, GO TO THE CLASS, or do online classes, do ALL the practice tests, do some flashcards if you can find some online (or i think stc offers them, but I didn't buy them) and read through the subjects that you struggle with, using s7 for dummies. on the closed book, shoot for upper 70's lower 80's and youll be fine.

Again I hope this finds some people in need of some guidance. I know that I did when I went searching and all I found were posts from 2013 and back.

MONZICA1500's picture
Joined: 2015-10-22

Do any one know how I can get this material for free. We are In need of the Series 7 study materials for free. Affordability is not an option for us right now.

MONZICA1500's picture
Joined: 2015-10-22

Do any one know how I can get this material for free. We are In need of the Series 7 study materials for free. Affordability is not an option for us right now.

AlexjGardner's picture
Joined: 2015-10-28

I got hired on at a private firm and used the Pass Perfect material to study and prepare for the exam. While I feel it is extremely comprehensive and detailed, when I took the actual exam I felt almost entirely unprepared. I did not take any short cuts, I stuck to the material religiously, lived it for probably 2 months of my life for 6 hours a day but failed the test by only a little bit. The practice exam questions did not even closely resemble what was on the actual test. I have done a lot of additional research as to which prep material to use and after reading all the reviews I am leaning towards Kaplan. Can anyone else attest to this? STC, Kaplan and pass perfect seem to the big 3 in prep material.

TpaTy14's picture
Joined: 2015-11-03

I took the exam today and couldn't be more annoyed with FINRA. I have 10 years of experience in the industry, I'm an annuity wholesaler at the moment, an active trader(pretty decent too), have worked with 401k plans and other retirement vehicle's, passed life health, 6 and 63 and grad. college with honors. I say all this to help get across the point for those looking for a good piece of can NOT cut ANY corners.

I have been studying the past couple months with my team at work. Two before me passed with a 74 and 76. I first studied with STC, then used Kaplan. I also took a kaplan in person course. Bottom Line.. you can NOT count on getting a certain test, or similar test as someone who took it a year or a day ago. Everyone I asked (20 plus who have taken the exam in the past year) told me when it came to options they got about 20 questions max. One girl at my work has taken the exam 3 times. Each time she said she had about 15 options questions tops. I got around 60. I can't stress enough how much I am not exaggerating.
When I used STC I felt solid, doing good on the tests then I took the Kaplan course and started taking their QBank I couldnt have felt less unprepared. I rescheduled my exam and studied my butt off.
I have no one to blame but myself, but I only studied the basics of options and that did me in. I have no doubt had I gotten a test one of my co-workers did..I wouldnt be typing in the forum. My advice is to study the hell out Kaplan. Really learn the concepts. You need to be scoring in the mid 80s to low 90s. Also must be able to calculate options and stock/margin math questions. I plan to continue to take the Kaplan tests (even though the real test is at least 3-5x more difficult), meet with an options trader to learn those and retake.
So if you are getting 80s-90s on your 125 question Kaplan mock tests, know how to calculate all types of options and how to compute basic stock and margin math involved'll be fine. I'm not trying to scare anyone who is close to taking the exam, I just wanted to point out that there is absolutely no "for sure" # of questions per section. Don't listen to the negative crap or know it all's on web forums...there are many different versions of this test some much easier than others. Thats a fact.

mstudy's picture
Joined: 2011-10-05

TpaTy14, I like your comments. The people who to cut corners will not likely be as successful as the people who put in the extra effort. Some people are convinced that all one has to do to pass is to the same practice questions over an over again. Some people take the same final exams multiple times thinking that this is the key to passing. They are assuming that they will see the same questions on the test. I highly doubt they will not see the same questions. If I had to decide whether to do the same exams for the third time or re-read the book, I would read the book. The key is understanding the concepts, as you said.

rc-cola's picture
Joined: 2015-09-26

I took the series 7 last week (12/3/2015) using the STC 4 week study calendar and scored an 80%. I followed the program to a "T" and did not take ANY shortcuts at all. I had another person in my office take the 7 on the same day with Firesolutions who was scoring in the high 70's on closed-book exams and failed the 7.

CAnnUd's picture
Joined: 2015-12-08

I have the current STC book plus the Series 7 for Dummies which were both given to me as study materials FOC. I don't have access to the on-line tests or quizzes with STC without paying the full fee for a new book which is annoying.

Is it possible / recommended to buy the Kaplan on-line tests to support my studying? I am just starting to study and will do the 4 week study course over the 'slow' December weeks. I'm currently a financial advisor with 6, 63, 65 & Life / Health and 5 years experience.

Any suggestions on blending materials & media effectively would be helpful.

clout100's picture
Joined: 2011-06-03

Been in the business a couple of decades and there was an old saying, in my day: "Your exam score is the inverse of your success as an advisor." Those who scored below 75 usually did well, as an advisor, versus those who scored high. The theory is that low scorers were typically socializers-who do well in this relationship business. Whereas, the high scorers were probably nerds, who are more comfortable behind a book than in front of a prospect. Just giving my observations...

KS93's picture
Joined: 2016-01-05

I just took Series 7 today and I used the Kaplan Qbank to prepare. It's selling for $125 on the site but selling it for $80 OBO!

Benhuff's picture
Joined: 2016-03-21

Richard C. Garcia wrote:
I'm currently studying for my series 7 this month and i borrowed the Stc and Kaplan study guide from my finance buddy. I'm terrible at math! i
Is there any way to bypass the math and just hit the key parts of the exam and still pass?

Thank you!

Khan Academy online is a free sight used in public education schools.
There are many sections on math anyone can become very good at math through that website

Recent Pass's picture
Joined: 2016-06-13

I passed the Series 7 in late April with a 96. I used STC. I also had exposure to Kaplan and PassPerfect tests. From my perspective, the STC exams were the best at preparing me for the content I saw on the exam. To be upfront, I originally passed the exam in 1997 with an 84, so I guess I am what people call a good test taker. My Series 7 lapsed in 2005, and a recent job change meant I needed to get it again. The exam seems to have changed a lot since when I took it.

Here are some takeaways from my perspective. I thought the questions on the real exam were more cut and dried than the STC exams. There were DEFINITELY some back-breakers on the real thing, but only a third of the test was that way. It seems like the STC exams were focusing on preparing me for the back-breakers. My average scores on the tests were in the high 70s-low 80's for the STC exams. I did the STC Greenlights too, scoring in the high 70's for both.

I also found the STC on demand recordings to be very helpful when used in bits and pieces. Their options piece was particularly helpful to me since I haven't had to think about them since I originally studied in the 90s. Being in my late 40's now, I can't study like I used to. This worked out in my favor since I had a lot of options questions. Hard to say a real number, but at least 30+.

I would say the real exam felt different, mainly because the testing screen at the center is this really harsh, stark black and white screen. It seems like FINRA uses a 1970's-style interface, to be honest.

As an aside, I also needed to pass the Series 24 for this new job. Given my success with the STC materials on the 7, I used them for the 24. Same scenario as with the 7. I managed to pull off an 88 for the Series 24 about a week ago.

Good luck, these exams seem to be more of a barrier to entry than a test of abilities from my perspective. It seems that if you put your time in and take all the tests and learn from mistakes on them, you should be able to pass.

aleenaalan's picture
Joined: 2016-06-15

For starters, do not use or securities Wiley Institute of America. Their book is pretty good, but their practical tests do not have many questions and after a few tries, you start to memorize them. Certainly the Greenlight is really difficult, and if you ace that you'll ace the exam easier. I used the first time around Wiley and clearly failed.

tyleryork's picture
Joined: 2016-06-14

Hey all,

I'm Tyler, and my buddy and I have built an intelligent teaching app for phone or PC that can track what you're learning and predict your test score. It's called Achievable (URL is and we're starting with the Series 7.

The idea is that, yes its on your phone which is nice, but what we really want to do is reduce the time it takes to prep for the 7 and give visibility during your prep process. We break the content into 2000 flash cards that we track individually, and the cool part is that we can predict how well you know them over time.

If you're interested, shoot me a note and I can give you a discount code for $100 off (33% off).

Here if you have any questions, happy to help :)

EDIT: We just released a free practice exam app / website with 150 questions to help you prepare for the 7. No login required. Give it a try and please send me your thoughts and feedback -

ritacat's picture
Joined: 2016-08-09

The provides you latest and relevant questions & answers that help you to get prepared and pass HPE0-J76 exam in the first attempt. You can get HPE0-J76 dumps from our site.

TpaTy14's picture
Joined: 2015-11-03

I posted a while back and wanted to post an update. Finally as someone who now HAS passed the Series 7. Thank god that's over. I was defeated when I wrote my post a few above this one a while back. I studied on and off and on and off for months then decided to get serious. About 1 month of pure "train like an athlete" and I was good to go. I won't lie, I was lazy again. I sit right next to the Options group at my BD and am friends with those on it. I had several offer to tutor me. Now I DID study for options, believe me..but could have done so much better. I studied on my own and a LITTLE help from the options group. I got about a half hour of actual sit down tutoring for options from a friend on the Options Trading desk at my firm and that was the difference between me passing and failing. The point of this story is if you're struggling with options find someone who knows them and can articulate them well. If someone is not helping you, find someone else! Last test I easily had 50-60 options questions. I got about 25-30 on this test. I know had I taken options more seriously and actually sat down for tutoring longer than 30mns my exam would have been in the 80's and not 74.

My overall recommendation to pass now. Keep in mind around 10 years in the industry and also work around many many people who've recently passed and failed this exam. I found STC to not have enough info in total. I found Pass Perfect to be like reading Chinese and Kaplan, while not perfect , to be the happy medium in between those two. I took a 4 day course and hated it (doesn't mean you will). When I finally took time on options, and learned them decently well, took practices tests/quizzes and also this time having wrote out about 200 flash cards (anymore and it's probably not worth doing). I didn't score in the 80's or 90's but I do know exactly what it takes to pass this exam. If you're planning on taking it the 3 month Kaplan plan (if not the 2 if you're more seasoned in the financial industry ) with notecards should work just fine. Good luck and if you fail...take it again and pass. On to the 66.

Please or Register to post comments.

Industry Newsletters
Investment Category Sponsor Links
Practice Management Category Sponsor Links

Sponsored Introduction Continue on to (or wait seconds) ×