The Series 3 exam is a FINRA-administered test that is required by both the National Futures Association (NFA) and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) if you are looking to become certified as a commodities and futures professional. The test, which consists of 120 questions over a two-and-one-half-hour period, can be a bit daunting to prepare for, which is why many people choose to take a Series 3 exam prep course first.
A Series 3 exam prep course can be invaluable when it comes to gathering a deep understanding of certain topics and testing your own proficiency. The best Series 3 exam prep courses offer a variety of study tools, access to instructors, pass guarantees, and, ideally, an affordable price tag.
Best Overall : Securities Training Corporation (STC)
The Series 3 exam prep course from Securities Training Corporation (STC) is our best overall due to its feature-rich packages and the option to learn on-demand via live virtual lectures or in-person.
Self-paced, live virtual, and in-person class options
All courses include access to an instructor hotline
Materials can be purchased as a package or individually
No mobile app
Money-back guarantee does not apply to lowest package tier
Progress exams only included with top two package tiers
Founded in 1969, Securities Training Corporation (STC) has been a trusted industry name for longer than most of its competitors. When it comes to Series 3 exam prep courses that provide comprehensive tools and various learning formats, STC is our overall top choice.
STC offers self-paced, live virtual, and in-person class options, depending on how you prefer to learn and where you’re located. You can also purchase individual products and courses, either as standalone items or as add-ons to your chosen package.
Packages range from $260 to $415. Each one includes access to an instructor hotline, 24/7 tech support, an online final exam, and printed study materials. All packages also include a six-month enrollment and free course updates. There is no mobile app for the Series 3, although one is available for other exams.
The second-highest tier, the Series 3 Premier, runs $299 and provides on-demand video lectures. The highest tier, the Series 3 Premier Plus, priced at $415, offers either live virtual or in-person classes, depending on your preferred learning style. Both of these tiers also provide a pass guarantee: If you do not pass your Series 3 exam, you can retake your STC course as many times as necessary (within six months) until you pass, at no additional cost. The lowest course tier does not offer this guarantee.
The two highest tiers also provide you with additional checkpoints and progress checks, including progress exams throughout the course as well as a greenlight exam to gauge your Series 3 exam readiness.
Best Self-Paced Course : Kaplan
With two self-study courses, each offering a variety of mastery tools and add-ons, Kaplan is our choice for the best self-paced Series 3 exam prep course.
Impressive question bank (Qbank)
Many study tools included
Five months of course access
Students can purchase five additional months of access for $49
No pass guarantee
Refunds are very limited
No checkpoint exams with lower-tier course
No live virtual or in-person class options
Through Kaplan, students preparing for the Series 3 exam can choose from two self-study and on-demand options: the Basic course for $209 and the BasicPlus course for $299. Each offers five months of course access (an additional five months can be purchased for $49 if needed), but there are no live virtual or in-person class options with Kaplan.
Both self-study courses provide custom quizzes as well as Kaplan's robust Qbank, study calendar, performance tracker, and practice exam. The BasicPlus course also includes checkpoint and mastery exams, which are not included in the Basic course.
Students can purchase certain study tools individually, such as the practice exam, Qbank, and the license exam manual (LEM).
Kaplan does not publish its pass rate nor does the company offer a pass guarantee to students. Additionally, refunds are only available within 30 days of purchase and only if your online course has not yet been accessed.
Best for Student Experience : Training Consultants
As our pick for the best student experience, Training Consultants provides a robust collection of study tools as well as instructor access to all students.
Both courses include hard copy textbook
Many study tools and support features included
Multiple instructor support options
Additional study tools available
Online course offers 180 days of access
No pass guarantee
No live virtual or in-person classes
Textbook course only includes 90 days of access
Through Training Consultants, students can choose from two different Series 3 exam prep packages: an online course and a textbook course. There are no in-person or live virtual class options.
Both packages include a robust menu of study tools and features, including a hard copy textbook, study plan, practice guide, Qbank, final exams, and a custom exam generator. All students also get phone instructor support, so you can reach out to a teacher if you have questions or don’t understand a concept.
At $240, the textbook course is more self-paced in nature. It’s the more affordable of the two packages and includes 90 days of course access.
The online course offers on-demand video lectures and 180 days of course access for $305. It includes online instructor support in addition to the phone support, as well as unlimited random final exams.
All students can purchase an additional online exam center for $109 if they want to feel even better prepared for the Series 3 exam. Training Consultants does not publish exam pass rates for its students nor do they offer a pass guarantee.
Best Variety of Study Resources : Knopman Marks
Offering an online training center full of proprietary study tools, guides, and more, Knopman Marks is our choice for the best variety of study resources.
96% pass rate
Mobile app available
Includes instructor email updates
Many study tools included
Only one course option
The most expensive course in this list
Approx. 3 hours of video lectures included
No pass guarantee
When it comes to taking the Series 3 exam prep course from Knopman Marks, there’s only one choice but it’s filled to the brim with digital study tools. Though this course only includes about three hours of video lectures, it makes up for that with access to the online Training Center, a study hub offering proprietary study guides, videos, and more.
The course also includes an online question bank, textbook or e-book, and downloadable supplements. There’s an iOS app available, so you can download materials and study offline, no matter where you go. You’ll also get real-time updates from instructors and expert team check-ins along the way.
Knopman Marks boasts a 96% exam pass rate, which is one of the highest in the industry. The company does not offer a pass guarantee to students, however.
This sole course option costs $425. There is no money-back guarantee for the course, though refund requests are honored within the first 30 days as long as the course and all materials are unused. Tutoring is also available for an additional cost.
Best Value : Securities Institute of America (SIA)
We chose Securities Institute of America (SIA) for the best value in Series 3 exam prep courses, as they offer a feature-rich $99 online video course, have a 90% pass rate, and offer a pass guarantee.
90% pass rate
Six-month course access
Unlimited practice and final exams
Live chat and phone support
No live virtual or in-person options
No mobile app
Pass guarantee requires greenlight exam
Regardless of your Series 3 exam prep course budget, our top pick for best value—Securities Institute of America (SIA)—is definitely worth a look.
The company offers multiple course packages and à la carte products. The most budget-friendly option is the online video class, coming in at just $99. This includes nine hours of video instruction and unlimited course access for six months.
The next package option is the complete self-study course for $239. This also includes unlimited, randomized practice and final exams, as well as an 850-question Qbank.
Tutoring is available, and SIA claims that students who work with a tutor raise their exam score by an average of 10 points. If you need help outside of tutoring, live chat and phone support are also available.
SIA has a 90% pass rate among students and offers a pass guarantee on nearly all of their courses and products. All you need to do is pass a greenlight (proficiency) exam within five days of your actual Series 3 exam. If you pass that but fail your actual exam, SIA will refund your course purchase.
Purchasing a prep course can be a great way to improve your chances of passing the Series 3 exam. These courses—which offer question banks, progress and final exams, and even access to real-life instructors—can make it easier to study for and feel confident about the prep process.
The right program for you depends on your learning style as well as your budget. If you’re looking for an average-cost course with multiple class options, Securities Training Corporation (STC) is our best overall pick.
Compare the Best Series 3 Exam Prep Courses
|Course||Course Format||Individual Tutoring Available?||Cost|
|Securities Training Corporation (STC)
|Self-paced, on-demand videos, live virtual, and in-person||No, but you’ll have access to an instructor hotline for questions||$260 to $415|
Best Self-Paced Course
|Self-study and on-demand||No||$209 to $299|
Best for Student Experience
|Online self-paced and textbook self-paced||Phone and online instructor support||$240 to $305|
Best Variety of Study Resources
|Securities Institute of America (SIA)
|Self-paced text and online video self-paced||Yes||$99 to $239|
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is the Series 3 Exam?
The Series 3 exam—also called the National Commodities Futures Examination—is a test used to gauge a student’s proficiency prior to them becoming a futures and commodities professional. It consists of 120 multiple-choice questions, administered over a 150-minute time period. In order to pass, students must receive a score of 70% or higher.
The exam is designed by the National Futures Association (NFA) though it is administered by FINRA. It costs $130 to take.
How Much Do Series 3 Exam Prep Courses Cost?
The type of Series 3 prep course you choose will determine how much you can expect to pay—self-paced textbook courses are generally less expensive than live virtual classes, for instance. From our research, we have found that the majority of Series 3 exam prep courses will cost between $200 and $300, with some options falling on either side of that range ($99 and $415, respectively).
Are Series 3 Prep Exam Prep Courses Worth It?
Neither FINRA nor the NFA has published an overall average pass rate for the Series 3 exam. Many exam prep courses boast exam pass rates of 90% or higher, though, demonstrating the value that these courses have.
If you’re hoping to pass the Series 3 exam, especially on the first try, enrolling in a comprehensive exam prep course could be very beneficial. Choosing a course with a pass guarantee is even better, offering you the peace of mind that if you don’t pass, you can either take the course again or get a refund.
How Long Does It Take to Complete a Series 3 Exam Prep Course?
If you opt for a self-paced Series 3 exam prep course, the speed and schedule are entirely up to you. Many courses offer three to six months of course access, allowing you to take your time, review, and study as you see fit.
Of the companies that offer live virtual and in-person courses, students can find options that take as few as two days to complete.
In order to provide you with a list of the best Series 3 exam prep courses, we compared the options from more than 10 different companies. We looked at factors such as price, course structure and availability, success rates, and pass guarantees. We also compared the features included in each course, from checkpoint and final exams to question banks, video lectures, and access to instructors.
All of our top picks offered self-paced course options, affordable pricing, and a variety of included and à la carte study tools to help ensure success.