The National Commodity Futures Exam (NCFE) is developed by the National Futures Association or NFA. The NFA has entrusted FINRA to administer it. Those who are seeking qualification as a Commodity Trading Advisor, Introducing Broker, Futures Commission Merchant, Associated Person, or Commodity Pool Operator must pass this exam. The Series 3 exam has two main parts and focuses on futures trading theory and market regulations.
Who is Eligible?
There are no prerequisites for this exam. However, you will still need to apply for it on the FINRA website and wait for approval.
There is an enrollment fee of $130. Other fees may apply as well, depending on certain circumstances.
When and Where is it Taken?
Once your application has been approved, you will be given a 120-day window to both, schedule and take your exam. This exam is taken administered through Prometric, a professional testing firm, on computers.
Prometric centers are open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 8 pm and on Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm, except on holidays. With locations scattered throughout the U.S and some internationally, it is easy to find one that will work for you at the time you desire. It is recommended that you register for your exam as early as possible as seating and space may be limited at some locations.
Special accommodations are available to those who may not be able to test under normal conditions and make that request during their registration.
Should you need to reschedule or cancel your exam appointment, you can do so by contacting Prometric by midnight Eastern Time two weeks before your original appointment. If you wait any longer, you will be charged a late cancellation fee or forfeit any fees you have paid up to that point. You will also have to reapply and register for the exam.
What Can I Bring?
It is crucial that arrive at least 30 minutes early for your exam to allow enough time for you to complete the check-in process before the exam begins. Those who arrive late will not be allowed to test and will have to reregister and pay another fee.
You will need to bring a valid, government-issued photo identification with you. These must include your signature, your full name as it appears on your application, and a recent and recognizable photo. IDs with missing or incorrect information will not be accepted.
You will not be allowed to bring any other personal items into the testing area. This includes
- Cell phones
- Watches, jewelry, and outerwear
- Paper, pencils, and study materials
- Any food or drinks
If these items are brought, they will have to be kept in a designated area away from the testing room during the exam.
You will be provided with an erasable board, marker, and a basic calculator at the testing center.
What is Covered?
The exam is split into two main sections consisting of 125 multiple choice and true/false questions in total. Five of those questions are pretest questions that will not be counted towards your score. They are unidentified and scattered throughout your exam.
Below is a brief outline of the exam and what it entails.
Part 1: Futures Markets (85 questions)
This section will ask you about futures contracts, basic fundamental analysis, hedging (basic and option), speculating, futures terminology, types of orders, futures options, spread trading, margin requirements, and basic technical analysis. You will also need to understand theories of trading and how to calculate trade results based on margin perspective, loss, and profits.
Part 2: Marketing Regulations (35 questions)
This part of the Series 3 exam will assess your capability to act using proper and professional ethics when dealing with clients and co-workers. These mannerisms are based on current market regulations, rules, and numbers. Remember these facts are often changed due to the constant evaluation of the regulatory environment and its progress, so this section can be a little tricky.
You will have two hours and 30 minutes to complete the exam.
How is it Scored?
Your score will be made available to you on the computer screen shortly after you have finished your exam. A printed copy will also be provided. This will indicate your pass/fail status only if you have passed.
For those that fail, your score report will also include a breakdown of your performance on each section to help you prepare for your next attempt. This must be taken within your 120-day testing window unless otherwise instructed. You must score at least 70 percent on both parts of the exam to be considered passing. You will then receive your certificate/license.
How Can I Prepare for the Series 3 Exam?
That’s a great question. We’ve broken down the answer into three parts.
- Do yourself a favor and study. Do not walk in unprepared. We have recommended prep materials below, but that only helps if you actually try. Plus, studying is actually proven to be the best antidote to test anxiety.
- Take care of yourself. Make sure you’re eating well, exercising, and sleeping. All of these things are scientifically linked to brain performance. If you take care of your body, you’ll be helping your grades.
- Get a study guide or set of flashcards. Some people study better a certain way. Find your study strengths and make the most of them. We’ve tried to make it easy for you by tracking down the best study guide and flashcard set for your exam. Below you’ll see links to both!