It’s a big day in Nelson Mandela Square, Johannesburg, SA. I showed up to the test center, Pearson Vue, at 7:30am with a thick stack of Series 65 notes. The administrator wouldn’t let me take any study materials into the waiting room so I sat in the hallway next to the elevator reading over convoluted, but nonetheless important, legal jargon while trying to ignore the distracting detail that three hours from now equals freedom.
Pearson Vue testing center is where fun goes to die. It’s purgatory. In case you’ve never been there, it’s the epitome of printer paper fluorescent tube office lighting cubicle tedium. Before you enter the test room you’re patted down to make sure you have no objects in your pockets that would give you an opportunity to cheat, like coins or keys or a wallet – TSA security could learn a thing or two from Pearson. Being in the test room itself is not unlike the police interrogation rooms you see on TV. You’re being filmed and recorded and there’s an admin sitting on the other side of a glass wall watching you. It’s anything but a comfortable and/or natural situation.
After my three hours were up my screen froze in place for a few seconds while it calculated the score and came back with a form that contained a bold PASS. The response was so understated that I reread it a few times to make sure. I don’t know what I was expecting, balloons? Apparently Pearson doesn’t share my elation for having finished the Series 65.
It’s amazing how your laptop enables you to work from anywhere. Before the exam I was in Cape Town where I rented a room in a big house for two weeks at $200 from a friend in a very nice area that, by comparison, would have cost near 10x back in NYC, Boston, or SF. With the laptop I had access to Investopedia and any other online resources to stuff my head full of topics such as trivia on the Investment Advisory Act of 1940, among other things.
The best part about this is that between studying at home or at coffee shops I would take breaks to meet up with friends to go hiking, trail running, orienteering, bike riding, etc. etc. – Cape Town is seriously underrated. But without ubiquitous wi-fi and exponential growth in online learning resources I never would have been able to even get started. Don’t be fooled, I hit the material hard, but the difference is I wasn’t limited to spending my study breaks re-watching episodes of Breaking Bad because it’s below zero outside.
By comparison, Morgan Stanley locks you in a room for two weeks, nine hours a day, to prep you for the Series 65. A pass is a pass; I’ll take my approach.
To top it off I got a nice letter from a buddy back home who also works in finance.
“Congrats on passing that exam, I thought you were just jerkin it out there.”
–Tim from my SCU Rugby Team.