How to Pass the CSC: Prep for the Canadian Securities Course (2024)

So you’ve decided to take the plunge and want to start a career in the securities industry. Excellent choice!

The CSC pass rate is about 60%, and it opens doors to a career in finance.

In this post, we’ll explore a Canadian Securities Course review, how to pass the CSC and what you can expect to learn in the course.

We’ll also dispel some of the myths that often keep people from signing up for the CSC and share some tips on how to make the most of your learning experience.

What is the Canadian Securities Course?

Canadian Securities Institute

The Canadian Securities Course (CSC) is a mandatory course for anyone who wants to work in the securities industry in Canada. While it may seem daunting, with the right approach and resources, it’s definitely possible to pass the CSC with flying colours.

The CSC is designed to teach you the basics of the Canadian securities market and how to conduct yourself as a professional. It covers topics such as financial statement analysis, business law, portfolio management, and more.

If you have little to no background in finance, the CSC is one of the most challenging courses you will ever take, but it’s also one of the most rewarding.

You will get a comprehensive overview of the Canadian securities industry and the rules and regulations that govern it. The course is also meant to teach potential licensees how to apply these rules and regulations in a practical setting.

What is included in the CSC?

The CSC is an intensive course that covers a variety of topics related to the securities industry.

The course is made up of eight modules that cover topics such as securities products and services, regulatory environment, risk management, and more. The modules are broken down into 2 volumes and 28 chapters.

Canadian Securities Course Review

You’ll also have to complete two final exams to pass the course, each on half of the material. Students are given two hours to write each exam of 100 multiple choice questions, so manage your time but don’t rush as some questions can be tricky.

The passing mark is 60% and most people I spoke with who have taken the exam pass within the 60%-70% mark range.

You have one year from enrolment to pass the exams, timing can be tricky, if you start studying too far off in advance and don’t maintain the knowledge, you will likely forget a lot of material.

So give yourself enough time to study the extensive content, but make sure to keep your knowledge fresh with frequent reviews. Flashcards are a great way to keep reinforcing your newly acquired knowledge.

Canadian Securities Course Review exam weighting

There are also plenty of practice questions and exams to help you prepare. Using these tools is highly recommended so you can get a feel for how CSI tests your knowledge and aptitude.

The practice exam is a great way to see where you need to focus your study time and to make sure you’re fully prepared for the real thing.

Once you’ve passed the CSC, you’ll be eligible to work as a registered representative in the financial industry in Canada.

How to prepare for the CSC

How to prepare for the CSC

There are a few key things you need to do to prepare for the CSC.

Make sure you understand the material. There is a lot of material and although some memorization is required (such as formulas), understanding the content and using logic is critical to success in the exams.

The CSC is not based on theory, it is meant for professionals who will actually be applying the content daily, therefore make sure to research anything that doesn’t make sense to you.

Second, practice, practice, practice. Since it focuses on application, practicing scenario-type questions will help you prepare for success. Make sure you can integrate the knowledge into real-life applications.

Finally, get organized. Make a study schedule and stick to it, stay calm and focused on test day.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed, but try to take it one question at a time and you’ll do great! This will help ensure that you cover all of the material and don’t fall behind.

Tips on passing the exam

The CSC is a challenging but ultimately gratifying exam. Here are some tips to help you pass:

● Start preparing early

Give yourself plenty of time to study and practice. The more you know going into the exam, the better your chances of passing.

Some people claim to have studied for a month or even a weekend before the exam. If you already have a foundation of financial knowledge, like a bachelor’s in finance or accounting, it can probably be done, but I wouldn’t risk it.

If you plan on taking the CSC, I hope you are passionate about this field, therefore spending time studying for it should be somewhat enjoyable, or at least interesting!

● Don’t try to memorize everything

The best way to pass the CSC is by understanding the material, yes, this needs to be emphasized again!

Try to focus on understanding the concepts, rather than trying to remember every detail. There is too much content to attempt memorizing unless you have a photographic memory.

Almost all of CSI’s exams are closed book, even your calculator cover will be checked for any cheeky attempts at sneaking in formulas.

● Use practice exams and quizzes

Most definitely use these tools for testing your knowledge and identifying any areas you need to work more on.

The more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll be with the questions and format of the exam.

It is a 100-question multiple-choice exam and rumours are that some of the practice questions even show in the exam, maybe you’ll get lucky!

● Pay for the computer-based exam

The standard test is paper-based where you will need to colour in your answer with a lead pencil on an answer sheet. Be sure to clearly indicate your answer as it will be reviewed by a machine, not a person.

If you’re willing the pay, I recommend going computer-based. You will get your answer immediately after the test and know whether you passed or failed, the final mark will be delivered within a couple of days.

Otherwise, chances are you will anxiously wait for your result for days. That peace of mind was worth the money for me.

● Stay calm and focused on the test

It can be easy to get overwhelmed, but try to stay positive and focused on doing your best.

If you don’t know an answer right away, skip it and come back to it.

Remember that it is multiple choice, so if you are completely stuck and have no idea what to answer, you may as well take a guess, most questions have 4 options for answers, so you have a 25% chance of being right. That’s better than leaving anything blank.

Don’t consume too much food or beverage before your exam, you won’t be allowed any breaks whatsoever. I’ve even seen pregnant women be denied bathroom breaks during the exam.

Essential Study Materials for the CSC

Here’s a deeper dive into some key resources:

CSC Textbook: This foundational material is a goldmine of information. However, it’s not just about reading through it. Actively engage with the content—highlight, underline, and take notes. If possible, get both the hardcopy and the digital version. The hardcopy allows for tactile learning, while the digital one often has interactive features like quick links and embedded quizzes.

Practice Exams and Quizzes: These are your practical preparation champions. They provide a glimpse into the examination pattern, type of questions, and help you ascertain your strengths and weaknesses. A consistent score in practice exams is a good indicator of your preparedness. Additionally, don’t just correct your mistakes, understand why you made them and how to avoid them in the future.

Flashcards: They aren’t just for rote memorization. Use flashcards to break down complex concepts into digestible chunks. They’re excellent for a quick review during unexpected downtime, like during a commute or waiting in line.

Study Groups: Engaging in group studies can elevate your preparation. Different individuals might interpret the same content differently, bringing about richer discussions. Also, teaching or explaining a concept to someone else is one of the best ways to solidify your understanding.

Supplementary Resources: There are times when you might find a topic too challenging or perhaps too dry in the textbook. In such cases, supplementary resources, such as online courses, YouTube videos, or other finance literature, can provide alternative explanations or methodologies that might resonate better with you.

Is the CSC worth it?

The CSC is without a doubt the most important step to becoming a registered representative or portfolio manager in Canada. It’s not a walk in the park, but with the right amount of dedication and focus, you can ace the exams.

The Canadian Securities Course (CSC) is definitely worth it if you’re looking to work in the financial industry.

The course is also a great way to learn about securities, the markets, and financial planning. It’s important to note that the CSC is not particularly difficult, but it requires commitment as the sheer amount of information can be overwhelming.

It’s a foundational course with good reason, it does just that, and gives you a solid overview of the financial industry in Canada. You’ll need to put in the time and effort to pass it. But with the right preparation and studying, you can certainly achieve success.

The CSC does expire if you don’t use it within 3 years. After all 200 hours of studying, writing and then anxiously waiting for your result, that’s the last thing you want. You keep active by working in the industry and being registered with IIROC.

The CSC is not cheap. The investment ranges from $1,200 to $1,600 depending on what package you opt for. The most basic includes a PDF version of the textbook.

Many employers in the finance industry have education programs for their staff, it’s worth looking into. The course may be fully or partially covered. Keep in mind you can also negotiate with your employer and request support for your education as it benefits everyone.

The CSC is also a great alternative for continuing education. Depending on your age and circumstances, it can be difficult to go back to school, all CSI courses are remote, and you can study at your own pace and convenience and get a valuable designation from a reputable institution. 

While the CSC itself isn’t a designation, it paves the way for career growth in finance. The most common are Chartered Investment Manager, with an average annual salary of $90,000 and Personal Financial Planner, with an average salary of $65,000.


If you want to be successful in the Canadian Securities Course, follow these simple tips and you’ll be on your way to getting that passing grade.

Start by studying early and often, and get plenty of practice questions under your belt. Make sure to pace yourself, and take breaks when you need them.

And finally, don’t forget to relax and enjoy the experience – it’s not worth stressing over!

To continue building your knowledge, check out 15 Best Personal Finance Books In Canada 2022: Mentors On A Page

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Author Bio - Christopher Liew is a CFA Charterholder with 11 years of finance experience and the creator of Read about how he quit his 6-figure salary career to travel the world here.

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