On this site, you will find extensive information about the exam of the Israel Securities Authority (ISA): "Securities Law & Professional Ethics", which is also called "The Ethics exam".
You probably already know that exams of the ISA become increasingly difficult each year and this is especially true regarding the ethics exam.
Why does the exam become more difficult every year? For several reasons: first, because so much legal material is added every year, such as rules regarding corporate governance, compensation committee, ethics of foreign traders, instructions regarding large portfolio management companies, and so on. Second, because the exam preparation courses are becoming more focused, more thorough, and the book is more comprehensive. The ISA has to cope with more sophisticated, informed and knowledgeable students. And third, because the capital market in Israel was flooded in 2010 with license-holders, and ISA probably intends to make it tougher to enter the profession through a more stringent level of exams.
If in the past it was possible to take a risk of passing the ethics exam, it is now known that without a proper preparation, it is difficult to pass it.
I have gathered 5 important tips, before you start studying:
1. Start studying early, but not too early
If your exam takes place on May, start studying in early March. If the exam is on November, I recommend that you start studying in early September. Take into account holidays, weekends, kids, full-time job, and of course sports and maybe sleep from time to time… I do not recommend that you start studying 6 months in advance, since by the day of the exam, you might forget what you've studied...
Start with the infrastructure: Corporate Law > Securities Law > Mutual Funds. Then, go to "Ethics A": Criminal Offenses, and then "Ethics B": the disciplinary rules applicable to license holders. Then, put a special emphasis on studying the Anti Money Laundering chapter. Remember, the most important chapter is the Ethics. The reason for the importance of this chapter is twofold: firstly, because you have to be familiar with the law and regulations for the purpose of your future profession as a license holder. Second, since most of the questions in the exam (over 15 questions!) are on this issue, and you only need 15 correct answers in order to pass.
3. Study with friends as much as you can
Learning together is effective, efficient, and requires meeting the deadlines and standards of a group. A study group also places you in comparison to others regarding your knowledge level. Moreover, when you explain the material to someone, you necessarily learn it better.
4. Use a variety of learning techniques
Try reading, solving exams, explaining to a friend, asking questions, listening to lectures. The more study methods you use, the better you understand the material, and you will be able to answer questions. One more tip: Please do not (please) use an old and non-updated books. It really isn't worth it: ISA's exams actually ask about the last innovations and amendments in the law, and these appear in the new editions of the book.
5. Be updated with financial news
Surprising? Maybe… The ethics exam is based on updated legal material, and the study will give you a broad knowledge of corporate securities, mutual funds, ethics of licensees, and money laundering. You will be aware of the accurate financial and legal terms in the news. During studying you will be exposed to a new legal discipline which gives respect for the written word and the terminology of the law. In some cases, the exams may includes an innocent question regarding a recent event that featured on the news. Be prepared for that too.
I wish you all good luck in the Ethics exam, and I'm here for any question or comment.
Further on this site, you will find many tips on how and when to study, specially referring to the multipule-choice question exam of the ISA.
You can find here an example of the exam, in Hebrew.