I recently applied for and was accepted to WorldQuant University’s Master of Science in Financial Engineering (MScFE) program! So far I’m enjoying the experience and the online courses fit my lifestyle perfectly.

With some of the math heavy courses coming up I have been reflecting on the entrance exam, their Quantitative Proficiency Test. I found this test extremely hard to study for. First, I graduate almost 6 years ago, and this sort of math is not a part of my everyday work. Second, the topic list is extensive and fails to provide any details on how deep into each subject one should go. The Official Guidance:

“The

WQU 2019Mathematicssection comprises 20 questions, covering differential calculus, integral calculus, matrices and linear algebra, set theory, differential equations, complex numbers, sequences and series, logic and proofs, multivariate calculus, convergence of sequences and functions, and partial differential equations.

TheStatisticssection comprises 20 questions, covering exploratory data analysis, elementary probability, univariate random variables, bi-variate random variables, generating functions, statistical estimation theory, hypothesis testing and confidence intervals, and simple linear regression.”

I figured I would share how I studied and hopefully this will give you a starting point.

I wanted to get a high-level overview and inspired so I started by watching and taking notes of the “Essence” series on YouTube by 3Blue1Brown.

Essence of Calculus

Essence of Linear Algebra

These two series are incredibly well put together, I found them genuinely entertaining, and a great place to start. NO these will not replace doing actual problems.

My next stop was practice problems and I turned to Khan Academy. Khan Academy seems to offer problems up to a first year of undergraduate university level or so. What I like about Khan Academy is that you can work through problems quickly, if you get stuck they have worked solutions, and they offer quizzes to test where you are. For me this meant that I could quickly hone in on specific areas I was weak on and cover these topics before getting into more difficult problems.

For each of the subjects linked here you can do the Course Challenge at the bottom. When you pass it you are ready to move on.

Differential Calculus

Integral Calculus

Multivariate Calculus

Linear Algebra

Differential Equations

Statistics and Probability

At this point I would say you are mostly ready to go. You’ve covered most of the topics and techniques you will need to know to do okay on the test.

BUT the test questions are certainly a level-harder than what I was seeing on Khan Academy. So at this point I would recommend heading over to MIT’s OpenCourseWare.

Here the topic list pretty much follows the same outline as that for Khan Academy, but the problem sets are much harder. If you have all the basics covered from Khan Academy you can do the mid-terms and exams from MIT right away. Then determine which lectures you need to review to get you through the more difficult problems.

Single Variable Calculus

Multivariable Calculus

Linear Algebra

Differential Equations

Introduction to Probability and Statistics

Probabilistic Systems Analysis and Applied Probability

Full Disclosure :

I gave myself two full weeks to review these topics and that was barely enough time for me. I was truly only able to get through all the Khan Academy material and was in the process of doing mid-terms and going deeper on each of the MIT courses when I wrote the test.

The exam I wrote (I assume they draw from a random bank of questions) had one question on differential equations, so the fact that I hadn’t gotten there yet wasn’t too bad.

Also, half the test is on statistics and probability, so logically you should spend half your study time on those topics if possible.

Hope this helps you get studying!

Thanks for reading,

Thomas

Update :

Wow I’ve gotten a lot of feedback on this post.

Initially, I planned on blogging a very specific study guide, directing you through external resources. Creating practice quizzes for each section with step-by-step solutions (all from my two weeks of notes and more). BUT ask anyone who has worked with LaTeX (spoiler alert you have to for the 3rd course 620:DTSP) and they will tell you it is incredibly time consuming, so I gave up on this idea.

Further Update :

I’ve started on preparing some sample questions and solutions to help you determine how hard the test will be and where you need to study the most. For now, I have 10 sample questions (5 from each category) to help you see how far you are from being able to answer test questions. Solutions to come soon! For just $5 get these sample questions and you can focus your study hours where you need them.

Image is from https://wall.alphacoders.com/big.php?i=829971

Thank you for this!

How much time would it take to prepare for wqu statistics examination

Hi Sunny,

Thanks for checking out my blog post.

I studied full-time for about 2-weeks, and by that I mean pretty much all day for 14 days.

I would estimate ~8-10 hours by 14 days, so 110-150 hours.

I was familiar with all the topics having learned them years before (5+ years), but to go through and actually do problems of substantial enough difficulty takes a long time.

Thanks for reading,

Thomas

How many attempts do you get at the test?

Hi Lyudmil,

From what I know you can try multiple times.

After your first attempt, you can write it again right away.

If you are not successful on the second try, you have to wait 30-days.

So it is important to plan your attempts around the application deadlines.

Thanks for reading,

Thomas

Thanks for this super useful post. A followup question… now that some time has passed, how demanding is the coursework? WQU say 25hrs per week. Do you find this to be true? Can you get away with less. This would be useful anecdotes for people doing this part-time and fitting in with work.

Hi Guy,

I’m just wrapping up the third course 620 – Discrete Time Stochastic Processes. My experience so far has been good.

If you have some financial background or generally been interested in the space you will find the first course straightforward, definitely less than even 15 hours per week.

610 – Econometrics : this was new to me and I spent a lot of time doing R tutorials and studying extra resources. Very doable around ~20 hours / week.

620 – DSTP : first seriously hard course. The foundational knowledge on probability from a measure theory approach was all new to me. I had to get and read multiple books on the topic. This course is definitely in the 25-hours/week range.

So it will really depend on your background. If you have graduate level math skills and a strong foundation in probability, you may have been able to breeze through DTSP too.

Thanks for reading,

Thomas

Hi Thomas!

I’ve been using your guidelines to study for the proficiency test and I’ve just aced it a few days ago. Thank you for sharing, really appreciate it.

Having done a handful of courses by now, do you have any tips and advice on how to do well in the quizes, assignment and group work?

Hi Shah,

I know this is a bit late, but my recommendation is just to get started early. It is easy to fall behind on the quizzes, etc.

To do well on the assignments, having completed the notes and quizzes certainly helps.

-Thomas

Thank you Thomas for sharing this. My math ended in high school 13 years ago. The interest in the course is high and is my target now. Would like to make June 23 application. Currently using https://www.careerbless.com/aptitude/qa/home.php and Khan Academy.Kindly advise.

Hi Kim,

Hope your studying is going well! Almost the test deadline now.

Khan Academy is a huge help, really the foundation needed to explore any topic deeper.

Hopefully you have mastered most their topics and are onto some of the MIT courses.

If you are feeling drained, the 3Blue1Brown Youtube videos are good for high-level thinking and motivation đŸ™‚

Thank you for reading and Good Luck!

Thomas

Thanks a lot for sharing your experience.

Thank you so much Thomas for this valuable information. I really want to enroll in this course but wasn’t sure of what to expect as far as the Quantitative Proficiency Test is concerned. I have a background in Computer science and Accounting and I should dive into these courses you have recommended before I attempt the test. Thanks once again.

Hi Thomas,

You did attempt the test rin 2019 right?

Do Statistics and Probability have 20 qs/40qs?

Can you tell me what kind of questions were there MCQs?

Were there detailed and lengthy solving questions in probability and statistics?

Can you mention important topics of Probability and Statistics that I should master at any cost?

Hi Mahnoor,

Yes I wrote the testing September 2019 and it was 40 MCQs with half being Statistics and Probability too.

The questions were all fair, I didn’t feel like they were trying to trick me. They were maybe a 1/4 to 1/2 page of calculations and the “other” options were often not a solution you would get making a simple error. There were times that I forgot a “-1” on my calculator and the answer I got was none of the MC options. This gave me the chance to spot my mistake and get a correct answer.

Probability wise there were a number of “Urn” style questions, you know the “there are 5 white balls and 4 black balls in an urn” etc.

If you are feeling drained, the 3Blue1Brown Youtube videos are good for high-level thinking and motivation đŸ™‚

Thank you for reading and Good Luck!

Thomas

Thank you very much for this. It is quite straightforward and has given me a pathway to studying for the test.

Before now, I was confused about what topics to study and resources. I am certain this will help a great deal.

Kudos!

Thank you Thomas for sharing this. My math ended in high school 13 years ago. The interest in the course is high and is my target now. Would like to make June 23 application.Kindly advise.

Hello Thomas ,

Thanks for the useful posts, what textbooks are prescribed for 560,620 and 622

Thanks

Siya

Hi Siya,

Thanks for your interest in my writing more posts!

I will try to draft another quick post on some of the resources I have been finding useful.

Thanks for reading and commenting,

Thomas

Thanks for the heads up Thomas

Hello Thomas,

Are you guaranteed admission after completing their proficiency test because on the website it says that you will get conditional acceptance into the program? What does that mean?

Thank you

Hi FW,

While things might have changes, I believe they say “conditional” acceptance because you have to send them transcripts, etc.

So long as you pass the proficiency test AND omplete the rest of the requirements, you should move to full acceptance đŸ™‚

Thanks for reading and commenting,

Thomas

Super helpful. Thank you for sharing your experience and offering insights!

Dear Thomas

Thank you very much for the rich information that you are always providing.

But aside from Khan academy, MIT and 3Blue1Brown Youtube, is there any regular course that help passing Quantitative Proficiency Test as requested by WQU.

Best regards

Hi Thomas,

Thank you for this post. It is very helpful. I am preparing to give exam in the month of August and my familiarity with Math topics was only during my senior high school years.

So if you can bucket Math calculus questions you had in your test into two or three major types and list it here, it will be of great help. Thank you so much.

Dear Thomas,

Are you able to create a QPT (I will pay for that) to better be prepared for WQU admissions? if so, pls write to my e mail address: s.cano@alice.it; Stefano Canova (Italy)

Hey Thomas,

Thanks a lot. Super duper helpful.

Few quick questions.

Can you tell more about the batch, meaning

1. how many are enrolled to the degree along with you?

2. What are the backgrounds of the other candidates

3. What is the average experience of the candidates?

Good luck with the course!!

Regards

Hi Ankit,

I’m actually not sure! I wish they shared this information as I’d love to see how the enrollment changes over the 2-years.

-Thomas

hie team, i am a recent graduate of Worldquant University and i think i can shed more light. I have no experiences with the proficiency test because it was introduced when i had already been admitted for studying. Well when i joined WQU university i was coning from a finance and accounting background (without any programming skills) so i had to do a lot of work, the only subject that was quite familiar was financial markets. For the other courses i had to work around 30hrs a week to get a grasp of the concepts. The most difficult course was Continous time stochastic processes it was very dificult to the extent that students were pleading with the university to lower the passing grade. Overally you work to get the degree.

Thanks for the useful posts, what textbooks are prescribed for 560,620 and 622

Hi Siya,

Thanks for taking the time to comment :).

I will soon write a post for each course with some of the material I used to study.

-Thomas

Hi and congratulations for that hard work and learning!

But, taking advantage of your opinion, could you tell if with the MScFE title of the WQU you have been able to find a good job in the field with relative ease?

Or, on the contrary, a lot of doors have been closed for you due to the fact that the title is conferred by a non standard or regular (certificated) university or institution? Is this a serious issue?

Is it worth the effort and time invested?

Thanks for any insight on the matter you could give, that would be very appreciated.

Hi Andres,

Honestly, I’m not sure about the job prospects from having this degree. I’m sure you could browse LinkedIn to see how many people are displaying this degree.

What I can say, is that I have previously struggled to teach myself the content I have learned so far. So regardless of company’s interest in the degree I’m certainly learning a lot so far.

Hope this helps, thanks for reading,

Thomas

Hi Makotorep,

Definitely! CTSP I found a little more straight-forward after Discrete-Time stochastic processes.

Both are very hard, but there are a lot of good textbooks and references to supplement the course notes.

-Thomas

Greetings!

Thank you Thomas for gathering and showing us those courses.

But does anyone have a copy of a test (the WQU proficiency test) that could share here or know of a way to get one?

That would help to guide better our preparation for the test.

Hi Thomas,

Thank you so much for the great post. I recently cleared proficiency test and now enrolled in the spring 2020. It would have not been possible with our Khan academy. Although one thing that I do wanna add is in the Probability and Statistics Part there are lot of question on Random variables and Probability mass/generating function which were not covered in khan academy, and I had to go through the concept really quickly during the test to answer 2 questions which was stressful. just adding the link of the document which I referred to so that upcoming people have bit idea about it. https://www.stat.auckland.ac.nz/~fewster/325/notes/ch4.pdf

Over all I am really excited to start my first course.

Thank you again.

Thomas

Hi Thomas, Question on program delivery, are lectures in form of recordings and can be accessed anytime or live? If live what are timing of delivery i.e. if evening can be taken with work? Thanks.

Hi Mir,

The lectures are a mix of recorded video and reading. So you can stay up to date wherever and whenever you are đŸ™‚

-Thomas