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.


Just looking for sample exam questions? Check out my post here!


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 Mathematics section 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.
The Statistics section 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.”

WQU 2019

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 worked with some mathematicians to create problems and solutions for you to practice with!


60 Questions and Solutions

I worked with three mathematicians to expand upon the types of questions from the exam to give you a wide set of questions to practice with. This 60 question and solution set contains 30 challenging core mathematics and 30 statistics questions.

These aren’t just the single-line answers either! Thorough step-by-step solutions are provided, sometimes even more than one methods is demonstrated. It took a couple weeks of work, but I finally got this package together for you.

For just $1 / per question and solution, this download will show you what you will face on the exam. Just $60 to be prepared. Don’t waste your time studying what you don’t need.

10 Sample Questions and Solutions

If you just want a quick sample of what the test questions will be like this package will let you get that preview. These are 5 questions from the 60-pack’s core math and 5 from the statistics.

Click here to download 10 questions and the solutions for $15.

10 Sample Questions

You’re a math genius! You don’t need someone else’s solutions!

You just want a quick peek at what you’re up against. $10 to take a look.

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

57 thoughts on “WorldQuant University Quantitative Proficiency Test

    1. 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

    1. 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

  1. 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.

    1. 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

      1. 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?

        1. 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

    1. 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 🙂

      Thank you for reading and Good Luck!
      Thomas

  2. 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.

  3. 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?

    1. 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 🙂

      Thank you for reading and Good Luck!
      Thomas

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. Hello Thomas ,

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

    Thanks
    Siya

    1. 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

  7. 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

    1. 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 🙂

      Thanks for reading and commenting,
      Thomas

  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. 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)

  11. 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

    1. 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

  12. 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.

      1. 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

    1. 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.

      1. 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

    2. 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

  13. 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.

  14. 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

  15. 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.

    1. Hi Mir,

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

      -Thomas

  16. Hi Thomas
    I believe you are lmost finishing up with the course right now? I wanted to know, how has it served you? Is it worth spending two years on? Also, any update on whether it helps improve job prospects?

  17. Hi Thomas!
    I believe currently you must be at the end of the course? How has the experience been? Also, any update on whether it is giving you good job prospects?

    1. Hi Rishabh,

      Great questions! I would say the course is really what you make of it, there are students putting in a pretty big variation of work.
      Some students have broken off into additional study groups and work on trading together.
      So it can be what you make of it. For myself, I’m already employed but wanted to learn the topics. I have a few books on them, but never committed the time in the past.
      The program structure and group work kept me on track to finally learn these topics. As with any education, the more you learn you find there is more to learn! This is really a good start to financial engineering.

      Hope this helps,
      Thomas

  18. Hi Thomas
    I read somewhere that the university i went to should be the one to send my academic record to wqu when im applying. Is this the case or can i send that myself?

    1. Hi Bat Mak,

      Yes typically your university will send your transcript directly to where you are applying.

      Thanks for reading,
      Thomas

  19. Hi Thomas,

    I hope all is well.
    Just checking in on the status of the “ I Really Want to Pass Pack : 60 Questions and Solutions”. When can we expect this to be released? I’m assuming the mathematicians have to review all the problems, which takes time.

    Thank you for your time.

  20. Hello Thomas,

    I hope all is well with you. Just wondering if you have an update on the release of “I Really Want to Pass Pack : 60 Questions and Solutions”. I appreciate all your efforts towards this.

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Alexander,

      Thanks for asking! I really should have had it done by now. I will try to get this available over the next week 🙂
      Thanks for the push.

      -Thomas

      1. Thomas, is the “I Really Want to Pass Pack: 60 Questions and Solutions” available now?

        1. Hi Nate,

          I finally got the editing done and it is up! Let me know if you have any issues getting your download link.
          I just finished the final course last week and had some time to get this package together for everyone.

          Hope these questions and solutions help you get in!

          Thomas

  21. Hi Thomas,

    Just two questions

    1) the official transcript that we have to send to them is just a scan of the highest obtained diploma and grades (with translation in the case of a foreign degree) or are they asking for more information ?

    2) When you check all the requirement did they give you opportunity to choose the starting date that best suit your personal schedule or do you have to start the program right away (closest stating date) ?

    Thanks

    1. Hi Nico,

      1) You have to send them an official transcript directly from your university.
      It should arrive to them sealed.

      2) At the time you start at the soonest course start date. If you aren’t ready to start I’d say wait on doing the entry exam, as you’re only allowed to skip 2 course I think.

      The WQU admin staff are great. They should get back to you if you reach out to them.

      -Thomas

  22. Hi Thomas,
    Great website and information you provide. Following up regarding the progress of the “I Really Want to Pass Pack : 60 Questions and Solutions”. I would be interested. If you have any other useful information please email me. Like others I am also finding it a challenge of where to focus given the broad nature of the topics listed. Thanks for your efforts!
    Regards,
    Ronald

    1. Hi Ronald,

      I finally got the editing done and have the 60 questions and answers up!

      Yes WQU is quite good at giving you some general tips and then sending you off on your own.
      I just finished the final course last week, this unfortunate trend continues. BUT it can be done 🙂

      Hope these questions and solutions help you get in!

      Thanks for reading,
      Thomas

  23. Hi,
    Is there another way I can pay for this other than PayPal coz its restricted in my country.

  24. Did you complete/still doing the masters? If so how have you been finding it? Would be interesting if you did a review of the course and particular modules

    1. Hi Mike,

      I’m actually just a few weeks away from finishing the masters.
      I have been thinking about doing a write up on my experience in a few weeks when I’m done and have the time.

      As a quick summary, overall I found the program worthwhile. The courses and professors vary in quality, but that is likely partially due to my background and expectations.
      Really no different from the traditional in-person university experience in that regards!
      Financial engineering is a really big space, there are lots of sub-topics that you could do an entire degree on. The masters does a good job at giving you some exposure to a lot of them.
      What you do with this afterwards, and where you want to focus is up to you.

      Regards,
      Thomas

Leave a Reply to Sunny Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *