Forex Education

The True Story Behind the Elliot Wave Theory

There are few technical analysis components that can credit a single person, but Elliott’s wave theory has that distinction. The founder of the theory is Ralph Nelson Elliott, who was born in Marysville, Kansas, in 1871 and then moved to San Antonio, (Texas state).

Elliott began his career as an economist in the middle of 1890. After holding executive positions in private companies and a successful consulting business, the United States State Department wanted Elliott to be the candidate for the post of Chief Accountant of Nicaragua (a country that was then under US control).

During his stay in Central America, Elliott contracted a debilitating illness, which forced him to retire early at the age of fifty-eight. Around this time, he decided to devote himself to the study of the American stock market.

When Elliott began his study of markets, it was generally believed that markets were chaotic and random. Elliott, after many studies, was convinced that there was some sort of underlying order in the way they moved and proposed that market prices develop into specific patterns and trends. This was considered a revolutionary idea at the time.

It began its study by studying more than 75 years of historical data from stock markets using annual, monthly, weekly, daily, hourly, and half-hour charts. Remember, this was in the 1930s before there was computing capacity available to help review graphs and keep records. All these analyses were done manually and to carry it out without help was an achievement in itself.

As his research progressed, he began to establish rules that he could apply. The greater his confidence, the more frequently he began to spread his ideas publicly. In March 1935, an ordinary day, he sent a telegram after the closing of the market indicating that the US stock market is coming to an end.

The next day, Thursday, March 14, 1935, the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached its lowest closing price for the whole year. In fact, the market began an increase which lasted nearly two years and doubled the value of the Dow. Elliott, using its own market rules that he himself had developed, had set the bottom of the market within a trading day.

What makes this most notorious was the moment in history that Elliott made the prediction. In 1935, the United States was in the midst of the Great Depression, and the idea that markets could grow seemed unthinkable.

A few months after predicting the decline in March 1935, Elliott wrote “The Elliott Principle” with Charles J. Collins. Collins himself received Elliott’s telegram on Wednesday afternoon, predicting the decline of the market.

With the book, Wave Theory Elliott was officially born.

After Elliott’s death in 1948, many renowned financiers continued to make predictions based on Elliott Wave’s studies. In the early 1970s, a novice analyst at Merrill Lynch, Robert Prechter, was impressed with Elliott’s work and introduced it to the public through his own books.

Prechter won the US Trade Championship in 1984 with Elliott Wave, with a yield of 444% in four months on a real-money options trading account. Prechter also successfully predicted America’s long-term bullish market that began in 1982 and the October 1987 crash. The CNBC in 1989 named him “Guru of the Decade”.

Today, Prechter is considered the world’s best known Elliott The Wave Analyst, and the book, called “The Beginning of the Elliott Wave”, is considered today as the modern Bible for understanding this topic.

There’s a lot of criticism of the Elliott Wave and Prechter himself has made the wrong predictions. That said, Elliott’s wave theory is considered an important part of the technical analysis and is part of the curriculum of the authorized market technician designation.

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112. Summary – Elliot Wave Theory


Over the last six lessons, we discussed the Elliot Wave Theory from understanding the basics of applying it in the financial markets. In this article, we shall have a quick summary of the previous learnings.

The Elliot wave theory was discovered by a professional accountant named Ralph Nelson, who claimed that markets don’t move in random directions, but recurring swings called waves. Most importantly, Elliott stated that the waves are fractals. That is, each swing or wave in the market can be broken into smaller and smaller waves of the same type.

The market moves in the 5-3 Elliot pattern. This pattern is appliable on uptrend and downtrend. Also, it occurs in every timeframe.

Impulse Waves

In the 5-3 wave pattern, 5 refers to the impulse waves. The 5-wave pattern is a trending wave pattern that moves along the overall trend. It is made up of 5 waves where Wave 1, 3, and 5 are impulse waves towards the trend, while waves 2 and 4 are retracements to the impulse waves. Out of the three impulse waves, wave 3 is usually the strongest and the longest and is ideal for trading.

  • Wave 1 is where only a small number of people take positions.
  • Wave 2 is where the institutional traders and some smart retail traders enter.
  • Wave 3 is where the mass public enter, while smart & professional traders exit their positions.

Corrective Waves

For every trending market, there is a pullback. And this retracement corresponds to corrective waves. The corrective waves are a 3-wave pattern that moves against the overall trend. It is denoted as wave ABC or abc, depending on the timeframe. The first corrective wave begins after the end of the impulse wave. Note that, the corrective wave pattern should not go beyond the area of wave 1 impulse wave. If it does happen, the waves must be counted from the beginning.

There are 21 types of corrective patterns based on their design. The three basic ones include

  • The Zig-Zag Formation
  • The Flat Formation
  • The Triangle Formation

Rules in Elliot Wave Theory

There are three rules in the Elliot wave pattern to confirm the legitimacy of the pattern. The strategies will hold true only if the following strategies are satisfied.

  • Rule 1: Wave 3 must never be the shortest impulse wave.
  • Rule 2: The Wave 2 must hold above Wave 1.
  • Rule 3: Wave 4 must never cross in the price area of Wave 1.

Even if one of the rules is not satisfied, waves must be recounted from the start.

We have also discussed different ways of trading the Forex market using the Elliot wave theory, and that lesson can be found here.

Final words

The Elliot Waves are a great tool in determining the direction of the market. One can get a clear understanding of if the market is trending or retracing. Accordingly, one can take a trading decision by adding other tools which will help in precise entries.

We hope you found the Elliot Wave theory course informative and useful. Do try this out for yourselves as well. Happy trading!

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111. Trading Forex Market Using Elliot Wave Theory


In all the previous lessons, we understood the terminology and interpretation of the popular Elliot Wave theory. Now we are well-versed with the subject to apply it to the forex market.

The Elliot Wave Theory is a wide concept and can be traded in several different ways. In this lesson, we shall analyze the forex currency pairs using Elliot wave concepts by combining it with some price action.

The best way to trade the Elliot waves

We know that according to the Elliot wave theory, there are two types of waves. There is an impulsive wave pattern made of 5 waves, and a corrective wave made of 3 waves. The impulsive wave is towards the trend, while the corrective wave is basically a pullback for the overall trend.

As a trader, we need to look for trades that payout well along with less risk. So, it is not ideal to trade all the impulsive waves and corrective waves.

Trade setup 1

The setup is to trade the impulsive waves. In the 5-wave impulsive pattern, three waves are along with the trend and two against it. Out of those three impulse waves, the ideal wave to catch is Wave 2. This is because, the Wave 2 is usually the strongest out of the three impulse waves, which significantly reduces the risk on the trade.

Trade Example

After the market makes the first wave, the price starts to pullback. But while the market is retracing, we won’t know where the market will hold and complete its second wave. So, we make use of other tools to determine where the market will resume its trend.

Consider the below price chart. As represented, the market made its first wave. Then, wave 2 began, where the market started to retrace. But, note that, at this point in point, we cannot confirm the end of wave 2. So, to determine the completion of wave 2, we shall be applying the Fibonacci retracement.

In the below chart, the fib retracement has been applied. We can see that the market began to hold at the 50% level. This hence confirms that wave-2 leg has come to an end. Thus, we can prepare to go long in anticipation of wave 3.

In the following chart, we can clearly see that the market held at the 50% fib level and ended up making a higher high, i.e., wave 3.

Trade setup 2

This is the type of setup where we consider the complete 5-3 wave pattern. In the below chart, the 5-wave impulsive pattern is represented with the black trend lines, while the 3-wave corrective pattern is represented by the red trend lines. Since in an Elliot wave pattern, the high of the third corrective wave must be below low of the first wave in the impulsive wave pattern, we can trigger the sell at the area shown in the chart.

This hence concludes our discussion on the Elliot Wave theory. In the next lesson, we’ll summarize this topic for your better understanding and then pick another interesting course.

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110 – The Key Rules in the Elliot Wave Theory


The Elliot Wave theory is a subjective topic. The key to trading Elliot waves is to find and comprehend the waves correctly. By understanding the wave theory correctly, we will be able to figure out which side of the market we have to be on. For doing so, there are a few rules we can lay on the Elliot waves while confirming the legitimacy of a wave. They are based on waves in the 5-3 wave pattern. And most importantly, these rules must never be broken.

The Three Golden Rules of Elliot Wave Theory

Rule 1: Wave 2 must be above wave 1

Wave 1 is the impulse wave, which is towards the trend, while wave 2 is a smaller corrective wave against the trend. So, to hold the definition of an uptrend, the second wave must never go below the first wave. In other terms, there should be a higher low in the price.

Rule 2: Wave 3 must never be the shortest impulse wave

Wave 3 is the second push towards the overall trend. This wave represents the move where all big players buy into the market. Hence, this wave is the strongest and the longest. According to the rule, the wave 3 can be shorter than either wave 1 or wave 5, but not BOTH.

Rule 3: The Wave 4 must stay above the wave 1

Wave 4 is the second corrective wave in the 5-wave pattern. And this wave should never cross below the area of wave 1. In technical terms, the low of Wave 4 must be higher than the high of Wave 1.

This sums up the rules that need to be mandatorily followed while trading the Elliot Waves. So, even if one of the rules is not satisfied, then the Elliot wave pattern must be counted from the beginning, and the current must be discarded.

Guidelines for trading Elliot Waves

Now that you are clear about the rules, here are some guidelines for trading the Elliot waves. Note that these are guidelines and not rules. Hence, they are not a necessary condition to trade Elliot waves.

🌊 When Wave 5 is the longer impulse wave, then wave 5 can approximately be as lengthy wave 1.

🌊 It is useful in targeting the end of Wave 5. Traders also determine the length of the Wave 1 and add it with the low of Wave 4 and use it as a possible target.

🌊 Wave 2 and Wave 4 will usually be different forms. For instance, if Wave 2 was a sharp correction, then Wave 4 will be a flat correction and vice versa. With this, chartists can determine the time of correction of Wave 4

🌊 After a strong Wave 5 impulse wave advance, the 3-wave ABC correction pattern could come down only until the low of Wave 4.

These are the guidelines traders must understand and interpret in their own meaningful way. With this, we have come to the stage where we can apply the concepts and trade the Forex market. So, stay tuned for the next lesson.

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109. Fractals – Elliot Waves within an Elliot Wave


The 5-3 wave pattern is made up of the combination of 5-wave impulsive pattern and a 3-wave corrective pattern. The 5-wave pattern is inclined towards the predominant trend, while the 3-wave pattern is always against the trend. It is basically a pullback to the overall trend.

However, it does not end there. Within each wave in the impulsive and corrective waves, there is a set of other impulsive and corrective waves. And in that each smaller set of impulsive and corrective waves, there exists another miniature set of impulsive and corrective waves. This top-down approach goes on and on, forever.

The Top-down Approach

The Top-down approach can be considered as a synonym for fractals. In the Elliot wave theory, each wave is made of sub-waves and so on. In an uptrend, the 5-wave impulsive pattern faces upside. In these five waves, waves 1, 3, and 5 are towards the overall trend, while waves 2 and 4 against the trend.

In the same uptrend, the corrective wave pattern faces against the trend, where waves A and C face against the trend (downwards), and wave B faces towards the trend (upwards). In this sequence, there are five waves towards the overall trend (with two minor pullbacks) and three against the trend (with one minor pullback).

According to the fractal theory, each push up and push down has the above sequence. For instance, if we extract wave 1 and wave 2, then wave 1 will be made up of a 5-wave impulsive pattern, and wave 2 will be made up of a 3-wave corrective pattern. In conclusion, the combination of two waves (1 and 2) results in a set of 5-3 wave pattern. Refer to the below figure to get a clear understanding.

The Ordering and Labelling of Elliot Waves

We know that every wave can be broken into smaller waves and so on. But referring to these waves becomes the challenging part. So, to make simplify the labeling of these waves, Elliot has assigned a series of categories to the waves in terms of its size (from largest to the smallest).


We saw that every Elliot wave is made up of another miniature Elliot wave, and this break-down goes forever. But, according to Elliot, the degree identification is not a necessary factor in Elliot wave analysis. As a trader, our goal is not to assign the right degree to the wave pattern but to just understand the timeframe in which it is occurring. In the end, all that matters is the basic analysis of the wave theory. The identification of degree always remains secondary. Cheers.

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108. What Are Corrective Waves & How To Comprehend Them?


In the last lesson, we discussed the impulsive waves and 5-wave pattern corresponding to it. A trend is made up of the combination of the 5-wave pattern and the 3-wave pattern. The 5-wave impulsive pattern moves along the original trend, while the 3-wave corrective pattern moves against the trend. In this lesson, we shall discuss the corrective wave and then interpret the 5-3 waves.

Corrective waves

In case of an uptrend, the impulsive waves are towards the upside, and the corrective waves are towards the downside. Continuing with the example mentioned in the previous lesson, the corrective waves are represented in the below figure.

In the above figure, waves a, b, and c represent the corrective waves. The overall trend of the market is up, but corrective waves are against it. In other terms, the 3-wave corrective wave can be considered as pullback for the uptrend.

Note: The 3-wave corrective wave is also referred to as the ABC corrective wave pattern.

Reverse Corrective Wave Pattern

The Elliot wave theory is applicable to both uptrend and downtrend. So, for a downtrend, the impulsive wave faces downwards following the overall trend, while the corrective wave faces upwards. Below is a figure representing the 5-3 wave pattern for a downtrend.

Types of Corrective Wave Patterns

The above illustrated corrective wave is not the only type of corrective wave that occurs. According to Elliot, there are twenty-one 3-wave corrective wave patterns, where some are simple and some complex. However, a trader need not memorize all of them at once. The following are three simple corrective waves that are most occurring in the market.

The Zig-Zag Formation

The zig-zag formations are very steep compared to the regular one and are against the predominant trend. In the three waves, typically, wave B is the shortest compared to wave A and wave C. Note that, the Zig-Zag pattern can happen twice or thrice. Also, the zig-zag patterns, like all other waves, can be broken into 5-wave patterns.

The Flat Formation

As the name suggests, in flat corrective wave patterns, the 3-wave pattern is in the sideways direction. That is, the wave C does not go below wave B, and wave B makes a high as much as wave A. Sometimes, the wave B goes higher than wave A which is acceptable as well.

The Triangle Formation

The Triangle formation is a little different from the other corrective patterns. The difference is that these patterns are made up of 5-waves that move against the overall trend. These corrective waves can be symmetrical, ascending, descending, or expanding.

These were some of the most used corrective patterns used by traders. These must be known to technical traders by default. In the next lesson, we shall discuss another important concept related to the Elliot Wave theory.

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107. Comprehending The Impulsive Waves In Elliot Wave Theory


In the previous lesson, we got started with understanding the fundamentals of the Elliot Wave theory. An introduction to impulsive waves and corrective waves was also discussed. This lesson shall go over the concept of impulsive waves.

There are two types of waves in the Elliot theory, impulsive and corrective. And as a whole, Elliot stated that a trending markets move in 5-3 wave patterns. The 5-wave pattern corresponds to the impulsive wave, and a 3-wave pattern corresponds to the corrective wave. And the combination of the 5-wave and 3-wave patterns form a trend.

Formation of Impulsive Wave

The impulsive waves are formed by five waves numbered from 1 through 5. Wave numbers 1, 3, and 5 are motive, i.e., they are the waves that go along the overall trend, while wave numbers 2 and 4 are corrective waves that go against the overall trend. Below is a diagram that represents the 5-wave impulsive pattern.

This is the impulsive wave that is formed in all types of instruments. It claimed that this wave patterns form not only in stocks but on currencies, bonds, gold, oil, etc. as well. Now, let’s interpret each wave in the impulsive wave pattern.

🌊 Wave 1 – This is the first up move in the market. This is typically caused by a handful number of people who think that the currency is at a discounted rate and is the right time to buy.

🌊 Wave 2 – This move is against the previous move. There is a dip in the market as the initial buyers are booking profits, thinking it is now overvalued. However, it does not go down until the previous lows because it is also considered to be at a discount for other traders.

🌊 Wave 3 – Wave 3 resembles the wave 1. This wave is usually the longest and the strongest in terms of momentum. This is because, as the price goes higher and higher, the mass public begins to buy along with the institutional players. Hence, it is stronger than wave 1.

🌊 Wave 4 – After a strong up move (wave 3), some traders start to book profit, assuming the security has become expensive. However, this down-move is not quite strong because there are traders who still believe in the bullishness and hence see this as a discounted price.

🌊 Wave 5 – Wave 5 is when most people start to buy security. This is solely due to panic and is considered to a rat trap. Wave 5 is when the security has reached the news. All traders and investors on the news channels advice the public to buy.

But, in reality, this is when the security is considered to be overpriced. The big investors and institutions begin to short and square off their positions. And the liquidity for it is provided by the mass public.

All these waves together form the 5-wave impulsive pattern. We hope you were able to comprehend this concept of impulsive waves. If not, shoot your questions in the comment section below, and don’t forget to take the below quiz.

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106. Introduction to Elliot Wave Theory


Elliot Wave Theory is one of the most popular strategies applied by traders. This theory works exceptionally well if read correctly. In the early 1930s, there was this professional accountant named Ralph Nelson Elliot. He was a stock market expert who analyzed the data of stocks closely for 75 years’ timeframe. He thought that markets move in random chaotic directions but later realized that they don’t. After years of analysis and research, he published a book titled The Wave Principle. This book explained in detail about the theory he had proposed.

Elliot Wave Theory

According to Elliot, the market moves in repetitive cycles. The cause for these cycles is the emotions of mass retail investors, primarily due to psychological factors. It was seen that the upward and downward swings in prices caused by the collective psychology of traders always showed a repetition in the same manner. These swings were referred to as ‘waves.’

So, if traders have a clear understanding of these repetitive cycles, one can predict future price movements. In fact, traders can identify points precisely where the market is going to reverse.

Basic Terminologies

There quite a lot of terms involved in the Elliot Wave Theory. For now, we shall the two most fundamental terms and understand others in the later lessons.


Elliot proposed that trends are formed as a result of the psychology of investors. He proved that swings formed by this mass psychology were a recurring pattern. And these swings were termed as waves. Elliot’s theory, to an extent, resembles the Dow theory, which also mentions that prices move in ‘waves.’


Generally speaking, fractals are structuring whose split parts are like a similar copy of the whole. These structures repeat themselves even on an infinite scale. Apart from individual stocks, Elliot discovered that stock indices showed the same recurring structures. So, he moved to the futures market to analyze if the theory worked there as well.

Predicting the Market with Elliot Waves

Elliot studied the stocks in detail and concluded that predictions could be made using the characteristics of wave patterns. It is known that for a trending market, there is a pullback or correction for it. It is usually said that “what goes up, must come down.” That is, price action is divided into trends and corrections. Trends represent the main direction of the market, while corrections are against the trend.

The Elliot wave theory also uses a similar principle. There is an Impulsive wave that moves in the same directions as the larger/main trend. It always shows five waves in its pattern. Then there is a corrective wave that travels in the opposite direction of the larger trend. On a smaller scale, under each impulsive wave, five other waves can be found again. And such a pattern repeats by going into smaller and smaller scales.

Wondering what the above figure represents? To interpret it, stay tuned for the next lesson.

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