📚 Resources and guide for preparing for Stanford's electrical engineering qualification exams.
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Stanford EE Quals

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A repository for notes and other study resources for the Stanford Electrical Engineering qualification exam. To new students, don't stress too much. Quals has changed quite a bit in the past couple of years, and pass rates are much higher than they were before grad school applicants were split into separate MS/PhD tracks.

Past Exams

An archive of PDFs of quals questions from past years, provided by Stanford. Note that the past-exams/by-prof-src/ folder contains the pages that were split from the exams-by-year PDFs and joined. These are provided to make adding later questions easier.

A collection of solutions and clarification points for questions that we worked. As well as some general study notes.

General Strategies

Choosing Professors

Note: these were last updated for the 2016 quals. Policies and procedures may have changed since this section was written. If so, please contribute by submitting a PR with updated strategies here.

The standard instructions have not changed. You select 20 professors and get 4 from the first group, 3 from the second, 2 from the third, and 1 from the last. You are also told that you will not get more than 4 professors from the same quals area.

Exploiting these rules, one trick is to put five professors from the same area in your first group. You will get four of these five. The sixth professor from the same area can be completely eliminated by placing him or her in your second group, since you can't get more than 4 from one area. This means you'll get 3 of 4 professors in your 2nd group instead of 3 of 5. You can propagate this idea.


To future students, if you found this repository helpful, please add to it by making Pull Requests with updates. For example, exams need to be added each year. Most of our solutions/notes are just in markdown format, and are easily expanded on. If you need to include images, just drop them in the img folder and use relative links to them. If you have notes that must be written by hand (e.g. drawings or math equations), feel free to either scan and include them as images, or just upload PDFs.

Other related links on the web

Name Description
PhD Qualifying Exam Stanford's Homepage for the Quals
Elias Wang's Blog Blog post from a 2017 quals taker.
Let's Fast Forward Blog post with some general tips from 2012.
Robert Chen's Quals Guide Detailed general tips from 2010.
William Wu's EE Quals Guide General tips and tricks from 2005.
John Mu's Quals Guide Some notes for signals and systems and quals logistics.
EE Ph.D. Qualifying Exam Statistics Archive of states from 1998-2012
Archive of old Quals Comments Not really relevant, but kind of entertaining to read.