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Where to start your Elliott Wave count from?

The Elliott Wave Principle gives best results only when it is correctly applied. Furthermore, it does not provide mechanical signals like most other technical approaches. In order to be able to see the present situation with all the probable alternative counts, one must have trained eye, creative imagination and patience. Once mastered, the Wave Principle becomes a beautiful symbiosis between art and science.
Counting Elliott waves is very similar to recognizing different fragments of a whole and putting them together. The good thing is that you have a limited number of fragments, grouped in two categories – motive waves and corrective waves. Under motive waves there are regular impulses and diagonals. There are three types of corrective patterns – zig-zags, flats and triangles. According to the Elliott Wave Principle, motive waves are followed by corrective waves and vice versa. So, if you want to count the subwaves of a correction, you have to start your count from the end of the previous motive wave. If you want to count the five subwaves of the motive phase, you start from the end of the previous correction. Let’s take a look at some examples. On the first chart below you can see a complete 5-3 Elliott Wave cycle. Note how the two phases of trend – motive and corrective – fit together to form the whole pattern.
elliott wave counts example 1
The above-shown chart depicts a very clear impulsive five, labeled 1-2-3-4-5, followed by the corresponding three-wave retracement, which, in this case, takes the form of a double zig-zag, marked with w-x-y. This example shows how the correction starts after the end of the impulse. Now we will demonstrate how the impulsive phase begins after the end of the correction.
elliott wave counts example 2
Note that in the first case, the corrective phase starts from the extreme (top) of wave 5, while in the second one, the motive phase starts from the extreme (bottom) of the wave Y. That is how we put the two pieces of the puzzle together. It probably looks quite easy so far. But what happens if you spot an impulse on a chart with the idea to wait for the retracement and attack the trend resumption, but it never comes? Let’s examine one such situation.
elliott wave counts example 3
Having a clear five-wave rally, you would assume that a correction is in progress. After its end you would expect the uptrend to continue. This is what happens instead:
elliott wave counts example 4
Prices fall much lower than expected and the bullish scenario is ruined. Those, who have just started learning the Elliott Wave Principle, would probably blame it on the method immediately. On the other hand, the minority, that had spent enough time studying it, would go to a bigger time frame, in order to see the whole forest, not only the surrounding trees.
elliott wave counts example 5
And the bigger time frame makes it clear. The bullish idea failed, because the impulse we were looking at was the last fragment – wave (5) – of a larger five-wave sequence. And we know, that after every five waves there should be a correction. Same pattern, different degree.
The important thing to remember here is that you should always be aware of where does the fragment/wave you are looking at fit into the bigger picture. And, of course, always use a protective stop-loss order.
In conclusion, the right approach when making an Elliott Wave analysis, is to start from the largest degree possible and then go all the way down to the smallest waves and fit them all together.

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