Top Step Trader Survey Results Part A

Thanks for reading today’s update of Top Step Trader

On July 31, 2015 TradingSchools.Org published a highly positive review of Top Step Trader.

From the months of August 2015 through December 2015, TradingSchools.Org was paid a commission on sales for all referred traffic from TradingSchools.Org to The total amount paid to TradingSchools.Org was $2,150 and two frozen pizza’s.

During the five months that TradingSchools.Org was a paid affiliate of Top Step Trader, I received a steady stream of complaints from individuals that had participated in the paid combines that Top Step Trader offers to customers. During this 5 month period, I came to realize that I was the “unofficial complaint department” of Top Step Trader. The numerous complaints compelled me to withdraw myself as a paid marketer for the company. On January 1, 2016 all of the affiliate tracking links were pulled from Trading Schools. However, the original review (highly positive) has remained published for the general public to read.

If a person is researching Top Step Trader on any of the search engines, then it is nearly impossible to not read the original review.

In retrospect, it was definitely a mistake to allow Trading Schools to essentially become an advertising platform for Top Step Trader. The prospect of earning a steady stream of affiliate income clouded the nagging questions that my readers and myself wanted to know. And those questions are glaringly evident…

  • Since 2010, how many people have purchased a combine?
  • How many were able to achieve the goal of receiving a funded trading account?
  • What are the typical earnings of those that have received a funded trading account?
  • Is Top Step Trader a viable path towards becoming a full time professional futures trader?
  • Why won’t Top Step Trader publish more detailed statistics of the combine participants? In particular, the unsuccessful.
  • Is Top Step Trader a legit opportunity, or is it a platform for suckers?
  • Is Top Step Trader really a “Prop Trading Firm”?

Since Top Step Trader refused to provide me with useful statistics regarding trader performance, I was compelled to create a question and answer survey. On April 22, 2016, I published a survey that attempted to leverage the heavy amount of traffic that Trading Schools receives from those interested in the Top Step Trader trading combines. The survey attempted to answer the above questions. The following are the results of that survey, some general thoughts and observations, as well as interesting comments from those that participated in the survey.

The Top Step Trader Survey

In total, the survey generated 205 responses from individuals that had supposedly purchased a trading combine. However, I eliminated 41 of the responses. Why did I eliminate some of the responses? In some situations, individuals completed a survey and then submitted the survey. After they submitted the original survey, they then attempted to complete a new survey and then submit a second survey. All of these individuals were eliminated from the response pool. If they were willing to submit two surveys, then I felt there was a very good chance that they probably were not telling the truth, at least at some level. I wanted the pool of respondents to be as clean as possible.

The pool of respondents was whittled down to 163 respondents. These were all very clean respondents. All had taken the time to complete each and every question, and they had taken the time to write some very personal messages and viewpoints. This  remaining pool of 163 persons, I would consider to be highly relevant, and highly credible.

The following set of numbers is a data table of those 163 Top Step Trader combine purchasers. This table is a breakdown of whom and how much was spent by each participant.

163 Total RespondentsHow much did you spend at TopStepTrader?AverageTotal
43< $200$165$7,095

As you can see, the total spend on trading combines, among these individuals was $186,795.

The average spend per customer at TopStepTrader is $1,145 per person. It appears that once an individual spends about $1750 dollars in combine fee’s, they then begin lose interesting in further spending.

How many people failed to receive a funded trading account?

Out of the 163 individuals, 79% or 129 individuals were never able to actually pass the combine and the funded trader preparation. These individuals represent $147,705 in spent combine fee’s, but were never able to receive a funded trading account. This estimation is based upon simply multiplying 129 individuals by the average spend of $1,145.

Some of these individuals gave accompanying responses that I found interesting…keep in mind then since most failed, then we can expect a heavy number of complaints.

TopStep nothing more that a wolf in sheep’s clothing with nothing to offer and gives traders a way to lose their accounts before ever trading a single live contract. What a shame and disgust TopStep is to the trading community.


Stop profiting with the underfunded wannabe traders… Just admit that you make your money providing a platform were a novice trader can train and “feel” the market and not blown away real money! But admit that like in the real trading only a few (almost no one) will achieve the goal of being funded and make money with it! Stop putting dreams and lies in the ones that are trying to find a way to provide for their family!


I think the Top Step organization should look at the stats about how many people are making it and staying funded, and ask themselves if they think it’s a fair and moral business model. And if the numbers prove that it’s not, then they should look in the mirror and ask if this is really what they should be doing with their life. If the numbers prove that it is a fair and moral business model, then publish them. Let us know what’s really going on.


Lower the fees, take off the 10 trading day limit (rule) and make it 30 days! Otherwise, this is just a scam! Also, bring back the 1 free Combine after you failed the Funded account!

What is my opinion? I think its completely normal for someone to be upset. Its normal and logical that if you spent $2,000 on combine fee’s, and you failed, you would be upset. Trading is a much tougher game than people realize. Most will fail. In my opinion, I was a bit shocked that “only” 79% failed. I actually expected it to be much higher. Honestly, I thought that 95% would of failed.

Those that actually received a funded trading account

Out of the 163 persons that attempted to pass the combine and the funded trader prep, a total of 34 individuals were able to receive a funded trading account. The account sizes of these funded trading accounts are irrelevant. Instead, the only relevancy is the maximum draw down that is allotted for each funded account. The average maximum draw down for those individuals that received a funded account was $2,000.

In addition to a maximum draw down that averaged $2,000, if a person has a daily loss of $1,000, or a weekly loss of $1,000, then they will automatically lose the funded trading account.

As many are aware, or might not be aware, the maximum draw down is only relevant for the first 10 days that a person receives the funded trading account.  If a person failed to make any profits during the first 10 days of having the funded account, then the person loses the funded trading account. And so, there is a huge amount of pressure to make a profit during this very short window of time.

Of the 34 individuals that received a funded trading account, the average earnings was a negative $900 per person. What does negative $900 actually mean? This is the average earnings after combine fee’s and data fee’s were removed from any trading profits.

The average would of been much more negative, but one individual reported that he earned $20,000 and then withdrew his funds and closed his Top Step Trading account. Remove this one outlier, and the numbers become even more stark.

Why did he close his Top Step account if he was achieving such success? Simply, to avoid the high fee’s and deductions. Top Step trader pays 80% of profits and so a person can avoid those fee’s by withdrawing the earnings and then opening a simple retail account. Another reason is the high monthly fee’s of being a CME defined “professional prop trader”. Anyone trading a funded account with Top Step is responsible for paying average exchange fee’s of $85 per month. This can be avoided by opening a simple “non professional” retail trading account.

What is my opinion? Looking at the hard data, the vast majority of people earn nothing the first ten days of trading with the live account, and then they promptly lose the funded trading account. They are then sent back to the combine, which of course costs more fee’s.

Considering the abysmal failure rate of those that were actually able to “succeed” and receive the elusive funded trading account, you have really wonder if there is any real opportunity.

Of those that received a funded trading account, many gave comments that I found interesting…

Top Step is only willing to risk only a token amount during the first 10 days of having the funded account. It was silly of me to think that I could make it with only 10 days. In total I spent $6,000 in combine fee’s and earned nothing. I should of just started with a simulator and then once I had proven myself, then I could of just opened an inexpensive retail trading account


$700 spent, did not earn anything. I felt pressured to make money in the first 10 days of my funded the account so I over traded and hit my weekly loss limit. my own fault


I have spent around $700. I took $5000 as a withdrawal, and then lost the funded account.


To fix the topsteptrader scam they need to do 2 simple things. 1. remove the trailing draw-down all together, then a trader can actually have time to grind it out and build an account balance with the natural eb & flow of trading, without having to be near perfect during the first part of the trading account (also the time when you are most likely to be grinding it out, being conservative and having ups and downs). 2. Don’t take trading capital off the table after 10 days, to me this is the biggest fuck you they have. I can’t understand why they would do this. As a conspiracy theory consider that they don’t actually fund traders for the first 10 days and have you on a demo account (appearing to be a live account). If you are successful then they have to pay you out your profits (no problem to then as they were going to give you $1500 risk capital anyway). And if you are not successful in the first 10 days (which the majority who come through their system won’t be the first few times around) then you go back to combine and pay them some more, and they don’t have the “real” cost of you losing on your “live account”. To be honest having 4 live accounts and failing they really dont seem to give a fuck that you fail and lose their capital, they are very uninterested in you failing, why is that? Because they aren’t actually risking anything.
If you’ve lost big money trading in the past, then this can be used to slow the bleeding process. Once funded, get your money back from paying those fees, then close the account, and just trade on your own!
The trailing stop loss is complete bullshit. Get rid of it! Its only there to help you fail and send you back to the combine.

Is Top Step Trader really a professional “Prop Firm”?

In my opinion, as we take a hard and close look at the survey results and the hard numbers, we have to really ask ourselves…what exactly is Top Step Trader? It certainly is not a traditional prop trading firm. A traditional prop trading firm seeks to maximize the investment fund by leveraging the talent of the trading staff. A traditional prop trading firm also is accountable to investors, and those returns are usually published to future prospective investors.

Instead, Top Step Trader appears to make no returns from the traders that receive a funded trading account.

In a traditional prop trading firm, as a trader improves performance, then the trader is given more, and yet more of the firms capital to risk. However, Top Step is the exact opposite. With Top Step Trader, they are willing to only risk 10 days and about $2k maximum during those 10 days. Once the 10 days are up, if the trader has made nothing, then Top Step Trader closes the funded account and sends the person back to the combine. To pay yet more fee’s.

Most people do not seem to realize that during the 10 days of having a funded trading account, if they have only $100 in trading profits….then on DAY 11, they have a funded trading account worth only $100. On day 11, all the rules change, the draw down rules no longer apply. If on day 11 your account is $100, then you only have $100 to trade. Having only $100 in your trading account is not a very promising future.

What exactly is Top Step Trader?

Top Step Trader has been offering trading combines for about 5 years. The biggest question is WHERE ARE THE SUCCESS STORIES? Sure, every month there is a newsletter that describes a few individuals that were able make a couple thousand dollars. And that’s great. But is there anyone out there that has been able to consistently make a full time living trading with Top Step Trader? Does this person even exist? Valid questions.

In my opinion, what is most disappointing is the awesome amount of money that Top Stop Trader takes in from these paid combines, and yet they are willing to risk nearly zero on funded traders. The Trading Schools survey revealed that $186,795 dollars was taken in from paid combines, where is this money going?

Where is the money going?

In the next several days, I will be publishing a Part B to this blog post.

The Part B will be taking a closer look at the Top Step Trader business model. In particular, I will be revealing the following information:

  • A best estimate of how many people are taking the combine each month
  • An “off the record” conversation with an ex employee of Top Step Trader
  • Revealing information from companies that provide essential technology to Top Step Trader
  • An estimate of how much Top Step Trader is spending on advertising each month
  • An estimate of how much Top Step Trader is spending each month on employees, rent, technology, etc.
  • A general overview of the business model

Wrapping Things Up

Well that’s it for today. For those that participated in the survey, I wanted to thank you for your participation. This information will hopefully build a more accurate picture of Top Step Trader.

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to leave your comments below.

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Byron (@guest_3053586)
1 year ago

I think that most of those who comment here are resentful losers … trade is a hard profession until you achieve consistency 95% throw in the towel .. in commerce it is a struggle between the best minds … not for whiners because unrecognized at first, they put the reputation of TST down the floor.

Tom (@guest_1040624)
2 years ago

Any updates ? I noticed that their website has some metro-sexual weirdo sitting on a couch barefoot like some hipster loser , and its seems they did away with the open chatroom ?

Im still getting bombed with emails from them like things have changed .

Daniel Howard
Daniel Howard (@guest_33146)
2 years ago

Yep. Just cancelled my 50k combine. Put me down for -$600 plus. I guess I got fooled again. After 9 yrs of my trading education I thought I learned something. Guess not.

Martin (@guest_32371)
3 years ago

1000 persons paying 150 /month is 150 000 !
20% passing is 200 people needing
1 million to each trade 5 000
OBVIOUSLY candidates need to pay several month before getting funded.
When I see the numbers of some guys paying several thousand $ they can easily fund themselves !why only 20%
Some companies like apiary fund have a much higher success rate
Because they train their candidates before getting funded !
What training you get from TST?

Andy (@guest_31606)
3 years ago

I am one of the trader that’s able to pass the trading combine and get a funded account. the rule and combine are definitely tough. Most trading style will not make it due to tight draw down allow. Say you short 2 contract, and the market spike against your position quickly. Game Over. For me, I scalp the market mostly with small win thus lock out my risk asap. I have posted a video on YouTube if you want evidence. Yes, i just want to drive some view for my channel 🙁

John (@guest_31389)
3 years ago

You people are dumb as shit. To be a successful trader you have to have rules. Topstep clearly defines these rules in order for you not to lose them a shit ton of money. If you are a good trader you can easily pass the combines and the funded trader prep. If you cannot cut it in the funded trader you will hit your trailing draw down and will have to go back to the combine.

It is in no way topsteptraders fault that you cannot cut it and pass those combines-funded account. That is on you. If you cannot hack it in those accounts you do not deserve to be trading with real money.

I have been trading for 5 years and have had the funded account. I hit my trailing max drawdown. THAT IS COMPLETELY MY FAULT. As I was not ready to have a live account and I knew that.

You have the ability and brain power to pass that you deserve a funded account. As it is extremely difficult. What makes you think that trading a live account would be any different?

chuck (@guest_31551)
3 years ago
Reply to  John

how much money have you made ??

Sherry (@guest_29521)
3 years ago

looks like topstep do not like the new sherriff in town. Oneup is taking over

John (@guest_31390)
3 years ago
Reply to  Emmett Moore

Greed? How is it greedy they are willing to give you a 30k live account if you can hack having a live account.

Sean (@guest_27153)
4 years ago

One other thing I wanted to add. I know there are traders that can make this goal in the allotted time, but I’m sure some take trades that they normally wouldn’t take because of the trailing max draw down, fees and 30 day time frame bouncing in the back of their brains. For me personally, I think it would be fair and realistic if they would get rid of the trailing MDD and give 60 days to reach your goal for the price they are charging for one month. This is because sometimes certain markets will move sideways for a few weeks or longer. Some may say deversify, but isn’t smart to trade what you know? Sure you can scalp these moves but your asking your traders to add too many lots to meet their goals instead of taking it slow and easy. This reduces the stress and will make them a more effective trader and longer term partner in the funds journey. This allows the trader to take only the highest probability trades. But now after they have seen the profits they are making from even those traders that have failed and keep coming back, there’s no way they’re going to change. It’s all about the green

Sean (@guest_27152)
4 years ago

Emmett, thanks for taking the time to do the survey and write an update..this is going to save a lot of people from losing their hard earned money..maybe if they make some key changes it will be a better opp, but I seriously doubt it, not after the board meetings and after the fund owners see how much money they’re making off of monthly fees

Tom (@guest_27133)
4 years ago

Passed combines 5 times, funded with all, blew them all out in less than a month.
Sadly , a sixed combine of mine we had 3 people trading it. One person worked there and ended up blowing out the loss limit. He asked to have it CLEARED out , and the next day everything was back as if nothing happened. So you tell me if its legit if that can happen so easily.
The place is a scam, plain and simple . Nothing but a hamster wheel . CEO / Founder just stepped down too, so maybe the heat is on internally.
You only need 2-5 grand to trade futures , so use SIM, practice, and then do it on your own once you feel comfortable.

Tom (@guest_27199)
4 years ago
Reply to  Emmett Moore

I recently got an email that the CEO Michael Patak would be stepping down and moving into a more Creative role. Code word for burying myself someplace safe before the shit hits the fan IMHO…
The word is out now that TopStep is a scam. They have been making modifications to their criteria, but as you probably have seen, you never actually get funded anything. Even if your profitable after the trial period, its already your money and TopStep is only risking your drawndown or standard Day trading futures margin as they REQUIRE you to be FLAT at the end of day.
They all come off as helpful and want you to succeed, but they are in the Combine business, not the funding business.
They create loyalty by giving away these TICKS for people who contribute and can be used to get FREE Combines. There are also a good number of people in their chat that are on some internal team that support the community. Again, mostly people who cant complete combines but are loyal and get TICKS and perks for helping out.
You could say I was fairly close to the org at one time and also a contributor. But it did not take me long to figure out they were all full of it.. However, I dont think they are anywhere as evil as some other trade schemes, but no doubt their intentions are exactly the same.

Jason (@guest_27240)
4 years ago
Reply to  Tom

Hi Tom,

What do you mean by “even if your profitable after the trial period, its already your money “.

John (@guest_31391)
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom

Don’t be upset that you cannot trade and follow an easy set of rules. If you cant follow those rules don’t trade. The fact that you think that you only need 2-5 grand to trade futures shows what a chump you are

Coolio (@guest_11881)
4 years ago

When is Part B coming out???? Why the delay????

David Knight
David Knight (@guest_11625)
4 years ago

Here is a recent video presentation and blog post I did on TopStepTrader Versus Casino … I hope you enjoy it! Let me know what you think!!

TopStepTrader Versus Casino.png
Cyn (@guest_11628)
4 years ago
Reply to  David Knight

That is a png picture, not a video. 😮

Stray Dog
Stray Dog (@guest_11635)
4 years ago
Reply to  Cyn

Click on his name “David Knight” and it’ll open the link.

IJohnson (@guest_10358)
4 years ago

I thought I’d post my two cents here, only because I respect the website. As per usual, I fully believe that the small amount of profitable traders out there spend there time being profitable, not wasting their time posting on forums. That is left to the angry minions who have never approached profitability in their lives.

The hate for TST comes simply from the fact that VERY few people ever learn how to trade consistently. This is what you are getting into with TopStepTrader. They have a very effective business model built around the fact that a huge majority of the people coming into their program are failed traders (if they’ve ever traded at all) with the dream of somehow making it with little effort or practice. This is the bulk of their profit as a company, with only a sidebar of money made from their profit split with actual funded traders.

Firstly, as others have stated, they DO fully fund you if you pass the combine and FTP. I passed both (after three tries) and others in this forum have spoken of their experience as a funded trader as well. It DOES happen if you follow the rules.

My advice, and the only reason I made it the last time, was opening the largest account and trading with the smallest position size, so that my drawdowns in no way could cause me to get kicked back to the beginning. This was the only way I made it, but it took me over three months, which means three monthly payments of the 150K combine. Not everyone is willing to do that.

It has also taken me quite awhile to start withdrawing from the account, because I again began with the smallest position size when starting with the funded account.

Bottom line, the company DOES fund you if you follow the rules. I suspect from all the comments I’ve seen both here and on other sites, that 99% of the people whining about TST have never traded profitably.

As others have mentioned, why not buy a data feed somewhere and trade in Sim until you know without a doubt that you can pass their rules? Of course, almost nobody is willing to do this, because everyone wants their money now. And I can’t blame you, I didn’t even do it right until the last time.

All I can say is, they do follow through with their promise if you follow the rules. The rules are strict, which is why I think the smaller combines are a joke – if you’re serious about doing this, prove you can pass the combine first before paying them, then set yourself up with a large enough account that you can survive the drawdowns in the meantime.

I am realistic about my returns – I make enough to supplement my monthly income, that’s it. I’m not expecting to make a fortune anytime soon, and I don’t think anyone coming into this program should either, if they expect to last very long.

Do it as responsibly as possible. Is it moral for them to make most of their money off of failed combines? I guess that’s up to you to decide. Is it moral for insurance companies to charge premiums when very few claims are ever paid out? Is it moral for your doctor to charge you $500 for a 10-minute visit?

That’s my two cents.

Param (@guest_10490)
4 years ago
Reply to  IJohnson

Hey IJohnson, really appreciate your honest take on TST

Austin (@guest_11641)
4 years ago
Reply to  IJohnson

Totally agree with you here. It costed me 70k of my own money before I actually could trade with a 80% win rate with larger average wins than losses. Sounds ridiculous, but I think that is why most people fail. Rarely would I have a losing day (1 out of 15-20 days). On a live account with TD Ameritrade I would have 30% a month on the account returns. Made one mistake multiple times (one stubborn day could wipe out a whole month profit) and said I won’t go back until this mistake is fixed. TST gives me a solution to that since they don’t allow you to lose at all. With my own money I figured what the hell I can make it back tomorrow.

IJohnson (@guest_11690)
4 years ago
Reply to  Austin

My biggest tip, which is something I’ve rarely EVER seen mentioned, is that you should stop thinking that they’re giving you a 30K, 50K, 100K, or 150K account.

That is bullshit.

All they’re really giving you is the amount you’re able to drawdown until you’re kicked back to the beginning. So with a 150K ‘account’, you can draw down $4500 max (there are more detailed rules than this, please study them) – So they’re really only giving you a $4500 account, not $150K.

That’s how you have to look at it, and why I stressed strongly in my first post the idea of trading with a very small position size and slowly building up the account over time.

Bottom line as always – Don’t even bother with them if you can’t already trade consistently and stay within their rules. You’ll just blow your money.

Stray Dog
Stray Dog (@guest_11643)
4 years ago
Reply to  IJohnson

How much does the combine cost?

ales (@guest_9254)
4 years ago

gather materials for transmission to the law enforcement authorities
if among the users of your life has to throw these scams people’s contacts for assistance and nickname person who will explain what to do
his nickname- Solomon7777

David Knight
David Knight (@guest_9064)
4 years ago

My opinion … Jury is out.

But …

I have been actively trading with TST for 2 years now. I have passed into funded trader status 3 times in a year. The last time I lasted 14 days and pulled out some money. I got paid from TST and put it in the bank.

I might be willing to share more. One thing you are definitely right about they make a big push to the funded traders, but there is nothing planned for those that do nothing wrong.

My last funded account I experienced a drawdown and didn’t feel comfortable trading against the zero line. I withdrew 279 and change. As Jesse Livermore said, “the only safe money in trading is money you take out of your trading account.

Don’t I feel the love? No.

You would think they would have a plan for traders who made no mistakes. My last time I went 34 days profitable. 10 in the combine, 10 in FTP and 14 days in the funded account.

My suggestion was redevelopment so we could get back sooner … Nope ..l nada … Nothing. My only option is to go back into the continuous combined and pay 150 per month until I get back in FTP.

I believe you are right … They need competition to force them to do the right thing.

Recently, I was reading on bucket shops … I see a lot of similarities here. My 2 cents from inside the belly of the beast.

This is coming from a person that wants them to recognize traders accomplishments past just qualifying for funded trader.

I could say a lot more but this will suffice for now …

Cyn (@guest_9074)
4 years ago
Reply to  David Knight

Efforts do not count. The only thing that counts is results. They have clearly demarked results that must be met. Either they are met, or they are not. There is no middle ground.

Before you call me a shill, I disagree with a lot of how they are setup, which is why I have never bothered to take a combine.

Broke Mike
Broke Mike (@guest_9196)
4 years ago
Reply to  David Knight

Hi Dave,
last week you gave up on TST, now you have a TST shirt, hat and a combine? Did TST send you a pizza also?

David Knight
David Knight (@guest_9202)
4 years ago
Reply to  Broke Mike

Haha Mike.

I tried to reply on YouTube. I don’t like Rithmic pro that is offered by MES. I am more comfortable with TST. No pizza and not being paid from them other than what I got from actual trading account.

Obviously, I don’t see eye to eye with the funded department. This is where this disconnect has occurred. I suppose I am either part of the problem or part of the solution.

I believe …
1. They should bring back the 35 dollar practice account.
2. Ease the rules in funded to give 20 trading days.
3. Redevelopment should be offered past 10 trading days if you have not broken any trading rules.

That would be of the most benefit right now. I received an email from HOAG and I am hopeful the next changes will be of benefit to the funded traders.

We will see Broke Mike … Thanks for asking. I suppose it is about going with what I know as opposed to the unknown of MES at this point in time.

Sven (@guest_8759)
4 years ago

Topsteptrader makes money on selling access to trade a SIM account with the promise that one can earn a funded account, however it is a dream factory, not a source of funding or a path to an independent life as a trader, but worst of all: a system that lives by you fail, it may be the world’s worst trader school.

Sven (@guest_8735)
4 years ago

I am looking for Part B

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x