Why is math important in the consulting recruitment process?

Because math is so important in consulting! Management Consulting is a critically fact-based industry. All diagnoses and recommendations must be based on facts, and most facts are presented in numbers.

As a result, consultants spend a lot of their time working with numbers. This is showcased in many aspects of a consultant’s day-to-day work: the data analyses they run, the charts they make, the back-of-envelop calculations (i.e: estimations) in problem solving sessions (i.e: team meetings), and the in-head calculations in client interviews, etc.

How different is “consulting math” from high school math?

1. Level of Difficulty

This kind of “consulting math” is more like… elementary math. Most of the time, you will only need to perform additions, subtractions, multiplications, and divisions. In some occasions, there are percentages or fractions. But that’s all about it. No need to worry about all the complicated compound interest, logarithms, derivatives, etc. that once haunted you in high school and college.

2. Topics 

The ultimate aim of most consulting projects is to improve business. Therefore math in consulting and in the consulting recruitment process will mostly be on business topics

3. Format

In most high school and college math, you are allowed to utilize your best friend: the calculator. However, in consulting case interviews and entrance exams (i.e: McKinsey PST, BCG Potential Test), no calculator is allowed. Only your pencil, scratch paper, and your smart brain are allowed.

4. Level of Precision

Unlike science math, consulting math often requires only close-to-correct answers. This comes from the real life difference between the two fields. In science or technology, a tiny margin of error can lead to tragic accidents. But in business, decisions can be effectively and efficiently made based on only near-perfect data/ calculations.

Practice Practice Practice!

There are five major levels of resources, with increasing levels to simulate real life problems in consulting case interviews and entrance tests (McKinsey PST, BCG Potential Test) for your Case Interview Practice.

1 – Pure numerical calculation

The core of every math question are numbers. There are certain resources online to help you on pure numbers. There is no context, no word problems asked.


2 – Simple word problems with irrelevant contexts

The next level involves some word contexts. You are asked not only to perform pure calculations but also some reading and calculation set-up. Not all questions have the context that is similar to those in consulting recruiting process. These types of questions can typically be found in various quantitative of tests, e.g: GMAT, Apptitute Test, etc.

http://www.majortests.com/gmat/quantitative_skills.php http://www.readyforgmat.com/math/documents/AdvancedGMATMathQuestions-version2.pdf

3 – Simple word problems with business context

Resources in this group level are similar to Group 2 above, but the contexts are much more similar to that in real case interviews and entrance exams.

MConsultingPrep 300 short business questions

4 – Full case context questions

Full cases context questions are a very consulting-like math practice in case interview. In these questions, you will be given full contexts in either text or table format and will be asked to perform multiple calculations and answer multiple quantitative questions. These questions are very similar to those from case interview and entrance exams (e.g.: McKinsey PST & BCG Potential Test).

MConsultingPrep 50 context cases

5 – Chart-based math questions

These are the highest level of  Case Interview Math practice . In these questions, you will be given an exhibit with different data at different angles represented through different lenses. You will be asked to perform calculations and answer quantitative questions based upon this data. These questions are the most realistic examples of those from case interview and entrance exams (e.g.: McKinsey PST).

MConsultingPrep 30 chart-based cases


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Tags: Case Study Interview, Case Interview Questions, Case Interview Prep, Deloitte Case Interview, Case Interview Examples, McKinsey Case Interview, Case Interview Practice

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