The perfect plan to study for the McKinsey Problem Solving Test (and other paper-based exams) is a 3-step approach!
Step 1: Understand the test
We have been talking about nothing but high-level content. But without intensively breaking the test down to each unique question type and learning specific techniques at the granular level, it’s really hard to best prepare you for the challenging test.
Step 2: Practice the test
Once you can comfortably solve those McKinsey Problem Solving Test questions without a time limit, let’s push you with time pressure and a real-life testing environment.
Step 3: Tighten the skills
Sealing the deal with a total revamp of skills needed for the test.
1.Understand the test
We have spent months going over and over the McKinsey official practice exams and got the level of understanding nowhere else could have. The good news is that although 26 questions look like a lot, all of them can be perfectly classified into several types of question. Moreover, all of the questions in each type almost follow the same structure and require the same techniques to complete. We will show you those specific techniques needed for each type of question one-by-one.
The goal is that at the end of this, you will feel perfectly comfortable solving any McKinsey Problem Solving Test question.
Now let me show you the ultimate McKinsey Problem Solving Test questions guide along with their frequency of appearance. Click on each question type for descriptions, examples, techniques, and practice questions!
- Client Interpretation – 8%
Which of the following best summarizes the CEO’s concerns? …
- Reading Facts – 38%
Which of the following values is the best estimate of ABC revenue in Year 4?
- Root-cause Reason – 13%
Which of the following reasons, if TRUE, would best explain the increasing trend in X, Y, Z?
- Fact-based Conclusion – 14%
Which of the following is TRUE based on the data presented in Exhibit 2?
- Formulae – 5%
Which of the following formulae calculates the dollar value of goods produced by ABC?
- Word Problems– 12%
Assuming a machine lasts for five years, the center is opened 5 days per week all year round, what minimum volume of maintenance supply … ?
- Others – 10%
How about the BCG Potential Test?
Unlike McKinsey PST, BCG Potential Test only offers 4 questions in its public example case. 4 questions are too small a sample size to conclude anything on its question distribution. However, it is worth noticing that all 4 questions are in the Reading Facts category! So do expect to see that type of question a lot in your real BCG Potential Test.
In terms of difficulty, my take based on those 4 practice questions, is that it’s the same as its brother, the McKinsey Problem Solving Test.
2.Practice the test
Now that you can comfortably understand and answer all McKinsey Problem Solving Test questions, it’s time to bring the time factor in. 9 out of 10 candidates taking the test said that the actual Problem Solving Test is much harder because it is strictly timed. Now let’s bring your preparation to the next level: kill the Problem Solving Test in a real testing environment.
So how do you create a real testing environment?
- Time yourself! It is tempting to go over the allowed time when you practice at home. Push yourself!
- Use no calculator! Time to work out your calculation muscle!
- Print the McKinsey practice test out and pencil it! It is very much different between doing the test on the screen vs. penciling it on paper. You don’t want to do it in the non-real way.
- Mentally take it seriously! I have known candidates who told me that they still found the real McKinsey Problem Solving Test much more stressful despite applying all of the above three suggestions. To best prepare for that, you have to mentally take the practice as if it were real. Pressure yourself, take pride in it. Have the mindset that “if I don’t get 70 – 75% of this practice correct, I’m out!” While this is not real (since you are only practicing), it helps you get mentally ready when the real one comes.
- Fact-based Conclusion – (from McKinsey Website)
- TOYO Practice case (from MConsultingPrep)
- McKinsey Practice PST – 2001 Version
- BCG Potential Test (similar to McKinsey PST)
- Sample PST Test from 20/20 (Consulting Firm Started by Ex-McKinsey Consultants)
- Monitor Group’s PST-like case
3.Tighten the skills
Unlike GMAT or GRE where the supply of practice materials is always available, those of McKinsey PST is much more limited. You will go through all of the practice tests above very quickly.
What’s left are the skills tested on McKinsey Problem Solving Test! Three of the most important skills are: (1) Quantitative proficiency, (2) Reading, and (3) Reasoning.
If you notice in the question guide above, almost 40% of the questions on the McKinsey PST require nothing but plain calculations on data/ charts presented. No logic, no reasoning, no synthesizing … needed. It would be a huge plus for you to be able to go through these questions quickly, leaving the valuable time to think through the harder ones.
We have a full detailed article on Consulting Math with many valuable practice resources. Make sure you spend a significant amount of time going through them.
In addition to the heavy load of calculations, you will also deal with a big chunk of reading in your McKinsey Problem Solving Test. The ability to read fast while still catching important points will save you valuable time to spend on answering questions.
- Get annual reports of companies from a wide variety of industries, including those you are not familiar with. Try to read through the materials as fast as possible while catching important points.
- Refer to case studies you have from school and practice reading them. Most case studies will do you good as they generally have a similar type of reading to the McKinsey Problem Solving Test (i.e: case introduction, company facts, data, etc.)
Lastly, consulting is the exercise of logic and reasoning. The Problem Solving Test does its job: test your sense of logic and reasoning.
If you have not carefully gone through our materials above (i.e: “Understand the Test”), I urge you to do so. There are a lot of in-depth content to practice on logic and reasoning.
4.Try our Free Practice Case now!