The perfect plan to study for the McKinsey Problem Solving test (and other paper-based exams) is a 3-step approach!
In the McKinsey Problem Solving Test, 26 questions look like a lot but all of them can be perfectly classified into several types of question. Moreover, all 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.
Unlike McKinsey PST, BCG Potential Test only offers 4 questions in its public example case. 4 questions is 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.
Now that you can comfortably understand and answer all McKinsey Problem Solving Testquestions, it’s time to bring the time factor in. 9 out of 10 candidates taking the test said that theactual PST is much harder because it is strictly timed. Now let’s bring your preparation to the next level: kill the PSTt in the real testing environment.
So how do you create the real testing environment?
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 test very quickly.
What’s left are the skills tested on McKinsey Problem Solving Test! Three most important skills are:
(1) Quantitative proficiency, (2) Reading, and (3) Reasoning.
If you notice in the question classification above, almost 40% of 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 question fast, leaving the valuable time to think through the harder ones.
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.
Lastly, consulting is the exercise of logic and reasoning. The PST does its job: test your sense of logic and reasoning.
If you have not carefully gone through my materials above (i.e: “Understand the Test”), I urge you to do so. There is a lot of in-depth content and practice on logic and reasoning.
The Problem Solving Test is a paper-based test required for all McKinsey applicants before in-person interviews.
Why did Apple create the iPad when people had already had the iPhone and Macbook?
Very similar here! McKinsey believes the gap between CV Screening and in-person interviews is too big. The firm may miss many good candidates with bad resumes or may interview many bad candidates who lie on their resume.
At the end of the day, in-person interviews are expensive; the Problem Solving Test is much cheaper to conduct.
McKinsey has invested heavily in developing the test and they really believe in it. I don’t see McKinsey discontinuing the PST in the foreseeable future. There may be changes in some specific questions, cases; but the general skills tested, format, question types will stay.
Also, there is a trend of increasing the usage of paper-based tests by consulting firms. BCG has already been piloting a test called “Potential” in one office.
The test has 26 multiple choice questions, based on three business cases. Each question has 4 choices. You have exactly 60 minutes to finish the test. No calculator is allowed. You will be provided a watch, pencils, scratch paper, and the test. You will be taking the test either in a big group or alone.
As with all other parts of the recruiting process, there will be no quota used. As long as you reach a pre-determined bar, you get in. Don’t be intimidated when you walk into a test room with a lot of people. You will just be competing with yourself. There have been many rumours on what the minimum passing score is. No one knows for sure. I personally think that the bar is somewhere between 60 – 70%.
So if your practice test shows a result of 12 or 14 / 26, you need to buckle up and do a heck of a lot more preparation.