BCG Potential Test / Boston Consulting Group Potential Test

by Victor Cheng

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Question:

My question relates to the BCG ‘potential test’. I was recently offered a first round interview at Boston Consulting Group Europe, and this first round includes only a computerized ‘potential test’ and one case interview.

Since it will make up 50% of the first round, it seems like this potential test will be very important.

Do you have an idea what these tests consist of? I can’t find any information on it, and I would really try to prepare for it if I can. Any ideas, theories or suggestions you have to share on the content of these tests, or ways to prepare for them, would be greatly appreciated.

My Reply:

This is the first time I’ve heard of BCG offering such a test. But, this is part of a trend towards many firms using some kind of numerical critical reasoning type test in either Round 1 or before Round 1.

McKinsey uses something called a McKinsey Problem Solving Test. Monitor uses something similar in certain situations. Other boutique firms use the same.

My best guess is the BCG Potential Test will be similar to the McKinsey Problem Solving test. It is an assessment of data interpretation and thinking numerical. It tries to simulate a client giving you a 300 page report of data, and you figuring out what is and is not relevant. Or a client giving you 3 charts, and you needing to figure out what the chart does and does not say.

Here’s one set of 4 sample questions referenced by the BCG Netherlands Office.

Given how new this Boston Consulting Group Potential Test is, I would recommend using the same preparation approach as I have recommended to others for the McKinsey Problem Solving test. The sample questions from BCG Netherlands are comparable to the McKinsey PST. Also the skills needed to succeed on the job at BCG is pretty much identical to the skills needed to succeed at McKinsey. As a result, it’s likely those who can pass the PST will be able to pass the BCG test.

The advantage of preparing for the McKinsey test is it has been around for a lot longer, and is widely used by McKinsey–and more preparation resources are available for it.

Please see my resource page on How to Prepare for the McKinsey Problem Solving Test for a list of relevant links, sample questions, sample test, and preparation resources.

Here is additional information from my readers:

Update #1
I have recently seen that there was a request on your webpage regarding the bcg potential test. Having gone through one, I would like to shed some light on it. The format may be different in other offices but this is what I got.

My test had 53 questions for 50 minutes. They will tell you how the test is scored(some questions have higher value) but not the pass grade. There were straight math questions, text comprehension, critical reasoning, brainteasers and graph interpretation. The test requires hardly any business knowledge(profit, demand and supply should do).

For the potential candidate I would suggest GMAT critical reasoning and sharpening math without calculator. Once again your strategy of doing the math quick and precise and then having time for the rest of the test is probably the best way to approach it – especially for people with quantitative backgrounds. Time is a significant factor.

Update #2

I took the BCG test last week. It was divided into 9 short sections /each had 3 – 6 questions/, numerical questions were negatively marked and other than that – all you need to do is to go through some basic GMAT math and reasoning… Not very difficult test, but there are 50 questions for 50 minutes.. So quite a lot to do.. Also, some of the reading was completely non-business related.

Update #3

I took my BCG test 2 weeks ago and I didn’t pass. My test had 23 questions and I had 45 minutes to finish it. The most difficult thing about the test was that after every 3 or 4 questions you go to a new document but the other documents are still applicable.

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