McKinsey Problem Solving Test – PST

The Definitive Guide to the
McKinsey Problem Solving Test (PST)
(Part 1 of 2)

(Hint: Bookmark This Page – It’s Long)

The McKinsey Problem Solving Test (also known as the McKinsey PST) is a math computation, data interpretation and logical thinking test used by McKinsey to determine which candidates are granted a first round case interview. In general, candidates whose resumes McKinsey deems acceptable are invited to take the test. Based on feedback from hundreds of test takers, you must pass the test in order to get the interview. There are few to no exceptions to this rule.

Why the McKinsey PST Exists

The reason McKinsey uses the test is because there are a certain set of numerical computation and logical thinking skills required to be successful in consulting. While standardized math tests like the quantitative sections of the SAT, GRE, or GMAT do test math computational skills, it is possible to get perfect scores on these math tests but fail on the job in consulting.

It’s my interpretation that McKinsey developed the McKinsey Test in order to test those skills that regular math tests do not adequately evaluate. In particular, these skills involve data interpretation and critical numerical reasoning.

Now when I hear the words “data interpretation” and “critical numerical reasoning”, it always reminds me of those college entrance exam tests that were challenging, seemingly arbitrary and pretty much not useful in the real world. But, it turns out these skills actually have a very practical purpose while working as a consultant.

These skills allow you to:

1) Read a graphical chart (or the data spreadsheet that was used to create the chart)

2) Grasp what the “data is conclusively telling you” and separate from what the “data is suggesting (but not definitively so)”

3) Write a 1 – 2 sentence “headline” at the top of a Powerpoint slide state a logically correct conclusion

In other words, you end up using these skills every single day as a consultant. And if you use these skills incorrectly, then either your manager or partner has to redo your work for you (which means at some point you will get fired) or the client notices the logical flaws in your work and it makes your firm, your partner and your manager look bad (and of course means that at some point you’re going to get fired).

Now you would think looking at a chart and writing a powerpoint headline is not a very difficult skill. I mean anyone can look at a chart and write a headline, but you would be surprised by how many people actually get the headline wrong. In other words, a LOT of aspiring consultants and even some first year consultants see that data and come to the WRONG conclusion.

From a McKinsey partner’s point of view, it’s a complete disaster if someone on your team lacks this skill… or even worse THINKS he has the skill, but actually doesn’t.

It is such a big deal that McKinsey has gone to extensive effort to create this test and have thousands of candidates around the world take this problem solving test. All of this effort is taken for the sole goal of hiring new consultants who can do 1) do math accurately, 2) do it quickly, and (most importantly) interpret data CORRECTLY.

In short, being able to solve problems logically is a BIG DEAL.

McKinsey PST Format

The computer-based test consists of approximately  26 questions and lasts 60 minutes. No business background is needed to take the test, but being familiar with a few commonly used business terms is useful (see the McKinsey PST Frequently Used Terms section of Part II of this Guide Below). You are permitted to use pen, pencil or paper. No calculators or computing devices are permitted.

Typically a graphical chart or table of numerical data is presented along with some descriptive text about a company or industry. 4 – 5 questions follow that refer to the chart. The two most problem question types are:

1) Math Word Problem – Given the data in Table X, calculate A, B or C.

A, B or C might be profit margins. It might be figuring out which company’s profits were larger two years ago. It might be calculating the difference in sales from today vs 2 years ago for two different companies – and figuring out which company had the bigger change.

In the US, we call these “word problems”. The purpose of these problems is to give you raw data and information conveyed in a text paragraph, and see if you can figure out the math equation needed to solve the problem. Often the actual math computation isn’t difficult (its just addition, subtraction, multiplication or division; often math problems are based on percentages – growth rate, cost expressed as a percentage of sales, or profits as a percentage of sales, sales of this year vs 3 years ago expressed as a percentage).

What makes the word problem difficult is a) Time, b) Time, c) Time.

Amongst those who pass the McKinsey Problem Solving Test, the consistent feedback was they finished with barely enough time. The most common reasons for making a mistake for a math word problem is misreading, misunderstanding, or misinterpreting the data presented or what the question was asking. The other big reason is computational error.

When I took my first McKinsey PST practice test, I actually missed several problems. To be fair, I had a newborn baby in the house and was sleeping 3 hours a night at the time, and I made a LOT of careless errors. My mistakes: I thought they were asking one thing, when they were really asking another. I rushed the computation, and made mistakes.

2) Data Interpretation – “Given X chart, which of the following conclusions are accurate:”

The other type of question isn’t computationally intensive, but rather tests your logic and critical reasoning skills. You will be asked to refer to a chart or data table (mini spreadsheet with numbers) and asked some variation of the question: Which conclusion is correct?

Variations of this question including presenting you with potential answers that are a) definitively correct, b) could be correct but you can’t be 100% sure, c) definitely wrong. The answers that are trickiest are ones that seem consistent with the data, but is NOT completely conclusive. In other words, you need to be able to look at the data and tell the difference between a factual conclusion vs. a hypothesis suggested (but NOT 100% proven) by the data.

 

Tips for Passing the McKinsey PST

  • Skim the questions FIRST to get a feel for what you will be asked, THEN read the data table or chart. This allows you to get some idea of what you should be paying attention to while you look at the data or read the text.
  • Read the text descriptions and the questions VERY CAREFULLY.
  • Take the questions literally. (I made the mistake of assuming some of the questions were commonly used business analysis and jumped ahead to calculate what I assumed they were asking. What I should have done was look at what they were LITERALLY asking and just answer what they asked.)
  • If your math computation skills are rusty, practice your math accuracy and speed. You do not have a lot of time to double check your computations on every problem. Some people don’t have time to double check their computations at all. The more you’re absolutely certain your math skills are accurate and quick, the more time you’ll have to actually answer all the questions. (Once again, the main enemy of the test is time)
  • For data interpretation / drawing a conclusion type questions, be careful of the multiple choice answer options that seems consistent with the data, but are not 100% conclusively supported by the data. The easiest way to do this is to immediately eliminate the answer options that are clearly wrong. Then BE CAREFUL in looking at the remaining options.
  • For data interpretation question, one thing to ask yourself is “Is this conclusion correct under ALL scenarios?” – Just because the conclusion is true under the most common scenario doesn’t mean it is true under all scenarios. For example, if you think B is the right answer because it is the conclusion you think is supported by the data, you should ask yourself “Are there any scenarios I can think of where conclusion B is not correct?”
  • Remember a conclusion that is true MOST of the time is NOT the same as a conclusion that is true ALL of the time.
  • Bring a watch to time yourself – do not assume every testing room has a clock.

McKinsey Problem Solving Test – 3 Ways to Prepare

The biggest challenge for developing your problem solving skills is there aren’t many McKinsey PST practice test that are at a difficult level equal to that of the actual McKinsey Problem Solving Test. For a full list of practice tests available online, fill out the McKinsey Practice Test List – Request Form below.

There are three approaches you can take to prepare for PST:

1) Practice Computations

2) Practice Data Interpretation

3) Take McKinsey PST Practice Tests

Below are tips and resources for each of the practice methods.

 

Practice Method #1: Practice Computations

The first method is to practice the speed and accuracy of your arithmetic. The McK PST is a TIMED test. This is not the kind of math test designed to test the entire population of people with a wide range of math skills. It is intended to identify only those who are very good at math, logical thinking, etc… If you are really good at math, you will finish the test BARELY.

So even if you have a PhD in Physics or Math (I’m being serious on this), it is VERY IMPORTANT you practice your math computations. I get many, many emails from engineers who had 4.0 GPAs in school who did not pass the PST. Your math computation skills are a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets. Keep in mind even if you calculate an integral effortlessly, it doesn’t mean you can’t make an error doing basic computations.

One resource I’d recommend to develop your computation accuracy and speed is www.CaseInterviewMath.com. This is a math practice tool that I developed for practicing: 1) arithmetic for speed and accuracy (both VERY important on the McKinsey PST) and 2) estimation math with large numbers (useful for solving some of the McKinsey PST word problems faster where precise math isn’t necessary to answer the question, just an estimate will suffice.)

This tool compares your math accuracy and speed to other CaseInterview.com members and to my own test results as benchmark. This will help give you an idea of how your math skills compare with others; and whether or not you need to improve your math speed and accuracy to be competitive, or if you current skills are sufficient.

In addition to practicing math computations, you want to practice and develop your data interpretation skills.

 

Practice Method #2:  Practice Data Interpretation

For data interpretation, the practice questions that most closely resemble PST questions are practice test questions from certain sections of the GRE. In particular, I would recommend practice “word problems” and “data interpretation” type GRE questions.

Keep in mind the actual McKinsey Problem Solving Test questions are harder and more sophisticated than the word problems and data interpretation questions in GRE. Sometimes the questions are combined — word problem + data interpretation. Other times instead of presenting a straight forward problem, as you would see on the GRE, you’ll see a more elaborate scenario (or multi paragraph story with one or more charts) where you have to figure out what information is irrelevant to the specific question at hand.

Remember, each chart is referenced by 4 – 5 questions. So for any ONE question, most of the information presented is NOT relevant to THAT particular question.

But before you work your way up the elaborate questions, polishing your foundational skills in word problems and data interpretation is a good idea.

Data Interpretation & Word Problem Practice Resources:

  • Kaplan GRE Exam Math Workbook (Copyright 2008)- Chapter 2 Arithmetic Review (if you’re really rusty on math), Chapter 6 – Word Problem Practice, Chapter 7 – Data Interpretation Practice
  • Nova’s GRE Math Prep Course (Copyright 2010) – Percents (page 330-346), Graphs (pages 347 – 375), Word Problems (pages 376 – 396) [If you’re really rusty on math: Averages (pages 274 – 284), Ratio & Proportions (pages 285 – 303)
  • Cliff Notes Math Review for Standardized Tests (2nd Edition, Copyright 2010) – Word Problems Review (pages 318 – 362, but excluding the section on Geometry pages 347 – 350)

(Disclosure: The links above are affiliate links that help subsidize the cost of running this website)

Because GRE problems are much easier than the PST problems, you need to balance the nearly unlimited practice questions (that are too easy) available for the GRE vs. the much smaller pool of practice problems for the PST. In addition, there are only a few PST practice tests available online for free. The other practice tests available (including the ones I offer) do have a fee.

Additional Note: As of June 5, 2012, the GMAT is being revised to include a section on “Integrated Reasoning”. From my assessment, this section of the GMAT has many similarities to the McK PST. If anyone has any experience with this version of the GMAT or as the test prep guides are updated to reflect this new section of the GMAT, please post your experiences below and I will incorporate the feedback into a revision of this guide.

Practice Method #3:  Take McKinsey PST Practice Tests

The following are links to a few McKinsey PST Practice Tests.

Links to Free Problem Solving Test Samples:

Note: The consensus feedback from reader Field Reports is the actual McKinsey Test has a lot more reading than the samples posted above.  My takeaway from this is that its important to read the questions FIRST, then read the text and charts. Keep in mind you are not reading a magazine article or a business school case. Your only mission is to answer the questions asked and to move on… QUICKLY.

With that in mind, I recommend reading with a PURPOSE in mind, as opposed to just for general knowledge.  In other words, KNOW what you’re looking for BEFORE you read. Then read carefully while hunting for the data you KNOW you will need to answer the questions.

Get Part II of the
Definitive Guide to the
McKinsey Problem Solving Test

In Part II of the Definitive Guide to the McKinsey Problem Solving Test, you’ll receive via email:

  1. A glossary of commonly used business terms and their mathematical definitions
  2. An expanded list of high quality, practice tests for the McKinsey PST
  3. Tips on the McKinsey PST and Case Interviews

To receive these free resources, fill out the form below.

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(Note – you will be returned to this spot after filling out the form)

 

 

The Definitive Guide Part I – Continued

Field Reports from Previous Test Takers

The following comments are from one of my newsletter readers who took and passed the actual McKinsey Problem Solving Test.  (By the way, just click the following link to receive my case interview preparation tips newsletter)

Field Report #1 

The actual test does not match the practice test in terms of level of difficulty, but it cannot be said that it is harder.

Some questions are harder, some are easier than those given in the practice test. But the practice test gives you a feel of the type of questions and timing.

I did a few things in particular to prepare that I thought would be useful, however they were more about the attitude than actual preparations for the test:

In terms of preparations, I only solved the practice test and then compared my answers to the correct ones. Then I worked out the wrong answers slowly to realize where did I go wrong.

When it comes to the attitude, it is important to go to the test with a positive attitude but with the expectation that very few are those who actually make it.

Going with a “Why-not; let’s take a shot” attitude will alleviate a good portion of the stress associated with the tight timing and will allow the candidate to think clearly.

Now here are some additional insights about the PST:

For business or economics students, just practice the sample and mind the time, you know the rest. (This is my own experience as a business graduate)

For non-business students, brush up on few quantitative business concepts before going to the test, it is said that it does not require a business knowledge, but definitely some business sense and acumen.

Stress will definitely play against you, RELAX the test can be completed in the allotted time, don’t worry about it.You will be marking the 26th answer by the end of the last minute though.

Make sure you complete all questions, there are no penalties; but this we know. What we don’t know is, even when you are taking a question as a guess, the test is tailored such as it will allow you to take an informed guess which is correct; so use elimination and educated guesses to your advantage.

When it comes to the attitude:

Very few people get into McKinsey, put this information into perspective and go to the test in a ‘Game’ frame of mind, enjoy it; it is nice and stimulating.

Relax, breathe before starting the test and remember if you made it so far and your consulting resume caught McKinsey’s accurate eye, it means you mostly have what it takes to pass.

Do not stress about the outcome of the test once you leave the room. Mckinsey will get back to you shortly; they have the best recruitment system in the world and they do not make people wait, I know people who knew the outcome as early as 24 hours after the test.

A great thing that is a MUST-KNOW about McKinsey, they do not select the top x% performers. They have a cut-off score, if you pass it, you’re in for the interview process; you’re not competing against anyone, you’re only invited to stretch your own potential.

One last note I would like to add, you will get out of the McKinsey process feeling great, whatever the outcome is. These people are amazing, this company is extremely professional; and they make you feel appreciated and respected at every stage of the recruitment process, whether you make it or not. So my point: get the best out of it for yourself.

Field Report #2: (From a Reader)

Note: Concerning the PST test, I found that the best way to get the answer for a question is by applying a similar analysis to a case interview. That is, when asked about something, the best way is to actually think of a hypothesis and what kind of data is needed to give the answer. And then look for the data in the text. I found that pretty useful. I felt like sharing this as a tip.

 

****

Finally, if you haven’t already requested part II of this guide to the McK PST, you can do so by filling out the form below.

Get Part II of the
Definitive Guide to the
McKinsey Problem Solving Test

In Part II of the Definitive Guide to the McKinsey Problem Solving Test, you’ll receive via email:

  1. A glossary of commonly used business terms and their mathematical definitions
  2. An expanded list of high quality, practice tests for the McKinsey PST
  3. Tips on the McKinsey PST and Case Interviews

To receive these free resources, fill out the form below.

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{ 255 comments… read them below or add one }

Esteban September 30, 2010 at 12:03 am

I also have to prepare the exame do you know some other Problem Solving Test (besides, Fiji and Kosher Franks, tests)?
Thank you in advance

Reply

Carlos Seminario November 26, 2010 at 4:35 pm

Pls any other example or book where i can find more exercises tu practice?

Reply

Tee December 21, 2010 at 3:32 pm

I wrote the test in London 2 weeks ago and passed it. Waiting for my case coaching for the first round of interviews. I only practised their sample questions which is not exactly similar but gives you a feel of what to expect. I also followed their guide – I read the question and mentally marked out the imp words and then searched for the answers from the cases. I can now say its actually possible to finish the test . Like someone mentioned i was shading the 26th answer when we were asked to stop. I hope someone finds this comment helpful.

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TL March 4, 2011 at 12:58 am

Hi,

I just took the test at one of McKinsey offices in Asia. Frankly, it is really much harder than the sample test. Perhaps I am not a Science student, so I find it very tough. Haha, I think I won’t be able to get to 2nd round. When I still have some memory of the test, I want to share with you some insights. Hopefully, it will help your preparation.

1. Try to practice your maths! There are a lot of questions related to %. So, you should really understand what that particular % stands for.

2. Must know some calculations on profit/revenue such as profit margin.

3. Move on to the next question if you can’t find the answer after 5 min. Haiz, I spend so much time on some calculations…

4. Read questions carefully so that you won’t overlook some words: valid vs invalid/not valid, prudent vs imprudent consideration, etc

5. Finally, it is very important to BRING YOUR WATCH: don’t expect that the room has a clock for you to check the time.

All the best :-)

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Ivan Samuel March 22, 2011 at 6:12 am

Hello everyone,

I’ll be having my problem solving test tomorrow afternoon at McKinsey – Jakarta Office and I’m glad google led me to this site.

I’ll try to utilize as many tips as possible during my test tomorrow. Wish me luck! :D

Reply

Rodrigo Ayala March 30, 2011 at 1:01 am

@Ivan Samuel: Hi Ivan, how did you do on the test?
Was the sample test help you a lot in solving the real test question?

Could you share your experience and some tips about it?

Reply

Eddy March 22, 2011 at 11:35 pm

What mark do you need to pass this test? 50%?

Reply

Robbie Pratt July 7, 2011 at 7:12 pm

Does anyone know what score out of the 26 questions is required in order to advance? Are we talking miss 3 problems and your out, or is it more in the 70-80% range…anyone?

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Lily July 30, 2011 at 7:16 am

I found a pretty good source of Practice PST. You can have one free PST case. After that, you have to pay. I remember something like $40 burks for 5 cases. A pretty decent price if you are going hard for McKinsey.

https://sites.google.com/site/mckinseyprep/problem-solving-test/more-practice

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Tom December 6, 2011 at 11:05 am

I purchased their cases prior to taking the PST but the level is really low. I wouldn’t recommend these tests.

I did use a website called Consulting Guru. They have a free case (a real tough one) and they have 5 full PSTs. They are definitely more expensive but after successfully passing the PSTs few says ago. I can say it was worth it.

http://consultingguru.com/our-services/pst-example/

You can contact me on my email if you have any question on my PST experience.

Tom

Reply

Gabriel December 14, 2011 at 12:55 pm

@Tom: Hey tom, Could you give your email in order to contact you? I’m taking the PST tomorrow!

Thanks,

Gabriel

Reply

Patel December 21, 2011 at 7:56 pm

@Gabriel: Hi Gabriel, I just heard back from big McK and I successfully passed the PST (didn’t know my score though). I used the sample PST test materials from consultingcase101 to prep for my PST and found them actually pretty good. They have like 20 to 30 different sample tests, although I didn’t have time to finish all of them, I highly recommend you do. It’s true that the real McK PST is harder than their sample tests, but practicing 20 some sample tests will give you a significantly better chance of nailing the real PST.

Reply

Martin June 2, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Hi Patel. I would love some more intel on the PST. Could you please write me at msantini at mclean.harvard.edu.
Thanks alot in advance :)

carlos August 10, 2012 at 6:04 am

Hello gabriel,
congrats for your test! Have you passed with McKinsey finally?
Could you please send me some of PST you have?
Thank you in advance!
Carlos

Daria January 15, 2012 at 9:29 pm

@Tom:

Hi Tom,

Could you please send me your e-mail address? I have questions about this tests.

Thank you very much!

Daria

Reply

Sean G January 27, 2012 at 4:49 pm

@Tom:

Tom – Can I get your e-mail. I have the PST next month for North East US office

Reply

Jenn September 29, 2011 at 5:37 pm

just took it today. problems do not seem harder than the practice test, but definitely more reading. cases are a page long each, with more graphs. the last 10 questions almost all had an additional paragraph to read before answering them. when you put it together- you don’t really have 2 minutes per question to think because of excessive reading. So definitely master speed read.

Reply

Jenn September 29, 2011 at 5:38 pm

also I asked what score is required to pass. recruiter just told me that they have line where they cut off but nothing else can be disclosed.

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Cla October 6, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Hi everyone. I am taking the exam tomorrow. If someone has taken the exam recently can you please provide with insights that they consider are useful for my exam. Thanks !

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Luis October 10, 2011 at 5:46 pm

Hello to all! I am taking the exam tomorrow and I am pretty nervous! When I first practiced the test I got 13 out of 26 wrong… due to overconfidence. Now, after practicing, I think I can do all right. Wish me luck and will certainly type some insights tomorrow! Thanks for all the previous posts!

Reply

Alex October 11, 2011 at 6:40 pm

Good Luck Luis!!!!
I’m taking the test next week….. so, i need practice the more and more as possible, thanks to the blog’s owner by all the info!!!

Reply

Brice October 19, 2011 at 1:50 pm

Hi, I just passed a 30 mins case interview + a 45 mins computer test with BCG today.
The case was not tricky but there was an equation to write down from the data given, and I wasn’t really able to practice and I could not find the answer. Although once I was told the solution I found it relatively straightforward. I wish I had found ways to practice more though.
As for the computer, you MUST check the time yourself as you will only be told when there’s five minutes left. Also skim through ALL the questions before you start the test. I did not do that and I was caught by the time. If I had skimmed I would have sparred more time for questions 20-26 where there was a lot of text, and which I did not do. Apart from that the questions are also pretty straightforward. Try to revise % growth rates over a couple years, and read the documents carefully..

Reply

ernest August 24, 2012 at 11:59 am

Brice,
Could you give me your email adress ? I have the potentia test in 3 weeks
Thanks

Reply

Chau Dieu Van Quyen October 29, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Please let me registration to get sufficient sources and your advices for Mc Kinsey’s test.

Thanks and look forward to hearing from you soon.

All the Best,

Reply

Mich November 3, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Just completed the PST – will be hearing back on results tomorrow. It was a mad rush but that is no secret. The main thing to note is you don’t need to understand the details of the case to answer the questions. Use the elimination method on the answer choices, and read the question before scanning the case for necessary information. Otherwise you will not have enough time. Overall I thought it was ok (fingers crossed!), but definitely requires proper answering strategy to finish in time. There were many questions around logical deduction. E.g. ‘which of the following statements, if true, supports (or NOT support) the trends in the data.’ Not sure how to prepare for those – its really just logic and thinking each statement through.

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LPS November 7, 2011 at 8:18 am

Just heard back from McK regarding my PST result and i can say i am lucky to pass the test!
I applied for BA position in Indonesia office and did not have proper time to prepare.
The tips given by VC are very helpful and make sure you have enough sleep before the test.

The test itself, technically the same level with the sample they gave but with more reading part in it.

The quant part is tricky if not easy so my suggestion do not skip it, it was easier for me rather than “look at the case and find the valid answer”!

Anyway good luck to all of you!

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Debbie November 25, 2011 at 3:44 pm

I just googled around and found there are actually several very good Practice PSTs that are available online. They are claimed to created by a few ex-McKinsey consultants:
http://www.consultingcase101.com/mckinsey-problem-solving-test/
Hope it helps in your PST preparation:)

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Umar March 20, 2013 at 10:43 am

Can i have a chat regarding preparation please.

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RSA January 5, 2012 at 5:04 am

Hi Guys,

I’m taking mine within the next 2 weeks in South Africa. I will admit, I was nervous at the prospect of writing the PST but having read all your posts and visiting the various suggested links…I more at ease now and hope it will go well. Thanks to everyone for the posts,much appreciated.

P.S: Will let you know how it goes :-). Compliments of the new year by the way!

Reply

Rod January 31, 2012 at 6:55 pm

Hello everybody,

Does somebody know more websites that has practice tests? I would like to study some more.

P.S.
How did it go in your exam @RSA?

Reply

Tom February 1, 2012 at 2:39 pm

@Rod: FYI. http://www.consultingcase101.com/mckinsey-problem-solving-test/ has some practice tests. The three cases I had were: Freddie Shrimp, PharmCo and Gallery, the shrimp case has 3 really hard quant questions. These questions are probably placed there as a trap to suck up your time. Just skip them or guess an answer. Hope it helps.

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Anton March 26, 2012 at 5:21 pm

@Tom: Could you give me your email since I would like to ask you some questions about cases.

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mo February 14, 2012 at 6:46 am

Just heard back from the Lagos office?
Didn’t pass the test.
How soon can one retake it?

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Kirill May 27, 2012 at 1:13 pm

There is 1.5-2 years period before you can reapply.

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Bayo June 26, 2012 at 1:56 am

Can we please have a lil chat?, am scheduled for the test in 2 weeks. need to know what to expect. thanks.

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Ayoyinka November 13, 2014 at 5:30 pm

Hi Mo,
I have my PST scheduled for next week. I have done quite a bit of studying, however I only have access to about 4 sample PSTs. Do you have any useful tips for me? On how the actual PST compares with the samples made accessible to us?

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Victor Cheng November 14, 2014 at 9:42 pm

Ayoyinka,

If you are referring to the McKinsey provide PST samples, the difficulty level of the actual test is similar. The main advice I’d give is to work smoothly, and not panic if you feel rushed for time. Most people who pass are sure they did not because they were pressed for time. The difficult level of the test is such that most people could pass if given enough time, so the time pressure is part of the test. One of the keys is to look at the question they are actually asking and before just making computations because you can, take a few seconds to ask yourself what is the MINIMAL level of computation needed to answer the question. This saves a LOT of time. Part of what they are testing is if you can determine when you need to do all of the computations to answer a question, and when you do not.

Also, I do have additional practice test samples available for an additional fee that I obtained from a 3rd party. These additional practice tests, including my videos of me actually taking a sample test while you watch and I explain what I am doing and why, are generally considered harder than the actual PST.

http://www.caseinterview.com/mckinsey-pst

Good luck!
-Victor

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Tosin November 17, 2014 at 10:17 am

Hi Ayoyinka,

I also have my test this week, any luck with getting other practice questions, where are you based, perhaps we could share some information and agree to meet before our test.

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Jacobian November 24, 2014 at 10:59 am

Hi Tosin,
I have my test this week..what type of cases are being given these days? Women’s fashion, boat leasing etc? Please share your recent experience.

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hannah February 20, 2012 at 5:41 pm

Did anyone solve the “PetraEnergy” PST?

I’m having the bigest trouble with their last question, particularly calculating the new profit margin after VAT is exempted…

Can anyone please walk me through it? I must be overlooking something, the problem is driving me crazy… not to mention undermining the tiniest bit of confidence I built up.

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agnes March 1, 2012 at 6:38 am

@hannah: Hi Hannah, Pass me the PetraEnergy PST, I will have a look for you.

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patrick June 21, 2012 at 2:57 pm

please send the petraenergy PST to me ill really appreciate

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Felicia October 23, 2012 at 4:12 pm

@hannah can you please send me the PetraEnergy PST too. Thanks!

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Umar March 20, 2013 at 10:44 am
Irena July 19, 2013 at 7:23 am

Hi Hannah, I see its been a while, but Ive been wondering if you could share the tip on the Petra question No9? Im also wondering about how they calculated the profit margin. Thank you.

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polybutene March 5, 2012 at 12:49 pm

I took my PST today and passed (they let me know about 10 minutes after the end of the test). A guy told me he saw my score being 17/26, don’t know if that was the truth. In the sample test (kosher frank+2), I scored 20/26 on my first shot. The real test is neither easier nor more difficult than the sample one, imho. Maybe Fiji Cola is easier.

P.S.: For the ones who are taking Cheap Air/PetraEnergy/2020-test, my scores were 3/9-6/9-3/5. I think the McK one is not easier, it just better prepared compared to those ones. In the McK the right answer is just logical, in those ones may not be in my opinion.

Good luck to everyone, I hope to be a colleague of yours in McK in the future.

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agnes March 9, 2012 at 8:37 am

@polybutene: Hi, could you please send me your email address. Had some questions about the test. Rgds,

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willy June 17, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Hi polybutene,

Could you tell me where you did you find other practice test like Cheap Air and PetraEnergy. I found only 2020test

How long you spent in preparation?.
thank u
cheers

Reply

agnes March 9, 2012 at 8:36 am

polybutene, Hi, could you please send me your email address. Had some questions about the test. Rgds,

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polybutene March 12, 2012 at 5:47 am

@Agnes: post your questions here, they might be useful to someone else if I know the answers :)

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agnes March 15, 2012 at 9:46 am

@polybutene: My questions:

1. Does the test involve a lot of tables of size 5 X 6 and above and we have to calculate market shares, percentages, efficiencies etc. for each option … I have no idea how anyone can calculate or estimate these within less then three minutes. Any tips in such situations?
2. What are some the recent cases that people have got on the test? Just to feel a bit familiar when on the hot seat.
3. What are people’s feelings in general these days about having to read the whole writeup before answering the questions? Has anyone really felt the need? The samples on McK website, most of the times, can be solved using just the question without really having to look much into the page-long writeup. Anyone shares this thought with me?
4. I get too much bogged down by time and end up not being able to perform at all, though I am good with my calculations and can solve them once the time is up (but that is of no use, you guys would agree). Any tips to help me out please ?

Warm regards,

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Lukas March 12, 2012 at 8:57 am

@polybutene; Is there anything you recommend taking a special look at? (apart from the previous tests etc.)

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polybutene March 12, 2012 at 10:57 am

@Lukas: Of course I don’t have answers but this is what I did and what I would suggest to do:
– Prepare in group, challenge each others. Who the fastest in math? I noticed I improved much in fast calculations. I am an engineer so not that bad with numbers but if you cannot improve math I think you can still improve confidence. I would say that arriving as confident as possible to the test helps being relaxed.
– Ask to the ones who took the test recently. I think the test is the same for several months (not sure). If you can ask someone who took it which one is the simplest case (there are three of them in the test) you should start with the easy one. Starting with the easy one helps you being relaxed since you notice the numbers coming out from your calculations to be among the possible answers. It means it is right and gives you confidence for the next questions. I had one of the cases on leasing. Since I was not confident with that I decided to skip to the next one and came back later. I think it helped.
– Do look at similar tests (not McK ones) but don’t get scared if you score poorly. As I said, I was doing quite good on the McK samples but not good on the others. Keep in mind that they can help you but they are not good indicators of the final result.

For what it matters, and I know because I hated when people told me before the test, try to be as relaxed as possible. Bring a mechanical watch since nothing else will be allowed, practise with the same watch. I have been able to finish all the questions since I skipped one when I noticed I spent 3 minutes on that. When you practise, try to copy the answers as if you were actually doing the test: you don’t imagine hoooooow much time it takes to be sure you are coping the answers in the right spot, allow you 10 minutes and then if you finish early you can go back to the questions you left unsolved.

If you have anything more specific, I’ll try to answer.

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Lukas March 12, 2012 at 12:08 pm

@polybutene: First of all, thanks a lot for a comprehensive answer.

I have my PST tomorrow, and at this point I have solved the practice tests and the 20-20 test. I haven’t done exceptionally well, but then again I see the logic once I see the answer and most commonly apply it afterwards in similar examples.

As I don’t really know anyone who has taken the test recently I can’t ask about any strategy in terms of choosing any specific case. Do you have a suggestion? Or any tip on what finance/mathematics area I should take a particular look at?

How is your process going now? Have you had your first interviews?

Cheers.

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polybutene March 12, 2012 at 12:41 pm

@Lukas: if it is of any help, I started with the last case and then I did the first one. In my test the second case was by far the most difficult. You don’t need finance at all, really, at all. You only need to work on percentages but you probably already know..my next step is the final round of interviews, I am currently preparing for that. I tried to help since I think the best for us and the best for McK is to have the best people and it is stupid to be rejected for a reason like you prepared on the wrong things. I would suggest after dinner don’t look at those sample tests again, watch a movie and go to bed early, just go there as relaxed as possible and good luck :)

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Lukas March 12, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Thanks a lot for your comments! Good luck in your final interviews!

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Lukas March 14, 2012 at 9:12 am

So after having my PST, I will also share my experience;
There were 8 of us, and we were all placed in a tiny room, so do not expect any perfect working environment, people are all around you flipping pages and doing all kinds of noises and I guess that’s a part of the whole process. Other than that, we had three cases, although different to the ones mentioned so far, and much more text than in Kosher Franks. In fact I doubt anyone managed to read everything, it was in my opinion impossible. Anyway, I made it through and now I have my interviews. Good luck to the rest.

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M March 19, 2012 at 5:44 pm

@agnes

I just took the test at their German office last Friday. So very recently!

1.) Market shares I did not have to calculate, but many percentages and break-even type of questions related to some strange-looking graphs/tables I had no idea how to interpret. I feel like they were a lot more difficult than the practice tests. (Remember myself sitting by myself in this large conference room and laughing at myself for not being able to solve most of them).

2.) Something involving a luxury boat manufacturer (here the questions revolved around whether or not they could draw conclusions from the automotive industry in growing their revenue by leasing/financing options), an institution similar to Teach for America, and the third one I honestly do not remember, as I had such a hard time going through the test quickly.

3.) Reading the text in my opinion can make a difference, especially when the wording of the multiple choice are very similar. However, reading the entire case still did make me perform well on the test.

4.) I had the same issue with the time. I skipped so many questions and guessed more than half the questions (no kidding).

Strangely enough, although the test went horrible in my opinion, I just received a call (while typing this message) that I was invited for the second round. Don’t know about the test though and if this was considered in advancing me to second round.

And FYI, the practice tests online as well as GMAT and GRE did not help me in preparing for the test, as the majority of questions I feel are business judgment questions. In order to solve the numerical questions you need to understand the graph/table and the last part is being able to calculate quickly.

Best of luck to everyone!

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Victor March 19, 2012 at 6:14 pm

@M

It’s quite common that those who pass the PST did not feel like they did well. Just about everybody feels pressed for time. It’s a tough test with not enough / barely enough time.

If you got to the next round, then you definitely did pass the PST. Good luck on the next step.

Victor

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E March 24, 2012 at 12:57 pm

I’m a first year student and was applying for a summer intern position. I just heard back from McK. Unfortunately, didn’t pass the test. I’m very confused about what to do next (besides looking for other internship opportunities). I wonder when can I reapply and how much it hurts my chances for internships in the coming years and a full time position afterwards in different countries’ offices?

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agnes March 27, 2012 at 2:56 pm

Hi everyone,
Just back from the test. My experience was similar to M’s above – had the luxury boat manufacturer, an institution similar to Teach for America and a fashion retailer. The test was really tough and you really do not get time to even put pen to paper. What I used was the process of elimination which worked for me in many cases (that is what I think, will come to know the results tomorrow). Another thing I observed was to look out while answering because many times, the answer to a previous question was sort of mentioned as a premise for the next 2-3 questions. So in a way you can check whether you marked the one for that previous question – not sure if this is a fool-proof way.
I made sure that I completed all questions and like M, I guessed many questions though I knew how to solve them but if I start solving them, it would definitely take more than two minutes. In spite of this I was marking the last one when time was up. It is impossible to do any justice to the information available with the amount of charts and graphs given. This was my experience, nothing great, I do not have any hope but I am happy that I went through the process particularly because I come from a non-target school and got this chance only through very difficult networking.

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agnes March 29, 2012 at 9:44 am

guys,
Approx. in how many days did it take get the results of the PST? Been two days for me now …

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agnes March 30, 2012 at 6:23 am

@agnes: Hi Everyone, Just heard back. I did not clear the test. All the best to everyone still preparing. Thanks to everyone who helped me through their posts here.

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Wukeh March 31, 2012 at 6:11 am

Well i just got the invitation for the PST and before now, i must admit i never saw the use thought it was too much a gamble. The best graduating student last year didnt go through. Well Now I really just want a chance to fail and I am sure i will dissapoint myself. Any recent tips? like on the cases and all. really need good insight. I rili love this forum

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Priest April 3, 2012 at 8:40 am

Hi all, i’m having the test in a week.I’m a Veterinarian! Relying heavily on materials from this site.Thanks to everyone that shared other resources .Hope to come back here with good news..

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Dustin April 7, 2012 at 12:59 am

How do you feel about the new GMAT section they are adding in June. Do you think it will relate more closely to the McK PST type of test? Is it a new resource to study?

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Victor April 10, 2012 at 5:00 am

Dustin,

From the little info available on the new GMAT, I would say it does seems to test some of the same skills as the McK PST.

Victor

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Sanchia April 10, 2012 at 12:48 pm

@agnes

Hi Agnes,

Sorry to hear the unfortunate news but don’t let that get you down, there are many more firms and opportunities out there for you. It’s all a learning process and eventually you will get it right =)

I wanted to ask how you secured an interview from a non-target school, specifically, how did you network? Where did you go? Did you just contact people within McKinsey via email or phone?

Any help would really be greatly appreciated and thank you in advance!

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BB April 15, 2012 at 11:34 pm

Hi! Could anyone who have passed test please tell me if it is really useful that I prepare the PST through Kaplan or Nova (this latter seems to have better reviews on Amazon) for GRE? The reason I’m asking is that I have already been working for 6 years so got pretty rusty with school/math knowledge, and since I have to work 10-12 hours up during the week I don’t have much time left…
Many thanks in advance for your advice!

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Grace April 22, 2012 at 11:22 am

hi. I have been invited for the McK PST and I am taking it this thursday. Reading through the comments from those who have taken the PST I realise time is the main issue. How exactly does one save time except from the elimination technique? Should I read the questions first or study the data first? Which is more time efficient? What particular business formulas are usually tested?? Any advice from those who have taken this test would be appreciated. Thank you.

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Aspirin April 23, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Hi everyone and many thanks to Victor and you all for the very useful information here.

@Grace, I’m also taking the test in just over a weeks. So far, it seems quicker to read the questions first as McKinsey advise but I keep failing to do that – I can’t help it and end up reading the text SLOWLY. Grrr! Where are you taking your test? Pleeeeese report back afterwards I am sitting mine a few days after you!

Best wishes to all.

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Jefrry April 24, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Hello all,

I had the test today and somehow I passed it even though I have no idea how that happened. In my view there is definitely more reading than in the sample tests. The actual calculations are simple, it just takes time to actually understand exactly what is needed.
By the way I haven’t seen this anywhere here but if you are not a native speaker you should have 10 more minutes to complete the test (but I am not sure if this applies for all the offices).

Good luck!

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Aspirin April 25, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Congragulations Jefrry. Where did you take your test? Do you have any insights? e.g. did you get similar cases to what was previously mentioned? which was the hardest.

Any time management tips you may want to share?

Any tips are greatly appreciated as I’m taking mine soon. I’ll report back after my test.

Best wishes.

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Dustin April 26, 2012 at 7:56 am

@Victor

Thank you for your reply. I found this http://www.mba.com/the-gmat/nex-gen/integrated-reasoning-question-formats.aspx on the new test questions. Maybe it will be of help to others to practice with those integrated reasoning questions.

Dustin

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Bobby April 28, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Can anyone who has completed the McK 2001 practice test please provide a solution for question 9?

Thanks

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Bobby April 28, 2012 at 7:14 pm

Can anyone who has completed the 2001 McK Practice test please share their thoughts on how to complete question 9?

Thanks

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Aspirin April 29, 2012 at 11:48 am

Hi Bobby,
Q9 on the 2001 McK PST is answered as follows:
The extra profit Fiji Cola makes is the profit generated from extra Cola sales minus additional costs (including wages for the 2 new employees at Nadi).
Therefore: (2300*$0.42) – (2*40*$8.10) = $318.

I hope this helps :-)

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Bobby April 30, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Thanks Aspirin!

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Jefrry May 3, 2012 at 9:55 am

to Aspirin:

I took the test in Belgium but only because it was more convenient than the actual office I am applying for.
As for insights, not really sure what to say :) I think elimination is really important but everybody knows that. On several occasions ot was rather easy to immediately eliminate two options and focus on the remaining ones. When I saw it was rather complicated to figure out the correct one I skipped the question for the moment because I had already 50% chance to reply correctly. I got back to it at the end of the test. Although I managed to finish all the questions I definitely did not have time to think about something twice or check any of my calculations…

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KP May 24, 2012 at 1:37 am

Hi Guys, im preparing for my PST, which I have tom! Thx for all the info here. Strangely, I also got a mail from the HR for my interview next week (even though im yet to take the PST!). I dont know what kind of bearing the PST is going to have on the overall interview process. Anybody heard of something like this? I thought PST is an elimination round.

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willy June 17, 2012 at 3:51 pm

@polybutene

Could you tell me where you did you find other practice test like Cheap Air and PetraEnergy. I found only 2020test

How long you spent in preparation?.
thank u
cheers

Reply

willy June 18, 2012 at 4:39 am

Hello there,

Could anyone give me more pst practice sources? I completed mck A/B/C,2020test,CheapAir but I need to do more practice. Could you give me PetraEnergy link?
thx

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Dustin June 30, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Just go to consultingguru and pay the 50$, alternatively, Victor now offers it on his website as well.

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Himanshu July 15, 2012 at 3:11 am

Hi there, can anyone who has taken the Sample Test from 20/20 mentioned in this article help me ? I have a problem with question 2. I believe the information provided in this question is inconsistent with the information provided in “Table 1: Financial summary for 2007-08″. Hence, there can be two different answers to this question. Let me explain this in detail.

The international student enrollment increases by 30% & the local student enrollment decreases by 10%. So, using this information, the solution calculates the new total student fees as 123.5 m. All other revenue components are same as in Table 1.

Now, instead of calculating the new total student fees, we calculate the increase in fees caused by change in the number of students, and add it to the current total student fees, we get 120.5 m as the new total student fees.

So, using two different methods, we get 2 different values for the new total student fees – 123.5m & 120.5 m. This discrepancy occurs because using the info of current number of local & international students and the local & international fees, leads to a value of 123m as the current student fees. This contradicts the total student fees mentioned in Table 1, which is 120m.

My question is – is the data really contradictory ? Or am I missing something ?

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Ru July 24, 2012 at 8:39 am

Had my MCK Test and was quite an interesting experience.
First things first, it is doable. Mostly depends on how well you are prepared and how you can handle stress/pressure.
Victor(God bless you) said it, TIME is the biggest challenge in this test by far. This element really separates those who are good and great.
Here are some of my observations:
*The stronger your vocabulary the better. Look up several other words can replace words such as ‘careless, important, dismissible’. you get the point.
*Reading and comprehension speed are just as important as numerical ability. If you can read a passage once or twice and recall the necessary information and the picture its painting it saves you way much time. Your concentration has to be optimal.
* Dont Panic!!!! The pressure as a result of time is no joke, it really impairs all your abilities ( I had to go to the bathroom to get myself together), helped alot. The more relaxed you are the better you perform.

The Test had a phenomenal amount of reading required, ALOT! Alot of math. And in total there were about 12 graphs to go through so best advice be well prepared as this helps boost confidence and speed which in turn helps you to relax.

Seems like as a result of the average applicant getting better at this because of people like Victor, Mck has had to respond by stepping things up a notch. Just a thought.

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Dmitry July 31, 2012 at 9:22 am

Lukas, can you please contact me

I have a test in a day

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P July 24, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Hi Guys,

Thanks you guys for sharing youre experience . I have a PST in a week time . please let me know how should I prepare for the test.

Cheers
P

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Clara Brusseller August 2, 2012 at 12:09 pm

I’m taking my PST within the next 2 weeks in UK. I will admit, I was nervous at the prospect of writing the PST.

I just googled around and found there are actually several very good Practice PSTs that are available online. They are claimed to created by a few ex-McKinsey consultants:

http://www.consultingcase101.com/mckinsey-problem-solving-test/

…I more at ease now and hope it will go well. Thanks to everyone for the posts, much appreciated. Hope it helps in your PST preparation:)

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Artem August 8, 2012 at 1:43 am

Clara,

can you contact me by mail:
na4ka {at} rambler.ru

I want to ask you several questions about your PST preparation.

Thanks in advance!

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Arizona August 13, 2012 at 1:57 am

Hi Clara,

How did your PST go? Would you mind sharing your experience on it? I’m taking mine tomorrow : )

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KP August 21, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Hi Clara,

I hope your test went well!

Would you be willing to share the practice tests you have? If so, please email me at – kpandiy1 at jhmi dot edu

Thanks!

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Bhalla September 23, 2012 at 2:40 pm

Hey! the Case101 is paid?
Does everyone pay 100 $ to access these?

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A August 4, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Hi Guys,

I am taking the PST soon on very short notice.

Time is obviously the main issue with the PST.

My concern is that I have recently been diagnosed with learning disabilities and am therefore given more time in university examination for legitimate reasons.

Even though I am sure there is some employment legislation to ensure parity I was still not sure whether to bring this up with the recruiter when I got the email ( I didnt) but I am taking the test very soon and was wondering if anyone had any advice/thoughts?

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Artem August 7, 2012 at 6:53 pm

Hi all!

I have pass all registration process on Cheng’s site^ but I can’t reach
“The Definitive Guide to the McKinsey Problem Solving Test (PST)” 2nd part!

Does anyone knows where to find the requested material? (Should it be sent to email or it can be found somewhere on he site)

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Victor Cheng August 7, 2012 at 7:05 pm

Artem,

Since not everyone applies to McK and takes the PST, part 2 of the guide is email only to those who request it using the form above (even if you have previously registered elsewhere).

-Victor

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Artem August 8, 2012 at 1:46 am

I even didn’t consider about reply from Master:)!

Victor, many thanks for your guidance and great site. Wish me luck on PST in Kiev!

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some one August 11, 2012 at 4:14 am

Hey guys,

Just took the PST a few days ago. I found this website (and others) useful. Most important thing is TIMING, but I suppose you already know. The 3 case studies were: Fashion retailer, luxury yacht manufacturer and an NPO. From what I know, the test hasn’t changed in over a year!

I found the difficultly level more or less equivalent to the actual McKinsey practice tests. Just keep an eye on the clock. I was so worried about timing, that I actually managed to complete the test 5 mins before time! But had to guess 3 questions. I suppose that wasn’t too bad, because I got an email 2 days later saying I passed the test.

Goodluck everyone!

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fR August 16, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Hi 5 days notice to PST, anyway — I am curious how the test is administered? Is it a computer test? Is it pen and paper? Am I allowed to bring pen/paper into the room?

Thanks!

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arun August 18, 2012 at 11:06 am

it’s a pen and paper test. once you walk in they’ll show you to your seat and give you the question paper, answer sheet, and pencil. they don’t provide any scratch paper so you’ll have to use the question paper as scratch paper. good luck!

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arun August 18, 2012 at 10:59 am

took the PST at the McKinsey Singapore office last Friday. I passed and got called in for an interview next Friday. For my PST prep, I worked through the sample PSTs on the McKinsey website. In addition to that I spent some time just doing random arithmetic on a piece of paper just to get my brain going (ex: 16/231, 325*432). After getting used to using a calculator for simple math throughout college, my brain needed a little exercise. Also, make sure you don’t get bogged down on 1 question. If you find yourself spending 10 minutes doing crazy math, then just skip that question and move on. Good luck!

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physiophile August 22, 2012 at 4:30 pm

I finished my PST last Friday and I just got an email that I passed! Here is my experience in hope that it might help others.

Contrary to what is reported by some of the previous comments, I think the real test is somewhat easier than the mock tests. I barely finished and scored horrible on the mock tests, but I think I had a much smoother experience with the real one. I finished the three big cases within 15 min each and luckily had another 15 min to double check my calculations.

I have two suggestions to those about to take the tests:

First is to read the questions and answers first and speed-read the background information. It saved me so much time after I began adopting this method since mock test B, compared with what I did with mock case A.

Second is don’t get bogged down upon details, only get necessary data to finish the problem. If you have difficulty in determine the answer to one question, mark it and leave it till the end.

Another piece of information that might be helpful to others: they have different sets of tests. So very likely you will be solving different sets of problems from the candidate who sits beside you.

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t August 25, 2012 at 11:14 am

Hi,

First of all, thanks to all for commenting on this site – and particularly to Victor for running it!

I’m having trouble understanding the solution to question 9 from the Petra Energy practice test (particularly the first step). Can someone explain that to me?

Taking the test next week and will report back on it.

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LF September 15, 2012 at 1:55 am

Please somebody could describe me the cases , I have my exam the next week please!! help me

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Anonymous September 23, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Hi Everyone,

Next week I am taking a computertest at BCG. Does anyone have any experience in taking such a test. They only put 4 example questions on their website.

Any suggestions on how to prepare for the test? Cheers!

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Victor Cheng September 23, 2012 at 5:06 pm

This is a relatively new development. I only have a few tidbits of information on BCG’s testing. I’ve posted them here:

http://www.caseinterview.com/bcg-potential-test

It would be great if you could post links to the sample questions you found and if you have any additional information after you take it, it would be great if you could share that as well.

Victor

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Anonymous September 24, 2012 at 3:16 am

Hi Victor,

You can find the questions in this link. http://www.bcg.nl/join_bcg/apply/default.aspx
These examples are easy but I have heard that the real deal is very hard.

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Victor Cheng September 24, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Thanks! The BCG questions look very similar to the McK test questions — at a minimum they definitely test the same skills including:

* data / graph / chart interpretation
* developing logically correct conclusions based on data
* word problem math – translating narrative descriptions into the correct algorithm, then solving the algorithm correctly.

-Victor

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Martin October 2, 2012 at 8:40 am

Hello,

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, e.g. my first section was a reading comprehension about social customs of ants..

Victor Cheng October 2, 2012 at 11:52 am

Martin – Thanks for sharing!

-Victor

Andrea October 18, 2012 at 5:21 am

Agree with Martin – I had the same test about 3 weeks ago. I asked about the min score, I was told there isn’t any concrete line but on average they expect people get at least 50% (exceptions can be made depending on the interviewee, their resume etc.)

Yekta October 12, 2012 at 6:41 am

Hi,

I did my PST yesterday in Stockholm and today got informed that have passed the test.

What I want to share with you is that test test is not as scary as you might think. Its perfectly doable. Just manage your stress and do what you do best.

Good Luck!

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Mike December 12, 2012 at 4:09 am

Hi Yekta,
Just a small question. In the beginning of the year someone told me their PST test had 3 cases:
1. A leading supplier of women’s fashion and luxury products, who wants to increase both sales and profits.
2. A manufacturer and seller of pleasure boat and yacht, which is thinking on going to the boat leasing business.
3. Go-Teach, a non profit organization that provides top college students with opportunities to teach in high schools, who wants to increase revenue.

Were there also your cases ?
Thanks and good luck with the rest of the interviews!

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Yekta October 17, 2012 at 9:07 am

Hi again,
Now, I am preparing myself for the next step which is Case Interview. I’ve just done with 12 videos. They were great help for me as the start point. I would like to thanks Mr. Cheng for his valuable and unsparing help and effort.

P.S. Is anyone know that the case interview is the last step of recruitment process or not?

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Victor Cheng October 17, 2012 at 12:18 pm

Yekta,

The case interview combined with the personal effectiveness interview (which happens during the same hour) is the next step in the process. There are multiple rounds of case interviews and each round often has multiple interviews. So if you pass round 1, you go to round 2 and in some countries you go to round 3 before getting an offer.

-Victor

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Yekta October 19, 2012 at 6:12 am

Dear Viktor,

I would like to thank you for your generously time offering.

Best Regards,
Yekta

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Pjotr October 22, 2012 at 6:34 am

Hi,

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.

Reply

Pawel October 24, 2012 at 11:16 am

Hi Pjors, I’m having a test at BCG next month, would you mind contacting me on my email and sharing some insights/answering some questions? I find it really hard to find any additional materials on the BCG tests

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Pawel October 24, 2012 at 11:17 am

*Pjotr

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Yekta November 1, 2012 at 11:48 am

Hi all,
I am preparing my self for the 1st round of McKinsey case interview. I’ve bought the LOMS program which is excellent help.
But, from other candidates’ words (within this website), I got it that LOMS is for the 2d round not the 1st one; so, now I am a little bit lost.
So, I wonder what is the best way to prepare for the 1st round?
It ll be great if someone can offer me, some schedule to prepare for the 1st round?
and, is the LOMS is a good preparation method for 1st one or not?

P.S. If some one got some advices from Mr. Cheng, I would appreciate to hear them.

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Victor Cheng November 1, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Yekta,

After the PST, all the McKinsey rounds are largely the same. The interviewers tend to be more senior in the firm

Victor

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Yekta November 3, 2012 at 11:43 am

Dear Victor,

So can I conclude that working on LOMS is the best way for preparing for the 1st round as well?

Yekta

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Victor Cheng November 3, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Yekta,

Sorry for not being clearer earlier. Yes, LOMS is a highly recommended resource for McKinsey Round 1. There are many McK style examples in LOMS which you should go through to get used to the format. There are many other cases in the BCG / Bain style that are still very useful to go through because although the case style differs between McKinsey and others, the underlying SKILLS needed to pass them are the same.

Many candidates get hung up on format, as opposed to the underlying skills needed to be successful. The best practice is to both familiarize yourself with the format AND work to improve the underlying skills that ALL formats attempt to evaluate.

Victor

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Kevin November 6, 2012 at 12:14 am

There is a free One-day-One-consulting-Question program on Facebook with daily questions similar to those on PST and Case Interview. Definitely check it out!

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Management-Consulting-Prep/490813957616934

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tila November 9, 2012 at 5:58 am

Hi everyone,

I had my PST today . We had 25 questions and 70 minutes. The questions were extremely tricky and for sure you had to be very carefull to find the best answer for each one. Every question had a chart or data table associated with the case and they were long and complicated. BUT most of them were irrelevant to the question. For example, there was a question with data provided the #of customers who shop from a store in the last 12 months (2012) and the question was about market share increase during the period of 2009-2012. The following 2 questions stated the results of the calculations if you calculate basing on the 2012’s performance and guess what? they all were choice A)’s. So be careful and read every choice.
Secondly, read the axis of the graph. Graphs were not answering the questions directly. You needed to multiply it with some percentages to answer the questions Apart from that, when the instructor anoounced that we had 10 mins left I hadn’t even started my last case! So I scimmed through the questions and had to make educated guess’. I will keep you updated with the result. Good luck to all.

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Maria November 12, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Hi all,

just want to share my tricky experience with ConsultingGuru tests. I have test on Wednesday and ordered several examples from the site yesterday. I thought it was quite easy to pay and get tests. Unfortunately they can send only prep tests for non-Mac computers and can’t offer any other services. So I spent half day today to clarify this situation. The service seems to be expensive, time-consuming and not very helpful (in my case). Just keep it in mind when you order tests. Better to order in advance and to buy non-Mac computer in addition :-)

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RD November 14, 2012 at 3:36 pm

I had the same experience as Maria. I am mac user and was unable to access the file they promised. They promise a refund so hope this happens! Im sure the example is great but I couldnt access it!

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Stas January 27, 2013 at 1:59 pm

solution to non – MAC users : Use emulators people!
(VMware ver.5.0)

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Yekta November 15, 2012 at 9:34 am

Hi all,

I have my McKinsey “First Round Interview” in the coming week. It is written in their invitation that it is gone take time from 9 – 12:30 (3 and half hour).
So, I wonder how many cases we should go through usually; and
how much is the weight of “Experience Interview”?

I appreciate it if you share your experience with us.

Regards,
Yekta

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Victor Cheng November 27, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Yekta,

For the benefit of others who haven’t yet had their first round, the experience interview is VERY important. For more details, see:

http://www.caseinterview.com/personal-experience-interview

http://www.caseinterview.com/parade-method

-Victor

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Ilyas November 22, 2012 at 9:57 am

Hello everyone,

I’m preparing for my PST, which is scheduled for the 16 December. I’ve already read all the articles that Victor very kindly put together as well as watching Victors videos (which were tremendously helpful). I only have two of the ConsultingGuru PST simulation tests left and I don’t want to waste them so I’m using a set of numerical reasoning tests I found online. ( http://www.assessmentday.co.uk/aptitudetests_numerical.htm?utm_expid=12552828-11&utm_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.assessmentday.co.uk%2Fbuy%2Faptitudetest_buy.htm )

I found that a particular area of weakness is my number skills and I’m using the maths training part of this site to improve my basic arithmetic. However, I thought that these numerical reasoning test might help to bolster that math in a practical context. They are 30 questions to be finished in 30 minutes with the aid of a calculator. I was wondering is 60 minutes a fair time period for these test without a calculator or am I being too lenient/ too harsh. (Are these tests even a beneficial use of my time)? I thought it would be better to do these first. Any advice would be gratefully received.

Thanks,

Ilyas

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Victor Cheng November 22, 2012 at 11:19 am

Ilyas,

I agree with your general approach. The PST requires numerically based critical reasoning which includes numerical computation.

There are a lot more numerical computation practice resources than numerical critical reasoning (in the Mck PST format in particular). Improve your computation skills elsewhere, then use the harder to find PST tests to practice the critical reasoning combined with numerical computation.

Victor

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Ilyas November 23, 2012 at 1:03 am

Victor,

Thank you so much for your reply. I don’t know if this is an appropriate question to ask you but I’d love to know what you think. How long should these computation questions take without the use of a calculator? They’re supposed to be one minute per question with a calculator. I’m definitely having issues finishing the sample tests on your site within an hour. I’m currently arriving at the last section with only 10 to 15 minutes to go and having to omit any questions that appear too lengthy.

Also, thank you so much for all your help and resources. It’s making a massive difference to my preparations.

Ilyas

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Dito November 22, 2012 at 6:38 pm

Hi all,

Can we assume that graphs are DRAWN TO SCALE? For example, Kosher Franks, Exhibit 4, question 16. For the current market, each age group segment has different shaded boxes with different HEIGHTS (899, 986 and 1,147 respectively).
So, if they are drawn to scale, within 5 SECONDS we can answer that the white box (age group 18-34) is 1.36 MILLION households. Of course, the trap is for us to understand that the Y-axis is in THOUSANDS. Otherwise, we would answer 1,360 households.

Good luck all. I will take my PST in a week’s time.

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Victor Cheng November 27, 2012 at 4:12 pm

Dito,

Usually diagrams are drawn to scale. However, double check with the axis labels to be 100% certain.

The underlying premise of the PST isn’t to trick you, but rather throw a lot of data at you and see if you can pick out what is important and analyze quantitatively as needed.

-Victor

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Yekta November 25, 2012 at 8:11 pm

Hi all,

I just want to share the experience of the “first round interview” with you.
I did the interview 2 days ago. It included 3 case interviews with 3 different interviewers. Each of them took one hour. Each of the interviewer started the session with questioning about my experiences (both educational and job experiences); and then gave me a business case to solve.
The business cases were held in first round format, but just 2 or 3 questions were asked in each case. The main question was the mathematical one.

I passed this round thanks to Viktor’s guidances and the LOMS program.

I ll do the final round in 2 weeks.

Cheers,
Yekta

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Victor Cheng November 27, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Yekta,

Thanks for sharing!

-Victor

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Yekta December 4, 2012 at 10:10 am

Hi,

I wonder do we still have the “experience interview” within the Final Round or not? (I did it once in the First Round case interview).
Any one have any idea?

Kind Regards,
Yekta

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Ilyas December 19, 2012 at 2:30 am

Hi all,

I recently took the McKinsey PST on the 16th of this month. I was informed soon after that I had passed. I’d like to quickly share what I did to prepare and my exam experience.

A quick piece on my background: I’m a physician who is actively seeking a career in management consulting for the same reasons I went to into medicine (i.e. to make a difference in people’s lives) but hopefully on a significantly larger scale. I studied mathematics when I was 18 (A levels in the United Kingdom) and averaged a little over 98% on my test scores which would have put me in or just outside the top 2 or 3% in the country (I don’t know how significant that is as the rest of the pool was only 18-years-old too). That was in 1997–which is a really, really long time ago. When I started preparing for the PST my mental maths was horrific and the first McKinsey practice PST (Kosher Frankies) was impossible. I found Victor’s site signed up for his PST emails (which I printed out and, along with this article, turned them into a small PST booklet). I eventually bought his PST videos too. (I did use several other resources to boost my maths significantly and if Victor doesn’t mind I’ll happily post exactly what I did and what I used before I started digging into the Practice PSTs that are available on this site). Two months later I turned up to McKinsey and took the PST.

My actual PST experience was very, very similar to those that many of the previous comments have mentioned. I had the Boutique Fashion Line, Luxury Yacht Leasing, and the first one I can’t remember right now but is mentioned in previous comments. The questions are almost identical in form to the Mckinsey practice tests. The only question type that wasn’t present was the formula question (McK Practice Test B question 26, and McK Practice Test C question 10 and 13). There were at least four multi-tier questions (McK Practice Test A question 3, 15 and 17, McK Practice B question 15, McK Practice C question 14). [Contrast these questions with “simple math questions” such as McK Practice A question 4,6 and 23 and “complex math questions” like McK Practice A question 7 and 25]. Each line of these questions requires its own independent simple but time consuming calculation and you have to use some degree of elimination to answer them (there’s too many of them to just answer each properly). There was only one “comprehension” type question per section (McK Practice A question 11 and 12, McK Practice B question 1, 8 and 14, McK Practice C question 7). The were at least four “heavy/complex” calculations (yes I know they’re not that complex but they require more mental time usage than any of the other straight calculation questions) (McK Practice A question 7 and 25, McK Practice B question 5, McK Practice C question 22 (not sure if this last one counts it’s a lot like a straight math question)). Just a note: I didn’t answer any of the “complex” math questions because they take me too long. I swallowed my pride left them until the end–didn’t have time to even look at them–then took wild uneducated guesses. The rest of the questions are numerical/data reasoning of the straight forward sort (McK Practice A question 1, 4, 6, 14, 16 etc.) and business/critical reasoning (McK Practice A question 2, 5, 8, 9, 10, 13 etc.).

Please note: there are three questions on a data sheet to do with Leases. The data is set up to look like a balance sheet but for Leases. I know nothing about leases and I treated the data like it was a regular balance sheet. I was extremely gutted to see that as I had no idea how to answer the questions. (Happily my depression lasted only an hour as I pretty much immediately received the email indicating that I had passed). If you’re sitting the PST in 2012 and come from a non-business background then I would highly recommend taking a look at balance sheets and knowing things like liabilities, assets, capital and how they apply to loans. I can’t tell you more about these questions as they were pretty much in Japanese as far as I was concerned. I treated it like a balance sheet and plugged and chugged the numbers and selected the answers that matched.

On the whole the questions are easier and cleaner than the practice tests but the proportions of the different types of questions actually make the exam a lot harder. I guess if you have a business background and prepare for the PST you’ll probably find it easier than the practice tests. If you don’t have a business background and it’s been a while since you did math then I’d highly recommend mastering the difficult questions and on the day of the exam know when to let a question go in favour of answering 5 more straight forward questions.

Finally, thank you so much Victor. You’re prep materials and Case Interview Math took me from severely rusty and clueless to passing the real McKinsey PST. I am truly grateful.

Ilyas

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Victor Cheng December 20, 2012 at 9:27 pm

Illyas,

Thanks for sharing. Good luck on the rest of the recruiting process!

Victor

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Tanu January 10, 2013 at 11:14 am

What other resources did you use to study? Most of the practice cases are too expensive to pay for…

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Ilyas January 13, 2013 at 2:46 am

Hi Tanu,

I hadn’t done any Maths in a while so I needed to improve my mental arithmetic. I used Victor’s case math website. I have an android phone and so I downloaded Math Workout (it’s more basic than Victor’s site). Then I bought the following book and worked through it:
http://www.amazon.com/Foundations-GMAT-Manhattan-Preparation-Guide/dp/1935707590

Finally I worked through the following numerical reasoning tests (using mental arithmetic only):

http://www.assessmentday.co.uk/buy/aptitudetests_numerical_buy.htm

For these I limited myself to 10 minutes for every 5 question segment (or 12 minutes to 6 questions etc. i.e. 2 minutes for every question and broken down into small tests rather than attempting the entire exam–good for improving speed).

Then I worked through the practice cases. I would leave the McKinsey practice tests to the end if you are not going to buy the Consulting Guru tests. Also, I did a lot of pre-work because I hadn’t done Maths for 16 years. You may not need to do as much as I did. Just do what you need to do.

Victor’s videos made all the difference for me but that was after I had done all the basic preparation.

Ilyas

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Tanu January 15, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Thanks a ton!

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Tanu January 10, 2013 at 11:17 am

What other resources did you use to study? Most of the practice cases are too expensive to pay for…

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Hamza Khalid February 16, 2013 at 5:33 am

Damn… the money required to purchase the required resources are too high for a student. I guess this means that I’ll have to prepare extra-hard with the scarce free resources available online (Mckinsey team coming to my campus within 2 weeks). While money can facilitate, your hard work can do that also. :p … great work anyway Victor

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Victor Cheng February 19, 2013 at 9:47 pm

Hamza,

If you can find any practice materials for the new GMAT (introduced June 2012) with the new integrative reasoning section, that’s another practice option. It’s about 60% correlated with the PST, not perfect, but certainly better than nothing.

-Victor

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Ilyas December 19, 2012 at 2:39 am

Sorry just a quick amendment to my post. I wrote:

I would highly recommend taking a look at balance sheets and knowing things like liabilities, assets, capital and how they apply to “loans”.

It should say:

I would highly recommend taking a look at balance sheets and knowing things like liabilities, assets, capital and how they apply to “leases”.

The issues was the language that was used in the question.

Thanks

Ilyas

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Sienna December 30, 2012 at 11:45 pm

Ilyas, thanks for that great post. Did they also give you a 30 minute numeracy test along with the PST??

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Ilyas December 19, 2012 at 2:41 am

Oh and “your prep materials” not “you are prep materials”. (Embarrassing!!!)

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Sienna December 30, 2012 at 11:44 pm

Hi everyone (& Victor)-

I have my PST next week, but in the email I received from McKinsey, it mentioned that I would have a 26 question problem solving test, in addition to a “30 minute numeracy test”…??

Can anyone shed some light on this “numeracy test?”

Does anyone know what this is???

Thanks in advance!
Sienna

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Ilyas January 1, 2013 at 8:12 am

Hi Sienna,

Sorry for the late reply. I didn’t get a numeracy test. Perhaps Victor can throw some light on it. I did do Maths at A-level which could be a possible reason I wasn’t required to sit the numeracy test. Although, I am making assumptions about your background too. I have no idea what the numeracy tests is or what it contains. I did a lot of research and study prior to my PST and I didn’t come across any mention of it either. Maybe it’s a new test.

Good luck with your PST and Numeracy Test. Also, you should definitely post something here after you do your numeracy test so that others have some sort of idea of what to expect (and maybe even Victor can prepare some materials for it too).

Ilyas

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sachin January 3, 2013 at 10:01 am

Apearing for Mck PST in a month. Any insight on quick 4-5 things I should do ?

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sachin January 3, 2013 at 4:46 pm

Victor,

Where can I access your videos for PST ?? It seems they are being referred multiple times but I could not find a way to access them.

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Victor Cheng January 7, 2013 at 6:35 pm

Sachin,

Info on the PST tips videos can be found here:
http://www.caseinterview.com/mckinsey-pst

With regards to your earlier, question other than practice your math and take practice tests, the main other thing to work on is drawing conclusions from graphs, charts and data tables.

Given X chart, is A, B or C true? that kind of thing.

-Victor

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Bo S January 5, 2013 at 5:53 am

I have been asking around and it seem that some of the eu offices like italy and spain do an additional 30 minute numbers test. Allegedly it is at the discretion of the office. I also just recently heard that mcK may be dropping the test for mMBAs this year. Although sadly I am an MBA and am still scheduled to take it on Modnay. I am ok with that, I am just really starting to get nervous not knowing what kind of material I will see on Monday at Mckinsey.. sure, you can say “just study all of the math”- but come on, we all know that if everyone were taking the test in two days an had NO clue what was on it, I am sure this board would be more than a little active. It shocking that for all the people who have written here and seem to know so much about this test, not one person can tell us about the numeracy?
I mean I asked around and I spoke to one guy who says its pretty much just like the gmat (for numeracy)..

Victor, I’m going to have to call you out on this one buddy!! The soccer mom in my career service dept knew more about this thing than you do! Dang! Seems like you are slipping bro… you wanna give us some real secrets tell us about this numeracy test that no one else seems to know about yet. Thats where the real value comes from. Because if you don’t Victor my man, one of these other conultants will, and they will steal your biz. No one wants a coach who doesnt know the rules of the game right??

Victor- You worked AT McKinsey, hook us up bro!

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Victor Cheng January 7, 2013 at 6:43 pm

BoS,

Unfortunately I don’t have any reliable data on the numeracy test yet. It’s in very limited use geographically and its use seems to have started in end of 2012 recruiting season.

If I were to speculate on what’s on the , I’d say it’s a straight forward computation test.

IF this is true, you want to practice you basic math operations and focus on accuracy and speed. My math practice tool at http://www.caseinterview.com/math covers a good portion of this.

The PST does a reasonable job in assessing critical reasoning and data interpretation. The new version of the GMAT which includes a sub-score for “Integrative Reasoning” (which I believe took effect Q3 2012) at initial glance seems to cover similar skills as the PST. This is why there has been some discussion (possibly some action) around MBAs not being required to take the PST (presumably if they’ve taken the newer GMAT).

Because of this, in thinking about what other skills I would want to test as a recruiter, assuming I already could rely on the PST to tell me about a candidate’s critical reasoning and data interpretation skills, I’d basically want to know if the person could do math quickly and accurately.

There’s a high correlation between new consultants with 95+ percentile on standardized math tests and on the job performance. It’s not a perfect correlation, but it’s high. The PST is broader than straight computation, so for certain types of candidates (in the US, English Majors come to mind), I might want to get a better assessment of a candidates computational skills (as opposed to say an Engineer, Financial Analyst or Physics Post Doc that’s probably doing basic math every day on the job).

That’s my best guess based on what data I currently have access to. As I learn more, I’ll post any revisions.

-Victor

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X January 16, 2013 at 7:16 pm

I took the PST today in an office in South America, and later received the good news I had cleared the test. I was quite surprised I did, because I got about 65% right in practice tests 2 and 3, and I felt I had done a lot better in those than I felt I did on the real test.
Also, in response to some of the rumors above, I do have an MBA and was asked to do the test anyway, my test lasted 90 minutes (I thought it was supposed to be 60?), and I had no numeracy test- just the 26 questions.
In terms of preparation, I practiced some math GMAT questions (mostly because my math was a bit rusty), did as many free practice tests I found online (maybe 6 or 7?) and used Victor’s math tool. I also did my preparation rituals (really!) consisting on a run the night before the test, good night sleep, cold shower, meditation in the morning, and chocolate before the test. Got to the site super early too and warmed up some math problems, and I was the only person taking the test.

I felt the test was a bit tougher than the practice tests (hence I am surprised I cleared it, since like I said before, I didn’t do too great on those). A few questions were much simpler, but there were some that were much more tougher and required a lot of calculations to get to the answer. Some of these I could not solve at all, but I did eliminate a few obviously wrong choices and took a guess. Maybe I had a lucky day.

Looking forward to the case interviews now (will do them in about 2 weeks time). I am enjoying preparing for them – read Victor’s book as well as some others, and I know that even if I do not make it, I will benefit greatly from the skills learned and will be able to apply them in my current job.

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bunu January 31, 2013 at 12:23 am

Hi X, im taking the PST in a South American office next week, would you mind telling me where you took it and if you havent done the cases maybe we exchange mails and practice vía Skype!

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Simao February 11, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Hi X,
Would you mind to tell me which office in South America you had your PST? I’m asking, because I will take the test in Sao Paulo at March. I’m applying for business analyst position.
What do you mean “no muneracy-test”? Was it a little bit different from the samples McKinsey tests?
Good luck with your preparation!
Cheers!

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Iveta January 18, 2013 at 11:38 am

Hi,
firstly Victor thanks for all the materials and resources, it is amazing!!

I have more questions regarding the PST:

1) the people that have passed, how much time have you spend on practicing?

2) the tests offered by consulting101 (http://www.consultingcase101.com/mckinsey-problem-solving-test/) , or by management consulting prep (https://sites.google.com/site/mckinseyprep/problem-solving-test/more-practice) – are they all different to the 3 sample tests (the 3x three tests) on their official web and the other documents Victor offers here? I dont want to invest my money and then get half of the tests that I was already able to download here.

3) which of these webs is it then better to invest into? Consulting101 or the mng cons prep?

4) people that have taken the tests, it seems that recently the trend is to get these three: a)supplier of women’s fashion and luxury products b) pleasure boat and yacht c) not-for-profit organization that helps students to teach in high schools. Can anyone who has take the test recently confirm please and also say which one of these was the easiest one (ie. then better to start off with).

Thanks a lot and good luck with the practicing!! :) Happy to read all your answers :))
Iveta

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Victor Cheng January 24, 2013 at 2:50 am

Iveta,

Of the two sample tests you referenced, I have not seen them myself. The feedback I hear from others is they are much easier than the actual PST. The only PST sample test that I recommend are from Consulting Guru.

I liked the test so much (I took it myself and Ugh… it was hard, and I thought it definitely tests the kinds of skills I used while at McKinsey) that I offer them on my website as well here:

http://www.caseinterview.com/mckinsey-pst

The price is that same as getting it directly from them, the difference is I include fairly detailed video tutorials and other tips on how to best prepare and practice for the PST when purchased through my site.

The practice time varies a lot by person. Some people are REALLY rusty on their math, are in a career that doesn’t require a lot of math day to day, they spend a lot of time just getting accustomed to math again — such as using http://www.CaseInterviewMath.com – my free math practice tool.

You can also try to get practice test for the new GMAT with the Integrated Reasoning section. It has about 60% similarity to the PST — particularly the section on data interpretation and reading data tables.

Good luck!
-Victor

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Iveta January 27, 2013 at 4:12 pm

Thank you Victor! I have already bought your video, haven´t had a proper time to go through it yet though. Hope it will be helpful! :)
Thanks for the answer with regards to preparation, I take my test next week and I plan on sharing my experiences here after.
Good luck to everyone who takes the PST! :)

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Jacob May 27, 2013 at 6:26 pm

Hi Iveta!

How was your test?

Could you please share with us your experiences, and any specific hints?
Also, as you wrote it best:
“people that have taken the tests, it seems that recently the trend is to get these three: a)supplier of women’s fashion and luxury products b) pleasure boat and yacht c) not-for-profit organization that helps students to teach in high schools. Can anyone who has take the test recently confirm please and also say which one of these was the easiest one (ie. then better to start off with)”

Many thanks!

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DrKumar January 30, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Just taking a moment to thank the community here, I passed the PST.
My views
– PST on a scale of 1 – 10 is 7 if GRE comes at 5. Factor in time and it becomes 9. Good luck to all.

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Tommaso February 2, 2013 at 8:11 am

Hi Everybody, I have the PST next week in Paris. I have done the Cheap Air PST, does anyone of you have the solutions? They apparently removed them from the website!

Thanks!

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Gordon February 3, 2013 at 4:17 am

They replace with a new one: the Toyo piano case. I just took it, this one looks quite similar to those of McKinsey.

http://www.mconsultingprep.com/problem-solving-test/more-practice/demo-pst

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Sidney February 4, 2013 at 5:12 am

How come I can’t access the link?

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Sidney February 4, 2013 at 5:23 am
Hans February 5, 2013 at 5:23 am
Przemek February 9, 2013 at 6:59 am

Hello,

I’ve just read all the page and the comments here, great stuff! I’m taking PST in Poland next week . Does the PST or recruitment process for an internship differs from the one when you apply for a job?

Regards

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Victor Cheng February 21, 2013 at 5:12 pm

Przemek,

The PST usage is a little in flux this year, so it’s hard to make a firm prediction. Historically, the evaluation process for internships vs full-time within the same type of hiring (e.g., undegrad, mba) has been similar.

-Victor

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mary March 6, 2013 at 8:30 am

Dear Victor,

I applied to the summer internship position this year (3d year undergraduate), but could not pass PST. It is not very clear from the web-site, whether can I apply again next year for a full-time graduate position of Business Analyst again, or do I have to wait for 24 months before I can send my application again.

Could you please give me some advice on this?
Kind regards, Mary

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Victor Cheng March 6, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Mary,

I would suggest applying again. It’s fairly common for those that don’t get an internship (for any reason) to apply again for full time. Also the worst they’ll do is say no, it won’t count against you in anyway, so just apply again.

-Victor

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ami March 6, 2013 at 7:06 pm

Hi guys, is there any one that can help me where to find PST to practice before the test, please.
Appreciate it!

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Sd March 16, 2013 at 4:51 pm

Hi Victor,

I applied to McKinsey 2 weeks ago. I just received a preliminary email saying they would like to interview me in early April, but they can’t give a time yet due to the consultants’ schedules. There was no mention of a test. Should I assume I’ll have to take the pst when I go in? Do they test and interview you on the same day?

Thanks for your help

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Francisco March 25, 2013 at 11:46 pm

Hello,

When I applied to McK in 2011 I was given the PST that is now the Practice Test B on the McKinsey website. Back then there was only the Practice Test A sample. So, unless they changed the type of questions or level of difficulty, the actual test looks like the sample ones.

(By the way, I passed the test but then failed on the interviews. I did not know Victor Cheng back then eheh)

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Francisco March 25, 2013 at 11:52 pm

Victor,

I have a question:

I have done and passed the McK’s PST and then failed on the interviews but got a “see you later” feedback. If I apply again after 18-24 months do you know if I have to do the PST again?

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Victor Cheng March 26, 2013 at 9:05 am

Francisco,

That’s a good question. Unfortunately I don’t know the answer (at least not well enough to say it with 100% certainty). Perhaps others can comment.

Victor

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Camilo September 23, 2013 at 11:57 pm

Francisco

In Colombia if you passed the PST and failed in the interview, you don’t have to do the PST in the next chance.

Good luck next time.

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Ivan July 16, 2013 at 10:18 am

Francisco,
In Russia they didnt ask for PST the second time ( but it was 8 years ago ))).
And PST is the easiest part of the process.

Ivan

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Per April 11, 2013 at 4:51 pm

I would love if you could send me a few as well!

Thank you so much!

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Per April 11, 2013 at 4:52 pm
Mohamed Safwat May 8, 2013 at 9:40 am

Hello All,
I’m currently preparing as well for my Mckinsey PST and would be very glad if you can provide me with any practice material you have for that purpose.

Many thanks in advance!
Mohamed Safwat

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Boris May 17, 2013 at 11:25 am

Here is my take on the McKinsey PST I took yesterday (May 2013), some people might find it helpful:

The test consists of three cases (luxury women apparel manufacturer, boat manufacturer and a charity focused on placement of graduates-teachers from poor backgrounds into secondary schools). I have read on some thread that these cases have been seen already in January 2013 so I guess the test does not change too often (although there might be several variations of it). Volume of questions is evenly spread across the three cases.

Reading-wise I think the test is as heavy as the practice PSTs from MCK website, there are parts where there is new text/graph for every question, then there is a part where 5 questions relate to the same source. One thing I did notice was that there was substantial amount of the questions that sounded hard, but the answer was actually given in the text (e.g.: You got two pie charts breaking down sales of the market, a chart with financials of different companies and additional text with numbers of customers of the different firms, and the question was: “How many new customers would the client acquire IMMEDIATELY after acquiring company B?” This number was actually given in the text with the # of customers of firm B – no computation needed).

Also, the amount of info that is actually useless for answering any question was bigger than in the practice PSTs, i.e. the questions were easier to answer; after reading them you just had to skim through the text and grasp its overall content, decide what is useless and use the (very small) part for answering the question.

Personally, I found the first case the hardest, especially because there was a table with info that I never really encountered before (results from a questionnaire given to customers of different firms, whose answers were broken down according where else these customers shop – I cant really describe this any better (shows how much I actually understood the problem haha)), so if I took the test again, I would do the first case last. All the other problems were presented in pie charts, bar charts, flowcharts and line charts, nothing too hard.

Math-wise I believe the test was easier than an average caseinterview-reader would expect. Only one question involved substantial calculations (I skipped it for timing reasons), other questions were somewhat easy to estimate.

Prep-wise I would advise the following: Do the practice PSTs first (no timing needed) to grasp the nature of the problems and structure of the answers, then do a bit of GMAT to practise maths, then buy consulting guru tests from Victor’s web (they are actually much harder that the actual PST, but, once you go through them and understand them, you can be sure that you won’t open the PST and get dizzy over the amount of text to get through), and finally do the practice PSTs again. They will now feel much easier, you will gain the necessary confidence for the D-day and you will also fix the answering structure into your head.

If you have some time to prepare and have issues with reading all the text in the tests in the given time, it might be a good idea to buy LOMS before you take the actual PST (i.e. before you are invited for interviews). You will see that the PST is structured in an exactly same way as the LOMS interviews’ discussions so, after hearing some of the LOMS interviews, you will see that most of the text is actually just linking different parts for the PST case, which should ease up your thinking about the case/test, i.e. shorten your reading time.

Personally, I skipped 4 questions, finished the test after 55mins, then went back to the unanswered ones. Bear in mind that, unless you are a prodigy, you will feel like there is no way on the planet that you can pass the test once you are like 25mins in the test. This is normal feeling, the test is structured that way. If you think about it, (unless you are the aforementioned prodigy) the best feeling you can have immediately post the test is that you have no idea how you did, simply because most of the questions are not straightforward (although the logic in answering them usually is). Therefore, try your best to keep it together during the test. I passed btw.

On this note, Victor, thank you for all the helpful resources on this website, I find them much more comprehensive and useful than on other websites. I have final round in 3 weeks.

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Victor Cheng May 17, 2013 at 4:49 pm

Boris,

Thanks for sharing such detailed feedback for everyone else to benefit from. Good luck on final round!

Victor

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Hamza July 1, 2013 at 7:14 am

Hey Boris,

I actually took this test today, and interestingly I too have a similar feedback as yours.

[Victor Note: I redacted this section of the comments because it gave actual answers to the real PST (which I’m not comfortable having shared on my website). I’ve left the general suggestion about questions being phrased very specifically which I very much agree with.]

This is something that I’d like to highlight because Mckinsey test are very carefully worded and usually the first answer that pops up isn’t the right answer. I am not sure if I will get an interview call or how I did on the test but this is an advice for people who will be taking the test in the future.

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Waheed Mahomed September 28, 2013 at 6:36 am

Hi Boris & other readers

I wrote the PST in South Africa a few weeks back and got the same set of questions that Boris refers to. I cannot however explain them any better then he did and from his analysis I’m sure he fared better than I did. I just went to have fun and test my mettle. Anyhow all I wanted to add was that the practice tests do help and see if you can get hold of recent ones because they may repeat things

Ciao

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Ariel May 25, 2013 at 3:38 pm

The link to the 20/20 sample test above is incorrect.
This is the correct link

http://www.2020delivery.com/sites/default/files/2020Delivery-Sample-problem-solving-questions.pdf

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Detti May 26, 2013 at 6:12 am

Dear Victor,

your site is great! Thank you for th great content!

I have recently applied for a Junior Research Analyst position with McKinsey, a part time student job, that I would like to pursue together with my PhD studies and have been invited for numerical test writing.

I assume that this type of test is not the PST. Is my assumption correct? If so, what type of questions do you think I will be exposed to?

Your feedback would be extremely helpful in my preparation.

Thank you very much in advance!

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Victor Cheng May 29, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Detti,

Unfortunately I don’t know what the test will consist of. At one end of the possibile formats would be the PST, at the other end it would be more like a simplified version of the GRE math test. The former tests data analysis and drawing logical conclusions, what mainline consultants need to do. The latter test numerical proficiency and accuracy which is useful in pure research or analysis that doesn’t necessarily involve presenting to clients.

Victor

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Ger June 11, 2013 at 8:53 pm

Dear all,

I know a couple of people that sat the PST recently and were given 75 mins (15 extra) because they are not native English speakers. However, I’ve met some other non-native speakers that were NOT allowed the extra time.

Does anyone have additional info on this?
As a non-native speaker, should I demand the extra time when I take the test?

Thanks

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alex July 25, 2013 at 3:48 pm

Hey, I’ve got letter from mck where they ask me to come and take the test for 75 min! I’m not native speaker.

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Reonna April 29, 2014 at 5:55 am

Maybe if you’re in a non-english speaking country, the extra 15 min would not be given as all the other candidates are also non-native speakers. I’m non-native, but applying in a non-english speaking country, no extra mins.

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Evgenia June 28, 2013 at 5:20 am

Dear Victor,
how can I buy so called “consulting guru tests” from your web-site?
I’d like to prepair for PST next week.
Thank you!

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Victor Cheng June 28, 2013 at 10:51 am

Hi Evgenia,

The McKinsey PST practice tests I offer are available here:
http://www.caseinterview.com/mckinsey-pst

Good luck on your preparation!
Victor

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Ger June 30, 2013 at 8:31 am

Dear Victor,

How are you doing?
I posted the question below almost 3 weeks ago. Since nobody has replied I am trying again in the hope that it will go better this time.
Many thanks!

I know a couple of people that sat the PST recently and were given 75 mins (15 extra) because they are not native English speakers. However, I’ve met some other non-native speakers that were NOT allowed the extra time.

Does anyone have additional info on this?
As a non-native speaker, should I demand the extra time when I take the test?

Thanks a lot,

Ger

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Victor Cheng July 2, 2013 at 11:36 am

Ger,

1) I don’t have enough info on this to make a firm recommendation.

2) I would never “demand” anything of McK. It doesn’t hurt to ask or inquire, but if you demand that would be interpreted by them as you having an entitlement attitude. They would be concerned you would use the same attitude with clients, and it would cause them to reconsider whether to interview you at all.

-Victor

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Sam July 2, 2013 at 8:59 am

Dear Victor,

Concur with someone’s opionion, your site is truly great! Many thanks for your efforts to create such a helpful web-recourse!

My question is: is PST compulsory for experienced professionals applying for Business Associate positions in Asian ofiice? In brief, I’m industry specialist with 12 years of executive experience in Finance/banking. Or I will be going through case studies interviews directly?

Many thanks in advance for your prompt answer.

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Victor Cheng July 2, 2013 at 11:30 am

Sam,

I don’t know if McK has a consistent policy on this globally. Historically, it was for all applicants. More recently, I am hearing rumors that with the new GMAT including questions that overlap with the PST, that some MBA applicants who report the new GMAT score have been exempt. Unfortunately, I don’t have enough data points on experienced hires to draw a reliable conclusion if the PST will likely be required for you or not.

-Victor

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Mark July 17, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Hi Victor,

I was just wondering whether the so called “consulting guru tests” on your website are the same as those displayed at http://consultingguru.com/our-services/problem-solving-tests/?

Thank you for the clarification.

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Victor Cheng July 18, 2013 at 11:05 am

Mark,

The tests themselves are the same. In the bundle I offer at http://www.caseinterview.com/mckinsey-pst I include a lengthy and detailed video of how to optimize your test taking abilities for speed. This video is only available in the bundle available on this website.

Most people can pass the test given enough time. The hard part is passing the test under the time constraint. Very few people who do pass thought they passed. All felt like they barely had enough time. There’s a long way to answer each question, and a short way. The videos show the short way. It’s a little counter-intuitive in some cases and differs from how one would normally take tests in an academic environment.

-Victor

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Chen July 22, 2013 at 7:33 am

Hi Victor,

how many of the 26 questions should be answered correctly, in order to be invited for interview?

Thanks.

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Victor Cheng July 24, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Chen,

Unfortunately, I don’t know the answer to your question — though you are certainly not the first person to ask. As far as I can tell, that exact cut off is not disclosed publicly.

I will say that 50% of the people who ended up passing did not think they had passed when they finished the test. So if you feel extremely pressed for time during the actual PST, don’t panic. It’s normal. It’s supposed to be a very tight finish. Nobody I know finished more than 1 -2 minutes early.

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Sara August 7, 2013 at 12:18 am

Dear Victor,

I have a question. How would I go about getting a summer internship at a top consulting company? Is the interview process the same as the process for a job application?

Thank you so much for your help! It is much appreciated! I bought your book and it was amazing!

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Mike August 7, 2013 at 4:13 pm

I filled out the application on the website two days ago and got an invitation to interview this morning. They want me to do the PST test in like 2 weeks. I’m a corporate lawyer so have been out of practice with quant heavy questions and I also work a lot…is it frowned upon to ask to schedule the PST test at a later date? I’m assuming having more than 2 weeks to prepare would be wise considering my rust.

Thanks,

Mike

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Chloe September 25, 2013 at 5:47 am

I took the PST successfully back in July. It was the same as previous commentators said – one case each on luxury retail, a boat manufacturer and a charity.

A few takeaways on Prep:
1. The tests on the McKinsey website are very reflective of the actual test. It is worth taking the time to understand why each answer on these is the correct one.
2. I thought chart literacy and critical reasoning were key; to this end, the Integrated Reasoning and Critical Reasoning sections on the GMAT are useful prep tools
3. As Victor mentioned in one of his videos, most people could pass this test if they had sufficient prep and unlimited time. Unfortunately, there are limited resources available in prepping for the PST. I found Victor’s practice tests to be very useful (I purchased the full package) in terms of getting my head around the time constraint and general test-taking abilities. I do think his tests were a bit harder and more data-intensive than the real exam, so worth bearing that in mind as well.

As for the test, I found the key skill to passing was the ability to eliminate answers. The amount of math I did was much less than I had done in my prep because I was able to eliminate answers. This was in part helped by identifying the incorrect assumptions associated with the wrong answers. I did find Victor’s video walk through of the PST to be very useful.

I think there were very few answers that I was 100% certain with; I just had to make the most reasonable decision and move on. Time-wise, I was able to finish the exam.

Overall, I would say that there is a particular method and logical approach to taking the test successfully. Prep for the exam should ideally focus on understanding this approach (through McKinsey’s practice tests available online) and then working to finish under the time constraint (for which Victor’s tests were very helpful).

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Sisi October 5, 2013 at 7:21 am

Hi guys, I have been to a PST test this year already. Not any more women luxury, boat leasing and Teaching. I can just tell you what I still remember until this day.
First case was Pharmaceutical company want to sell diabetic preventing medicine (oral or insulin) in China. They interviewed some doctors in different cities for setting proper price.
The second case was, a country in Asia who wants to transportation system role model. There were different types of vehicles described. Questions were focused on these vehicles, what shall the country do, etc.
The third case was instruction bundles (textbooks plus other things) for schools. Different states have different budgets. Also schools would like to buy only textbooks next year, then how many more textbook does the company need to sell in order to have the same revenue.
Less calculation this year, but more interpretation.
I hope this can give you guys some general feeling about what the cases are this year.

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mohammad K November 13, 2013 at 11:53 am

Hello Sisi,
I had the same test, the same cases. Whats up with you, did u pass ?

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BT November 30, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Hi Sisi,
thank you for sharing the info about the PST cases.
which one you found the most difficult?

regards,
BT

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John October 5, 2013 at 3:23 pm

I just sat the PST (Oct 2013) and passed. Just wanted to share my experiences. Victor’s videos about taking the PST is what, in my opinion, will get you to pass the test.

THE ACTUAL PST

The actual PST was easier than the websites, not by much though. Time was still the biggest issue and there was huge pressure. The actual cases do not matter so hence I have not elaborated.

EXTRA PSTs WHICH ARE AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE

I bought the one PST from Victor’s website. He uses the http://www.consultingguru.com tests.

I found the actual PST absolutely useless, here is why:
-I have no business background at all. Theses PSTs were heavy in technical knowledge (for a novice). And really put me off.
-This “paid for” PSTs was very heavy in math. Very heavy. Unable to finish in 60mins
-I scored about 30% in this PST and it really dented my confidence.

However, buying from Victor is absolutely gold as you get 3 videos on a strategy to take the test. This is what got me over. Getting to each question with a structure and smashing it :-). I cannot stress how important his videos are!

MY PREP

As I said, I have no business background. I applied to McK at the last minute and had not prepared very much. McK is indeed very efficient at recruiting so you will get a response within a week. Once I was told I got past the CV screen I started preparing. This was 6 days before the test.

I did:
1) The official PSTs- The three on the McK website and the other two floating around on the interweb. As linked in this article.
2) CaseInterviewMath.com
3) Integrated reasoning GMAT questions (was hard to find many as this is quite new)
4) Chart and data interpreting GRE questions. Tons available.
5)Cliff Notes Math Review for Standardized Tests- As linked above. I did the word problems and quickly reviewed my math skills esp. long division
6) I had read, a few months ago, Secrets of Mental Math by Michael Shermer. The skills came in handy but had to be refreshed.
7) CRITICALLY, I resat the practice PSTs 1 day and the day of the exam. Whenever I did the PSTs, either fresh or a resit, it was always timed. Always time yourself. And never use a calculator. Simulate actual conditions.

Hope this helps.

P.S If you buy the $55 PST and videos from Victor and like the structure of the test you should be able to buy it significantly cheaper using a discount code and some efficient googling.

P.P.S Apologies for grammer and spelling.

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BT November 30, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Hi John,

did you have the same set of cases as Sisi?
1) Pharmaceutical company that wants to sell diabetic preventing medicine in China.
2) A country in Asia that wants to transportation system role model.
3) Instruction bundles (textbooks plus other things) for schools.

Best,
BT

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Ann November 22, 2013 at 5:47 pm

Just wanted to say that I took the PST this morning (Nov 2013) and I passed. I was absolutely petrified because I took some practice tests that I scored poorly on at first. Here is some advice I can offer to those who are taking it.

1. It’s not harder than the practice test provided by the McKinsey website. I would say the difficulty level is exactly the same. Use these and the resources listed above by Victor as your primary resource to prepare and you should be fine on the big day.

2. Skip/guess any questions that are obviously too detailed to calculate and you are unsure of and come back to them later in the test, especially if your math is not that fast. The reason is because there are some easier questions that you should prioritize getting correct instead. If you run out of time and have to fill in (A) for the last 5 or 6 questions, you will kick yourself if you see that actually they were questions you could have answered if you had more time.

3. Try not to panic. The nice thing about the cut off score is that you are simply stretching your own potential. You can do it!

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BT November 30, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Hi Ann,

thank you for your feedback.
did you have the same set of cases as Sisi?

1) Pharmaceutical company that wants to sell diabetic preventing medicine in China.

2) A country in Asia that wants to transportation system role model.

3) Instruction bundles (textbooks plus other things) for schools.

Best,
BT

Reply

sumit December 14, 2013 at 4:51 am

I think mcKinsey PST test is much easier than indian national level aptitude tests like CAT,XAT(I myself have scored 99th percentile,questions are extremely tough and over 2 lakh people vouch for few seats).Only thing that is tough for people is to get through interviews reason being communication skills.

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Tom December 20, 2013 at 3:48 am

Hi Victor,

I applied at McK and they invited ne to take a test via phone. They told me that I will have to take just one problem solving Case and that the Interview will last approximately 45 min. Do you have any idea what kind of test that might be? Any experience on cases via phone?

Thanks

Tom

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KA February 7, 2014 at 7:52 pm

Anyone taken the PST recently? Can you please share your experience? Am taking the PST in a few weeks and having taken the practice tests am only averaging around 14-15 questions out of 26.

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KA February 7, 2014 at 7:54 pm

Any tips on how to improve performance?

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Laura February 26, 2014 at 8:31 pm

You recommend using Kaplan’s 2008 GRE Math Workbook to prepare for the McKinsey PST. I was only able to find the 2014 edition, which does not have the same chapter titles. Which of the following chapters from the 2014 edition would you recommend reviewing to prepare?

The chapters are: Part 1 (Quantitative Reasoning): (i) quantitative comparison, (ii) problem solving, (iii) data interpretation, and (iv) quantitative reasoning practice; and Part 2 (Math Content Review): (i) arithmetic, (ii) algebra, (iii) geometry, (iv) data interpretation.

Thanks in advance!

Reply

Victor Cheng February 27, 2014 at 10:49 am

Laura,

I would suggest focusing on Part 1, Sections iii and IV. – data interpretation (reading charts and data tables) and quantitative reasoning (thinking logically with numbers)

Victor

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Victor Cheng February 27, 2014 at 10:51 am

Both skills are used quite frequently in consulting. If you need practice for basic arithmetic, I would recommend using my case interview math practice tool at http://www.caseinterview.com/math

It provides timed arithmetic practice and will compare your speed an accuracy to all other users by percentile rank and versus my own speed and accuracy.

Victor

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Clara March 8, 2014 at 12:05 pm

Hi,
I’ve been studying for the PST for the last 2 weeks, I took it last week (March 2014).
The questions were around the same 3 cases somebody else in May 2013 mentioned above (luxury women apparel manufacturer, boat manufacturer and a charity focused on placement of graduates-teachers from poor backgrounds into secondary schools). I guess it is clear they don’t change them too often, which is good!
I believe they have about 6 different forms going on though, watch out.
Anyways, I don’t know how it went, I was confident when practicing but as the person above mentioned there were a couple of quite complex problems so I didn’t accomplish to finish it, but I went through 95% of it.
Advice: PRACTICE, PRACTICE and PRACTICE. The McKinsey online samples offered in their website don’t look to different, so it is all about mastering time (as Victor says, start by mastering accuracy though).
I haven’t heard about results yet, wish me luck! And…Good luck for you all !

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KA March 10, 2014 at 1:56 pm

Good Luck, thanks for sharing your experience.

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jk March 12, 2014 at 2:09 am

Clara, Best of luck! Have your heard about the result?

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Tong March 26, 2014 at 5:25 am

PST today, the same case as someone shared before. I didnot pass it. Just 3 days for preparation. May need more practice.
There are not a lot of calculation. A lot of logic questions. Hope u guys good luck.
1) Pharmaceutical company that wants to sell diabetic preventing medicine in China.

2) A country in Asia that wants to transportation system role model.

3) Instruction bundles (textbooks plus other things) for schools.

Reply

Mia September 19, 2014 at 9:01 am

Hey Tong,
Do you still remember any answers from the test by chance? :)
Thnks :D

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Victor Cheng September 19, 2014 at 9:42 am

Hi All,

I’m going to ask that those who have taken the test NOT share specific questions and answers from the actual PST. I’d like this site to be focused on legitimate preparation that is fair for all, rather than getting answers to the test from someone else which feels more like cheating to me.

It’s fine to share general themes, impressions, suggestions for how to best prepare, etc…

Thanks for respecting this request.

Victor

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@sh April 20, 2014 at 2:12 am

Hi Victor/all,

Planning to apply to McK India office. Have over 6 years of consulting experience in a Big 4 Consulting Firm

1) Any idea, if the recruitment process involves writing a PST?
2) (How much) Would the experience at the Big4 count?
3) Needed help with the cover letter/Resumes. any inputs??

Short timelines & turnaround time. Appreciate a quick response.
Thanks a ton.

Reply

damilola April 27, 2014 at 2:02 pm

it is very interesting and helpful

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Alexis May 13, 2014 at 6:15 pm

Hi everyone!

I am an experienced professional with 14 years on different sectors. I will take the PST in some days here in Brazil. Does anyone know if the PST in Brazil is also in the English language?

Thanks!

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rodrigo December 2, 2014 at 3:09 pm

Yes, PST is in English in Brazil.

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Svetlana May 23, 2014 at 9:29 am

Is there anyway to buy PST tests for Mac? I don’t have or even know anyone who has a PC (

Many thanks!

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Maxim June 29, 2014 at 4:17 am

Svetlana, you can launch Windows applications on Mac. Use standard application, called BootCamp. It’s already installed on your Mac.
Or you can buy Parallels, I heard it’s better (but not free).
Good luck!

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Dang Tuan July 3, 2014 at 5:47 am

Hi Victor,
I search around but i didn’t see anywhere indicates the cut-off point for PST. For 26 questions, what is cut-off % we need to make?
Thanks

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Victor Cheng July 3, 2014 at 10:54 pm

Dang,

I haven’t seen a cut off score from a reliable source thus far. I’ve seen much speculation. More important and or more actionable than the cut off score is actually being able to finish the test.

Nearly everyone who has taken it – both those how passed and those who did not – all comment on how they finished with barely enough time.

Many if not most people who passed did not feel they did well. So during the test, do not let yourself get worried if your “feeling” isn’t totally positive. Most people who take he test are capable of a high score, but not within the time alotted. So the main issue isn’t can you answer the question, it’s can you do so extremely efficiently – mainly be not calculating anything even when presented with many numbers when a calculation is not logically needed to answer the question as it was phrased.

A related issue is using estimated computations when an estimate is sufficient to answer the question, rather than using time consuming precise computations when such precision isn’t technically required given how the question was asked.

By the way, did I mention READ THE QUESTION… CAREFULLY?

Many people answer the question they thought they read, but not the actual question that was asked. Again, do not be more precise than is needed.

Good luck,
Victor

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Morgan August 1, 2014 at 1:55 pm

Hi Victor,

Is there a version of your PST full toolkit that works on Mac computers?

Please let me know.

Thank you,

Morgan

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Victor Cheng August 2, 2014 at 4:11 pm

Morgan,

Unfortunately, there is not a Mac version available at this time.

Victor

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Morgan August 3, 2014 at 4:23 pm

Darn, will it work with Boot Camp support?
https://www.apple.com/support/bootcamp/

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Victor Cheng August 3, 2014 at 6:16 pm

Yes if you have windows via bootcamp it should work. I personally use windows through VMware (comparable to bootcamp) and it works well.

-Victor

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Lerato August 11, 2014 at 9:22 am

Hi Victor,

I was hoping you could shed some light for me on which applicants are required to take the PST.

This past weekend I learned that a friend of mine, and a contact of hers, were not required to take PST, and skipped into Case Interviews straight away. Both people are engineers and have worked as engineering contractors. And were both recruited by the Germany office, alas, for different positions.

I am awaiting a response/ invitation (for test or interview) from McKinsey after the submission of my resume, transcripts as well as a leadership questionnaire I was asked to complete.

I’m just confused as to what the process is for recruitment.
Under which circumstances would a candidate get cleared for PST automatically?

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Victor Cheng August 13, 2014 at 3:15 am

Lerato,

I don’t know the policy for the German McK office. In the US anecdotally, I’ve heard the some MBA candidates from top schools with good GMAT scores haven’t had to take the PST. The PST mainly tests the ability to interpret data to draw accurate logical conclusions and computational thinking. In general, the PST is redundant if a candidates job history and/or quantitative testing history already demonstrates these skills. However, just because I personally think the testing is redundant doesn’t mean McK does. Also I do think the newer GMAT version is more similar to the PST than the old GMAT version. I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point those who had high recent GMAT scores would be able to bypass the PST. (This merely my speculation. I have no data on this)

Victor

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Greg September 2, 2014 at 11:29 pm

Data point for US offices, for whatever it’s worth: I’m an APD (science background and JD), and was offered a choice–a single 30-min case IV by phone, or the PST.

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MAF_HZ August 30, 2014 at 10:31 am

PST Guru Pkg – Test 2- Delimart

Hi Victor,
Thanks first for your efforts. I have a “big” question regarding the 2nd Test in the Guru PST prep Package, the case about Delimart – Answer of Question Nb 7: I did not get the rational explaining why the answer should be D. May you please help understanding better? In other words,
If the difference in the average price/item between vendors reflects the difference of price of the
best-selling products in Delimart Stores, this means there is possible distorsion in Data. …
I don’t get this expression.. I also think that if Delimart will rely on these vendors, why are we still talking about the best-selling product of Delimart? this latter would still come from these vendors… Hence the bigger confusion.

Grateful if you may clarify.
Best, MAF_HZ

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Kai September 13, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Hi,

I am writing from Scandinavia. I will be applying for a job at McKinsey soon. On their Norwegian website they say nothing about the PST. I also talked with some McKinsey consultants about the recruiting process and they did non mention the PST. Do you know if the PST in part of the application process in Scandinavia?

Best regards

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Victor Cheng September 13, 2014 at 7:44 pm

Kai,

I do not know what the policy is in Scandinavia. Recruiting practices may vary from one region to another, one season to another (the new season just started), and by level and type of education.

Victor

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Victor Cheng September 13, 2014 at 7:45 pm

Kai,

I would suggest checking the website for the office you are considering. They will usually outline the process. Also, if you are able to reach a recruiting coordinator on the phone, generally they will gladly answer your questions. It’s peak season so they are very hard to reach, but when you are able to reach them they are usually fairly transparent about the process.

Victor

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Kai October 3, 2014 at 5:34 pm

Thank you for your suggestions. I have purchased some of your resources and they have been of great help so far.

Best regards,
Kai

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Meto September 17, 2014 at 3:59 pm

Hi, Victor
Hi, all

Here is my case:
I applied over the McK career website for research analyst in two offices in Eastern Europe (Wroclaw and Zagreb). After a quick and polite refuse from Wroclaw and no answer yet from the other, 10 days after I applied I got mail from McK Budapest. They said that they are interested in my application and offer me to try for Banking Market Analyst (unannounced in the website!). It goes without saying that it is great to be acknowledged by McK, BUT:
1) my background (graduate in European Studies and working in business support organisation) is not anyhow related to banking/insurance/stock exchange. And no, I did not lie in my resume…What do you think they found in me – ‘exotic languages’ (Russian, Bulgarian) or else?
2) I will sit a 60 minutes English NUMERICAL test where the incorrect answers mean -1 point, the correct answers +1 point, blank – 0 point. When in turn I asked whether this test is of the kind of the prep tests on McK site, the answer was to “google such tests… there are many out there”. What should I expect then and how should I prepare?
3) In addition, if I pass the numerical test, on the 1 round interview I will have to sit a 45-min. Excel test. Any information and insights about this one?

Finally, we agreed that I will sit the test on October 2 in Bucharest office (for proximity reasons) and if I am successful, the excel test will be on the next day.

I read the comments here, but couldn’t find such a case. So if Viktor or anyone have some advice, I will be happy to see it!

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Anjola September 20, 2014 at 2:58 am

Hi all! Just wanted to share my experience on the McK PST which echoes those of @M and @Boris.

I started preparing for the PST as soon as I submitted my application for the Associate role (about 3 weeks in advance). Prior to this point I had not done any form of even basic Maths since BSc (5 years ago). The first time I tried the practice PST, I couldnt believe how badly I scored, 13 of the 26 questions. I spent the next week practicing other data interpretation tests, GRE/ GMAT/Advanced numerical tests. I also spent time studying basic business principles and the associated calculations e.g Profit Margin, simple interest etc. I went back to studying the practice PSTs. After scoring each practice session, I would carefully study the answer section and try to understand Mckinsey’s reasons for the selected answer. And then write a full page on the insights I gathered from that particular test. For me, this was a way to let the info sink in.

On the day of the actual PST, I felt so ill (yes my nerves get the better of me at written exams, and I have always felt this way since high school), I was so close to cancelling and rescheduling later. While I was writing the test, after a couple of questions I was so unsure about, I was shaking my head, thinking ‘why even bother ?’…Although I managed to finish on time and come back to a few questions. I definitely felt horrible after the test. There was definitely atleast 2 questions I had NO IDEA how to solve and didn’t have the time to think about so I guessed those. I was very unsure of the outcome, I really couldn’t say how the test went! I had written the whole thing off until I read Boris’ s and M’s comments and saw I was not alone with the post-test feeling!

In the end, I got the email yesterday saying I passed the PST ! I absolutely could not believe it!. Anyway all the excitement is gone now, I tend to do really well in interviews, but I may have scaled through the easiest part of the process.

Goodluck to anyone taking the PST! Dont feel too discouraged if you don’t feel great after the test. Apparently , ‘feeling unsure’ is the best feeling you’ll get in most cases.

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Tosin November 17, 2014 at 8:55 am

Hi, Anjola. Congratulations on passing the PST. I have mine tomorrow and I have had less than 4 days to prepare because my test came as short notice. I have been thinking about the option of cancelling the test but it is one of those things I would rather do and get over. I am not excellent on maths and I have been scoring low on the few practice questions I have taken. Do you have any suggestions as to what I should be focusing on. Any tips on what your test questions were would also be useful. Thanks in advance.

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Patrick September 25, 2014 at 5:46 am

Hi,

I am planning to apply for McKinsey in Germany.
Here’s how I’m preparing for the PST: I am currently practicing the tests on McKinsey’s website, Victor’s tests and GMAT tests. Also I found a MathTool and several BrainTeasers on PrepLounge.com, which I find very useful (by the way, it’s also possible to meet former McKinsey consultants there who can give you useful hints and tipps).

Has anyone else here taken the PST in Germany yet? Is it different from other PST tests? I read that in Germany the PST is part of the first round interview process, i.e. you will have 3 interviews and the PST, and that the PST is evaluated together with the interviews…

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Mark November 25, 2014 at 8:53 pm

Hi everyone,

Thank you for sharing your tips and experience. I recently passed the McKinsey PST and thought of sharing my experience to guide those who will be taking the test.

1. Preparation

– I did the McKinsey practice set twice. Got about 50-60% passing rate at my first try. Then improved to 70-80% at my second try. I studied each item why I got the correct answer or not. This is really important because this will practice your mindset on how to answer PST questions.
– Practiced mental math. Most of the time, I calculated on paper unless its easy as 10% of 100. This worked out really well for me. I remembered there is one item that is really easy to find the answer but have to do a long calculation as the choices are really close to each other. Think I used up about 3mins but I got 1 point!
– Studied the type of questions by reading this website: http://mconsultingprep.com/problem-solving-test/how-to-prepare/ – Because time is your enemy here, understanding the type of questions you will be asked will save you a lot of time. This website is a big help to me.

2. During the test

– I was a little sick during the test but I told myself that it is just gonna be an hour! Focus!
– Relax. I found myself relaxed during the test and I am surprised about this. I think I can attribute this to the preparation I’ve done and the conversation I had with other examinees before the test started.
– Read the questions first. If you think you have to do some long calculation, make a guesstimate and get back to it later. Guesstimate for me is that you still have a basis why that is your answer. Think of it as if you’re in a real case, you should have at least a basis of your answer when you are asked by your manager.
– When doing analysis, think about what Victor discussed. Is this true in all cases? What made this conclusion false?
– When you have eliminated some of the choices and you can’t decide between the two. Think again like you’re doing real case, what will I do/choose if this is a real case?
– Expect noises such as other candidates flipping pages, recruiter typing in his laptop, etc.

3. After the test

– I really felt unsure if I’ve done enough. And I’m not disappointed about this. Thanks to Victor and to the people who shared their experience that that feeling is normal.
– What I felt is that I know I got at least 50% correct and if my judgment on the other half is correct, I know I’ll pass the test.

Hope I helped the other candidates who will take the test.

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Catherine November 26, 2014 at 10:29 am

Did you apply to one of the North American offices?

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Mark November 26, 2014 at 8:51 pm

Nope. :)

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Jacobian November 29, 2014 at 6:03 pm

Hi everyone,

Has anybody done the McK PST recently? Could you share your experience? I am prepping for mine next week. Seems really quiet here on this forum.

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Jacobian November 29, 2014 at 6:33 pm

Mark,

Please share with us the type of scenarios (cases) you had. Did you have the luxury boat…, women’s fashion, Go-Teach etc? Would be helpful to know what the scenarios this year are. Many thanks.

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Mark December 1, 2014 at 12:23 am

Hi Jacobian,

As much as I would like to help you, I don’t think I can share it with you and I don’t think its going to make any difference. Just continue practicing the skills needed for the PST and you’ll be fine. You can ask me other questions though.

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