Consulting Resume Template & Tips to Writing the Perfect Consulting Resume (2019 Update)

For almost any professional job, applicants are required to provide a resume and cover letter to demonstrate their qualifications. Your resume is one of the most important documents during the application process, as it acts as a summary of your education, experience, and skillset.

In the consulting world, your resume is even more important. The top three consulting firms — McKinsey, Bain, and BCG — have acceptance rates of less than five percent during any given year. The resume screening step is where most applicants are eliminated. This goes to show just how important it is to write a strong resume when applying to be a consultant.

A management consulting resume is different from your standard resume. The difference is not just in terms of format, but content, style, and overall approach. You probably know that the role of a consultant encompasses many different skillsets. A management consultant is a problem-solver, a data expert, and a communications professional, all bundled into one. Because consultants handle complex tasks using many different approaches, firms will be looking at your resume to determine if you have what it takes to be a successful hire. So, what goes into writing the perfect consulting resume? This piece will cover four essential guidelines that you should follow when preparing your resume for a consulting opportunity. By following these steps, you will be in a much better position to impress your employer and secure an interview.

1. Understand What Consulting Firms Are Looking for in Your Resume

In order to write a resume that will get you the interview, you must understand what top consulting firms look for when reviewing candidate applications.

What Consulting Firms are Looking for in your resume

These top firms care less about the proper format than they do about the qualifications and accomplishments that each candidate has. During resume screening, top consulting firms will pay attention to the following components of your resume:

  1. Brand Name Schools and Employers

The truth is that top consulting firms do care about which schools you attended and which employers you’ve worked for. They have a strong bias for brand name schools and employers that stand out to them and their clients. In fact, it’s the attention that the clients of the firm give to brand name schools that cause the interviewer to pay the same attention to your education background.

It’s not uncommon for a client seeking consulting services to be charged over $500,000 a year. As you would expect, such clients would want to ensure that any consultants working on their project are adequately qualified. Boasting a BS from Yale or an MBA from Harvard certainly adds points, even as a junior consultant working on a major project.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t get a consulting position if you went to a non-target school. However, if you have such brand names on your resume, make it easy for people to see.

  1. Academic Performance

Consulting firms also pay attention to academic performance. They want to know how you rank in your class and whether you have what it takes to tackle complex consulting projects. Therefore, include your GPA to differentiate your resume from others.

MBA applicants should include their GMAT scores and MBA GPA to be easily seen on their resume.

  1. Specific Skills Relevant to the Profession

Top consulting firms want to know that you have soft skills, including leadership and communication. While working in the profession, you will need to be able to handle difficult personalities, lead a team, and communicate important information in a manner that people can easily understand. Therefore, make sure you list experiences that demonstrate any leadership and communication experience, among other essential skills.

Activities that demonstrate such skills include job and internship responsibilities, extracurricular activities, and specific experiences that speak to these skills.

  1. Standardized Test Scores (Especially in Math)

Because grading can vary from one institution to another, top consulting firms would like to see your performance in standardized testing. High performance further strengthens your academic qualifications and shows consulting firms that you have what it takes to be a successful hire. Make sure you include high SATs, GRE, GMAT, MCAT, or LSAT scores in your resume.

  1.  Career Experiences

Consulting firms want to see your career experiences, accompanied by what you achieved during your time in each position. Remember that these firms compare how long your career was with how much you achieved. You may need to show more accomplishments after working for eight years compared to one year.

Regardless of the number of years in a position, follow an achievement-based approach when describing your job. This means emphasizing outcomes, quantifying them, and highlighting parts of your job that apply most specifically to the consulting position in question

2. Properly Format Your Resume

Knowing what top consulting firms expect from your resume, is just the beginning of resume writing. While it does form a solid foundation to build upon, you should also know how to present your academic, professional, and extracurricular skills in a consulting resume.

A lot of this comes down to proper formatting. And by formatting, I don’t mean margins, font size, and columns. Rather, proper formatting refers to presenting your qualifications in a manner that the resume screener can easily identify.

Here are key points to remember when formatting your resume.

  1. Emphasize Brand Names

Make sure the brand name schools you attended, or big companies that you interned with, are clearly mentioned near the top of your resume. Have them in a bold font right after the name and contact information section.

  1. Proudly Display a High GPA

Along with brand names, include your high GPA right next to the school and program information. Remember that resume screeners are doing just that: screening your resume. If you make your distinguishing qualifications hard to find, you may be overlooked.

  1. One Page Does the Trick

This is perhaps the biggest caveat to consulting resume writing. How do you condense so many experiences and qualifications into just one page?

Starting early is key. Take time to reflect on your most relevant experiences, how you’ll allocate bullet points, and how you can play around with margins and line spacing to fit everything on one page. While this may sound challenging, it’s possible — unless you have many years of experience across multiple fields (which you can extend to a second page).

  1. Have Clearly Defined Sections

A typical consulting resume should be split into five clearly defined sections:

  1. Personal Information
  2. Education
  3. Work Experience
  4. Extracurricular Experiences and Achievements
  5. Additional Skills

While you don’t have to follow this format religiously, make sure the information you include covers all sections mentioned above. More importantly, don’t forget about your extracurricular achievements. This section gives you the opportunity to demonstrate important skills such as leadership, teamwork, and entrepreneurship.

  1. Use Action-Driven Verbs

When your resume is being screened, you have only seconds to attract the attention of your resume screener. So, it is essential that you give some thought to word choice. Start each bullet point with an action verb such as “lead,”“initiated,”“solved,”“saved,” etc. This will attract attention to your specific achievements and make you stand out from other applicants.

  1. Emphasize Language Skills

If you can speak multiple languages, you may stand out to consulting firms. A firm may view you as an asset for a specific market they’re targeting. Because consultancy is becoming global in today’s world, being fluent in more than one language can set you apart from other applicants.

  1. Keep It Simple

Remember that not all resume screeners are familiar with your specific field of work. Therefore, avoid industry-specific jargon when describing your accomplishments. Simplify this information in a manner that anyone can easily understand when reading through your resume.

  1. Demonstrate a Variety of Skills

Avoid falling victim to writing an incomplete resume. How could this happen? If you’ve been working as an engineer for many different companies, don’t include the same job responsibilities repeatedly throughout your resume. Instead, highlight unique experiences that demonstrate your diverse skillset. More importantly, emphasize your achievements rather than your daily responsibilities.

  1. Use Quantitative Language

The consulting field is driven by data. Numbers, quantities, and other similar information can attract attention to your skillset. As you outline achievements in your professional career, present them using quantified data backed by numbers.

For example, you could state how you developed a quality management system that resulted in lower production costs, from $40 per unit to $30 per unit (or something similar).

3. Stand Out from the Crowd

As you write a consulting resume, remember that you’re looking for any opportunity to stand out from thousands of other applicants. Similarly, resume screeners are looking for what makes you different.

Personal accomplishments such as distinguished scholarships, Olympic medals, or presidential honors can be the accomplishment that sets you apart from another similarly qualified candidate.

If you’ve done smaller, yet unique activities that others haven’t done, also include these in your resume.  The goal is to take every opportunity to stand out from the competition.

4. Avoid Making Simple Mistakes

As you finalize your consulting resume, make sure you keep the following Dos and Don’ts in mind. These pointers can help you avoid common, easy-to-prevent mistakes so that you can submit an outstanding resume.

  1. DO: Proofread your resume multiple times.Spelling mistakes come across as unprofessional.
  2. DO: Keep it to one page. The only exception is if you have many years of experience.
  3. DO: Have enough white space.A bunch of text makes scanning difficult.
  4. DO: Seek feedback from peers and professionals.This includes alumni, mentors, and professional partners, especially within the consulting industry.
  5. DON’T: Lack specificity.Use action verbs, quantitative language, and evidence to back your skillset.
  6. DON’T: Overlook your soft skills.Leadership, communication, and teamwork are all key to consulting work.

DOs and DONts of writing a consulting resume

As you can see from these tips, writing a consulting resume is different from a standard resume for other types of jobs. A consulting resume requires attention to detail, focus on your unique skillset, succinct language, and an achievement-based approach. Writing the perfect consulting resume is not as easy as many people think. It takes lots of time and attention.

Resume Example

Here is an example resume that highlights the tips I’ve mentioned. Reference this example as you create your resume to make sure that you hit all of the important sections. With the exception of your brand name schools/employers and GPA, these items do not need to appear in the order I have them listed. But, make sure that they are all represented in your resume.

Below is an example consulting resume you can download the example as well by clicking here

Resume Instructions

More Resources:

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126 comments… add one
  • Ridwan Kazi Jul 16, 2013, 11:45 am

    This article was great Victor! The breakdown and examples were especially useful. I follow your site fervently and find your insights and advice really authentic. I have a few questions if you would be able to give me some advice. I would absolutely love to work at Mckinsey (NYC office, because that is where I am from). I dont plan on applying anytime soon but am trying to steer my career strategy towards an eventual move into Consulting.
    I am currently working for a fortune 100 engineering company (Deere & Co.) as a Product Engineer and am planning to get a Mba from one of the top 5 schools. My concern is if I do make it to the one of the schools and then apply for a spot at Mckinsey, would my company and Mba school be enough brand naming for me to be considered?
    In regards to GPA, my undergraduate GPA was quite low although I still managed to acquire a job at Deere which is consistantly considered a top engineering company. Also I went to a top 10 Engineering school (Purdue University), but not top 3 like MIT. Would these things be detrimental to my future application? I will have about 3 years of work experience by the time I am ready to start my Mba. I was hoping that if I can secure a high GPA at the top Mba school, then I could use that for my GPA on the resume.
    Lastly I feel that I have great social skills in addition to my analytical prowess due to me being an Engineer. Although I am quite technical I have a varying array of interests, ranging from quantum physics/mathematics to economics to immigrant identity in the western cultures to cultural/social processes of thought in eastern cultures compared to western and the art of Comedy. Would any of this be relevant to making me stand out as unique?
    Im sorry for the obnoxiously long comment lol, but I am hungry for some direction in my endeavor to get back home with the great prestige and opportunity of working for Mckinsey and am trying to get the best strategy to do so. Thanks for all the help so far.

    • Victor Cheng Jul 24, 2013, 2:21 pm


      Short answer: When you have a Harvard MBA, a lot is forgiven or forgotten.

      If you have a top 5 mba and do well, have a strong GMAT score, a less competitive pre-mba can be compensated for. Yes, it is noticed — but if the overall trajectory of your resume is strongly upwards, it can be a compensating factor. It might not be enough to get into the top 3 firms, but certainly the rest of the top 10 is a definite possibility.

      The GMAT score will be crucial for you. The interpretation you want the reader to have is 1) smart enough to have gone to harvard for undergrad, but for whatever reason the opportunity didn’t exist for this person at that time.

      In terms of the low undegrad gpa at a non target school, the interpretation you hope for is the person was smart, but lazy as an undergrad… and for a variety of reasons, got serious and the more recent accomplishments and test scores reflect being smart with the work ethic.

      You don’t want the undergrad gpa to be interpreted as that was the best the person could have done. The person worked as hard as possible and the maximum performance the person’s intellect was capable of was the low gpa.

      Now if that happens to be true, it will most likely be reflected in a gmat score in a range similar to the undergrad gpa. But if the GMAT score is substantially higher than the undergrad GPA and the mba GPA is excellent, the interpretation (which they will never public admit) is the person was smart but lazy in college. (Or smart but suffered from illness while in college, or had some family tragedy, or some other non-intellect factor)

      Action Items: GMAT 720+, get into top 5 mba, graduate at top 20% of your class.


      • Ridwan Kazi Jul 25, 2013, 11:18 am

        This is great! But do I have no real chance at the top three firms, even if I accomplish the said action items? I have become very keen on being able to work at Mckinsey and from many of the stories I have read on your site it seems that people who have not gone to target schools as undergrad were still able to work at the top 3 firms. I was under the impression that if I worked hard enough with all the material and advice you provide and also network well at one of the top 5 Mba programs, that I would have a fighting chance. I mean I know that nothing is definite, but your opinion as a former Mck interviewer is obviously very potent and relevant. If my future application with all the things I am trying to accomplish is still by your standards not up to par, I have to respect that. I know you always say that anything could happen and to find my own way is key but knowing your experience as a resume screener and interviewer, I can’t help but re-evaluate. Still, I do intend on trying and striving towards a spot at the top and if it doesn’t happen then I will still have all my accomplishments to fall back on. Anything you can give me so to bolster my future candidacy would be of immense worth and focus, this is the path I have set out and my determination to go to Mck is absolute. Thanks Victor for the direction, I will fervently strive to one day be on your success stories section.

  • Alex Aug 5, 2013, 2:45 pm

    Hi Victor! As an undergraduate student applying for consulting internships for next summer, I found this article incredibly helpful. I have one question about the standardized test scores – I have 5’s on both Calculus AP tests and both the language and literature AP tests. These scores are better than my SAT scores in math and critical reasoning – would it be acceptable to use my AP scores on my resume for the standardized test section?

  • Seth Aug 15, 2013, 3:01 pm

    Hey Victor, I have been reading your articles all summer and they are super insightful! Question: Would any of the firms hire someone with a B.A. majoring in Biology and English who is medical school bound? I am going to medical school September 2015, and have a gap year. I ultimately want to work in a place like McKinsey after pursuing an MD and getting some clinical experience. How should I proceed?

  • Robert Blake Oct 16, 2013, 9:44 am

    Hi Victor,

    Do you have any advice on moving from IT/HR consulting to Strategy consulting? Outside of going back to get an MBA or other advanced degree, I’ve heard the paths are extremely limited.


  • Moses Oct 22, 2013, 6:07 pm

    Hi Victor,

    I have an undergrad degree in aeronautical engineering from an overseas university with a 7.00/10.00 GPA, and I’m currently working on my Master’s in Aerospace Engineering at Penn State University. My GPA will only be around 3 when I’m done, however I have 710/800 in Quants and 700/800 in Verbal from my SAT in senior year of high school. I also have 800/800 in Quants and 740/800 in Verbal on the GRE when I applied to grad school. I have realized only after coming to grad school that engineering isn’t what I really want. I have pretty good critical thinking and analytical skills. And I have been told my communication skills are very good too. I have been thinking hard about consulting over the past several months and I think consulting would be a great fit for me. What do you think are my chances of getting a top 10 company to give me an interview shot with the above criteria? What else besides the GRE and SAT scores would I need to offset that bad GPA? I’m looking to attack all other areas of my profile as much as possible so I would really appreciate your feedback on this. Thanks! Thank you for this great site too!


  • Mhlaba Somabonde Oct 29, 2013, 1:47 am

    Hallo Victor,
    Helpful and insightful article. You have answered all my questions. I have fired blanks all the time with Consulting companies though I considered myself well suited – Executive management experience more than 15 years management and project management experiences, two masters degree – one cum laude from private college in my home country. Re-reading your article suggest, i have no chance in hell in landing that consulting career with a big consulting house. What a pity.

  • Chang Nov 5, 2013, 10:30 am

    Hi Victor,

    Should post-college graduates abridge resume to 1 page?

    • Victor Cheng Nov 7, 2013, 6:20 pm


      In terms of resume length, the rough rule of thumb is one page per decade of post college work experience.

  • Anithamaragatham - Nov 9, 2013, 4:06 pm

    Dear Victor,

    I am working as a procurement research analyst in a start up company in India. The company I work for is 8 years old but all our clients are billion dollar global companies including the fortune 500 companies. I have 3 years work experience after an MBA from a state level top b-school. I am aiming at the big 4. Do I have a chance? Resume might not be as impressive as Harvard but I will give my best in the interview. My question is am I even in the race?

    • Victor Cheng Nov 9, 2013, 7:29 pm

      It’s hard to tell. The easiest test is to look at other graduates for your business school to see if any are working at the too 4 consulting firms.

  • Andre Dec 5, 2013, 6:47 pm

    Hi Victor,

    Just wanted to give you some Kudos for that helpful article.
    Good work.

    Greetings from Germany,

  • dkp Dec 20, 2013, 2:52 pm

    Hi Victor,

    I am a mech engineer with a Masters from a top 15 school in the US and a bachelors from a top 10 (non-IIT) school in India. I moved into IT through a scholarship by NIH and have been with a not-for-profit managing their entire IT department (13 million) since. I’ve been admitted in SBS (Oxford) for a MBA. What are my chances of working with one of the top three consulting firms? Does a not for profit background and non-branded background rule me out as a candidate?

    Thank you

  • Karina Jan 14, 2014, 4:13 pm

    Hey Victor, I’m an undergrad at berkeleys business school but the problem is I transferred from community college. Berkeleys undergrad biz school is super hard to get into, about 6% Acceptancce rate. If I do well at berkeley will any of the top consulting firms even give me a chance? Please feel free to be honest. Thanks

    • Victor Cheng Jan 15, 2014, 4:17 pm


      By itself, I don’t think it is a deal killer. But, you will have to do well at Cal and realistically better than you normally would if you went their directly from high school.

      My college roommate at Stanford was a community college transfer. He was a Stanford Computer Science major with a 4.0 GPA — needless to say nobody cared how he got into Stanford, only how he performed as he left.

      Incidentally, the “story” you want to imply (assuming it is true) is that you went to community college to save money (which most consider an acceptable reason to go) but were qualified to attend an elite university (and your high gpa at the elite university is indicative of your ability to perform at a high level).

      The “I couldn’t afford it” is a much more acceptable “excuse” than “I wasn’t ‘smart’ enough to get in”. It would help to have a super high SAT, GMAT or GRE score too.


  • Karina Jan 15, 2014, 4:41 pm

    Thank so much for the reply victor. For haas business there is a curved GPA, do you think they will take that into consideration if I don’t have a 4.0? I think I should have a 3.75-3.8 is that ok?

    • Victor Cheng Jan 16, 2014, 2:44 am

      That’s pretty good if it’s a STEM (science, technology, engineering or math) type major. Resumes get reviewed on the whole picture. You don’t need everything to be perfect, but if one thing is low something else on the resume needs to stand out as a compensating factor. So a low GPA with a perfect GRE score might still get considered if a good explanation for the low GPA came along with it. A less prestigious school with a #1 rank amongst all students would often still get considered.

      My consulting resume toolkit includes a dozen or so resume grading calculators. You can find the link somewhere on the website, probably at the top.

      If everything across the board is poor, that’s a deal breaker. If one thing is poor, but the rest exceptional that’s a possibility. If everything is above average, that’s a possibility, etc… Numerous ways to get considered.


  • Karina Jan 15, 2014, 5:04 pm

    Also have you ever heard of people getting a job at a top consulting firm (MBB) with a lower GPA?

    • Victor Cheng Jan 16, 2014, 2:45 am

      3.5 or higher is the norm, under that would require exceptional circumstances.

  • Deepti Jan 16, 2014, 12:48 pm

    Hi Victor,

    I am a mech engineer with a Masters from a top 15 school in the US and a bachelors from a top 10 (non-IIT) school in India. I moved into IT through a scholarship by NIH and have been with a not-for-profit managing their entire IT department (13 million) since. I’ve been admitted in SBS (Oxford) for a MBA. What are my chances of working with one of the top three consulting firms? Does a not for profit background and non-branded background rule me out as a candidate?

    Thank you

    • Victor Cheng Jan 27, 2014, 11:57 am


      The non profit background does not rule you out. The lack of brand is an issue, but can be compensated for. Oxford is a target school so that is going to be of enormous help for you.

      The lack of brand employers can be compensated in few different ways. If your prior work achievements were exceptional, that will help. Your performance at Oxford will be heavily scrutinized. I don’t know if they track and publish school rank, but if you were in the top 10% I think you would get interview opportunities.

      The final compensatory factor would be to network, meet people in the firms you want to target, and get them to recommend to their recruiting departments to interview you.

      The above maximizes your chances of getting the interview. Then you have to perform exceptionally well on the case. It can not just be an marginally acceptable performance (which someone with a stronger background might be able to get away with in the first round), in your case it really needs to be exceptional starting in round 1 to offset the perceived risk of hiring someone without a brand employer background.

      From an interviewers point of view, it is extremely, extremely difficult to turn down a candidate in round 1 who did exceptionally well. It is VERY hard to do that. If there is a resume issue, the thinking most interviews will do is they will struggle with the decision, and then decide to pass the decision to the round 2 interviewers.


    • Victor Cheng Jan 27, 2014, 12:02 pm


      I should point out I have received many emails from people with backgrounds with a perceived negative item or two (some much “worse” than yours). They have gotten into the top firms. BUT, and I can’t stress this enough, they were EXTREMELY motivated and probably put 100 – 200 (the highest I’ve ever seen is 300+ hours) hours into case prep and several hundred hours into networking. It can be done, but the “worse” the resume (and I don’t consider your resume bad, the Oxford piece is quite the accomplishment but the lack of brand employers is a valid issue in the eyes of consulting firms) the harder you just worker AND very importantly the EARLIER you must start. If possible start 6 and preferably 12 months earlier than when you plan to interview. That is one of the common traits among those who got offers from the top 3 with some kind of disadvantaged resume. Flat out, they wanted the offer badly and were willing to put in the effort.


      • Deepti Feb 19, 2014, 2:08 pm

        Hi Victor,

        Thank you for your reply. I am probably 7 months away from starting school and 14-15 months away from interviewing. What do you recommend I do to get started? I am a slow learner but a hard worker so what should my first step be? Is there a course I can join or should I get started with your videos?

        Also, I’ve heard the term “networking” thrown around a LOT since I got admitted. Is there a good place to learn networking 101? What should I be doing now to get placed a year later?

        Thanks so much. Your reply was very helpful.

  • Lea Jan 16, 2014, 9:08 pm

    Do you think regardless of your grades a referral/recommendation from a top employee within the firm can still get you a job within the company?

    • Victor Cheng Jan 19, 2014, 10:26 pm

      No. It might be possible to get a case interview opportunity based solely on the relationship, but absolutely impossible to get the job offer at the top few firms without doing well on the case. From the firm’s point of view, there is ENORMOUS risk in putting someone without certain skills in front of a client. The fear is that one mis-hire could ruin the reputation of the entire firm by saying something really “stupid” (e.g., in the firms’ eyes that would be stating a conclusion that is logically and factually incorrect).

      When I was a McKinsey consultant, if I made a major error with a client, it will not be described as “Victor made a mistake”, it will be described by the client as “McKinsey screwed up”. THAT is why the firms are so intensely focused on the case interview. That are totally paranoid about the scenario I just described.


  • Lea Jan 20, 2014, 12:16 am

    Hey Victor, thanks for letting me know. What books do you recommend for case interviews? Or any tools that would help with acing case interviews? Thanks.


    • Victor Cheng Jan 27, 2014, 11:50 am

      I’m a bit biased on this one. I recommend my own book Case Interview Secrets. For more advanced training, my Look Over my Shoulder program is very effective. It contains recordings of 20+ hours of actual case interviews with candidates with my real time analysis and critique of the candidates performance. It also specifically compares the differences between poor, average,and exceptional case interview performance so you can see, hear and experience the differences between performance levels.


  • Lea Jan 20, 2014, 12:20 am

    Also if you do well in your interview (that is if you got an interview through an employee) and your grades aren’t top notch, say maybe a ~3.4-3.5 can you still secure a job at one of the three (MBB)?

    • Victor Cheng Jan 27, 2014, 11:46 am

      Yes absolutely. I had a 3.5 GPA coming out of Stanford. I would really try to get or keep your GPA at 3.5 or higher.

      It also depends on the selectivity of your school. So a person with a 3.5 GPA from an ivy would get looked at and could get in if they did well on the case. Someone from a top 200 university would be expected to have a higher GPA to compensate for lack of ivy. The same is true if the major is not technical or math oriented. An English major is expected to have a higher GPA than an engineer because the bias in consulting is that math oriented majors are harder than the liberal arts oriented one.


  • Alyssa Mar 6, 2014, 6:55 pm

    Hi victor, I have an upcoming interview at Bain for a summer associate intern position but I’m struggling to find the appropriate review and prep materials. Do you think case in point would be a good place to start? Or is it a bit advanced for a summer intern interview? Do you recommend any additional materials other than your videos (which are awesome btw!!) but I’m just stressing and want to be as prepared as possible. Thanks!!

    • Victor Cheng Mar 7, 2014, 2:08 am


      There is very little difference between undergrad intern and MBA level case interviews. The standard is high mainly because clients demand it regardless of whether a consultant is an intent, and undergrad, or a MBA. Logic is logic. Math is math. Accurate conclusions are accurate conclusions.

      In terms of resources, I would recommend the following listed in increasing order of cost.

      My free videos and email newsletter

      My book Case Interview Secrets

      My Look Over My Shoulder Program – recordings and analysis of 20+ case interviews with actual candidates

      Doing 1:1 practice with a case coach (a former Bain, BCG or McKinsey interviewer)

      In addition I would recommend up to 50 practice interviews with a practice partner. If you don’t have one locally you can search for one at

      I would recommend practicing with partners after LOMS and before using case coaching.

      Good luck,

  • Alyssa Mar 6, 2014, 7:23 pm

    Oh also sorry I forgot to mention I’m an undergraduate not an MBA student. Thanks!


  • Matthew Bell Mar 10, 2014, 7:42 pm


    Thank you for the helpful advice. I have sent an online application to Deloitte for their NextGen Leaders program and their minimum GPA requirement is a 3.2 according to their website. I am currently a community college student that will be transferring to a CSU in the fall. I’m anticipating a 3.4 overall GPA at the time of transfer. Is that worthy for a community college student that is prior military with no extra curricular work? Any advice or recommendations to help myself stand out? Thank you.


  • Weiye Deng Apr 16, 2014, 4:20 pm


    I am an undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota majoring in B.S Economics. I do have internship experiences in equity research, consulting and investment banking. My current GPA is 3.5.

    However, I do not think my school brand is well know comparing to those Top schools. Also, two of the internship experiences that I had is from China which I think it’s not a big brand for US employer. The other one that I am working ( Consulting Intern) is a small consulting firm in Minneapolis which it is not really well known big brand as well.

    My question is:
    1.Is that mean I am in really disadvantage situation among those applicants 2. Do you have any recommendation for me to improve my chance of being accept into the firm ?

  • Chu May 5, 2014, 5:21 am

    Hi Victor, I have been working in science research / project management for several years, but am now looking to switch into MC. Do you have any advice on additional ways to enhance my resume and training prior to applying? My education background includes a Masters (science) from Cambridge. I have also previously started an entrepreneur business venture.

  • Muk May 27, 2014, 4:53 am

    Hi Victor,

    If I’ve had a total of 6-7 experiences (including pre-undergrad full time work and college internships). Is it necessary to include everything in my resume? An interviewer (non-US, non-top 50) brought it up during an interview and said I should, even if it means exceeding the recommended 1 page length.

    Also, say I am working for a startup that isn’t doing that great and so decide to take another job (while still working for the startup), do I need to mention both as my current experience in my resume?

    What I am trying to understand is if a resume is indeed just a marketing document where you provide only the most relavent information or if its mandatory to list every position you’ve ever held. Just for full disclosure, I always mention all my work experiences during the interview process itself (I am not really trying to hide anything).

    Thanks a ton. Really appreciate the help.

  • Victor Cheng Jun 1, 2014, 5:05 pm


    I think most people are somewhat split on this decision. I personally see the resume as a marketing document. Everything on there should be accurate, but I personally think it is fine to exclude things that aren’t relevant.

    For example, I do some volunteer work at my kids school. I helped them remove weeds from the garden next to the playground. One could argue it is a “job”. But it isn’t relevant to my reader.

    Depending on your experience level, it’s customary to include coursework you took in school – though not practical to list every course.

    That’s my personal take. Again, a number of people will disagree with this point of view.


    • Victor Cheng Jun 1, 2014, 5:06 pm


      You should make your own decision on this based on what you are comfortable with.


  • Nicholas Jun 9, 2014, 3:55 pm


    First of all, I really appreciate everything you put on the website. All of it is very useful and immensely informative.
    I d0 have one question that I am curious about.
    My resume lists all of the things you listed above: A high GPA while committing over 40 hours a week to coaching/volunteering with various organizations. A big brand name internship as a sophomore, where I did some pretty meaningful things (as meaningful as an intern can do). Plenty of leadership/team experience. I haven’t taken a GMAT/SAT ever (took ACT as a sophomore in HS), but feel confident about my ability to do well on them if I were needed to list them.
    However, I go to The Ohio State University, which is not exactly prestigious (although it is climbing up the rankings every year… Go Bucks!). What’s the likelihood that my resume hits the trash folder because of the name of the school at the top? Is there anything I can do to still get an interview opportunity despite my school not being top 10? Lots of networking, I presume?

    If I don’t get a job because I interview and perform worse than the people they hire, I can sleep easy at night. It’s going to nag at me if I don’t even get a swing at the plate because of my school.

    Anything you’ve got would really be appreciated.

    Thanks Victor,


    • Victor Cheng Jul 2, 2014, 11:45 am


      Your assessment of the situation is fairly accurate. There is a huge bias against non target schools. Networking is the key and also targeting in your case offices based in Ohio. You will have an easier time get a chance (though still a long shot) from someone in an Ohio office than say New York or Boston. Other than, anticipate getting an informal case interview by phone or over coffee (unannounced) to determine if someone you meet wants to risk their reputation by recommending you for a real interview. You have to nail the case in the interview for the interview. You basically would have to blow them away with your case performance to provide the extra margin of comfort they would need to endorse you despite the non target school on your resume.


  • Shivina Mittal Jul 12, 2014, 3:25 pm

    Hi Victor,

    Your article is very helpful. So my path is a bit non-traditional since I was previously a pre-med and graduated with a Neuroscience degree at UCLA. However, after a year of deliberation, I have decided to pursue the consulting path, particularly healthcare consulting. I did get an 800 in the math portion of the SAT’s and my quantitative skills have always been very strong but I do not have much coursework at UCLA that further demonstrates that. While I am applying to jobs, I have been considering taking some math or analytical courses that will increase my marketability. Do you have any thoughts or suggestions about my approach? All of this is very new to me but your website has been a huge help!

    Thanks so much and looking forward to your response,


    • Victor Cheng Jul 15, 2014, 5:37 pm


      From a consulting firms point of view, if you got an 800 on the math SAT and presuming your in major gpa in a hard science was pretty good, it’s safe to say you can add, subtract, multiply, divide and calculate a percentage. (Truly that is 95% of the math used in consulting).

      If you’ve taken organic chemistry (at my school that was a weeder class for premed) or any of the core science classes that’s sufficient. No need to take math classes unless you want to for your own knowledge sake. If you were going to take more for you own benefit, I would recommend an intro statistics class and an intro economics class — both quite useful even outside of consulting.

      Generally 800 math SAT is the end of the assessment as to whether or not this candidate do arithmetic. (at least at the resume screening portion of the process).

      If I were screening your resume, I would presume you could do math. I would be curious to see your gpa in neuroscience. Did you excel or did you just get by? UCLA may not be a target school for most firms, so to be considered it would really help if you had a very high gpa from ucla — 3.9 or above ideally.

      So the lack of ivy is a bigger constraint for your background than lack of a math class on your transcript. Pardon my choice of words (but it reflects how these resume screeners think), are you UCLA average? or are you UCLA exceptional? The former probably not going to get an interview, the latter is a definite possibility.

      At the ivy’s the presumption is the talent pool is a higher caliber, so the firms will go lower on the gpa scale. So a 3.5 Harvard is equal if not better than a 3.9 UCLA (as an illustrative example).

      A 4.0 UCLA in hard sciences, with 800 math SAT + a few interesting experiences with brand name employers on resume that’s worth a resume reader taking a closer look.


  • Sunny Huang Jul 13, 2014, 9:17 pm

    Hi Victor,

    Thanks so much for your helpful article! I just have a question after reading it:
    I’m a Stanford undergrad and have the great brand name, so now I’m wondering how to differentiate myself in my extracurriculars. What sorts of extracurriculars do you think would be impressive? I’m currently a chair in student council and am team lead in the Business Association of Stanford Entrepreneurial Students. Are there other areas you’d recommend I get involved in?
    I’ve also competitively played the piano in high school (performed at Carnegie Hall and won other awards), but I stopped playing in college because I thought that student council and other leadership might be more relevant to consulting recruiting, and that continued involvement with piano might not be as important for consulting. Is this true?

    Thank you so much!

    • Victor Cheng Jul 15, 2014, 5:29 pm


      I think you are somewhat asking the wrong question. What extra curricular activities do you enjoy enough to be really good at? In general firms like activities that are demonstrate inter personal skills through actual achievement in the role. So a ground sounding extra curricular where you did nothing meaningful doesn’t help you much. If you landed a bunch of great extra curricular titles, but didn’t actually have to interact with anyone in those roles, it will be very obvious at the interview that your inter personal skills seem inconsistent with the interpersonal skills your resume would imply.

      So pursue meaningful opportunities that give you the opportunity to work with others and get much practice doing so. It’s important to BE good, not just LOOK good.

      Also to me it is impressive you played at Carnegie Hall. It’s different. Is it directly relevant to consulting? No. Does it stand out as different? Yes. Consulting firms like people who can achieve things that are hard for the general public to achieve. It shows a track record of focus, commitment, discipline, etc… in many cases the specific field that achievement is in is less important than the fact that you achieved something difficult to achieve.

      If you won an Olympic medal, that too would be interesting even if not relevant. The hard part in the resume screening part of the process (see my consulting resume toolkit for more specific details and actual resume examples) is you need something that sticks out as different from the crowd.

      When I was at Stanford, 400 undegrads applied. My guess is 40 or so got 1st round interviews, 6 got offers. Keep in mind many of the 400 didn’t even know what a case interview was.

      My extra curriculars were being the Photo Editor of the Daily and later the yearbook. Hardly directly relevant to consulting, but it was what was interesting to me at the time, I worked 30 hours a week at it, and got to cover some breaking news events (riots/protests, vice presidential candidate announcements, etc..).

      The range of who gets interviews can be quite wide. Try not to over think it and to game the system. Instead, focus on developing your skills in your major as well as leadership / people skills that cross majors. Also it doesn’t hurt to do what you enjoy if it means you will put more effort into it and developed greater competence at it.

      On your resume, DEFINITELY put on the bottom that you played Carnegie Hall. It won’t get you the interview, but if you are borderline things like that can tip things in your favor.

      Good luck,

  • Hayley Jul 24, 2014, 4:38 am

    Dear Victor,

    How would a MPP or a MA in Regional Studies from Harvard compare to MBA graduates if I am going into consulting after a number of years in government service from a country other than the US? (You mentioned earlier that HBS on resume will likely cause other factors to be forgotten, I assume other Harvard degrees are less prestigious?)

    Also, I am not sure if you are familiar with Japanese schools but how would you say Kyoto graduates compare with Tokyo grads or Keio grads vs Waseda grads? Are they on par on the prestige factor or are there differences?


    • Victor Cheng Aug 15, 2014, 11:24 am


      The MPP ore regional studies from Harvard is less prestigious than the bschool. It also depends what country and office you apply to. If you apply for the Boston office, you have no differentiation. If you apply for the Moscow office, any Harvard is better than no Harvard.

      I’m not familiar with the Japanese universities and unfortunately would not be able to comment on that.


  • Alena Jul 24, 2014, 2:50 pm


    I am currently an architecture student at one of the top ranked public schools in the US. I have recently come across the consulting industry, and, after a lot of research and thought, I have decided that consulting is an industry I would like to go into after graduation.

    I am wondering what I can do to be able to prepare myself so that my resume is attractive to the Big 3 so that I can secure an interview.

    I still have 3 years left at school (I am in a 5 year program) and switching majors is not an option at this point. I have a 3.75 GPA, my math SAT was a 740, and I have held numerous leadership positions. I am currently the president of the School of Architecture council, and I represent our college at the University-wide level. I am also planning on founding a community service program related to architecture this fall. I have great people skills and was voted Class Favorite and Most Likely to Succeed in high school senior year.

    What can I do to become more appealing to consulting firm recruits? I have no business background and I am afraid this will hurt me. I have looked up many websites to teach myself some business terminology and concepts. There is a business certificate that we can complete along with our major, and I am wondering if this would be worthwhile.

    Thank you so much, I look forward to hearing back from you.


    • Victor Cheng Aug 15, 2014, 11:21 am


      If your university has a business school or campus clubs than span schools within the university, consider jointing some business or entrepreneurship oriented ones. Yes it hurts you to not have some indication of interest in business in your background. Certificates carry very little weight generally.

      The issue is two fold: 1) looking like you have interest in a business career, and 2) actually understanding basic business concepts. The first helps you get the interview, the latter to pass it. You can’t be googling every term you here in an interview. It’s just not practical.

      For the former, consider business oriented activities. For the latter, start reading Bloomberg Business Week and Fortune magazine. The first for short news articles, that latter for indepth profile articles that go into depth about the issues of specific companies. Google any terms or concepts you do not understand.

      Other options. Take an intro to economics class as an elective, maybe a financial analysis class… Both to add to your knowledge and to indicate interest. Many free classes online on these topics as well.


  • Leyton Aug 15, 2014, 10:28 am


    Hello, I was recently accepted to the No. 15 US News Business School (UT-Austin) for the Part-Time program. I have 4 years work experience, a 3.3 Undergrad GPA in Aerospace Engineering (Texas A&M), currently work as a Software Engineer at Dell, and a 670 GMAT (44Q, 38V). I’ve taken the GMAT once before and scored a 560 (33Q, 34V), but this time, I really studied hard for the GMAT (Manhattan GMAT).

    I really want to enter the world of management consulting at one of the Big 4 (not MBB, but Deloitte, PwC, KPMG or E&Y), and plan to supplement my low GMAT with extracurricular activities (Graduate Consulting Club), networking, and planning to switch career trajectories in about a year to a hybrid engineering-finance role at Dell before I graduate. Should I retake GMAT given my profile?? It’s been weighing heavily on my mind..

    Thanks in advance!

    • Victor Cheng Aug 15, 2014, 11:16 am


      For MBB you really need over 700 on the GMAT. Since your goal is Big4, you’re probably in the range at 670. Whether or not to retake it depends on your opportunity cost and likelihood of improving the score by a significant enough amount to warrant the effort. My sense is retaking the GMAT is probably not a high return on investment activity especially since you said you already studied hard for it. Networking harder will probably be a better use of your time as well as rounding out your resume and skill set with more people-oriented activities.

      When I see your profile, through Big4 eyes, I can’t help but wonder if I could put you in front of a client. If a client says you are wrong and does so in an aggressive or slightly combative way, will you be able to confidently and respectfully disagree and persuade the client otherwise?

      If a group of junior clients on your team are bickering, do you have skills to smooth out the situation?

      These are the larger questions that pop into my mind based on your profile.


  • Ria Aug 20, 2014, 3:00 am

    Hi Victor,

    I just completed my undergraduate in Business with a top notch school in India( But I am afraid no one outside India would be aware of the prestige on my institution.) I wish to work for 2-3 years, then apply for an ivy league school in USA, after which I aim to eventually get into MBB.

    Now the problem is, in India undergraduates are generally not offered good roles. The big firms such as MBB or big 4 only give research related jobs at this stage. And I have a offer for an analyst at a small firm. Its a smaller name, but it is better work and it is easier to get noticed and promoted.

    Now, in order to achieve my long term goal of top school + MBB, do you suggest I take the job at the smaller firm but better work, or should I look for a job in the bigger firm but bad work?

    • Victor Cheng Aug 26, 2014, 11:20 am


      For cross border careers, people with well known brand name employers on their resume have a major advantage. You have to decide if the benefit out weights the downside of potentially less interesting work. In addition, it helps to be at peace with your choice even if the second step of your career doesn’t work as planned.

      No easy answers on this one.


  • Kay Aug 21, 2014, 8:16 am

    Hi Victor,

    I’m thinking of pursuing a masters degree in management science instead of an MBA; simply because an MBA is longer and I do not want to work for 3 or 5 years before I do my masters. Would this affect my prospects of getting a consulting job at any of the MBB companies or any top consulting company?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Victor Cheng Aug 26, 2014, 11:22 am


      Yes. Most likely you would be slotted with the post undergrad candidates. Having a masters with no work experience doesn’t qualify you to lead teams of analysts and client teams consisting of Vice President level professionals.

      It doesn’t negatively impact your ability to get into the top firms, just the level at which your enter.


  • Joel Ang Aug 26, 2014, 4:28 pm

    Hi Victor,

    Does one page CV applies to UK office applicants (from UK university)?


  • Bill Sep 1, 2014, 9:01 pm

    Hi Victor,

    I wanted your opinion on a quick question. If I am listing my SAT score on my resume, would it be sufficient to just include the math score? I got an 800 on the math but 650 in reading and 730 in writing and I’m not sure if the reading score in particular would raise any kind of red flag (if other applicants’ resumes have for instance very high Math and reading scores).


    • Victor Cheng Sep 2, 2014, 1:30 am


      You should list the full score and all the sub scores. If you only list one sub score, they will either send it back to you to complete or just reject the app assuming the others scores are too low.


  • John Sep 3, 2014, 7:52 am

    Hi Victor,

    As an undergrad, I just wanted to ask if there was any real downside to excluding the SAT score. When I had a McKinsey consultant look into my resume (without the SAT score), he made no mention of a SAT score. I actually just graduated from college after this summer semester, and was thinking it might not make sense given I took the test about 4-5 years ago and have already graduated from college. What do you think?

    Thank you for all your help! Much appreciated!


    • Victor Cheng Sep 4, 2014, 1:21 am


      Best case, a recruiter will call you to ask you for your numbers. Worst case, they reject you out right assuming the scores must be poor. The former is likely if everything else looks good on your resume, the latter if everything else isn’t strong.

      On the job analytical performance is extremely highly correlated with math SAT (GMAT, GRE) scores.


  • Francisco Sep 17, 2014, 10:47 am

    Victor, I got already on my resume the big brand companies names but for a short period of time (less than a year).

    Would you still suggest to keep the brand companies names on my resume?



    • Victor Cheng Sep 17, 2014, 11:37 am


      Generally speaking yes as it looks better than being unemployed. If it is only for 3 months and it is not clearly an internship, then you might want to think twice.


  • Mini Sep 18, 2014, 1:45 pm

    Hi. I am a PhD student at Cambridge University, UK. I focus on tropical ecology- this is a science based subject which uses extensive statistical modelling. Prior to this I completed an MPhil in Environmental Sciences from Oxford Uni (with a 2.1) and a General Engineering degree. I will finish my PhD in late 2016. I would like to work in consulting and specifically target McKinsey. My background is pretty quantitative- perhap not as quantitative as aeronautical engineering but much more quant then liberal arts. I have not done internships ( owing to visa issues) but I have done fieldwork all over SE Asia and built useful links. I have several peer reviewed publications to my name. Should I try to gun for McKinsey?

    • Victor Cheng Sep 18, 2014, 5:48 pm


      Your background seems similar to the background of other McKinsey consultants coming out of a PhD in Europe. I don’t know the UK grading system, so I can’t comment on your marks. Everything else seems comparable and I would encourage you to apply.

      Also the level of math used in consulting 90% of the time involves adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, and calculating percentages. McK looks for quantitative backgrounds not because the math is difficult but rather because those with quantitative backgrounds think in a particular way that’s very useful in consulting.


  • Michelle Sep 22, 2014, 10:15 am

    Hi Victor,
    I first wanted to comment on the number of posts you have replied to. I’m really surprised you get back to so many people! That’s awesome and greatly appreciated.

    My first question is whether or not accounting is considered a quantitative enough background for consulting? I see most applicants are in engineering, science, economics, etc. I have excellent grades and a Master’s in Accounting but I wasn’t sure if this was an automatic deal breaker.

    Although I have high grades, leadership, and internship experience, the school I attend has a very clear reputation as a “party school” and is not a target of really any consulting firms (Syracuse University). Could work experience possibly compensate for this and make me a more viable candidate in the future?

    Thank you so much for your help!

  • Victor Cheng Sep 22, 2014, 8:57 pm


    Your school will be a bigger issue than your major. Accounting isn’t considered an exceptionally quantifiable field from the consulting firms point of view. If you had strong standardized test scores, it would be fine.

    Networking can compensate for a non target school, a slightly below average GPA, or some other weakness is a candidates application, but it can’t compensate for more than one weak spot in most cases.

    I’d say the top 3 would most likely be out of reach for you. The rest of the top 10 would be a stretch (depending on your overall application) if you networked a lot and did a ton of case prep (several hundred hours between the two activities).

    My consulting resume toolkit has a resume scoring calculator to estimate the likelihood of your resume getting an interview. For networking advice, do a search on the site for “networking” and “non-target school” as there are several success stories from others that you can learn from.

    Good luck,

  • Andrew Huhn Oct 29, 2014, 10:44 pm

    Hi Victor,

    Thanks for all the useful information. I am looking to break away from science and start a career in consulting. I have a BS in psychology from Michigan State with a 3.95 gpa, and am currently working on a PhD in neuroscience from Penn State College of Medicine (3.5 gpa). 730/800 quantitative on gre (no sat – got started at community college). What are my options and what firms should I be targeting? Should I try for an internship while I still have time?

  • John Robertson Nov 7, 2014, 10:01 pm

    Hi Victor,
    I obtained a PhD from MIT Aerospace but my GRE was not the highest when I initially applied (Q700/800). How much do you think this will work against me when applying to MBB? Should I re-take the GRE just for boosting the numbers? Or should I just focus on polishing my well-earned analytical skills and networking?

    • Victor Cheng Nov 8, 2014, 6:32 am


      A PhD in Aerospace from MIT qualifies you do add, subtract, multiply, divide, and calculate percentages which is 90% of the math used in consulting. At this point, I wouldn’t worry about the GRE score. Make contacts via networking. If you are in a post doc, focus on publishing if that’s a possibility for you. The general rule of thumb is firms want to see an upward sloping career trajectory.


  • Sharath Nov 15, 2014, 12:25 am

    Hi Victor,
    You inspired me a lot. Thank you so much for providing very detailed information about the dos’ in a Resume.
    I am a Master’s student (Industrial Engineering) at UIUC. I am looking for summer internship in consulting firms. I graduated from Government College in India. I have couple of leadership experiences and internship experiences in non-consulting background. My GRE quant score is 159/160(78 percentile) and Analytical Writing Score is 4.5/6.0. In my undergrad, I was in the top 7% of the class. What can I do to have a career in consulting? Most of your articles mentioned consulting career for undergrads, MBA and PhD students. What is the scope for a Master’s student like me? I recently got an email from our graduate coordinator about internship opportunities in Mckinsey. Could you please suggest the points I should emphasize in my Resume? Do I stand a chance to be considered for the internship?
    Thank you
    P. S: Thanks much for your book. I just got that and it is awesome!

  • Steve Nov 18, 2014, 4:13 pm

    Hi Victor-

    Thanks for all the great comments. I’m wondering if MBB is a possibility for me- I graduated with a 3.3 gpa from Emory and majored in Economics/Math. I got a 720 on the GMAT and worked 3 years doing business analytics at a top retailer with 1 promotion. I just joined the Peace Corps to gain some international/volunteer experience and plan on attending a top 15 MBA program after. For MBB I am concerned about my undergraduate GPA but would definitely welcome the opportunity to work in an international office if that helps my chances.


    • Victor Cheng Nov 20, 2014, 10:47 am


      Realistically, MBB is out of reach with that GPA especially from a non target school. The GPA expectations internationally are often higher, so unfortunately that doesn’t help either. I would suggest targeting the next two tiers of firms.


  • Mike Nov 28, 2014, 6:15 am

    Hi Victor,

    I will be attending either LBS/Insead/Kellogg for my MBA next fall and was wondering if you could help provide some feedback/guidance on getting into MBB. My background is: 700 gmat, 3.44/4.0 at a US state school, 4 years working in sales & marketing roles. Does MBB have minimum gmat requirements? Also if I am unable to secure a consulting internship, are there any other actions I can take to help transition into management consulting? Greatly appreciate any suggestions you have. Thanks.

  • Ruchir Mundra Dec 2, 2014, 2:30 pm

    Hi Victor,
    Thanks for your guidance. I am PhD candidate in biotechnology at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, GPA :3.9/4. GRE: 800/800 in Quant. (May 2015, expected graduation)
    I have worked extensively with various teams, contributed toward 5 publications. Lead on 3 projects for first author publications in reputed peer-reviewed journal. Filed 2 patent applications. Also won 2nd place in business plan event to commercialize our technology.
    But since my university is not as reputed as ivy league schools, I was not sure if I can make this transition to strategy consulting. Also I do not have an MBA or other formal business degree. Please advise if I should focus on the top firms or next tiers? Any suggestions from you would be highly helpful. Thanks a lot, Best Regards,Ruchir Mundra

  • Hanyue Zhang Jan 9, 2015, 9:32 am

    Hi Victor,

    Thank you for your great articles. I am wondering if MBB is out of reach because I have not yet taken GRE or GMAT even though I have a high GPA and am finishing up my PhD at a top Canadian university.



    • Victor Cheng Jan 9, 2015, 9:29 pm


      Not necessarily. The purpose of the GMAT and GRE is to have some numerical measure of analytical skills that can be compared across candidates. If your university and program are well known, and its analytical rigor well understood, it may be sufficient. McKinsey may ask you to take the McKinsey Problem Solving Test — a kind of consulting version of the GMAT to test your quantitative abilities.

      If you have a high GPA and a school the MBB firms recognize as a target school and your PhD is in a technical field, the lack of a GRE wouldn’t be a deal breaker


  • Mark Feb 1, 2015, 11:04 pm

    Hi Victor,

    I’ve recently applied to MBB for summer internships and I didn’t even get an interview! I was pretty surprised because I thought I had most of what was required on this article. I have a little under a 3.8 GPA from an Ivy, and I’m a double major in the hard sciences. I have a 750+ Math SAT. I have extracurriculars on campus that show leadership. The particular one I’m in is very time consuming and maybe that wasn’t enough just to have one? I have experience in a research lab and I networked with some people who I knew from the firm (some other people I know who had lower GPA didn’t network at all and still got an interview at one of the firms).

    I don’t know where I went wrong!
    Do you have any thoughts?


    • Victor Cheng Feb 2, 2015, 10:28 am


      It’s impossible to know for sure. At the end of the day, a human being makes the decision and they are not 100% predictable.

      My best guess in no particular order:

      1) resume was not formatted in ideal way such that your vitals stats were actually noticed in the first 5 seconds / the bullet points didn’t use the optimal phrasing of your extra curricular or work experiences

      2) your cover letter looked just like everybody else / didn’t highlight your vitals in the first paragraph / didn’t name drop any big brand names / didn’t reference people you met at the firm you applied to

      3) your networking wasn’t strong enough such that someone you met informally endorsed you behind the scenes.

      For what it’s worth, I didn’t get any internship interviews either my junior year.

      Good luck,

  • Daniel Feb 28, 2015, 8:04 pm

    Hi Victor,

    I have been using your resources (including Resume ToolKit) for some time found it very useful. Thanks for the great service you are doing. I’m a PhD candidate in a Top Australian University and I’m planning to apply for BCG, Bain, and Accenture firms in Australia.

    1. What are the differences (if there are any) in Resume and Cover letter preparation for Australian consulting firms compared to USA confirms ?

    2. Can I mention about my PhD in two sections of the Resume : Education section as an academic qualification and Experience section as a demonstration of problem solving and analytical skills.

    Thanks so much.

    • Victor Cheng Feb 28, 2015, 11:39 pm


      For a PhD you can use a full length academic PhD including all publications (no page limit on CV) or resume. In a resume, you can list it twice but avoid making it redundant. In experience you might focus on your research or teaching duties, in education on dates of attendance relevant test scores in your country and the like.


  • Avi Mar 6, 2015, 9:43 am

    Hi Victor,

    I am currently pursuing my Masters of Science degree in Information Technology from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. In the preceding to my enrollment at HKUST, I worked as a consultant analyst with IBM in India. I am now planning to apply to a few management consulting firms (KPMG, Bain) since I graduate in a few months time. I have a weak GPA (< 3.5/4) and scored 320/340 on the GRE. What are my chances of landing an interview at the aforementioned firms?

    Also, I will be applying to IBM for a management consulting post. Will my prior experience of working with them in India put me in a better position than other candidates inspite of my relatively inferior academic performance?


  • NikenG Mar 23, 2015, 4:46 am

    Hi Viktor, thanks for the great article. I agree that all these factors make the results quite predictable. On the other hand side a big plus is always personality; whenever you can transmit that it gives you a great impact…

  • Apurva Manvar May 16, 2015, 1:10 am

    Hi Victor,

    I loved your article!! I have a question though. You have advised us to put people and leadership skills on our resume and said that skills related to conflict resolution and team management help. I have such experiences on-job, but don’t know how to put them on resume. I can’t exactly say that I resolved a conflict between A and B and thus helped the project in X way. Please advice on how to put such experiences on resume

    • Victor Cheng May 16, 2015, 3:51 am


      Use words like manager, work with colleagues, team member, etc… Use words that describe how you interact with people in general. This is especially the case if your job title tends to imply you stare at a computer all day and don’t normally interact with people.


  • Brian May 19, 2015, 5:55 pm

    Hi Victor! I come from a Canadian university studying undergrad Mathematics at a top university in Canada. My GPA system uses percentage. What does 3.5 translate to around? Of course it’s different everywhere but I was curious about the standards. I thought 3.5 was like a B+?

    Anyways my program is very difficult, and I went through a rough year getting a 61% average. However in 2nd and 3rd year, I’ve been getting a 90% average. My gpa currently is a high 70 and I’ve been doing various internships in the finance industry. Will I have a chance at MBB. I am sure if I get the interview I can make the cut, it’s just I’m worried about my GPA and don’t know how to compare since I am canadian student. I’d probably work in MBB firms in toronto if picked.

  • Courtney Meddaugh Aug 11, 2015, 4:00 pm

    Hi Victor,

    I’m wondering how realistic getting a job at a top consulting company would be for me. I’ll graduate from Clemson University in May with a B.S. in Economics and a B.A. in French and International Trade. I have a 3.63 GPA and a summer internship at VCE with their Business Process Group. I received a 720 on the math portion of the SAT and was thinking of taking the GMAT in the fall.

    Do you think there’s hope?


    • Victor Cheng Aug 11, 2015, 7:55 pm


      For a top 3 firm, I’d say no chance without a top 5 MBA.

      For the rest of the top 10, I’d says it’s a maybe. Best bet would be the strategy arm of a former accounting firm with a local office near your school where alumni from your school work there. If there are alumni there, it’s possible.

      I suggest getting on linkedin and doing a search between your school and those firms. If you find some, then you would want to network your way into those forms. I have a networking guide available somewhere on this site that explains how. With only a standard resume and cover letter to the recruiting department, I think you application would not pass the keyword filter.

      Your strongest asset is the math SAT score. A similar score on gmat would be confirmatory evidence. The issue is Clemson is not a target school for most firms. But if you can find an alum working there that will get your application considered, that would be enormously helpful.

      I think top 11-25 and boutiques would be your best bet. Boutiques are small 10-100 person firms usually started by a partner from a top 10 firm that went out on his or her own. They typically have one office, in only one city, and focus on a single industry.


  • Nicole Aug 20, 2015, 3:45 pm

    Dear Victor,

    I’m a PhD candidate at Johns Hopkins University. My undergraduate gpa is >3.9 (from a good university in China). But my graduate gpa is somehow low (~3.3). Will this be a major burden when applying for consulting positions? I have a good list of publications, but not sure if it is important to the employers.


    • ssmbb Jun 28, 2016, 11:44 am

      Did you get an interview invite or the 3.3 GPS did not cut it?

  • AA Sep 9, 2015, 8:06 pm

    Hi, I am a prospect Oxford MBA candidate. But my GMAT is slightly on the lower side (Q45 V35). I want to work in Strategy consulting. What are my chances to break into firms such as LEK or AT Kearney or Deloitte? Do you think my GMAT is still low for these firms?

  • Joe Davison Jul 25, 2016, 4:56 pm

    Two Questions.

    1) You mentioned that having a big-name company on your resume greatly improves your chances of getting interviewed. Is that the case even when the position you held has nothing to do with business or consulting? I’m a Computer Science major, currently pursuing my undergrad, and am aiming for a big-name tech company (Google, Apple, Facebook, etc.) internship next summer. Is an internship like that likely to help me in getting a consulting position post-graduation, or should I try to get some more business-related experience in instead?

    2) Standardized Tests. Sometimes when I read about consulting I get confused on what’s expected of those applying post-undergrad, as it seems like most material is written for MBA’s. Do firms (specifically big 3 firms) look for standardized tests from undergrads? If so, does it make a difference whether they take the GMAT or GRE?

    • Victor Cheng Aug 2, 2016, 1:37 am


      1) Yes a big brand name employer in a non business role is desirable. It’s not your business experience they want. They can teach you that. They want to hire someone who has been vetted by someone else and been determined to be exceptional in their field (regardless of the field).

      2) More important you score high than which standardized test. GRE, GMAT, SAT, LSAT, or MCAT all fine.


  • Ne Jul 31, 2016, 1:46 pm

    Hi victor,

    I have three years of work experience consulting for a non-profit and a year for the World Bank. I have MPhil in Econ from Cambridge, 3.96 CGPA in my undergrad and 800 on my Math GRE score. Do you think my profile is strong enough for McKinsey?


    • Victor Cheng Aug 2, 2016, 1:35 am


      Short answer is: yes.


  • John Goodman Aug 2, 2016, 12:00 am

    I seem to have different circumstances than most on here. I was a cop in the military for 12 years. I was in a leadership position, managing people and projects. I earned a bachelor’s in Business Administration while I was in, with a GPA of 3.4, from a cheap online school. The military stressed a degree, but they didn’t care where from. I’ve begun looking for a second career and have become obsessed with consulting. I don’t have any delusions of grandeur. I don’t think that I will ever get a chance to be a part of MBB. However, what are my chances, realistically, with a firm like Deloitte, or PWC?


  • Chaudry Aug 21, 2016, 11:52 am

    Hi Victor,

    2 questions.

    1. I have been a telecom consultant – technical and strategy related for 10 years now – working for the biggest operators and vendors over 3 different continents. I am 33 years old. Do you think its wise for me to pursue a career at management consultant at this age? I just did my MBA (Distance Learning) from Warwick.,

    2. I was interested to buy your consulting resume package. Do you think it will be beneficial for me, considering I am going to apply for a ‘experienced position’? And is LOMS aimed to help experienced candidates like me?

    Ok, thats 3 questions!



  • Aakash Aug 29, 2016, 12:57 pm


    Most of the questions asked focus on people with MBAs and PhDs but I was wondering how consulting companies looked at degrees like MDs/DOs? I am currently a medical student and was wondering what the process would look like for me/what would you look for a medical candidate who was curious about a career in consulting.

    All the Best,

    • Victor Cheng Sep 13, 2016, 4:33 pm


      Firms, McKinsey especially, do hire MD types. They are great with health care clients. Process is similar as PhD recruiting process generally. Expectations and qualification criteria are similar.


  • Sandy Sep 1, 2016, 2:54 am

    Hi Victor,

    I really appreciate your time with us. Your comments are invaluable. I was curious how excellent is required by BA of top 5. I feel a lot of students have even much better experiences than mine. I don’t really have a “check-able” big name on my resume.

    – Ivy/ GPA 3.7/ Master/ Not business or engineering major/ GRE V85%+ Q95%
    – three internships in major government agencies in NYC/
    – did well in finance & econ & market analyses & engineer classes
    – thesis using four coding and analyses tools
    – founder of three non-profit organizations during and after undergrad
    – some athlete experience 10 years ago…

    Do you consider it a weak one or any advice for me? Thanks Victor!

    • Victor Cheng Sep 13, 2016, 4:32 pm

      Hi Sandy,

      Based on your background, I think you’d be considered at a top 3 firm. Be sure your GRE Q score is prominent on your resume. Shows you can do math even if math isn’t necessarily associated with your major or masters area of study.

      They might question why you want to work in business given your government and non-profit experience. You’d want to be prepared to answer that question.


  • Dhairya Kikani Oct 10, 2016, 11:53 pm

    Hi Victor –

    I am part time MBA candidate @ Kelley school of business. Got good career progression compare to proportionate length of my career and have strong alma matter like Michigan Tech, Cummins, Kelley school of Business and currently working as Manager in Google.

    However, No GMAT – Would that be an issue for MBB application in future?

    • Victor Cheng Oct 11, 2016, 7:13 pm


      Do you have an SAT score? The math score would be important. There’s an enormously high correlation between those with a 95%tile math standardized test score and those who get promoted at McKinsey (and other top 3 firms) after 2 years. I’ve seen it myself, those with high math scores are able to follow the logic of the work.

      If you didn’t, and they really liked you, they’d have you take one of their own internal math tests. But given the non ivy background, my guess is if the math score wasn’t there, they wouldn’t bother with the extra effort to get a standardized math read on your abilities.


      • Dhairya Kikani Feb 16, 2017, 10:28 pm

        Hi Victor –

        I didn’t have SAT score but I scored 780/800 in GRE Quant section. Do you think GRE Quant score can help?

        Thanks much

        • Victor Cheng Feb 27, 2017, 10:50 am


          Yes a GRE quant score would be perfectly acceptable as well. A 780 GRE quant is inline with other people at the top firms. Definitely include the score on your resume.


  • Penny Lane Oct 24, 2016, 3:27 pm

    Hi Victor,

    I have read through all the comments, and there is no-one in my situation…

    Flawless academic record (1st in my entire country!!), 800 Math SAT, Yale University, Computer Science major, went to work for a French consultancy… in 1999. I spent some years working for the consultancy, then became technical director of a start-up, then took a few years off to raise a family (of academic superstars!). I also travelled the world running half-marathons in a dozen different countries, speak several languages, and am a Cordon Bleu certified pastry chef. But I know I am not exactly a top consulting firm profile. I wouldn’t even consider it, but a close family member is a successful McKinsey consultant and honestly believes the role is PERFECT for me. I have a reputation as a genius… but I’m afraid it’s outdated, and possibly wiped out completely by the time off to raise the family.

    What do you think? Is there an age limit? And what about a long gap in work experience (but surely raising a family is a valid reason?)?

    Thanks, Victor!

    • Victor Cheng Oct 26, 2016, 2:40 pm


      No age limit. Your background is interesting. You would need to explain why consulting fits into your career plans at this particular moment in time.

      If your GPA at Yale was high, I would definitely put that on your resume. The story you want to convey is you were the kind of candidate McKinsey would have interviewed upon graduating from college, and now they’re getting another chance.

      You would want to acknowledge your more recent background is a bit atypical, explain how it would benefit the firm and its clients, and also explain how if you got the job you would stay for some time. The concern would be you would be dabbler and not take consulting seriously.

      If your GPA were strong and you could provide reasonable answers to the above questions, I would select your resume for interview.


  • A Jan 1, 2017, 11:24 pm

    Hi Victor,

    I currently studying Mechanical Engineering at UC Berkeley. Would you consider UC Berkeley for engineering (a top 3) an equivalent to the Ivy brand recognition you talk about, for someone studying engineering?

  • Brandi G Mar 14, 2017, 2:34 pm

    Hi Victor,

    I am applying to the Next Generation Women Leaders Program at McKinsey. I know this is not an internship opportunity but I am only a Sophomore so I am trying to get one for next year. Is a 1960 score on the SAT too low – should I not list it on my resume? I am wondering if they care for these types of programs (they do not ask on the application), I do not want to put it on if they think it would be too low and am unsure if they would ask.

    Thank you!

    • Victor Cheng Mar 17, 2017, 2:23 pm


      Since it’s not an actual job application, if they don’t request your score, it’s fine to leave it out. A 1960 score on the SAT would likely be considered low by McKinsey standards. When you apply, you will need to included your score. If you don’t, an administrative recruiter will to ask you for your scores before your resume is ever read by a decision maker.


  • andres Apr 22, 2017, 11:09 am

    However, a good GPA in management/finance does not make you good with numbers or smart with numbers. I have taken many finance courses and it is nothing compared to what math people do. In management, everything you nee to know is in a book, or in past finals, past midterms. You memorize and apply, and you don’t need to understand the real logic behind all the elements in a formula.

  • jamie Apr 24, 2017, 9:32 pm

    Hi Victor,

    Thank you very much. The resources you’ve provided are invaluable.

    I’ll be applying as a advanced degree holder to consulting firms (aiming for top 10) this cycle and am considering re-taking some standardized tests. I have a BA Physics from UC Berkeley (3.60 GPA) and will be applying as Engineering PhD graduate from UCLA (3.62 GPA). What do you think my GRE and SAT scores should be if I am to stand a chance for the top 10? Thanks again for everything.

    • Victor Cheng Apr 25, 2017, 1:31 pm


      For top 3 firms, anything over 95% percentile is clearly sufficient. Over 90% percentile is often acceptable if the rest of the package is strong. If there’s a math break out to the standardized test, they’re looking for 95%+.

      If you’re already over 90%, probably not worth re-taking the test. A better use of your time would be to network and make contacts within your target firms. Better ROI on your time.

      For rest of top 10 firms, you can probably drop those “cut-offs” (they aren’t hard and fast cut offs), by 5% – 15% depending on the firm and where there in the top 10.


  • Celia May 5, 2017, 12:39 pm

    Hi Victor,

    Thanks for this article – it’s been really useful for me.

    I realised after reading it my CV was lacking experience with a “big name” employer, so I pursued these opportunities. I’ve been offered an internship at Taylor Wimpey (UK’s biggest house builder, FTSE100), but it’s in health and safety (the job description makes it sound pretty unimpressive) I’m unsure whether it will improve my CV for strategy consulting purposes. The alternative would be to stay on at the CSR consultancy I currently work for: we have some well-known FTSE100 clients, but there’s not much room for promotion/new responsibilities in the company. Any advice you have would be appreciated.

    By the way, I’m based in the UK and planning to apply for graduate roles there in September.

    Thanks again,


    • Victor Cheng May 5, 2017, 2:43 pm


      Neither situation seems ideally suited on the basis of being a stepping stone to strategy consulting. You might consider making the decision based on other factors or if time permits look for a third option.


      • Celia May 6, 2017, 6:52 am

        Hi Victor,

        Thank you very much for your advice. I appreciate you taking the time to answer. That sounds like a good plan.

        Thanks again,


  • Phillip May 15, 2017, 2:41 pm

    Hello Victor,

    I would like to know your feedback on my special case.

    I am an American citizen that lived in Lebanon for almost my entire life, and I studied Mechanical Engineering at the American University of Beirut.
    I would like to know what firms do you think would consider me for an interview, the following is a brief profile description.
    Cumulative GPA: 3.15
    GPA during the last 2 semesters: 3.67
    Experiences: Research assistant at the University of Houston, and an intern for a local boutique consultancy firm.
    Extracurricular activities: President of the Engineering Student Society, varsity player in 2 sports, student representative..

    Thank you!

  • Arden Wu Sep 3, 2017, 2:30 pm

    Hi Victor,

    I have a question about my poor SAT scores. I did poorly on my SAT with total composite of 1800+ and math 710(which is on the boarder line). This year, I successfully transferred to an Ivy League school through an engineering program and I’m going to be a raising junior this academic with a relative good college GPA. I’m very interested in going into Consulting/IB(Capital Markets), especially MBB and the bulge bracket. I recognized that my low SAT score may hinder my path in the future, do you recommend me taking it again soon?

    • Victor Cheng Sep 5, 2017, 12:01 am


      This is a tough one. Your math SAT is good enough for a resume reader to read the rest of your resume. The other part of the SAT is low. My hesitation is it takes a lot of time to make meaningful improvements in your scores.

      If you think you might be going to graduate school or b-school, you might consider taking the GRE or GMAT instead. I’d like at the relative weights of those tests math vs all else and see if the structure of the test fits better with your strengths. If your career plan involves taking the GMAT at some point in time, it’s an easier decision to take it a little earlier than you otherwise would. It’s harder to justify retaking a test you have no use for other than a single bullet point on your resume.


  • Az T. Sep 16, 2017, 2:05 pm

    Hello Victor,

    I am an advanced degree candidate (Ph.D) and I am hoping to move into management consulting in one of MBBs. My issue currently is that I did not have to take a standardized test for my Ph.D. in engineering program in a top 15 graduate schools. Is having standardized test results a requirement for my application? Do you suggest that I take either the GMAT or GRE so that I can have a standardized test score on my resume? or focus my energy on case studies?

    Thank you so much.


    • Victor Cheng Sep 17, 2017, 3:12 pm


      Did you ever take the SAT or ACT? If so, use that. Otherwise, I would check the McKinsey website and potentially call the on campus recruiting coordinator and ask your question.

      I don’t think it’s worth taking those tests if you can avoid it. Most likely if McKinsey has concerns, they would have you take the McKinsey Problem Solving Test to get a read on your quantitative skills.

      I’m unclear on how other firms would handle it. Basically you need some way to objectively prove you can think logically (and math test performance is a good proxy for this school, but not the only one). If you’re PhD is in mathematics that would be one alternative. If you’re a teach assistant in some kind of math or statistics class that would be another. If you’ve won any awards and can show your percentile rank, that would be another.



  • James W. Dec 28, 2017, 1:49 pm

    Hi Victor,

    I’ve been thinking a lot about about how you said these firms like the “unusual combo”. I majored in engineering at an Ivy League school and wrote a neuroscience thesis, but was also captain of the varsity rowing team. Currently I have a few years of work experience at a boutique, non-brand name, healthcare consulting firm, but I also work weekends in the summer as an ocean lifeguard. Would you suggest putting in both the rowing and lifeguarding, or is rowing enough?

    In addition, I’m unsure of what kind of grades and standardized scores to include. My college GPA was in the low 3s. My high school SAT scores were 770 math, 720 reading, 680 writing. I also have a number of AP tests with 5s, and SAT IIs in the mid-high 700s. Does it make sense to add these scores in at the top of my resume with my education, even though I’m an “experienced” hire?

    Thank you,

    • Victor Cheng Jan 3, 2018, 11:47 pm

      Hi James,

      Ivy Neuroscience + varsity rowing is a good combo. I’d avoid putting in the summer lifeguard. It would read as you career isn’t demanding enough such that you have time to work a second job. I think it hurts more than helps.

      Your college GPA is low. If you don’t include it, the top firms will ask for it at some point and screen you out because it’s too low. Second tier firms may or may not care to see the GPA. I suggest leaving it initially and seeing what the response is.

      I would definitely include your SAT scores under your college experience line in your resume (even though not technically something you did in college). You don’t want to put your high school name because it looks like you don’t have enough impressive things after high school. However, you do want to slide your SAT scores in somehow because they indicate you can do analytical math. The key score is the math score.


  • Gauri Jan 26, 2018, 8:00 am

    Hi Victor,

    I am currently working with Teach For India (affiliated to the Teach for All program) after completing my undergraduate degree. I went to a top-tier college in India and studied B.Sc. Statistics. However, I scored 68% in college. During college, I interned with Volvo- Eicher Commercial Vehicles and Ernst and Young as a finance and a business analyst intern respectively. I am really concerned about how my percentage in college, my work experience in the education sector and my different types of internships will look like on my resume. Do all these aspects seem very scattered? Also, is there any way I can salvage my low scores in college (like by taking the GRE/ GMAT and getting a 325+/ 720+)?


  • Arvind Jan 27, 2018, 5:46 pm

    Hey Victor,

    I would like to know if there is any advantage to formatting a one page CV using Infographics format or Photoshop vs a regular one page CV with titles and subtitles?

    Also, does adding a photo of yourself on the CV add a personal touch? Is it recommended?


    • Victor Cheng Jul 19, 2019, 8:59 pm

      Arvind – I would advise against formatting a resume as an infographic. Unless you live in a country were every resume has a photo, I would exclude it. The firms care about your achievements not about your appearance (at least at the resume stage). For the in-person interview, the only part of your appearance they care about is whether or not you’re able to dress appropriately for a business meeting.


  • Ard1 Apr 6, 2018, 2:20 pm

    Hello Victor!

    I have great scores during my school and under graduation in Mechanical Engineering (95% both) and have worked for 3 years (6 mos as a Trainee, 1 yr in Marketing and 1.5 yrs handling B2B Sales for a specific region and won Best Manager in the country) at a Fortune 500 MNC in India. Extra curriculars include Music, Live Events and so on.

    What are my chances in applying for the role of a Business Analyst at McKinsey? Im not very confident of my chances despite expecting good GMAT scores and taking up Analyst related and financial modelling courses.

    Kindly advise.

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