How much preparation is needed to pass the McKinsey PST? July 14 2014

Undecided man in front of a transparent window

The McKinsey Problem Solving Test is among the most difficult standardised tests you will likely take in your lifetime. Most people score around 30-40% the first few times they take the test. However, our best estimate is that candidates need to answer 70%+ of questions correctly to pass the test and that only about 33% of candidates manage to do so.

Despite this difficulty, most candidates seem to wait to hear from McKinsey to start preparing for the test and therefore only have 1 or 2 weeks to prepare. While this is sufficient time for some extremely talented people to be ready, this is a very risky strategy.

Successful candidates tend to start their PST preparation a few weeks in advance.

In our experience, the vast majority of successful candidates tend to have prepared for the test in advance of hearing from McKinsey if they will actually have to take it. Indeed, it is not unusual for the most motivated applicants to spend over 30 hours training for the PST and to take 10+ tests.

An important point to realise about the PST is that although it is primarily designed to test your maths and logic skills, in reality it is also testing your willingness to invest time and effort into mastering a relatively new set of skills in a short period of time. This is something you will constantly be required to do as a consultant that McKinsey is indirectly testing you on.

It requires a lot of motivation but can be a huge advantage.

The difficulty about starting your preparation early is that you do not know if you will actually have to take the test. However, the HUGE benefit is that few people have the confidence or the motivation to do so. This is a very simple way of giving yourself an edge in the recruiting process by maximising your PST score which will count towards McKinsey’s final decision to give you an offer or not.

We have designed our training programme to reflect the way we would prepare if we had to take the test again. It covers all the skills you need to pass the test. Preparing early is a small investment that could truly maximise your chances of making it through, and we really encourage you to do so.

Additional resources

Candidates from the best universities around the world use our McKinsey Case Interview Training ProgrammeFree McKinsey Case Interview PrepMcKinsey PST Training ProgrammeFree McKinsey PSTBCG Potential Test Training Programme and Free BCG Potential Test. Some races are worth the extra effort - let's get started!

The IGotAnOffer team

Photo: Sebastiaan ter Burg / IM