McKinsey PST 2-week preparation plan November 01 2014

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Most candidates score around 30% the first few times they take a McKinsey Problem Solving Test. However, the cut-off grade is about 70% and a fair amount of practice is therefore required to succeed. In this post, we will outline the four-step approach that we recommend you take in your preparation. The time spent on each step should be tailored to your individual circumstances including the time you have to prepare and how comfortable you are with maths. But as as a rule of thumb we suggest you spend 2 to 4 days on each step.

1. Familiarise yourself with the test

Your objective for this first step should be to familiarise yourself with the McKinsey PST format by attempting to solve a few of them. You can use our Free Problem Solving Test sample as well as the resources provided by McKinsey to get started.

We encourage you to make these first attempts in real conditions because there are not many opportunities to practice for the test. Time yourself, do not use a calculator and answer every question. Doing well in the first few tests is difficult and most people do not score above 30-40% in their first attempts so do not worry if you are finding the tests challenging.

2. Develop fast and confident maths skills

More than 50% of McKinsey PST questions involve maths. In addition, each question needs to be answered in about 2 minutes in order to complete the test in one hour. As a consequence, doing your maths quickly and accurately is essential to have good chances of succeeding. Candidates very often overlook this basic point but being extremely confident and fast at maths can be a huge advantage to successfully pass the test.

Doing growth rates and percentages calculations rapidly requires some training and techniques. Depending on how comfortable you feel with maths, we recommend that you spend between a couple of hours and a couple of days sharpening these essential skills. A good start could be to read this article on how to increase your McKinsey PST maths speed.

3. Master a consistent answering method and excel at frequent PST questions

One extremely efficient way of becoming very quick at McKinsey PST questions is to always use the same approach to answer them. Always using the same step-by-step method might feel a little mechanical at first but in the long run it will enable you to develop a routine of answering PST questions and to be increasingly fast at doing so.

In addition, there are a few McKinsey PST questions that come up every year. Spending some time training specifically for those can often make a big difference in your final result. After a few days or weeks of training, your aim should be to get to a point where answering PST questions is a second nature.

4. Practice on McKinsey PST samples

Once you have settled on a consistent answering technique as well as identified frequent PST questions, your goal should be to practice as many tests as possible until you are confident you will score 70% or more.

When practicing, we encourage you to study your mistakes. A lot of candidates overlook this part of their training and just focus on taking PSTs. But making sure you understand why you failed at certain questions will ensure you progress quickly and steadily.

At IGotAnOffer, we have developed our own McKinsey PST training programme structured around the four steps described above. Let me list them again here:

  1. Familiarise yourself with the test
  2. Build confident maths skills
  3. Master a consistent method and excel at frequent PST questions
  4. Practice on McKinsey PST sample tests

This approach is based on our own experience of preparing for and succeeding at the PST as well as feedback from other candidates. To date, we are glad to report that more than 90% of candidates who used our training programme have succeeded at the test compared to the average 33% success rate.

If you have any questions about how to prepare, ask them in the comment section below and will answer them quickly. We hope to hear from you!

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: Craig Garner / Unsplash