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What Is The Mckinsey Problem Solving Test?

The McKinsey PST was created by the business consulting firm McKinsey & Company to evaluate their applicants’ data comprehension skills and approach to problem-solving. Passing this test will often be the prerequisite to being invited for a case interview.

The purpose of the McKinsey Problem Solving Test is to ensure that you possess the necessary skills for the position you have applied for. There are several skills that will be assessed during the McKinsey PST including your numerical, data interpretation, and logical thinking skills (otherwise known as deductive, inductive, and quantitative reasoning). The McKinsey Problem Solving Test is not solely a math test as its ultimate purpose is to further understand how you interpret and use data to solve business-centered problems.

The test itself will consist of 26 multiple-choice questions which will need to be answered within a one-hour timeframe. The scenarios that you will encounter during the course of the assessment will be based on real consulting work done by the McKinsey & Company firm over the years.


The McKinsey PST Test Format?

The McKinsey PST is comprised of 26 multiple-choice questions assigned to three different business cases inspired by past McKinsey projects. The information presented to you in the shaded areas of the test will help you to answer the associated questions. This information will be given to you in the form of graphs, tables, and text. You will be given one hour to complete the test. The questions that you will run into will be used to test your deductive, inductive, and quantitative skills.

PST Question Types

There are several different question types that you will come across while taking the McKinsey PST. The PST question types are as follows:

40% - Math Word Problems 30% - Data Interpretation (Logic) 30% - Reading Comprehension (Logic)

The best way to pass this test and be selected to participate in a case interview will be to take a McKinsey practice test. McKinsey Problem Solving Test preparation materials will often include various tips, study guides, and answer keys to help facilitate your learning process.


The McKinsey Problem Solving Approach

McKinsey & Company are known for many things including the McKinsey Problem Solving Approach. They use this problem-solving framework daily to solve issues for their clients. Below you will find the breakdown of the McKinsey approach to problem-solving. The McKinsey Problem Solving Framework can be broken down like so:

  • Hypothesis: By breaking down the given information into its essential components you will be able to form a hypothesis as to a likely solution.
  • Intuition: Your instinct and intuition will be just as important as facts when forming your hypothesis in the initial problem-solving stage. Using a combination of what you know about the issue or issues being presented and your gut feelings will get you thinking the most effective solutions.
  • Research: The next stage of the McKinsey Problem Solving Framework will be to back up your initial hypothesis through research and fact-based analysis. Throughout this step you will need to come up with the analyses you will need to perform and the questions you will need to ask as a means to prove or disprove your hypothesis.
  • Explain the Data: Interpret the data you have gathered to tell a story and better communicate the message you would like to get across to the client. Putting yourself in the client’s shoes during this stage is crucial as it will help you to 'speak their language' and view things through their eyes.
  • Prewiring: Taking your audience through your findings prior to giving your presentation will help to bridge any trust gaps between yourself and the client. Getting input from your supervisors early on will also make them feel more comfortable with your decision-making and their involvement in the outcome.
  • Begin with the Conclusion: Starting with your conclusion first will help you get to your overall point quickly during your presentation. Using your conclusion in the beginning is a form of inductive reasoning or the ability to discern patterns and form an opinion or resolution.

While taking the McKinsey PST, you will be able to apply some of the aspects of this approach to solve the questions you will be presented with. The full approach is far too in-depth to use during the testing process, however, knowing the breakdown beforehand may help you during your case interview if you are selected to participate.

You will often find the McKinsey approach to problem-solving stylized as a pyramid or flow chart. The McKinsey Problem Solving Framework will help you to diagnose and solve issues for future business clients.


McKinsey PST Tips

Passing your McKinsey PST exam is crucial to being invited for a follow-up case interview. Below you will find several useful tips for passing the McKinsey PST.

Tips From McKinsey

There are several ways in which to approach solving the questions presented to you while taking the McKinsey PST. The main things that you need to keep in mind in regard to the McKinsey approach to problem-solving are your ability to absorb the material presented while using your judgment to answer each question in the time allotted.

Being able to absorb the information you are presented on this assessment will determine your ability to choose the correct response for each question. Following the guidelines below will help you pass the McKinsey PST. The McKinsey problem-solving framework for the PST can be broken down like so:

Absorbing

When taking in the material that is presented to you with each case, it is best to start by reading each question individually. By reading each question associated with the business case being presented, you will be able to read the text and exhibits with more purpose.

Speed reading the text will allow you to pick out the relevant pieces of information from the graphs and text to answer the questions related to a specific scenario quickly. The text and exhibits contain all the information you will need to successfully answer the given questions. Pay close attention to the titles, legends, labels of the axes, and the units for each item as they will give clues regarding the answers.

Solving

Make sure you have truly understood what you need to work out and how you will do it prior to solving. You should not waste any time trying to work out unnecessary information or stir data around for no reason. Some questions that you will encounter while taking the McKinsey PST may seem like they require complicated computations, however, you will often find a shortcut such as rounding numbers or making rough estimates based on what you already know from the text and exhibits.

All the information you will need to answer the questions for each business scenario will be presented to you in the associated text and exhibits. By eliminating answers that do not make sense in this regard, you will be able to save time when answering and improve your chances of choosing the correct response.

Time Management

To ensure your ability to manage your time, be sure to keep calculations that you are working on for a set of questions organized and well-marked in the test booklet. Transferring answers in groups will also help to ensure your time management. Try not to spend too much time on a single question and skip any questions that seem immediately difficult. Keep in mind that you will only have one hour to complete the test, so try not to spend more than 2 minutes per question.

Other PST Tips

When practicing for the PST, it is important that you:

  • Learn certain business terms, such as Revenues, Costs, Fixed & Variable Costs, Profits, etc.
  • Never use a calculator during your McKinsey PST test preparation. You will not be provided with one come test day.
  • Do not use scrap paper – you will only be able to use the blank space provided in your testing booklet to make calculations.
  • Practice using a timer set to 60 minutes to help further simulate the actual test. Try spending no more than 2 minutes per question to ensure that you finish in time.
  • Practice and improve on your math skills, speed, and accuracy.
  • Cross out any answer choices that you rule out. Any answers that are not proven by the data provided can be immediately eliminated.
  • Answers will often be far enough apart for you to make estimates for the possible answer – use this to your advantage.
  • Plan the calculations that you are going to make beforehand by reading the questions, then solve.
  • Read the questions you will be answering first, then speed read and understand the graphs and text to quickly move onto solving.

How To Prepare for McKinsey PST

The best way to prepare for the McKinsey PST is to use a practice test with a study guide. Learning how to pass the McKinsey PST will not only boost your chances for success but also boost your confidence when taking the actual exam.

Using a McKinsey PST practice test will give you the ability to familiarize yourself with the material and question types you are likely to encounter. This will, in turn, give you a chance to brush up on the necessary skills to complete the test in the time allotted.

When you choose to begin practicing for your McKinsey PST exam, you might find it helpful to run through the sample test untimed. This will give you a better idea of the types of questions you will need to improve upon prior to taking the actual test. From there you will benefit from taking a McKinsey PST practice exam using a timer. Regardless of taking the practice test timed or untimed, it is highly recommended that you not to use a calculator or scrap paper as neither will be provided or allowed come test day.


JobTestPrep’s McKinsey PST-Style PrepPacks™

JobTestPrep’s team of experts are working tirelessly to provide you with the most comprehensive McKinsey Problem Solving Test Practice available. Over the coming months, you will be able to use our platform to prepare for the McKinsey PST while also gaining insight into areas that need improvement. Pass your McKinsey PST test by improving your deductive, inductive, and quantitative skills with the help of JobTestPrep.

McKinsey & Company and other trademarks are the property of their respective trademark holders. None of the trademark holders are affiliated with JobTestPrep or this website.

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