What is the structure of McKinsey's interview

How to master the McKinsey PST - 10 tips for top performance in the test

One of the many hurdles you have to overcome on the way to your consulting career at McKinsey is the written PST. The preparation for the case interview should always be the focus of your case preparation, as even the best PST results cannot compensate for poor case interview performance. However, because of theextreme time pressure, who awaits you at the PST, a basic preparation and plenty of practice are necessary here as well. Unfortunately, many candidates make the mistake of neglecting PST preparation and therefore fail to receive an offer from McKinsey. Your preparation time is limited and therefore it is important to develop a strategy with which you can fight the time pressure. Follow our 10 tips and pass your McKinsey PST with flying colors!

What is the PST and why is it important?

TheProblem Solving Test is a written test denMcKinsey as part of their selection process to evaluate the deductive, inductive and quantitative logical thinking skills as well as the problem-solving skills of candidates. Since this type of test means relatively low costs for the company, it simplifies the selection of a large pool of applicants. The PST enables thatSorting out applicantswho don't bother preparing for the test.

The McKinsey PST usually lasts60 minutes and includes in total26 multiple choice questions. These questions relate to 3 different onesBusiness scenarios and can be divided into math and logic questions, e.g. which statement is a valid conclusion based on the given data? For more detailed information on the test structure and PST question types, you can download our McKinsey PST Guide with 13 pages of useful tips from former McKinsey consultants.

What is the minimum number of points I can pass the McKinsey PST?

Although written tests like the McKinsey PST generally do not compensate for bad case interview results, you still have to pass the test to get to the next round. That means there is aMinimum score that you have to achieve, e.g. 22 out of 26 answers should be correct. Usually the limit of the points to be reached is enclosed70%. However, this guide value is not generally applicable, varies from location to location and depends on the time period and the demand for a specific position.

When will I get my PST test results?

When exactly you will receive the feedback and your test results after the PST depends on the respective office, its workload and priorities. In the best case, you will receive your result immediately after completing the test, but depending on the case, not until the next day, at the latestafter two weeks. Once you've completed the test, be patient and don't worry too much about the results. If you have prepared yourself well, there is little chance that you will fail.

McKinsey PST Tips

Tip 1: Find out if the PST is part of your selection process

Usually McKinsey uses the PST forall entry level candidatesapplying for business analyst positions. However, if you come from one of the top MBA colleges and have been recruited on campus, you probably don't need to take the PST. Exceptions also often apply to applicants with work experience applying for associate positions, depending ongeography andbackground of the applicant. In particular, existing professional experience in another management consultancy plays a role.

There is no one-size-fits-all rule as it depends on the individual candidate. Therefore, you should do this directly with yourClarify local HR contact. There are no disadvantages for you if you ask in a friendly email whether the PST is part of your application process.

Tip 2: You should master data analysis in your sleep

Tables and charts are usually part of the PST. Therefore it is importantInterpret data quickly to be able to. If you are quick to read diagrams and theirKey message understand, you will also save valuable time. When analyzing data, you should consider the followingFollow 2 steps:

  1. Find out what the table or graph represents! You can often tell by simply reading the heading and the labeling of each column and row.
  2. Read and understand the data! You may have to do some math here - in your head or on paper. Ask yourself the question: Why was this data presented to you? And don't get distracted by data that needs more information and that cannot be exploited without additional assumptions.

By the way: Even if the PST is not primarily designed to test your business knowledge, you should be familiar with all common business terms.

Tip 3: Choose your preparation material carefully

There is a wide variety of PST practice materials that you can find online. Caution is advised here, however, as the quality of the practice tests available varies greatly. There are a number of dubious providers whose exercise material often has a significantly lower level of difficulty than the real McKinsey PSTs. Here you should include factors such as the size of the offering website and, above all, transparency, i.e. who is behind the page and the PSTs, in your decision.

In order not to waste time on inadequate materials, it is crucial that you have thebest source for your preparation find. First, you should understand the PST from the ground up. Our McKinsey PST Guide explains the general test structure and gives you useful tips so that you are prepared for any type of question. As soon as you are familiar with the theory of the test, practice begins for you. Use the real tests from McKinsey and solve GMAT practice tests that you can find for free on the Internet. In addition, we have created additional exercise PSTs for you at PrepLounge. Together with a team of experienced McKinsey consultants from our pool of experts, we have geared these tests to the optimal level of difficulty so that you are not surprised at the real PST at McKinsey. We have chosen challenging questions to give you a feel for the different types of questions. This will save you a lot of time during your preparation and help you to improve your test result.

Tip 4: Practice the PSTs under real exam conditions

As you practice the PSTs, keep the following points in mind:

  • Don't use a calculator! Pocket calculators are not allowed, so get used to mental arithmetic as you prepare.
  • Do not use any additional paper! Sheets for notes or ancillary calculations are not allowed during the PST. Therefore, you have to be able to do all the necessary calculations in the limited space of the PST booklet. By including this condition in your exercise, you will be used to it on the day of the exam.
  • Stop the time at 60 minutes! Try not to linger on a question for more than 2 minutes - this way you will be able to get it ready in time. If you find it very difficult, you can go through your first test without a stopwatch to get used to the style of the questions. For additional practice tests, however, you should limit the time to 60 minutes.

Check your result after each practice test, find out what kind of questions are causing you problems and focus on them by doing additional exercises with this topic focus. However, if there are areas where you are simply weaker, don't stress yourself too much. Over time you will get to know different question and answer types and find your own flow so that you can quickly recognize which questions you need to estimate, skip or answer immediately.

Tip 5: become a mental arithmetic pro

In general, the difficulty level of each PST question is not particularly high. What makes the PST so difficult is the limited time you have. So start practicing your mental arithmetic skills - this is the most obvious tip to follow when it comes to saving time. This will also help you avoid using a calculator or extra paper for ancillary bills. The trick here is the right type of preparation:

  • Learn the right tools: you shouldMath basics and know abbreviations like the rule of 72. You should be able to do simple multiplications, written division, fractions and percentages while you sleep. With our mental arithmetic tool you can train these skills in a targeted manner.
  • Use these tools properly: Practicecorrect arithmetic first. It doesn't make sense if you do the math quickly but get wrong results.
  • Use the tools - and do itfast: When you are sure that you almost always get the right result, you can start training your mental arithmetic. The rule here is very clear: Practice makes perfect!

Tip 6: Learn how to read faster

PST questions contain a lot of information and data, not all of which are relevant to answering the questions. As soon as you feel confident doing mental arithmetic, you should improve your reading speed so that you can learn to deal with the amount of information under time pressure. There are a few points to keep in mind:

  • Practice quick reading! There are several online“Speed ​​Reading” exercises and even smartphone apps that can double the number of words you can read per minute. After just 15 minutes of practice, your reading speed will improve.
  • Always read the question first! To help your brain focus on relevant information, you shouldread the question first, then the answers and finally the additional information. In this way you train your brain to look at the information you need and to skim over useless spots.
  • Learn theimportant information easy to recognize! After you have completed various exercise PSTs, you will be able to recognize patterns and decide which information you should read and which information you do not have to pay attention to. With enough practice you will get a feel for the wording of the questions and you will know exactly where to find certain information. The answer to a question can often be found in just one paragraph or diagram.

Tip 7: answer EVERY question

The PST is a battle against time, but one positive attribute of the test is that it isno negative distribution of points gives. This means that there is no punishment or minus points for wrong answers. That's why you should answer every single question - even if you're just guessing. In order to increase the likelihood of a correct answer, you should eliminate the answers that definitely cannot be correct. The elimination process generally helps you to come to the solution that is most likely correct faster. Especially when it comes to numbers, by only roughly estimating the calculation, you caneliminate wrong answersthat are far from the answer or that contain incorrect decimal places.

Tip 8: Be disciplined and don't waste too much time on a question

A rule of thumb is that if you have, you should move on to the next questionwithin the first 30 seconds don't know how to solve the question. That doesn't mean you have to solve the problem in 30 seconds, but you should already know after 30 secondshow you solve them. Even if you know how to solve the question, do not spend more than 2 minutes on a question. With practice, you will be able to identify difficult types of questions. If you come across a question that turns out to be very difficult,resist the temptation to loosen it, even if you have already invested a few seconds in the question. Trust your gut feeling, guess the answer and move on to questions that you can solve right away. It is important to be disciplined! Imagine someone looking over your shoulder and giving you objective advice on when to skip a question. If you are not disciplined here, you will waste too much time on some questions. If you still have time at the end, you can always go back to the question and try to solve it.

Tip 9: Use the PST booklet paper to your advantage

Since you are not allowed to use additional paper for notes or ancillary calculations, you should get the most out of the paper provided.Marking important numbers and keywords helps you to quickly recognize the answers in the text. Your time is too valuable to be able to do quick and accurate calculations on the numbers in the wrong row in the table.

The same applies to possible answers that you have eliminated:cross them out! So you don't have to think again if you reread the question. Make sure you didn't forget to mark the answer to a question that you solved. It would be a shame if you lose points because of such inattentiveness.

Tip 10: dress appropriately

Usually the PST in the McKinsey office takes place on a different day than the actual case interview. So there is basically no way to impress anyone or to network with McKinsey consultants. Nevertheless, you should dress appropriately, which means in consulting:put on a suit. We know that many candidates make this mistake and leave a bad first impression with it!

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McKinsey PST Guide and Practice Tests on PrepLounge.com

Together with a teamexperienced McKinsey consultant, we have designed McKinsey PSTs for you, which you can download as PDF and use for your preparation. By going through each PST example, you will get a feel for the different types of questions McKinsey likes to use. We made sure that the tests match theoptimal level of difficulty to help you master the real PST. In addition, our McKinsey PST Guide will help you become familiar with the general test structure. This saves you valuable preparation time and optimizes your test results. Follow our 10 tips and start preparing for McKinsey PSTs today!

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