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McKinsey Problem Solving Test PST
The Definitive Guide to the
McKinsey Problem Solving Test (PST)
(Part 1 of 2)
(Hint: Bookmark This Page Its Long)
The McKinsey Problem Solving Test (also known as the McKinsey PST) is a math computation, data
interpretation and logical thinking test used by McKinsey to determine which candidates are granted a
first round case interview. In general, candidates whose resumes McKinsey deems acceptable are
invited to take the test. Based on feedback from hundreds of test takers, you must pass the test in order
to get the interview. There are few to no exceptions to this rule.
Why the McKinsey PST Exists
The reason McKinsey uses the test is because there are a certain set of numerical computation and
logical thinking skills required to be successful in consulting. While standardized math tests like the
quantitative sections of the SAT, GRE, or GMAT do test math computational skills, it is possible to
get perfect scores on these math tests but fail on the job in consulting.
Its my interpretation that McKinsey developed the McKinsey Test in order to test those skills that
regular math tests do not adequately evaluate. In particular, these skills involve data interpretation and
critical numerical reasoning.
Now when I hear the words data interpretation and critical numerical reasoning, it always
reminds me of those college entrance exam tests that were challenging, seemingly arbitrary and pretty
much not useful in the real world. But, it turns out these skills actually have a very practical purpose
while working as a consultant.
These skills allow you to:
1) Read a graphical chart (or the data spreadsheet that was used to create the chart)
2) Grasp what the data is conclusively telling you and separate from what the data is suggesting
9/22/2014 McKinsey Problem Solving Test PST
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(but not definitively so)
3) Write a 1 2 sentence headline at the top of a Powerpoint slide state a logically correct
conclusion
In other words, you end up using these skills every single day as a consultant. And if you use these
skills incorrectly, then either your manager or partner has to redo your work for you (which means at
some point you will get fired) or the client notices the logical flaws in your work and it makes your
firm, your partner and your manager look bad (and of course means that at some point youre going to
get fired).
Now you would think looking at a chart and writing a powerpoint headline is not a very difficult skill.
I mean anyone can look at a chart and write a headline, but you would be surprised by how many
people actually get the headline wrong. In other words, a LOT of aspiring consultants and even some
first year consultants see that data and come to the WRONG conclusion.
From a McKinsey partners point of view, its a complete disaster if someone on your team lacks this
skill or even worse THINKS he has the skill, but actually doesnt.
It is such a big deal that McKinsey has gone to extensive effort to create this test and have thousands
of candidates around the world take this problem solving test. All of this effort is taken for the sole
goal of hiring new consultants who can do 1) do math accurately, 2) do it quickly, and (most
importantly) interpret data CORRECTLY.
In short, being able to solve problems logically is a BIG DEAL.
McKinsey PST Format
The computer-based test consists of approximately 26 questions and lasts 60 minutes. No business
background is needed to take the test, but being familiar with a few commonly used business terms is
useful (see the McKinsey PST Frequently Used Terms section of Part II of this Guide Below). You
are permitted to use pen, pencil or paper. No calculators or computing devices are permitted.
Typically a graphical chart or table of numerical data is presented along with some descriptive text
about a company or industry. 4 5 questions follow that refer to the chart. The two most problem
question types are:
1) Math Word Problem Given the data in Table X, calculate A, B or C.
A, B or C might be profit margins. It might be figuring out which companys profits were larger two
years ago. It might be calculating the difference in sales from today vs 2 years ago for two different
companies and figuring out which company had the bigger change.
In the US, we call these word problems. The purpose of these problems is to give you raw data and
information conveyed in a text paragraph, and see if you can figure out the math equation needed to
solve the problem. Often the actual math computation isnt difficult (its just addition, subtraction,
multiplication or division; often math problems are based on percentages growth rate, cost
expressed as a percentage of sales, or profits as a percentage of sales, sales of this year vs 3 years ago
expressed as a percentage).
What makes the word problem difficult is a) Time, b) Time, c) Time.
Amongst those who pass the McKinsey Problem Solving Test, the consistent feedback was they
finished with barely enough time. The most common reasons for making a mistake for a math word
problem is misreading, misunderstanding, or misinterpreting the data presented or what the question
was asking. The other big reason is computational error.
9/22/2014 McKinsey Problem Solving Test PST
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When I took my first McKinsey PST practice test, I actually missed several problems. To be fair, I
had a newborn baby in the house and was sleeping 3 hours a night at the time, and I made a LOT of
careless errors. My mistakes: I thought they were asking one thing, when they were really asking
another. I rushed the computation, and made mistakes.
2) Data Interpretation Given X chart, which of the following conclusions are accurate:
The other type of question isnt computationally intensive, but rather tests your logic and critical
reasoning skills. You will be asked to refer to a chart or data table (mini spreadsheet with numbers)
and asked some variation of the question: Which conclusion is correct?
Variations of this question including presenting you with potential answers that are a) definitively
correct, b) could be correct but you cant be 100% sure, c) definitely wrong. The answers that are
trickiest are ones that seem consistent with the data, but is NOT completely conclusive. In other
words, you need to be able to look at the data and tell the difference between a factual conclusion vs. a
hypothesis suggested (but NOT 100% proven) by the data.

Tips for Passing the McKinsey PST
Skim the questions FIRST to get a feel for what you will be asked, THEN read the data table or
chart. This allows you to get some idea of what you should be paying attention to while you
look at the data or read the text.
Read the text descriptions and the questions VERY CAREFULLY.
Take the questions literally. (I made the mistake of assuming some of the questions were
commonly used business analysis and jumped ahead to calculate what I assumed they were
asking. What I should have done was look at what they were LITERALLY asking and just
answer what they asked.)
If your math computation skills are rusty, practice your math accuracy and speed. You do not
have a lot of time to double check your computations on every problem. Some people dont
have time to double check their computations at all. The more youre absolutely certain your
math skills are accurate and quick, the more time youll have to actually answer all the
questions. (Once again, the main enemy of the test is time)
For data interpretation / drawing a conclusion type questions, be careful of the multiple choice
answer options that seems consistent with the data, but are not 100% conclusively supported by
the data. The easiest way to do this is to immediately eliminate the answer options that are
clearly wrong. Then BE CAREFUL in looking at the remaining options.
For data interpretation question, one thing to ask yourself is Is this conclusion correct under
ALL scenarios? Just because the conclusion is true under the most common scenario doesnt
mean it is true under all scenarios. For example, if you think B is the right answer because it is
the conclusion you think is supported by the data, you should ask yourself Are there any
scenarios I can think of where conclusion B is not correct?
Remember a conclusion that is true MOST of the time is NOT the same as a conclusion that is
true ALL of the time.
Bring a watch to time yourself do not assume every testing room has a clock.
McKinsey Problem Solving Test 3 Ways to Prepare
The biggest challenge for developing your problem solving skills is there arent many McKinsey PST
practice test that are at a difficult level equal to that of the actual McKinsey Problem Solving Test. For
a full list of practice tests available online, fill out the McKinsey Practice Test List Request Form
below.
9/22/2014 McKinsey Problem Solving Test PST
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There are three approaches you can take to prepare for PST:
1) Practice Computations
2) Practice Data Interpretation
3) Take McKinsey PST Practice Tests
Below are tips and resources for each of the practice methods.

Practice Method #1: Practice Computations
The first method is to practice the speed and accuracy of your arithmetic. The McK PST is a TIMED
test. This is not the kind of math test designed to test the entire population of people with a wide range
of math skills. It is intended to identify only those who are very good at math, logical thinking, etc
If you are really good at math, you will finish the test BARELY.
So even if you have a PhD in Physics or Math (Im being serious on this), it is VERY IMPORTANT
you practice your math computations. I get many, many emails from engineers who had 4.0 GPAs in
school who did not pass the PST. Your math computation skills are a muscle. The more you use it, the
stronger it gets. Keep in mind even if you calculate an integral effortlessly, it doesnt mean you cant
make an error doing basic computations.
One resource Id recommend to develop your computation accuracy and speed
is www.CaseInterviewMath.com. This is a math practice tool that I developed for practicing: 1)
arithmetic for speed and accuracy (both VERY important on the McKinsey PST) and 2) estimation
math with large numbers (useful for solving some of the McKinsey PST word problems faster where
precise math isnt necessary to answer the question, just an estimate will suffice.)
This tool compares your math accuracy and speed to other CaseInterview.com members and to my
own test results as benchmark. This will help give you an idea of how your math skills compare with
others; and whether or not you need to improve your math speed and accuracy to be competitive, or if
you current skills are sufficient.
In addition to practicing math computations, you want to practice and develop your data interpretation
skills.

Practice Method #2: Practice Data Interpretation
For data interpretation, the practice questions that most closely resemble PST questions are practice
test questions from certain sections of the GRE. In particular, I would recommend practice word
problems and data interpretation type GRE questions.
Keep in mind the actual McKinsey Problem Solving Test questions are harder and more sophisticated
than the word problems and data interpretation questions in GRE. Sometimes the questions are
combined word problem + data interpretation. Other times instead of presenting a straight forward
problem, as you would see on the GRE, youll see a more elaborate scenario (or multi paragraph story
with one or more charts) where you have to figure out what information is irrelevant to the specific
question at hand.
Remember, each chart is referenced by 4 5 questions. So for any ONE question, most of the
information presented is NOT relevant to THAT particular question.
9/22/2014 McKinsey Problem Solving Test PST
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But before you work your way up the elaborate questions, polishing your foundational skills in word
problems and data interpretation is a good idea.
Data Interpretation & Word Problem Practice Resources:
Kaplan GRE Exam Math Workbook (Copyright 2008)- Chapter 2 Arithmetic Review (if youre
really rusty on math), Chapter 6 Word Problem Practice, Chapter 7 Data Interpretation
Practice
Novas GRE Math Prep Course (Copyright 2010) Percents (page 330-346), Graphs (pages
347 375), Word Problems (pages 376 396) [If you're really rusty on math: Averages (pages
274 - 284), Ratio & Proportions (pages 285 - 303)
Cliff Notes Math Review for Standardized Tests (2nd Edition, Copyright 2010) - Word
Problems Review (pages 318 - 362, but excluding the section on Geometry pages 347 - 350)
(Disclosure: The links above are affiliate links that help subsidize the cost of running this website)
Because GRE problems are much easier than the PST problems, you need to balance the nearly
unlimited practice questions (that are too easy) available for the GRE vs. the much smaller pool of
practice problems for the PST. In addition, there are only a few PST practice tests available online for
free. The other practice tests available (including the ones I offer) do have a fee.
Additional Note: As of June 5, 2012, the GMAT is being revised to include a section on "Integrated
Reasoning". From my assessment, this section of the GMAT has many similarities to the McK PST. If
anyone has any experience with this version of the GMAT or as the test prep guides are updated to
reflect this new section of the GMAT, please post your experiences below and I will incorporate the
feedback into a revision of this guide.
Practice Method #3: Take McKinsey PST Practice Tests
The following are links to a few McKinsey PST Practice Tests.
Links to Free Problem Solving Test Samples:
McKinsey Problem Solving Test - Sample Test Question on Data Sufficiency (from this
website)
McKinsey Problem Solving Test - Example Test Question on Data Sufficiency - Answer Guide
(from this website)
3 McKinsey Problem Solving Test Samples + Coaching Guide (from McKinsey Website)
McKinsey Problem Solving Test - 2001 Version (no longer used, but has similar questions)
Note: The consensus feedback from reader Field Reports is the actual McKinsey Test has a lot more
reading than the samples posted above. My takeaway from this is that its important to read the
questions FIRST, then read the text and charts. Keep in mind you are not reading a magazine article or
a business school case. Your only mission is to answer the questions asked and to move on...
QUICKLY.
With that in mind, I recommend reading with a PURPOSE in mind, as opposed to just for general
knowledge. In other words, KNOW what you're looking for BEFORE you read. Then read carefully
while hunting for the data you KNOW you will need to answer the questions.
Get Part II of the
Definitive Guide to the
9/22/2014 McKinsey Problem Solving Test PST
http://www.caseinterview.com/mckinsey-problem-solving-test 6/28
McKinsey Problem Solving Test
In Part II of the Definitive Guide to the McKinsey Problem Solving Test, you'll receive via
email:
1. A glossary of commonly used business terms and their mathematical definitions
2. An expanded list of high quality, practice tests for the McKinsey PST
3. Tips on the McKinsey PST and Case Interviews
To receive these free resources, fill out the form below.
First Name *
Email *
Submit
(Note you will be returned to this spot after filling out the form)


The Definitive Guide Part I Continued
Field Reports from Previous Test Takers
The following comments are from one of my newsletter readers who took and passed the actual
McKinsey Problem Solving Test. (By the way, just click the following link to receive my case
interview preparation tips newsletter)
Field Report #1
The actual test does not match the practice test in terms of level of difficulty, but it cannot be said that
it is harder.
Some questions are harder, some are easier than those given in the practice test. But the practice test
gives you a feel of the type of questions and timing.
I did a few things in particular to prepare that I thought would be useful, however they were more
about the attitude than actual preparations for the test:
In terms of preparations, I only solved the practice test and then compared my answers to the correct
ones. Then I worked out the wrong answers slowly to realize where did I go wrong.
When it comes to the attitude, it is important to go to the test with a positive attitude but with the
expectation that very few are those who actually make it.
Going with a Why-not; lets take a shot attitude will alleviate a good portion of the stress associated
with the tight timing and will allow the candidate to think clearly.
Now here are some additional insights about the PST:
For business or economics students, just practice the sample and mind the time, you know the rest.
9/22/2014 McKinsey Problem Solving Test PST
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(This is my own experience as a business graduate)
For non-business students, brush up on few quantitative business concepts before going to the test, it
is said that it does not require a business knowledge, but definitely some business sense and acumen.
Stress will definitely play against you, RELAX the test can be completed in the allotted time, dont
worry about it.You will be marking the 26th answer by the end of the last minute though.
Make sure you complete all questions, there are no penalties; but this we know. What we dont know
is, even when you are taking a question as a guess, the test is tailored such as it will allow you to take
an informed guess which is correct; so use elimination and educated guesses to your advantage.
When it comes to the attitude:
Very few people get into McKinsey, put this information into perspective and go to the test in a
Game frame of mind, enjoy it; it is nice and stimulating.
Relax, breathe before starting the test and remember if you made it so far and your consulting resume
caught McKinseys accurate eye, it means you mostly have what it takes to pass.
Do not stress about the outcome of the test once you leave the room. Mckinsey will get back to you
shortly; they have the best recruitment system in the world and they do not make people wait, I know
people who knew the outcome as early as 24 hours after the test.
A great thing that is a MUST-KNOW about McKinsey, they do not select the top x% performers.
They have a cut-off score, if you pass it, youre in for the interview process; youre not competing
against anyone, youre only invited to stretch your own potential.
One last note I would like to add, you will get out of the McKinsey process feeling great, whatever the
outcome is. These people are amazing, this company is extremely professional; and they make you
feel appreciated and respected at every stage of the recruitment process, whether you make it or not.
So my point: get the best out of it for yourself.
Field Report #2: (From a Reader)
Note: Concerning the PST test, I found that the best way to get the answer for a question is by
applying a similar analysis to a case interview. That is, when asked about something, the best way is
to actually think of a hypothesis and what kind of data is needed to give the answer. And then look for
the data in the text. I found that pretty useful. I felt like sharing this as a tip.

****
Finally, if you havent already requested part II of this guide to the McK PST, you can do so by filling
out the form below.
Get Part II of the
Definitive Guide to the
McKinsey Problem Solving Test
In Part II of the Definitive Guide to the McKinsey Problem Solving Test, youll receive via
email:
9/22/2014 McKinsey Problem Solving Test PST
http://www.caseinterview.com/mckinsey-problem-solving-test 8/28
1. A glossary of commonly used business terms and their mathematical definitions
2. An expanded list of high quality, practice tests for the McKinsey PST
3. Tips on the McKinsey PST and Case Interviews
To receive these free resources, fill out the form below.
First Name *
Email *
Submit
{ 241 comments read them below or add one }
Previous Comments
Francisco March 25, 2013 at 11:52 pm
Victor,
I have a question:
I have done and passed the McKs PST and then failed on the interviews but got a see you
later feedback. If I apply again after 18-24 months do you know if I have to do the PST again?
Reply
Victor Cheng March 26, 2013 at 9:05 am
Francisco,
Thats a good question. Unfortunately I dont know the answer (at least not well enough
to say it with 100% certainty). Perhaps others can comment.
Victor
Reply
Camilo September 23, 2013 at 11:57 pm
Francisco
In Colombia if you passed the PST and failed in the interview, you dont have to do
the PST in the next chance.
Good luck next time.
Reply
Ivan July 16, 2013 at 10:18 am
Francisco,
In Russia they didnt ask for PST the second time ( but it was 8 years ago ))).
And PST is the easiest part of the process.
9/22/2014 McKinsey Problem Solving Test PST
http://www.caseinterview.com/mckinsey-problem-solving-test 9/28
Ivan
Reply
Per April 11, 2013 at 4:51 pm
I would love if you could send me a few as well!
Thank you so much!
Reply
Per April 11, 2013 at 4:52 pm
Oh, btw my email is:
americancollegeguide@gmail.com
Reply
Mohamed Safwat May 8, 2013 at 9:40 am
Hello All,
Im currently preparing as well for my Mckinsey PST and would be very glad if you can
provide me with any practice material you have for that purpose.
Many thanks in advance!
Mohamed Safwat
Reply
Boris May 17, 2013 at 11:25 am
Here is my take on the McKinsey PST I took yesterday (May 2013), some people might find it
helpful:
The test consists of three cases (luxury women apparel manufacturer, boat manufacturer and a
charity focused on placement of graduates-teachers from poor backgrounds into secondary
schools). I have read on some thread that these cases have been seen already in January 2013 so
I guess the test does not change too often (although there might be several variations of it).
Volume of questions is evenly spread across the three cases.
Reading-wise I think the test is as heavy as the practice PSTs from MCK website, there are
parts where there is new text/graph for every question, then there is a part where 5 questions
relate to the same source. One thing I did notice was that there was substantial amount of the
questions that sounded hard, but the answer was actually given in the text (e.g.: You got two pie
charts breaking down sales of the market, a chart with financials of different companies and
additional text with numbers of customers of the different firms, and the question was: How
many new customers would the client acquire IMMEDIATELY after acquiring company B?
This number was actually given in the text with the # of customers of firm B no computation
needed).
Also, the amount of info that is actually useless for answering any question was bigger than in
the practice PSTs, i.e. the questions were easier to answer; after reading them you just had to
skim through the text and grasp its overall content, decide what is useless and use the (very
small) part for answering the question.
9/22/2014 McKinsey Problem Solving Test PST
http://www.caseinterview.com/mckinsey-problem-solving-test 10/28
Personally, I found the first case the hardest, especially because there was a table with info that
I never really encountered before (results from a questionnaire given to customers of different
firms, whose answers were broken down according where else these customers shop I cant
really describe this any better (shows how much I actually understood the problem haha)), so if
I took the test again, I would do the first case last. All the other problems were presented in pie
charts, bar charts, flowcharts and line charts, nothing too hard.
Math-wise I believe the test was easier than an average caseinterview-reader would expect.
Only one question involved substantial calculations (I skipped it for timing reasons), other
questions were somewhat easy to estimate.
Prep-wise I would advise the following: Do the practice PSTs first (no timing needed) to grasp
the nature of the problems and structure of the answers, then do a bit of GMAT to practise
maths, then buy consulting guru tests from Victors web (they are actually much harder that the
actual PST, but, once you go through them and understand them, you can be sure that you wont
open the PST and get dizzy over the amount of text to get through), and finally do the practice
PSTs again. They will now feel much easier, you will gain the necessary confidence for the D-
day and you will also fix the answering structure into your head.
If you have some time to prepare and have issues with reading all the text in the tests in the
given time, it might be a good idea to buy LOMS before you take the actual PST (i.e. before
you are invited for interviews). You will see that the PST is structured in an exactly same way
as the LOMS interviews discussions so, after hearing some of the LOMS interviews, you will
see that most of the text is actually just linking different parts for the PST case, which should
ease up your thinking about the case/test, i.e. shorten your reading time.
Personally, I skipped 4 questions, finished the test after 55mins, then went back to the
unanswered ones. Bear in mind that, unless you are a prodigy, you will feel like there is no way
on the planet that you can pass the test once you are like 25mins in the test. This is normal
feeling, the test is structured that way. If you think about it, (unless you are the aforementioned
prodigy) the best feeling you can have immediately post the test is that you have no idea how
you did, simply because most of the questions are not straightforward (although the logic in
answering them usually is). Therefore, try your best to keep it together during the test. I passed
btw.
On this note, Victor, thank you for all the helpful resources on this website, I find them much
more comprehensive and useful than on other websites. I have final round in 3 weeks.
Reply
Victor Cheng May 17, 2013 at 4:49 pm
Boris,
Thanks for sharing such detailed feedback for everyone else to benefit from. Good luck
on final round!
Victor
Reply
Hamza July 1, 2013 at 7:14 am
Hey Boris,
I actually took this test today, and interestingly I too have a similar feedback as yours.
9/22/2014 McKinsey Problem Solving Test PST
http://www.caseinterview.com/mckinsey-problem-solving-test 11/28
[Victor Note: I redacted this section of the comments because it gave actual answers to
the real PST (which I'm not comfortable having shared on my website). I've left the
general suggestion about questions being phrased very specifically which I very much
agree with.]
This is something that Id like to highlight because Mckinsey test are very carefully
worded and usually the first answer that pops up isnt the right answer. I am not sure if I
will get an interview call or how I did on the test but this is an advice for people who will
be taking the test in the future.
Reply
Waheed Mahomed September 28, 2013 at 6:36 am
Hi Boris & other readers
I wrote the PST in South Africa a few weeks back and got the same set of questions that
Boris refers to. I cannot however explain them any better then he did and from his
analysis Im sure he fared better than I did. I just went to have fun and test my mettle.
Anyhow all I wanted to add was that the practice tests do help and see if you can get hold
of recent ones because they may repeat things
Ciao
Reply
Ariel May 25, 2013 at 3:38 pm
The link to the 20/20 sample test above is incorrect.
This is the correct link
http://www.2020delivery.com/sites/default/files/2020Delivery-Sample-problem-solving-
questions.pdf
Reply
Detti May 26, 2013 at 6:12 am
Dear Victor,
your site is great! Thank you for th great content!
I have recently applied for a Junior Research Analyst position with McKinsey, a part time
student job, that I would like to pursue together with my PhD studies and have been invited for
numerical test writing.
I assume that this type of test is not the PST. Is my assumption correct? If so, what type of
questions do you think I will be exposed to?
Your feedback would be extremely helpful in my preparation.
Thank you very much in advance!
Reply
9/22/2014 McKinsey Problem Solving Test PST
http://www.caseinterview.com/mckinsey-problem-solving-test 12/28
Victor Cheng May 29, 2013 at 2:12 pm
Detti,
Unfortunately I dont know what the test will consist of. At one end of the possibile
formats would be the PST, at the other end it would be more like a simplified version of
the GRE math test. The former tests data analysis and drawing logical conclusions, what
mainline consultants need to do. The latter test numerical proficiency and accuracy which
is useful in pure research or analysis that doesnt necessarily involve presenting to clients.
Victor
Reply
Ger June 11, 2013 at 8:53 pm
Dear all,
I know a couple of people that sat the PST recently and were given 75 mins (15 extra) because
they are not native English speakers. However, Ive met some other non-native speakers that
were NOT allowed the extra time.
Does anyone have additional info on this?
As a non-native speaker, should I demand the extra time when I take the test?
Thanks
Reply
alex July 25, 2013 at 3:48 pm
Hey, Ive got letter from mck where they ask me to come and take the test for 75 min!
Im not native speaker.
Reply
Reonna April 29, 2014 at 5:55 am
Maybe if youre in a non-english speaking country, the extra 15 min would not be
given as all the other candidates are also non-native speakers. Im non-native, but
applying in a non-english speaking country, no extra mins.
Reply
Evgenia June 28, 2013 at 5:20 am
Dear Victor,
how can I buy so called consulting guru tests from your web-site?
Id like to prepair for PST next week.
Thank you!
Reply
Victor Cheng June 28, 2013 at 10:51 am
Hi Evgenia,
9/22/2014 McKinsey Problem Solving Test PST
http://www.caseinterview.com/mckinsey-problem-solving-test 13/28
The McKinsey PST practice tests I offer are available here:
http://www.caseinterview.com/mckinsey-pst
Good luck on your preparation!
Victor
Reply
Ger June 30, 2013 at 8:31 am
Dear Victor,
How are you doing?
I posted the question below almost 3 weeks ago. Since nobody has replied I am trying again in
the hope that it will go better this time.
Many thanks!
I know a couple of people that sat the PST recently and were given 75 mins (15 extra) because
they are not native English speakers. However, Ive met some other non-native speakers that
were NOT allowed the extra time.
Does anyone have additional info on this?
As a non-native speaker, should I demand the extra time when I take the test?
Thanks a lot,
Ger
Reply
Victor Cheng July 2, 2013 at 11:36 am
Ger,
1) I dont have enough info on this to make a firm recommendation.
2) I would never demand anything of McK. It doesnt hurt to ask or inquire, but if you
demand that would be interpreted by them as you having an entitlement attitude. They
would be concerned you would use the same attitude with clients, and it would cause
them to reconsider whether to interview you at all.
-Victor
Reply
Sam July 2, 2013 at 8:59 am
Dear Victor,
Concur with someones opionion, your site is truly great! Many thanks for your efforts to create
such a helpful web-recourse!
My question is: is PST compulsory for experienced professionals applying for Business
Associate positions in Asian ofiice? In brief, Im industry specialist with 12 years of executive
experience in Finance/banking. Or I will be going through case studies interviews directly?
9/22/2014 McKinsey Problem Solving Test PST
http://www.caseinterview.com/mckinsey-problem-solving-test 14/28
Many thanks in advance for your prompt answer.
Reply
Victor Cheng July 2, 2013 at 11:30 am
Sam,
I dont know if McK has a consistent policy on this globally. Historically, it was for all
applicants. More recently, I am hearing rumors that with the new GMAT including
questions that overlap with the PST, that some MBA applicants who report the new
GMAT score have been exempt. Unfortunately, I dont have enough data points on
experienced hires to draw a reliable conclusion if the PST will likely be required for you
or not.
-Victor
Reply
Mark July 17, 2013 at 5:05 pm
Hi Victor,
I was just wondering whether the so called consulting guru tests on your website are the same
as those displayed at http://consultingguru.com/our-services/problem-solving-tests/?
Thank you for the clarification.
Reply
Victor Cheng July 18, 2013 at 11:05 am
Mark,
The tests themselves are the same. In the bundle I offer at
http://www.caseinterview.com/mckinsey-pst I include a lengthy and detailed video of
how to optimize your test taking abilities for speed. This video is only available in the
bundle available on this website.
Most people can pass the test given enough time. The hard part is passing the test under
the time constraint. Very few people who do pass thought they passed. All felt like they
barely had enough time. Theres a long way to answer each question, and a short way.
The videos show the short way. Its a little counter-intuitive in some cases and differs
from how one would normally take tests in an academic environment.
-Victor
Reply
Chen July 22, 2013 at 7:33 am
Hi Victor,
how many of the 26 questions should be answered correctly, in order to be invited for
interview?
9/22/2014 McKinsey Problem Solving Test PST
http://www.caseinterview.com/mckinsey-problem-solving-test 15/28
Thanks.
Reply
Victor Cheng July 24, 2013 at 2:14 pm
Chen,
Unfortunately, I dont know the answer to your question though you are certainly not
the first person to ask. As far as I can tell, that exact cut off is not disclosed publicly.
I will say that 50% of the people who ended up passing did not think they had passed
when they finished the test. So if you feel extremely pressed for time during the actual
PST, dont panic. Its normal. Its supposed to be a very tight finish. Nobody I know
finished more than 1 -2 minutes early.
Reply
Sara August 7, 2013 at 12:18 am
Dear Victor,
I have a question. How would I go about getting a summer internship at a top consulting
company? Is the interview process the same as the process for a job application?
Thank you so much for your help! It is much appreciated! I bought your book and it was
amazing!
Reply
Mike August 7, 2013 at 4:13 pm
I filled out the application on the website two days ago and got an invitation to interview this
morning. They want me to do the PST test in like 2 weeks. Im a corporate lawyer so have been
out of practice with quant heavy questions and I also work a lotis it frowned upon to ask to
schedule the PST test at a later date? Im assuming having more than 2 weeks to prepare would
be wise considering my rust.
Thanks,
Mike
Reply
Chloe September 25, 2013 at 5:47 am
I took the PST successfully back in July. It was the same as previous commentators said one
case each on luxury retail, a boat manufacturer and a charity.
A few takeaways on Prep:
1. The tests on the McKinsey website are very reflective of the actual test. It is worth taking the
time to understand why each answer on these is the correct one.
2. I thought chart literacy and critical reasoning were key; to this end, the Integrated Reasoning
and Critical Reasoning sections on the GMAT are useful prep tools
3. As Victor mentioned in one of his videos, most people could pass this test if they had
sufficient prep and unlimited time. Unfortunately, there are limited resources available in
9/22/2014 McKinsey Problem Solving Test PST
http://www.caseinterview.com/mckinsey-problem-solving-test 16/28
prepping for the PST. I found Victors practice tests to be very useful (I purchased the full
package) in terms of getting my head around the time constraint and general test-taking
abilities. I do think his tests were a bit harder and more data-intensive than the real exam, so
worth bearing that in mind as well.
As for the test, I found the key skill to passing was the ability to eliminate answers. The amount
of math I did was much less than I had done in my prep because I was able to eliminate
answers. This was in part helped by identifying the incorrect assumptions associated with the
wrong answers. I did find Victors video walk through of the PST to be very useful.
I think there were very few answers that I was 100% certain with; I just had to make the most
reasonable decision and move on. Time-wise, I was able to finish the exam.
Overall, I would say that there is a particular method and logical approach to taking the test
successfully. Prep for the exam should ideally focus on understanding this approach (through
McKinseys practice tests available online) and then working to finish under the time constraint
(for which Victors tests were very helpful).
Reply
Sisi October 5, 2013 at 7:21 am
Hi guys, I have been to a PST test this year already. Not any more women luxury, boat leasing
and Teaching. I can just tell you what I still remember until this day.
First case was Pharmaceutical company want to sell diabetic preventing medicine (oral or
insulin) in China. They interviewed some doctors in different cities for setting proper price.
The second case was, a country in Asia who wants to transportation system role model. There
were different types of vehicles described. Questions were focused on these vehicles, what shall
the country do, etc.
The third case was instruction bundles (textbooks plus other things) for schools. Different states
have different budgets. Also schools would like to buy only textbooks next year, then how
many more textbook does the company need to sell in order to have the same revenue.
Less calculation this year, but more interpretation.
I hope this can give you guys some general feeling about what the cases are this year.
Reply
mohammad K November 13, 2013 at 11:53 am
Hello Sisi,
I had the same test, the same cases. Whats up with you, did u pass ?
Reply
BT November 30, 2013 at 2:46 pm
Hi Sisi,
thank you for sharing the info about the PST cases.
which one you found the most difficult?
regards,
BT
Reply
John October 5, 2013 at 3:23 pm
9/22/2014 McKinsey Problem Solving Test PST
http://www.caseinterview.com/mckinsey-problem-solving-test 17/28
I just sat the PST (Oct 2013) and passed. Just wanted to share my experiences. Victors videos
about taking the PST is what, in my opinion, will get you to pass the test.
THE ACTUAL PST
The actual PST was easier than the websites, not by much though. Time was still the biggest
issue and there was huge pressure. The actual cases do not matter so hence I have not
elaborated.
EXTRA PSTs WHICH ARE AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE
I bought the one PST from Victors website. He uses the http://www.consultingguru.com tests.
I found the actual PST absolutely useless, here is why:
-I have no business background at all. Theses PSTs were heavy in technical knowledge (for a
novice). And really put me off.
-This paid for PSTs was very heavy in math. Very heavy. Unable to finish in 60mins
-I scored about 30% in this PST and it really dented my confidence.
However, buying from Victor is absolutely gold as you get 3 videos on a strategy to take the
test. This is what got me over. Getting to each question with a structure and smashing it :-). I
cannot stress how important his videos are!
MY PREP
As I said, I have no business background. I applied to McK at the last minute and had not
prepared very much. McK is indeed very efficient at recruiting so you will get a response within
a week. Once I was told I got past the CV screen I started preparing. This was 6 days before the
test.
I did:
1) The official PSTs- The three on the McK website and the other two floating around on the
interweb. As linked in this article.
2) CaseInterviewMath.com
3) Integrated reasoning GMAT questions (was hard to find many as this is quite new)
4) Chart and data interpreting GRE questions. Tons available.
5)Cliff Notes Math Review for Standardized Tests- As linked above. I did the word problems
and quickly reviewed my math skills esp. long division
6) I had read, a few months ago, Secrets of Mental Math by Michael Shermer. The skills came
in handy but had to be refreshed.
7) CRITICALLY, I resat the practice PSTs 1 day and the day of the exam. Whenever I did the
PSTs, either fresh or a resit, it was always timed. Always time yourself. And never use a
calculator. Simulate actual conditions.
Hope this helps.
P.S If you buy the $55 PST and videos from Victor and like the structure of the test you should
be able to buy it significantly cheaper using a discount code and some efficient googling.
P.P.S Apologies for grammer and spelling.
Reply
BT November 30, 2013 at 2:51 pm
Hi John,
9/22/2014 McKinsey Problem Solving Test PST
http://www.caseinterview.com/mckinsey-problem-solving-test 18/28
did you have the same set of cases as Sisi?
1) Pharmaceutical company that wants to sell diabetic preventing medicine in China.
2) A country in Asia that wants to transportation system role model.
3) Instruction bundles (textbooks plus other things) for schools.
Best,
BT
Reply
Ann November 22, 2013 at 5:47 pm
Just wanted to say that I took the PST this morning (Nov 2013) and I passed. I was absolutely
petrified because I took some practice tests that I scored poorly on at first. Here is some advice I
can offer to those who are taking it.
1. Its not harder than the practice test provided by the McKinsey website. I would say the
difficulty level is exactly the same. Use these and the resources listed above by Victor as your
primary resource to prepare and you should be fine on the big day.
2. Skip/guess any questions that are obviously too detailed to calculate and you are unsure of
and come back to them later in the test, especially if your math is not that fast. The reason is
because there are some easier questions that you should prioritize getting correct instead. If you
run out of time and have to fill in (A) for the last 5 or 6 questions, you will kick yourself if you
see that actually they were questions you could have answered if you had more time.
3. Try not to panic. The nice thing about the cut off score is that you are simply stretching your
own potential. You can do it!
Reply
BT November 30, 2013 at 2:49 pm
Hi Ann,
thank you for your feedback.
did you have the same set of cases as Sisi?
1) Pharmaceutical company that wants to sell diabetic preventing medicine in China.
2) A country in Asia that wants to transportation system role model.
3) Instruction bundles (textbooks plus other things) for schools.
Best,
BT
Reply
sumit December 14, 2013 at 4:51 am
I think mcKinsey PST test is much easier than indian national level aptitude tests like
CAT,XAT(I myself have scored 99th percentile,questions are extremely tough and over 2 lakh
people vouch for few seats).Only thing that is tough for people is to get through interviews
reason being communication skills.
9/22/2014 McKinsey Problem Solving Test PST
http://www.caseinterview.com/mckinsey-problem-solving-test 19/28
Reply
Tom December 20, 2013 at 3:48 am
Hi Victor,
I applied at McK and they invited ne to take a test via phone. They told me that I will have to
take just one problem solving Case and that the Interview will last approximately 45 min. Do
you have any idea what kind of test that might be? Any experience on cases via phone?
Thanks
Tom
Reply
KA February 7, 2014 at 7:52 pm
Anyone taken the PST recently? Can you please share your experience? Am taking the PST in a
few weeks and having taken the practice tests am only averaging around 14-15 questions out of
26.
Reply
KA February 7, 2014 at 7:54 pm
Any tips on how to improve performance?
Reply
Laura February 26, 2014 at 8:31 pm
You recommend using Kaplans 2008 GRE Math Workbook to prepare for the McKinsey PST.
I was only able to find the 2014 edition, which does not have the same chapter titles. Which of
the following chapters from the 2014 edition would you recommend reviewing to prepare?
The chapters are: Part 1 (Quantitative Reasoning): (i) quantitative comparison, (ii) problem
solving, (iii) data interpretation, and (iv) quantitative reasoning practice; and Part 2 (Math
Content Review): (i) arithmetic, (ii) algebra, (iii) geometry, (iv) data interpretation.
Thanks in advance!
Reply
Victor Cheng February 27, 2014 at 10:49 am
Laura,
I would suggest focusing on Part 1, Sections iii and IV. data interpretation (reading
charts and data tables) and quantitative reasoning (thinking logically with numbers)
Victor
Reply
Victor Cheng February 27, 2014 at 10:51 am
9/22/2014 McKinsey Problem Solving Test PST
http://www.caseinterview.com/mckinsey-problem-solving-test 20/28
Both skills are used quite frequently in consulting. If you need practice for basic
arithmetic, I would recommend using my case interview math practice tool at
http://www.caseinterview.com/math
It provides timed arithmetic practice and will compare your speed an accuracy to
all other users by percentile rank and versus my own speed and accuracy.
Victor
Reply
Clara March 8, 2014 at 12:05 pm
Hi,
Ive been studying for the PST for the last 2 weeks, I took it last week (March 2014).
The questions were around the same 3 cases somebody else in May 2013 mentioned above
(luxury women apparel manufacturer, boat manufacturer and a charity focused on placement of
graduates-teachers from poor backgrounds into secondary schools). I guess it is clear they dont
change them too often, which is good!
I believe they have about 6 different forms going on though, watch out.
Anyways, I dont know how it went, I was confident when practicing but as the person above
mentioned there were a couple of quite complex problems so I didnt accomplish to finish it,
but I went through 95% of it.
Advice: PRACTICE, PRACTICE and PRACTICE. The McKinsey online samples offered in
their website dont look to different, so it is all about mastering time (as Victor says, start by
mastering accuracy though).
I havent heard about results yet, wish me luck! AndGood luck for you all !
Reply
KA March 10, 2014 at 1:56 pm
Good Luck, thanks for sharing your experience.
Reply
jk March 12, 2014 at 2:09 am
Clara, Best of luck! Have your heard about the result?
Reply
Tong March 26, 2014 at 5:25 am
PST today, the same case as someone shared before. I didnot pass it. Just 3 days for preparation.
May need more practice.
There are not a lot of calculation. A lot of logic questions. Hope u guys good luck.
1) Pharmaceutical company that wants to sell diabetic preventing medicine in China.
2) A country in Asia that wants to transportation system role model.
3) Instruction bundles (textbooks plus other things) for schools.
Reply
Mia September 19, 2014 at 9:01 am
9/22/2014 McKinsey Problem Solving Test PST
http://www.caseinterview.com/mckinsey-problem-solving-test 21/28
Hey Tong,
Do you still remember any answers from the test by chance?
Thnks
Reply
Victor Cheng September 19, 2014 at 9:42 am
Hi All,
Im going to ask that those who have taken the test NOT share specific questions
and answers from the actual PST. Id like this site to be focused on legitimate
preparation that is fair for all, rather than getting answers to the test from someone
else which feels more like cheating to me.
Its fine to share general themes, impressions, suggestions for how to best prepare,
etc
Thanks for respecting this request.
Victor
Reply
@sh April 20, 2014 at 2:12 am
Hi Victor/all,
Planning to apply to McK India office. Have over 6 years of consulting experience in a Big 4
Consulting Firm
1) Any idea, if the recruitment process involves writing a PST?
2) (How much) Would the experience at the Big4 count?
3) Needed help with the cover letter/Resumes. any inputs??
Short timelines & turnaround time. Appreciate a quick response.
Thanks a ton.
Reply
damilola April 27, 2014 at 2:02 pm
it is very interesting and helpful
Reply
Alexis May 13, 2014 at 6:15 pm
Hi everyone!
I am an experienced professional with 14 years on different sectors. I will take the PST in some
days here in Brazil. Does anyone know if the PST in Brazil is also in the English language?
Thanks!
Reply
9/22/2014 McKinsey Problem Solving Test PST
http://www.caseinterview.com/mckinsey-problem-solving-test 22/28
Svetlana May 23, 2014 at 9:29 am
Is there anyway to buy PST tests for Mac? I dont have or even know anyone who has a PC (
Many thanks!
Reply
Maxim June 29, 2014 at 4:17 am
Svetlana, you can launch Windows applications on Mac. Use standard application, called
BootCamp. Its already installed on your Mac.
Or you can buy Parallels, I heard its better (but not free).
Good luck!
Reply
Dang Tuan July 3, 2014 at 5:47 am
Hi Victor,
I search around but i didnt see anywhere indicates the cut-off point for PST. For 26 questions,
what is cut-off % we need to make?
Thanks
Reply
Victor Cheng July 3, 2014 at 10:54 pm
Dang,
I havent seen a cut off score from a reliable source thus far. Ive seen much speculation.
More important and or more actionable than the cut off score is actually being able to
finish the test.
Nearly everyone who has taken it both those how passed and those who did not all
comment on how they finished with barely enough time.
Many if not most people who passed did not feel they did well. So during the test, do not
let yourself get worried if your feeling isnt totally positive. Most people who take he
test are capable of a high score, but not within the time alotted. So the main issue isnt
can you answer the question, its can you do so extremely efficiently mainly be not
calculating anything even when presented with many numbers when a calculation is not
logically needed to answer the question as it was phrased.
A related issue is using estimated computations when an estimate is sufficient to answer
the question, rather than using time consuming precise computations when such precision
isnt technically required given how the question was asked.
By the way, did I mention READ THE QUESTION CAREFULLY?
Many people answer the question they thought they read, but not the actual question that
was asked. Again, do not be more precise than is needed.
Good luck,
Victor
9/22/2014 McKinsey Problem Solving Test PST
http://www.caseinterview.com/mckinsey-problem-solving-test 23/28
Reply
Morgan August 1, 2014 at 1:55 pm
Hi Victor,
Is there a version of your PST full toolkit that works on Mac computers?
Please let me know.
Thank you,
Morgan
Reply
Victor Cheng August 2, 2014 at 4:11 pm
Morgan,
Unfortunately, there is not a Mac version available at this time.
Victor
Reply
Morgan August 3, 2014 at 4:23 pm
Darn, will it work with Boot Camp support?
https://www.apple.com/support/bootcamp/
Reply
Victor Cheng August 3, 2014 at 6:16 pm
Yes if you have windows via bootcamp it should work. I personally use
windows through VMware (comparable to bootcamp) and it works well.
-Victor
Reply
Lerato August 11, 2014 at 9:22 am
Hi Victor,
I was hoping you could shed some light for me on which applicants are required to take the
PST.
This past weekend I learned that a friend of mine, and a contact of hers, were not required to
take PST, and skipped into Case Interviews straight away. Both people are engineers and have
worked as engineering contractors. And were both recruited by the Germany office, alas, for
different positions.
I am awaiting a response/ invitation (for test or interview) from McKinsey after the submission
of my resume, transcripts as well as a leadership questionnaire I was asked to complete.
9/22/2014 McKinsey Problem Solving Test PST
http://www.caseinterview.com/mckinsey-problem-solving-test 24/28
Im just confused as to what the process is for recruitment.
Under which circumstances would a candidate get cleared for PST automatically?
Reply
Victor Cheng August 13, 2014 at 3:15 am
Lerato,
I dont know the policy for the German McK office. In the US anecdotally, Ive heard the
some MBA candidates from top schools with good GMAT scores havent had to take the
PST. The PST mainly tests the ability to interpret data to draw accurate logical
conclusions and computational thinking. In general, the PST is redundant if a candidates
job history and/or quantitative testing history already demonstrates these skills. However,
just because I personally think the testing is redundant doesnt mean McK does. Also I do
think the newer GMAT version is more similar to the PST than the old GMAT version. I
wouldnt be surprised if at some point those who had high recent GMAT scores would be
able to bypass the PST. (This merely my speculation. I have no data on this)
Victor
Reply
Greg September 2, 2014 at 11:29 pm
Data point for US offices, for whatever its worth: Im an APD (science
background and JD), and was offered a choicea single 30-min case IV by phone,
or the PST.
Reply
Kai September 13, 2014 at 12:39 pm
Hi,
I am writing from Scandinavia. I will be applying for a job at McKinsey soon. On their
Norwegian website they say nothing about the PST. I also talked with some McKinsey
consultants about the recruiting process and they did non mention the PST. Do you know if the
PST in part of the application process in Scandinavia?
Best regards
Reply
Victor Cheng September 13, 2014 at 7:44 pm
Kai,
I do not know what the policy is in Scandinavia. Recruiting practices may vary from one
region to another, one season to another (the new season just started), and by level and
type of education.
Victor
Reply
9/22/2014 McKinsey Problem Solving Test PST
http://www.caseinterview.com/mckinsey-problem-solving-test 25/28
Victor Cheng September 13, 2014 at 7:45 pm
Kai,
I would suggest checking the website for the office you are considering. They will
usually outline the process. Also, if you are able to reach a recruiting coordinator on the
phone, generally they will gladly answer your questions. Its peak season so they are very
hard to reach, but when you are able to reach them they are usually fairly transparent
about the process.
Victor
Reply
Meto September 17, 2014 at 3:59 pm
Hi, Victor
Hi, all
Here is my case:
I applied over the McK career website for research analyst in two offices in Eastern Europe
(Wroclaw and Zagreb). After a quick and polite refuse from Wroclaw and no answer yet from
the other, 10 days after I applied I got mail from McK Budapest. They said that they are
interested in my application and offer me to try for Banking Market Analyst (unannounced in
the website!). It goes without saying that it is great to be acknowledged by McK, BUT:
1) my background (graduate in European Studies and working in business support organisation)
is not anyhow related to banking/insurance/stock exchange. And no, I did not lie in my
resumeWhat do you think they found in me exotic languages (Russian, Bulgarian) or
else?
2) I will sit a 60 minutes English NUMERICAL test where the incorrect answers mean -1 point,
the correct answers +1 point, blank 0 point. When in turn I asked whether this test is of the
kind of the prep tests on McK site, the answer was to google such tests there are many out
there. What should I expect then and how should I prepare?
3) In addition, if I pass the numerical test, on the 1 round interview I will have to sit a 45-min.
Excel test. Any information and insights about this one?
Finally, we agreed that I will sit the test on October 2 in Bucharest office (for proximity
reasons) and if I am successful, the excel test will be on the next day.
I read the comments here, but couldnt find such a case. So if Viktor or anyone have some
advice, I will be happy to see it!
Reply
Anjola September 20, 2014 at 2:58 am
Hi all! Just wanted to share my experience on the McK PST which echoes those of @M and
@Boris.
I started preparing for the PST as soon as I submitted my application for the Associate role
(about 3 weeks in advance). Prior to this point I had not done any form of even basic Maths
since BSc (5 years ago). The first time I tried the practice PST, I couldnt believe how badly I
scored, 13 of the 26 questions. I spent the next week practicing other data interpretation tests,
GRE/ GMAT/Advanced numerical tests. I also spent time studying basic business principles
and the associated calculations e.g Profit Margin, simple interest etc. I went back to studying
9/22/2014 McKinsey Problem Solving Test PST
http://www.caseinterview.com/mckinsey-problem-solving-test 26/28
the practice PSTs. After scoring each practice session, I would carefully study the answer
section and try to understand Mckinseys reasons for the selected answer. And then write a full
page on the insights I gathered from that particular test. For me, this was a way to let the info
sink in.
On the day of the actual PST, I felt so ill (yes my nerves get the better of me at written exams,
and I have always felt this way since high school), I was so close to cancelling and rescheduling
later. While I was writing the test, after a couple of questions I was so unsure about, I was
shaking my head, thinking why even bother ?Although I managed to finish on time and
come back to a few questions. I definitely felt horrible after the test. There was definitely atleast
2 questions I had NO IDEA how to solve and didnt have the time to think about so I guessed
those. I was very unsure of the outcome, I really couldnt say how the test went! I had written
the whole thing off until I read Boris s and Ms comments and saw I was not alone with the
post-test feeling!
In the end, I got the email yesterday saying I passed the PST ! I absolutely could not believe it!.
Anyway all the excitement is gone now, I tend to do really well in interviews, but I may have
scaled through the easiest part of the process.
Goodluck to anyone taking the PST! Dont feel too discouraged if you dont feel great after the
test. Apparently , feeling unsure is the best feeling youll get in most cases.
Reply
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