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Next step: McKinsey Problem Solving Test

The McKinsey Problem Solving Test (so-called McKinsey PST) is a Math computation, data interpretation and logical thinking test used by McKinsey to decide which applicants are secured a first round case interview. From the successful test takers’ experience, you must pass the test in order to get offer to the interview.

The test includes 26 MCQs that underlie the context of 3 business cases. Only 60 minutes are given to complete the test. You will be supplied with a watch, pencils, scratch paper, and the test in paper-based format. There is NO calculator. The test will be conducted within a group or only you.

sample test

McKinsey requires excellent academic education when recruitment; therefore they need to make this competition tough. The PST is a paper-based test (described as the filter) required for all McKinsey candidates before in-person interviews. McKinsey assumes that there is a gap in between CV screening and in-person case interviews, somehow it is too big. There might two things that happen. Firstly, the firm may miss many good candidates with bad resumes. Secondly, they may interview too many candidates who do not match with the quality of their Resume. On the other hand, in-person interviews are expensive. So that, the problem-solving test offers a cost-effective solution

In the test, the most difficult thing that makes you scare is time-pressure. You only have 60 minutes to 26 questions. 60 minutes equal a sports game that you watch on TV. However, time is like a blink of an eye, especially in the test. To make use of this disadvantage, the recruiters want to see your time management skills, your math skills. Therefore, you need to practise as much as possible to sharpen your skills. One tip to use in case you only have a little time left, which is trying to use your intuition to figure out the “high probability” answers.

Got “a first” to pass the test. Many applicants have been questioned themselves how much score do they need to pass the PST, there are no quota to meet. This implies that as long as you reach a predetermined bar, you will pass it! Don’t be scared when you walk into a test room with a lot of people. The only one you need to bat off is yourself. No one knows the accurate minimum passing score. According to my knowledge, I suppose that the minimum bar is 70%.

In another word, you need to show a result around 18 out of 26 questions to pass the test. It is, therefore, you need to practice more if the test shows a result of 12 or 14 /26.

The best way to prepare for McKinsey PST is to know and understand the question type in the PST. After that, we will focus on each type to practice. By doing this, it will bring the best outcome for your preparation

Here is the list of McKinsey PST question types to look at

Client Interpretation

Reading Facts

Root-cause reason

Fact-based Conclusion


Word Problem

And here is the mantra “Do right – do fast” to practice those question

Step 1: Understand the test

Step 2: Practice the test

Step 3: Tighten the skills

To support the preparation, there are some methods to practice. First, you can join in any forum to find a buddy and share material to practice. Second, you can find some sample test or paid prep material to leverage your skills.  


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