Create an account and get free access to 50+ articles.
Sign up for free >>

BootCamp Articles

Articles read: 0/52

You need good math skills to succeed in consulting interviews

Basic math skills will be tested in all case interviews, so you need to practice mental math especially if it is not your natural strength

One of the basic skills a candidate requires is good mental math abilities. Your interviewer will test this skill either directly by asking a math question such as "What is the square root of 759?" or in an indirect manner while solving a business case problem.

Interviewers can differentiate between hard and soft mistakes. Calculation errors are considered hard mistakes because there is no partial answer in math. Therefore, you must improve or refresh your mental math skills before interviews. Remember, it is alright to use a scratch paper for most calculations but it is expected that you are able to mentally perform easy calculations. Try the following tool to improve your mental math skills.

Train your brain! Improve your math skills using our Mental Math tool!

Impress the interviewer with outstanding mental math skills

Possessing excellent mental math skills is crucial during case interviews because you will need these skills as a consultant. In general, there are two main reasons why consultants should possess excellent math skills:

  1. As a consultant you will come across several occasions, in which you will need mental math skills. Estimation skills can save a lot of time and in some cases help figure out unnecessary analysis that can waste a lot of time if a quick estimation is not done (see 80/20 or pareto principle). Without great math skills, you could end up spending the entire night using Excel.
  2. You can easily impress your client by demonstrating to them that you are a potential math genius. Clients often pay a lot of money to you (or your employer) and expect total wisdom and cleverness. Quick math solutions can be an effective way to convince clients of your recommendations.

Math or "quant" skills account for 20-25% of overall performance evaluation

Quant skills are only one of the skills assessed in case interviews. As a candidate, you are evaluated on your overall combination of skills and your perceived potential. Generally, a candidate’s quantitative assessment consists of 20-25% of the overall interview evaluation weight. The goal of Management Consulting firms is to find the set of candidates with what they perceive are the best set of skills overall.

Most firms have a “minimum bar” for quant skills for their candidates, which means you are unlikely to receive an offer if you do not exceed this bar—unless you are otherwise a highly exceptional candidate (such as being a Rhodes Scholar). At some firms, dramatically exceeding this “bar” does not strengthen your candidacy—that is, the quantitative evaluation is binary: you either pass the quant assessment or you don’t. At other firms, such as McKinsey, if you can demonstrate very strong quantitative skills it will differentiate you from other candidates. The quant problems from these firms can be more complex, which allows candidates with strong quant skills to fully demonstrate their ability. The corollary is that, for some very complex quant problems, you don’t need to correctly solve all the components to receive an offer.

The relative importance of quantitative skills in the case interview varies by firm, office and the individual interviewer. As an example, if you are interviewing with a Consulting firm partner who has a PhD in a very quantitative field like Applied Mathematics or Physics, they may ask more challenging quant questions and place a greater emphasis on quant skills in their interviews. McKinsey, in particular, places more emphasis on quant skills than other firms, and, as mentioned previously, demonstrating exceptional quant skills can greatly strengthen your candidacy at McKinsey.

Given the large weighting of 20-25% that quant skills have in consulting interviews - and the quant “minimum bar” at most consulting firms - you can certainly sink your chances of receiving an offer if you perform poorly in the quant portion of the interview.


Quant skills are needed to be an effective Management Consultant; hence, they are assessed in Management Consulting interviews. Quant skills are one of the skills consulting firms assess in their interviews. At most firms, if you do not exceed a “minimum bar” for quant skills, it is unlikely you will receive an offer. You cannot use calculators or spreadsheets in Management Consulting interviews, and the assessment of your quant skills usually contributes about 20-25% of the overall interview evaluation weight.

4 Comment(s)
November 16, 2015 03:09 pm -

Agree with Vladislav, it's a great tool. Any chance that this will come out as an app?

December 23, 2014 06:56 pm -

Hi Vladislav, Thanks so much! Glad you like the tool. It indeed is a confidence booster :)

December 23, 2014 02:00 pm -

Really cool tool, can be used to boost confidence as well!

March 05, 2014 04:56 pm -

Nice tool!

Related consulting question(s)
Tips to do big multiplications in my mind
Vlad gave the best answer on Jul 23, 2017 - 4 answers
McKinsey / Accenture / Got all BIG3 offers / More than 300 real MBB cases / Harvard Business School
Book a coaching with Vlad

97% Recommendation Rate

340 Meetings

4,316 Q&A Upvotes

USD 319 / Coaching

Hi, Basically, you need to develop 3 calculation skills: 1) Learn how to multiply double digit numbers (google fast math tips or The Veda math). 2) Learn how to work with zeros. Best way - al... (more)

There are many sources u can use e.g. 1. Mental Maths Tool from Preplounge 2. Mental Maths Tool from Victor Cheng 3. GMAT Questions 4. IQ Test also include mental maths questions e.g. sol... (more)

Where can I find this fraction decimal table? 
gave the best answer on Oct 09, 2018 - 2 answers
Bain & Company | University of Cambridge | CV/Resume writing | 770 GMAT
Book a coaching with Alessandro

100% Recommendation Rate

60 Meetings

786 Q&A Upvotes

USD 139 / Coaching

Hi there, I quickly created a table for you in Excel - please see below :)

McKinsey Sample Case - Logic Question...
gave the best answer on Apr 11, 2017 - 1 answer
Book a coaching with Paulo

100% Recommendation Rate

8 Meetings

20 Q&A Upvotes

USD 109 / Coaching

Hi there, Let me chime in here. First, try to think of this problem in terms of the expected value of the candidate drug: Expected Value = Likelihood of success * Present Value (in case of su... (more)

Case Math Prep
Vlad updated the best answer on Jul 27, 2018 - 1 answer
McKinsey / Accenture / Got all BIG3 offers / More than 300 real MBB cases / Harvard Business School
Book a coaching with Vlad

97% Recommendation Rate

340 Meetings

4,316 Q&A Upvotes

USD 319 / Coaching

Hi, Pls find below my list 1) Case math Practice common market sizing topics (Airport passenger flow, real estate volumes, subway passenger flows, car usage, etc.). You should become comforta... (more)

Related case(s)

Airline Economics

Solved 9.8k times
4.3 5 431
| Rating: (4.3 / 5.0)

We are an airline major operating out of India. We want to increase the number of passengers on all our flights. Could you please calculate the financial return of adding one more passenger per flight? Open whole case

REA Reinsurance

Solved 8.5k times
4.1 5 878
| Rating: (4.1 / 5.0)

Your client, REA, is a reinsurance company. REA recently acquired another reinsurance company (approximatively same size): the choice of this company was notably based on its product portfolio as well as its market presence which appeared complement with REA. However, the acquisition is not well r ... Open whole case