Cookie and Privacy Settings

This website uses cookies to enable essential functions like the user login and sessions. We also use cookies and third-party tools to improve your surfing experience on preplounge.com. You can choose to activate only essential cookies or all cookies. You can always change your preference in the cookie and privacy settings. This link can also be found in the footer of the site. If you need more information, please visit our privacy policy.

Data processing in the USA: By clicking on "I accept", you also consent, in accordance with article 49 paragraph 1 sentence 1 lit. GDPR, to your data being processed in the USA (by Google LLC, Facebook Inc., Stripe, Paypal).

Manage settings individually I accept
Create an account and get free access to 50+ articles.
Sign up for free >>
BootCamp Articles

Articles read: 0/52

Typical Question Types in Written Tests

Since there are different types of written tests across consulting firms, it would make sense to prepare for various question types that appear in these tests.

In this chapter we will provide you with an overview of common question types across written tests such as the PST. First of all, unless you know exactly what type of test you will get, it is advisable to prepare for the different question types that could appear in these tests. Also, given that most firms are not too generous with the materials they distribute, this approach will help you find more practice material without having to pay for commercially available practice tests.

The following are some common question types and strategies on how we can approach these questions.

However, if you are willing to invest into your career and put your prep to the next level, check out the following practice tests and guides:

The general math questions

General math questions are used across most written tests. The key skill being tested is your ability to calculate quickly and accurately without a calculator.

In order to solve these types of questions:

  • Practice your general math skills to make sure you are able to calculate quickly and accurately. Also, make sure to compare your results with peers using PrepLounge's practice tool (see our case math section for additional practice material as well as our Quizzes on Logical Reasoning for Case Interviews and Math Assignments for Case Interviews).
  • Make sure to double check your calculations – this might seem straight forward but during the test you might calculate the wrong percentage or make an arithmetic error. If a table is provided (as shown later), be sure to immediately mark the columns/rows that you need to avoid confusion.
  • Estimate the answer before doing the exact calculations since you can generally eliminate 2 or more answers with a quick estimation in your head.

Example question:

FlipFlopCo, a major manufacturer of trendy flip flops asked [name of the consultancy you are currently taking the test at] to look into its sales development across several countries over the last years.

The table below shows the sales development of the flip-flop business unit across FlipFlopCo’s major markets. Which of these markets showed the fastest sales development (in %-terms) from 2009-2012?

US$ M

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

US

233

274

333

393

455

CA

140

160

181

198

230

MX

44

47

56

73

80

EU

58

67

65

69

72

RoW

56

49

49

54

56

a)US

b)CA

c)MX

d)EU

e)RoW

The question wants you to calculate the relative increase from 2009 to 2012. We recommend to first highlight/mark the two columns labeled 2009 and 2012 to avoid mis-reading charts. Next, rather than doing exact calculations right away, we would first estimate to eliminate unlikely choices.

  • US:
    • Sales increased from 274 to 455
    • We round this to 300-500, an increase that we are able to mentally calculate (~ 66%)
    • To avoid making careless errors, we would write the result next to the 455 in the US line
    • We then repeat these steps for other countries/regions
  • CA: 150-200: ~33%
  • MX: 50-80: ~60%
  • EU: 70-70: ~0%
  • RoW: 50-60: ~20%

Now, we can eliminate all answers but US and MX. To avoid careless errors, we would cross out the eliminated answers on the table. Then, we can precisely calculate for US and MX to determine the correct answer.

GMAT style questions

GMAT math is used very frequently in written tests. The good thing is that there is ample preparation material for these types of questions.

In order to attack these types of questions:

  1. Get acquainted with the type of GMAT questions a particular consulting firm usually asks since GMAT math can range from numerical reasoning to geometry. For example, while Bain is seemingly focused on numerical reasoning, Oliver Wyman can focus more on geometry skills.
  2. Practice solving the GMAT type of questions. Here, the goal should be to get fairly acquainted with solving GMAT types of questions. Practice general math, which is more important than any other skills in written tests.

Chart reading questions

Chart reading is extremely important for both case interview and written tests. The prevalence of charts in interviews seems to be slightly higher at BCG compared to McKinsey and Bain.

Follow these steps for chart reading:

  • Read the title and understand the big picture of the chart/graph. Consultants call this ‘clearing the chart’. Example: ‘Ok, so this is a bar chart showing annual revenues from 2008 to 2013 in real numbers and the forecast for 2014 broken down by BU’.
  • Make sure that you are looking at the right axis, e.g., the axis might be in relative terms or occasionally log scale.
  • Mark the numbers that you need to avoid making careless errors.
    • For example, in a chart with several lines, mark/highlight the column/row that you want to work with.
    • If the chart contains numbers only on the axis, write down the numbers you want to work with to avoid having to look a second time.
  • Resist the temptation to quickly draw visual conclusions and rather read carefully before making inferences.

For extra practice, check out our Quiz on Graph and Chart Reading.

Brain teaser questions

Brain teaser questions resemble solving mind puzzles and are not related to business cases. Oliver Wyman is known for using these types of questions in its interviews.

In order to approach these types of questions:

  • Familiarize yourself with brain teasers in general since most of them usually follow common principles.
  • Practice solving these types of questions until you feel more confident.

PrepLounge provides several examples to prepare you for brainteaser types of questions.

Do you have questions on this lesson? Pose it to our community!

Ask a question
Related case(s)

MBMC Case: Exploring future Business Models on Four Wheels

Solved 1.3k times
MBMC Case: Exploring future Business Models on Four Wheels As a consultant at Mercedes-Benz Management Consulting, you are actively shaping the future of mobility. While you are contributing to decisive projects that design the future of the world’s No.1 premium carmaker, you also develop your own career path and you have the unique possibility to build your personal brand and cultivate relationships with the top management. Your client on your current project, the C-Class model series responsible, asks you to explore new profit pools and business opportunities regarding optional equipment. Initially, you shall structure and explore potential business models, and discuss necessary conditions and implications of these business models. In a next step, you shall identify possible options and prepare them for decision. And of course, the client is interested in your recommendation.
4.0 5 16
| Rating: (4.0 / 5.0)

As a consultant at Mercedes-Benz Management Consulting, you are actively shaping the future of mobility. While you are contributing to decisive projects that design the future of the world’s No.1 premium carmaker, you also develop your own career path and you have the unique possibility to build you ... Open whole case

Airline Economics

Solved 14.4k times
Airline Economics 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?
4.3 5 667
| 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 11.0k times
REA Reinsurance 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 received by the market. The acquisition price is considered too high and the transaction has not been well graded. REA management asks you to evaluate the transaction.
4.1 5 944
| 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

Brain Teasers - U2 Concert

Solved 9.7k times
Brain Teasers - U2 Concert Number sequence Situation: “You and I will take turns saying numbers. The first person will say a number between 1 and 10. Then, the other person will say a number that is greater than the first number. The difference between both numbers must be between 1 and 10. We will keep going back and forth in this way until one of us says the number 50. That person wins. You will start.”   Question: What number should you start with? U2 Concert Situation:  U2 has a concert that starts in just 17 minutes. To get there, all the band members must cross a bridge. Since the bridge is old, a maximum of two people can cross the bridge at any one time. To make matters worse, it is dark and there is only one torch. Anyone crossing the bridge must carry a torch. The torch cannot be thrown across the bridge. Instead, someone must walk it back to the other side. Each band member walks at a different speed. If two members cross at the same time, both must walk at the speed of the slower band member. Bono takes 1 minute to cross. Edge takes 2 minutes to cross. Adam takes 5 minutes to cross. Larry takes 10 minutes to cross. Question: Can the band make it to the concert in time? How will they manage this? Buckets Situation: You have a 5-gallon bucket and a 3-gallon bucket. (Assume that you have an unlimited supply of water and that the buckets do not have any markings for measurement. Question: How can you get 4 gallons of water into the 5-gallon bucket? Cigars Situation: A homeless man collects cigar butts. He uses 5 cigar butts to make a new cigar. Today, he has collected 25 cigar butts. Question: How many cigars can he smoke?
4.3 5 402
| Rating: (4.3 / 5.0) |
Difficulty: Intermediate | Style: Brain Teaser | Topics: Brain teaser

Number sequence Situation: “You and I will take turns saying numbers. The first person will say a number between 1 and 10. Then, the other person will say a number that is greater than the first number. The difference between both numbers must be between 1 and 10. We will keep going back and forth ... Open whole case

Brain Teasers - Motel

Solved 8.7k times
Brain Teasers - Motel Motel Situation: Three friends check into a motel for the night. The clerk tells them the bill is $30, payable in advance. They each pay the clerk $10 and go to their room. A few minutes later, the clerk realizes he has made an error and overcharged the trio by $5. He asks the bellhop to return $5 to the 3 friends who had just checked in. The bellhop sees this as an opportunity to make $2 as he reasons that the three friends would have a tough time dividing $5 evenly among them; so he decides to tell them that the clerk made a mistake of only $3, giving a dollar back to each of the friends. He pockets the leftover $2 and goes home for the day! Question:  Now, each of the three friends gets a dollar back, thus they each paid $9 for the room which is a total of $27 for the night. We know the bellhop pocketed $2 and adding that to the $27, you get $29, not $30 that was originally spent. Where did the other dollar go? Murder Situation: The midnight train is coming down the mountains. Art Farnanski seems to be sleeping in his seat. At the station, all the passengers get off the train except one. The conductor comes and taps him on the shoulder to let him know they have arrived. Art Farnanski does not answer. He is dead. Hours later the four people that had shared the train compartment with the dead man are at the police station. The man in the dark suit: "I'm innocent. The blonde woman was talking to Farnanski." The blonde woman: "I'm innocent. I did not speak to Farnanski." The man in the light suit: "I'm innocent. The brunette woman killed him." The brunette woman: "I'm innocent. One of the men killed him." Question: The police detective comes up to you and says: “I know that four statements are wrong and four are true. Who killed Farnanski? (Only one person is guilty).” Trees Statement: You have 10 trees and you have to plant them in five rows, but each row must contain 4 trees. Question: How is this possible?
4.6 5 453
| Rating: (4.6 / 5.0)
Difficulty: Intermediate | Style: Brain Teaser | Topics: Brain teaser

Motel Situation: Three friends check into a motel for the night. The clerk tells them the bill is $30, payable in advance. They each pay the clerk $10 and go to their room. A few minutes later, the clerk realizes he has made an error and overcharged the trio by $5. He asks the bellhop to return $5 ... Open whole case