A-Level grades not great and non-target university

grades high school grades Non target target university
New answer on Aug 19, 2022
6 Answers
207 Views
Anonymous A asked on Aug 17, 2022

Hi all,

I was wondering if A-Level grades impact the chances for getting into MBB and other strategy consulting firms (e.g. LEK, Clearview, CRA, Putnam)? I previously remember seeing for example that OC&C required a minimum AAB/ABB. Unfortunately, my A-Level results were not great (A, C, E). 

How important is it to be studying at a target university? I did my BSc and MSc at a metropolitan and currently doing my PhD at a non-target university and I am worried I wont stand a chance against those applying from LSE, Imperial, Oxbridge.

Overview of answers

Upvotes
  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best answer
Emily
Expert
replied on Aug 17, 2022
Ex McKinsey EM & interviewer (5 yrs) USA & UK| Coached / interviewed 200 +|Free 15 min intro| Stanford MBA|Non-trad

Without a doubt it’s harder, but not impossible. I was at a non-target school, two years post graduate and applied off cycle - it’s possible.

The firms are looking for people who excel in what they do - you need to be able to  demonstrate this. You need a killer resume which clearly lays out, with statistics, what you’ve done which is extraordinary. Things like:

  • What degree classification are you expecting to graduate with? Are you top of your class? How have you demonstrated the qualities that they’re looking for in your course? Things like leadership, entrepreneurialism, analytic capabilities
  • They’ll want to be assured of your academic capabilities. Have you sat any other standardized tests (GMAT, GRE etc) If so and you’ve done well (top 5th percentile) then add this in
  • What have you done outside of your studies? Have you led a club? Started a club or endeavor of some sort?
  • What work experience do you have? Have you gone above and beyond what is expected of you at work?

It’s worth going to the open events that the firms host and get to know the recruiting team. Be curious when you go - it drove me mad as a recruiter when people came up just to try to get me to know them but weren’t curious about the company. Go armed with a list of things that you want to know about - and find out the answers! You can explain your situation to the recruiting team and they’ll remember you when they see the application.

Good luck! And let me know if I can help more at all.

Was this answer helpful?
Sofia
Expert
replied on Aug 17, 2022
McKinsey San Francisco | Harvard graduate | 5+ years of coaching | DISCOUNTED SESSIONS Sep 2022 | Free 15 min intro call

Hello,

While a target school background and good grades offer some advantages when applying, it's not impossible to get into consulting without either of those. Besides doing well in your PhD, I would focus on your work experience and extracurriculars; and networking is going to be crucial for you to get your foot in the door, so I recommend starting that sooner rather than later.

Was this answer helpful?
Lucie
Expert
replied on Aug 17, 2022
10+yrs recruiting & top BCG trainer and coach & BCG Project leader & experienced hire & ICF coach

Hi there, 

As a fresh grad -  unless you have an impressive extra-curriculum activity or any other wow achievement - it will be hard to get noticed from a non-targeted school. I would recommend not to give up, but also to apply to smaller boutique and 2nd tier consulting to gain a few years experience, that can offset the school and then you will have greater chances. 

Lucie

Was this answer helpful?

Was this answer helpful?
Antonello
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Aug 17, 2022
McKinsey | MBA professor for consulting interviews

Hi, I confirm it's hard, but you can get invitations well-presenting in your cv international and working experience + an internal referral.

Best,
Antonello  

Was this answer helpful?
Florian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Aug 17, 2022
#1 rated McKinsey Case and PEI Coach | 5 years at McKinsey | Mentorship Approach | 120+ McK offers in 18 months

Hey there,

Both elements you mention do matter. However, they are just two items that are important.

Generally, you can balance it with two things:

1. Other strong achievements on your resume:

  • Academia
  • Work experience
  • Time spent abroad
  • Extracurriculars

2. Networking and referrals

Try to get some strong referrals from more senior consultants and leaders in the firms you want to work for. 

Cheers,

Florian

Was this answer helpful?
Ian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Aug 19, 2022
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

The short answer is that it's not good.

You have to remember though that everything goes hand-in-hand. There's no 1 key feature. So, your school, your grades, your major, your consulting-related experience, your work experience, your resume strength (how it looks), your networking, all play a role here…

To optimize your odds you need to:

1) Get side consulting experience (there are so many programs out there where you can spend 5-10 hours/week and add consulting experience to your resume. Check out ImpactConsulting for example)

2) Network extensively

3) Apply to a lot of consulting firms. I'm talking 30+ (I applied to 35…and that was coming out of a target MBA)

4) Get your resume professionally reviewed to help it stand out as much as possible

Was this answer helpful?
Emily gave the best answer

Emily

Ex McKinsey EM & interviewer (5 yrs) USA & UK| Coached / interviewed 200 +|Free 15 min intro| Stanford MBA|Non-trad
32
Meetings
802
Q&A Upvotes
2
Awards
5.0
19 Reviews