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BCG Paris - Round 2/3 - Advice for written case

Anonymous A

Dear prepmates,

I've made it to the second round of BCG in Paris. The second round consists of a classical case interview, and a written case. I was wondering if you had any tip for preping that written case.

FYI, the written case is very much like the projects available on preplounge: about 20-30 pages of documents on a given industry/company are handed to you and you have 3 hours to go through these documents, draft 3-5 slides and answer 3 questions. Eventually, you have to present your work and answer potential, additional questions. I plan to train on the projects availble here, but if you had any additional tips/resources, it would be much appreciated!

Thanks,

Kind regards

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Jacopo
Expert
replied on 11/26/2017
Ex Bain and A.T. Kearney (7 years in consulting) / 200+ real interviews / Landed all Big 3 offers

Hi anonymous A,

Congrats on getting to second round. Regarding the written case, BCG is looking for the same qualities as in the oral one. Even though you will have more time to prepare, preparing the slides will be time consuming: it comes down to time management. Assuming 3 hours for the analysis, I would allocate:

  • 20 minutes to a quick reading to digest the important information and figure out what's going on
  • 20 minutes to structure your approach
  • 15 minutes to confirm the order of the slides (story line)
  • 110 minutes to make the maths, detailed analyses and slides
  • 15 minutes for a final review

If you can crack a regular case, you should be able to crack the written one as well.

I have added here an example of a written case from BCG.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/tqrn34hddrpg696/AABCpypFAmyaWEFSCFGIDpafa?dl=0

Also, you will find plenty of additional tips in the Q&A section here on Preploung.

Good luck :)

Jacopo

(edited)

Francesco replied on 11/30/2017
Ex BCG | MBB Specialist | #1 Expert for meetings done (1000+) and recommendation rate (100%)

Hi Anonymous,

quoting a previous answer, I would recommend to focus on 5 areas to crack a written case; I have reported them below with some suggestions on how to prepare for each of them

1. Learn how to define a plan of action and stick to that

The first thing you should do in a written case is to define a plan and allocate in the best possible way your time. I saw Jacopo already quoted my previous answer, I agree that assuming 3h (a bit unusual - normally you have 2h for the BCG written case) for the analysis with 20-30 pages, a good approach would include:

  • initial quick reading – 30-45 min
  • structure the approach – 15 min
  • make slides/answer to the questions adding detailed analysis and math – 100-115 min
  • final review – 20 min

You should then practice to stick to the time allocated, in order to maximize your final performance.

2. Practice graph interpretation

You will normally have to analyse graphs in a written case. The best way to practice is to take graphs from online resources and use a timer to test in how much time you can understand the key message. McKinsey PST graphs could be a good practice for that.

3. Work on quick reading and quick understanding of key information

You will not have time to read and prioritize everything, so you have to understand where to focus. The ideal way to practice is to use long cases such as HBS ones, and practice on reducing the time needed to absorb the key information that can answer a defined question. Quick reading techniques could also help.

4. Practice quick math

You will normally have math to do in a written case. GMAT and McKinsey PST math should work well to prepare on this.

5. Learn how to communicate your slides

I would apply the same structures of final sum up in a live interview case, that is:

  1. Sum up the main questions you have to answer
  2. Present your proposed answer and detail the motivation behind
  3. Propose next steps for the areas you have not covered

As you will not be able to double check hypothesis with the interviewer as in the live case before the presentation, it could make sense to clearly state when you are making hypotheses and that you will have to verify them with further analysis.

In terms of slides, I would recommend working on:

#1: structure the order of the slides

Normally the structure for a 5-slide presentation is the following:

  • First slide sums up the question and provides the answer
  • Second, third and fourth slide have the supporting arguments for the first slide
  • Fifth slide has next steps

#2: structure the content of each slide

There are three basic components for slides:

  1. Title
  2. Chart or data
  3. Label for chart

Many people structure the title as the mere description of what the chart is telling. A great title, instead tells the implication of the graph. Eg say the graph is showing a cost structure for a division. A bad title would be: Cost structure from 2005 to 2015. A good title would be: Cost structure of Division XYZ is not sustainable”. A great title would be Cost structure of Division XYZ is not sustainable due to ABC, assuming you have insides on the cause. The rule of thumb for the title is that if you read all the titles of the slides together you should get a clear idea of what is going on.

# 3: present the slides

When you present, I would suggest the following steps for each slide:

  1. Introduce the slide: “Let’s move to slide 2, which will show us why we have an issue with this division”
  2. Present the main message of the slide: “As you can see, we have a cost structure which makes for us not feasible to be competitive in this market”
  3. Provide details: “The graph, indeed, shows how our fix cost is XYZ, while competitors can benefit from economies of scale. Indeed…”

Hope this helps,

Francesco

(edited)

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