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Hi guys, who has experience with doing a (BCG) written case? Any ideas on how to prepare for this? Suggestions/key takeaways/examples are more than welcome! Thanks a lot for your help!

Anonymous A
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Francesco replied on 05/07/2017
Ex BCG | MBB Specialist | #1 Expert for meetings done (900+) | 100% recommendation rate

Hi Anonymous,

I would recommend you 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. Assuming 60 minutes for the analysis, a good approach would include:

  • initial quick reading – 5-10 min
  • structure the approach – 5 min
  • make slides/answer to the questions adding detailed analysis and math – 35-40 min
  • final review – 10 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/answers (if required)

You may have to present your findings at the end of the case. 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.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

(edited)

Quirin replied on 05/06/2017

I have not done a BCG-specific written case, so take everything I say with a grain of salt.
Generally for written cases where a lot of information is presented to you up-front, it is important to not let the data guide your structure. What I mean by that is you should set up your problem solving structure and hypotheses before looking at the data in detail.

There is three problems with letting the data dictate your structure:

  • Some parts of the data may be irrelevant for figuring out the case: If you include this data in your analysis, you're proving to be inefficient in your problem solving process.
  • Some necessary data may be missing: If you build your structure solely based on the data that is presented to you, you might miss some crucial aspect to figuring out the problem simply because there was no data related to it presented to you.
  • Some data may be there to mislead you: If you include purposefully misleading data in your analysis, you show a lack of critical reasoning skills.

My recommendation would be to skim the data they provide you with after reading the objective, then setting up your issue tree/hypotheses. Use the provided data only to validate/dismiss your hypotheses, make assumptions or ask the interviewer when there is no data included to validate/dismiss a specific hypothesis.

Hope this helps and good luck!

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