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PST Prep

Omar asked on Apr 14, 2019 - 3 answers

Hi all,

I am preparing for the PST and I still have a lot of time to prepare. I just wanted some advice on how to best use this time to prepare and what exactly should I focus on to pass. Some people told me that effective skimming through long paragraphs is an important skill. What else should I study/focus on to pass?

Thank you in advance :)

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Regine
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replied on Apr 14, 2019
McKinsey & Company | Ex-Google | Ex-Accenture | Interviewee/Interviewer-Led | Complimentary Extensive Prep Materials

Hi Omar,

Great to know that you have started your preparations. Some tips that worked for me when I was preparing for the PST (YMMV if you have a different learning style):

1. The first and most important tip is to try out different practice tests! Not just the official three on McKinsey website (though that would be the best representation), but there are a couple of other free tests around e.g. MConsultingPrep, IGotAnOffer, and other sample questions e.g. GMAT! You can also practice with the BCG sample tests online too which also test similar problem solving skills. Don't just practice them once! You can work through each paper a couple of times (2-3), identify how you can improve, and try to go through the various practice tests in a rotational manner so that you can get the best out of each paper. A "safe" target score would be 22 and above out of 26 (don't expect to get that in the first practice!).

2. Also, it'll be good to practice doing mental math fast! Some great tools include Victor Cheng's math training tool, GMAT tests, and just general day-to-day practices. For example, you can incorporate mental math into your daily routines, like estimating how much it would cost if you bought a plate of chicken rice and coffee for each of your 26 classmates (within 5 to 10 seconds). The key is to be fast and fairly precise (+/- 5 to 10% margin, the closer the better). Just right before the test, you can try out a few simple calculations and times table in your mind (what is 7 x 15, 9 x 14) just to get your brain prepped for the number crunching later!

3. Lastly, given that you have a lot of time left, it is important to give yourself and your brain some time for rest, and not overwork yourself, so that you do not burn out right before the PST. You should plan a schedule that allows you to do that. It is very important to do this, because you'd want to feel confident, happy, and energetic when you step into the PST testing room, to perform your best :)

Good luck!

Francesco replied on Apr 14, 2019
#1 Expert for coaching sessions (2.100+) | Ex BCG | 1.000+ reviews with 100% recommendation rate

Hi Omar,

as general practice for the PST, I would recommend the following approach:

  1. Try to find at least 5-6 practice cases online. There are several available for free, if needed you can purchase additional ones
  2. Do one of the tests immediately to check your score. As the passing score is around 70% and you have 26 questions, your target score should be 18+ (keep in mind you are likely to score a bit less in the actual test than your average score at home due to time pressure/nervousness). In the first test you are likely to score lower than that - don't worry, that's pretty normal.
  3. Identify the type of questions where you made more mistakes. There could be different reasons why you are doing mistakes and there is probably a predominant type of mistake you are doing (eg slow math or weak critical reasoning). You have to identify the reasons for the mistakes and a way to fix them.
  4. Continue the preparation with the remaining tests. After you have identified the main reason for mistakes, you can continue the preparation with the other tests before the interview - I would allocate them at a regular time distance, with an increase in frequency closer to the day of the test.
  5. Go again through the questions where you did mistakes at regular intervals. Be sure to keep a "failure" spreadsheet, where you report all the mistakes and classify the reason for them each time.

The key areas where you may do mistakes and may need to practice are the following:

  1. Time management. Commit to an amount of time for each question, and go on if you surpass that time. If you do not set discipline, you will end dedicating too much time to some questions (these tests are sometimes structured with questions which are supposed to be skipped and reviewed at the end). If time and test allow, you can then go back to the questions at the end.
  2. Quick math. I would recommend practicing with online tools on a daily base to improve. It is better to allocate a small amount of time daily rather than to practice intensively few days only before the interview
  3. Quick reading. Get a Harvard Business School case or an equivalent long one, give yourself 2 minutes and check how much information you can absorb. Then repeat until you get a sufficient level of accuracy. You can also check speed reading tactics (eg Tim Ferriss ones) and see if they work for you.
  4. Graph interpretation. You need to practice on how to derive quickly insides from graphs. Take some random graphs, give yourself 30 seconds and check if you can get the main insides from them. Then repeat until when you get a sufficient level of accuracy
  5. Critical reasoning. The GMAT critical reasoning section should be a good support as practice

Hope this helps,

Francesco

Vlad replied on Apr 14, 2019
McKinsey / Accenture / Got all BIG3 offers / More than 300 real MBB cases / Harvard Business School

Hi,

I suggest the following:

Do one full case from the mck website in 60 min. Check your score. Target score is 22 out of 26 correct. If you do 17-18 correct you have great chances to improve it quite fast. If lower - it will take couple of months

If your score is high:

  • Buy Viktor Cheng test prep program - best materials I've seen so far. Works also for express prep.
  • Practice your math. Check exercises on Cheng website. Key things - multiplication of 2 digit numbers, operations with zeros and division (Learn division table, ie. 1/8 = 12.5%, 8/9 = 88%, Learn up to 8/9)
  • Do the 2nd test and check the score

If your score is low you need fundamental prep:

  • GMAT IR, quant and verbal parts
  • PST-like tests available online

Best,

Vlad

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