Seeking Advice: Ideal Timeline and Commitment for Consulting Prep as a University Student

acceleration of preparation europe MBB Mentorship
New answer on Feb 29, 2024
8 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Feb 21, 2024

Hello mentors, I am a university student interested in preparing for consulting case interviews. What would you recommend as an ideal timeline and time commitment needed to adequately prepare if my interviews are in the next few months, starting from today? For example, how many weeks or months of preparation do you suggest, and how many hours per week should I spend practicing cases and doing mock interviews? What resources would you recommend I focus on or prioritize with the time available? I want to make sure I allow enough time to thoroughly prepare but also balance my studies and other commitments. Any advice you have on creating an effective preparation plan from this point forward would be greatly appreciated!

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Ian
Expert
Content Creator
updated an answer on Feb 21, 2024
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi there,

I provide a fully tailored, detailed prep plan to all my candidates based on key questions/situations.

However, here are some of the generalized points:

What would you recommend as an ideal timeline and time commitment needed to adequately prepare if my interviews are in the next few months, starting from today? For example, how many weeks or months of preparation do you suggest

2-3 months of 10 hours/week 

How many hours per week should I spend practicing cases and doing mock interviews? 

3-5 cases with peers per week. Make sure to have them send you the case they gave you so you can review perodically!

What resources would you recommend I focus on or prioritize with the time available?

  • Rocketblocks for charts/exhibits NOT Frameworking
  • FT/Economist/RobinhoodSnacks/Podcasts for daily reading
  • Math-drills.com for rote math practice
  • Preplounge for casing with peers
  • Avoid Generic books/courses like Victor Cheng, Management Consulted, Case Coach, etc.
  • There are certain sites that are to be absolutely avoided, and others that are fantastic, but I'm not allowed to share those here

 I want to make sure I allow enough time to thoroughly prepare but also balance my studies and other commitments.

This will be the hardest part. Sounds like you're time poor. Which means 1) You can't afford to make mistkaes (learn the wrong things, use time inefficiently, etc.) AND 2) You have limited brainpower and need efficient learning.

Definitely consider coaching as it's a 5x lever on your time.

Here's some reading to help: The Most Common Pitfalls in Case Interview Preparation 

(edited)

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Cristian
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replied on Feb 21, 2024
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

Hi there!

That's an amazing question. 

A great way to think about it is to compare it to how you'd prepare for a marathon. 

The key principle here would be to focus on sustainability, progressive loads and tapering. 

1. Sustainability. 

Figure out how much time you can realistically invest on a daily / weekly basis. Aim for blocks of 1.5-2h, ideally at the start of the day when you are rested. Block these times in your calendar and show up consistently.

Aim for quality over quantity. One case done well is much better than 5 cases that you just read. 

2. Progressive load. 

As you approach the interview and your level of mastery increases, you should block more time and work on more targeted areas that you received feedback on.

3. Tapering. 

As you approach the actual interview day, slow down with the pace and intensity of practice so you can get to mentally recover. 

Prioritise recovery at this point through sleep, meditation, fun activities, or anything that works for you. 

 

Aside from this, if it's within your means, consider getting expert support. 

The best thing that a coach can do for you is to give you an understanding of where you are 3-4 months before the interview and develop with you a plan of how to use this time most effectively (this is the minimum - ideally, you'd also develop together an application strategy and a strength-based growth plan). Get their help as soon as possible, then pace out their support as you approach the interview. 

If this is not within your means, then try to leverage friends and contacts from consulting. Their feedback might not be as targeted, and they might be able to help with specific drills or materials, but at least it's an informed perspective. 

If you have specific questions, feel free to reach out and I'm happy to provide a perspective.

Sharing with you a couple of materials you might find useful:

Good luck!
Cristian

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Florian
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replied on Feb 21, 2024
Highest-rated McKinsey coach (ratings, offers, sessions) | 500+ offers | Author of The 1% & Consulting Career Secrets

Hey there,

Given you have a few months before your interviews, you're in a good position to balance thorough preparation with your studies and other commitments. 

A couple of pointers:

Work on the right profile

With a few months at your disposal, there's ample time to focus on creating performance spikes - these are usually key strengths that make you stand out and earn you the offer. At the same time, it's crucial to address your weaknesses to ensure they're not detrimental, though they don't have to be perfect. This balance is about creating a profile that is deemed “offer-worthy.”

Set aside time and space it out

For most candidates, becoming offer-ready involves dedicating between 50 and 100 hours of preparation. This time frame varies based on your starting skill level, the quality of the materials you use, and whether you decide to work with a coach. It's recommended to spread this preparation over the months leading up to your interviews, which might mean setting aside a few hours each week to practice cases and conduct mock interviews. 

Start lighter, then increase the pace, and before the interviews slow down again.

Get a coach

If it's financially feasible, booking at least one session with a coach can be incredibly beneficial. A coach can help identify your strengths and weaknesses, provide a tailored preparation plan, and recommend the right preparation materials. This can significantly boost your efficiency and effectiveness as you prepare.

Identify good courses and drills

Start with a solid foundation by choosing a good case book. While I suggest my own book, which is tailored to the modern consulting recruitment landscape and emphasizes understanding and critical thinking over rote memorization of frameworks, it's important to select resources that resonate with your learning style. Additionally, explore both free and paid preparation drills and programs to complement your studies. The right materials will make a significant difference in your preparation quality. 

Happy to guide you here!

Find strong practice partners

Building a network of practice partners can keep you motivated and provide diverse perspectives on case-solving. Make sure to find people who have a certain skill level and do not drag you down with faulty advice.

Don't neglect the fit part

While case preparation is crucial, don't overlook the importance of fit interviews. Demonstrating your alignment with the firm’s values and culture is equally important and should be integrated into your preparation.

Take some rest

Lastly, ensure to incorporate rest and relaxation into your preparation plan. Avoiding case burnout while working on multiple things at the same time is important.

Since you have a longer time horizon, this should not be an issue.

All the best,

Florian

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Francesco
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replied on Feb 23, 2024
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ interviewoffers.com) | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

1) How many weeks or months of preparation do you suggest, and how many hours per week should I spend practicing cases and doing mock interviews?

It depends on:

  • The material you use
  • Your initial level

Most candidates need 100+ hours to be ready – based on the time available you can consider the months/weeks needed accordingly. With coaching and/or good material, you can decrease the amount substantially.

2) What resources would you recommend I focus on or prioritize with the time available?

I would recommend the following:

  1. Identify the companies interesting to you. You can create a DB with all the companies you want to target so that you can look for a referral later for them (see point #7).
  2. Define a calendar for your preparation. Identify how many hours you have before your expected interview and allocate the time slots for preparation in your calendar, working on the points below. As mentioned, many candidates need 100+ hours to be ready before a consulting interview starting from zero so you can keep that as a benchmark.
  3. Start reading good MBA Consulting Casebooks – you can find several for free online (INSEAD is a good one to start). Read the cases and try to apply your structure to solve them. Whenever you see there is something missing, upgrade your structure with the new insights. Try to read a new case per day – in this way you will absorb better the information with constant learning.
  4. After the first 5-10 cases in books/casebooks and basic theory, start to practice live. PrepLounge can be helpful to connect with other candidates for that. There is a relevant part of the interview score that is based on your communication, which you cannot practice at all if you read cases only.
  5. Keep track of your mistakes and see which ones you are repeating. This is extremely important, as otherwise you may do a ton of cases without fixing the real issues. If you find common mistakes, try to identify the reason for them (feedback from experienced partners would be particularly useful for this). Be sure to focus on both the behavioral part and the case part during the mocks. The case part should also cover market sizing, math and graph analysis.
  6. Before your application, be sure to review your CV and Cover, so that they are in the required format for a strategy role.
  7. At least 3 weeks before the application deadline, start networking to find referrals. You can find some tips here.
  8. Before the interviews, be sure to prepare your questions for the interviewer  – a great way to show you prepared in advance and to connect with the interviewer for a good final impression. Ideally, try to find out who they are and study their profile to have good questions to ask.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

If you want to spend a few hours only instead of 100+ and cover everything mentioned above (including a personalized prep plan), I developed a program precisely for that. It includes also the real questions for your target office (I have a DB with 1.500+ questions asked in 60+ offices you won't find anywhere else - you can check on my profile if I cover your particular office).

You can check the program at the following link to learn more:

▶ GYM Program

If you have any questions please feel free to PM me.

Best,

Francesco

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Hagen
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Feb 21, 2024
#1 Bain coach | >95% success rate | interviewer for 8+ years | mentor and coach for 7+ years

Hi there,

I would be happy to share my thoughts on your situation:

  • First of all, while I provide a customized preparation plan for my coachees, the general timeline for consulting interview preparation is typically 2-3 months before your first interview date. This allows you ample time to familiarize yourself with the case interview format, practice different types of cases, and refine your problem-solving skills.
  • Moreover, focus on quality over quantity is crucial. Prioritize practicing with real cases from reputable sources and engaging in mock interviews with peers or an experienced coach who has extensive work experience in both consulting and coaching. Resources such as case books from top business schools and a platform like PrepLounge are invaluable.
  • Lastly, balancing your studies and other commitments with case prep is essential. Create a structured schedule that allocates specific times for interview prep, ensuring you also have time for your studies and relaxation. It’s important to avoid burnout by keeping a healthy balance.

If you would like a more detailed discussion on how to best plan your preparation, please don't hesitate to contact me directly.

Best,

Hagen

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Benjamin
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Feb 24, 2024
Ex-BCG Principal | 8+ years consulting experience in SEA | BCG top interviewer & top performer

Hi,

A lot of the answer really depends on where you are right now and how fast you are able to absorb material/build the skills.

There is no magic number answer, but typically most people I know take around 2-3 months of targeted practice. 

A few tips

  • Start with the end in mind, make sure you know what you are working towards and the outcomes you want to achieve
  • Quality feedback is the most important; this is similar to how learning is done on the job in consulting (e.g. apprenticeship model)
    • A coach can help, but it is not the only resource or path to get an offer
    • See if you can tap any of your network, ie friends family alumni to get quality feedback from someone with experience (typically from someone with at least manager experience in MBB) through your own networks 

All the best!

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Nikita
Expert
replied on Feb 27, 2024
MBB & Tier2 preparation | 85+ offers | 7 years coaching | 2000+ sessions | PDF reviews attached

Hey,

I suggest you allocate 3-6 months to your preparation (depending on the intensity).

To progress quickly, I suggest you take an active learning approach (in the following order):

1. Getting coaching when you are a complete beginner to learn the basics;

2. After you've learned the basics, practice cases with peers to polish your case solving process and acquire understanding of a wide range of industries and problem types;

3. Before the interview, ask a few acting consultants to give you cases in a mock-interview format to assess your readiness.

Hope this helps.
Good luck!
Nick

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Pedro
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replied on Feb 29, 2024
30% off in April 2024 | Bain | EY-Parthenon | Roland Berger | Market Sizing | DARDEN MBA

Not much to add after all of the great answers - would just highlight that ideal preparation takes 3-4 months.

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Ian gave the best answer

Ian

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#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate
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