Self studying cases

approaching a case case study Putting It into Practice
New answer on Jul 31, 2022
7 Answers
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Dimitrios
Premium
asked on Jul 28, 2022

Hello,

I just wanted to ask what is the best way to study cases. Should we try and solve them on our own first or should we go through the solutions and learn from them?

Due to the different formats of the cases it is not always clear if we can solve them on our own by just using the description. That being said it is not always clear what steps should we make towards the solution.

Best,

Dimitrios

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Francesco
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jul 29, 2022
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.400+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ InterviewOffers.com) | Ex BCG | 9Y+ Coaching

Hi Dimitrios,

Q: Should we try and solve them on our own first or should we go through the solutions and learn from them?

You should try to solve the case on your own first – this will help to understand where you may do mistakes. If you read the solution, you may not realize you could have done something wrong.

Sometimes the solution may not be clear /helpful – that’s why you may want to check one of the cases of that resource first (eg casebook) to understand if the level of the material is good.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

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Dimitrios on Jul 29, 2022

It helps, thank you very much!

Pedro
Expert
replied on Jul 28, 2022
Bain | EY-Parthenon | Roland Berger | FIT | Market Sizing | Former Head Recruiter

Most case solutions are not very good. Meaning that learning from them is not a good idea. What you need to practice is how to come up with structured answers (and solve problems) on your own - and then look at solutions to improve your answers.

Ideally you would work on cases that were recommended by someone who knows whether they are good or not. Or when you already have an ideia on what good looks like (coaching helps with that - but make sure you get a coach that uses a mentoring approach and not the basic “case interview simulation”).

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Dimitrios on Jul 28, 2022

Hello Pedro, I am basically following my personal prep plan. So are you saying that the recommended cases are not always helpfull? I have to make a progress at some point from not being able to solve the case to being able to structure and efficiently solve it. I would avoid spending 3 hours on a case just to cover all possible scenarios and get close to the solution, but it may be necessary after all.

Pedro on Jul 30, 2022

Yes, that is true. Not all cases are good, particularly the suggested solutions. This is not an issue, if you know what good looks like, and if you use the cases to improve how you think about structures and problem solving (i.e., please understand that a case is not about getting to the right solution, but about coming up with sound MECE approaches). You need to have someone suggest you a few cases (I'm not selling coaching here, a good peer will suffice). And you must realize that the interaction, collaboration and the surprise elements in the interview are not minor aspects in your preparation. I am not as negative on practicing alone as others, but I must underline that you need to know what good looks like, know your weak spots, how how the interaction goes... and that means that you need to practice with others as well. You MUST combine the two modes of preparation.

Cristian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jul 31, 2022
#1 rated and most recommended McKinsey Coach | 97% success rate (tracked) | Honest feedback: no sugar-coating

Hi Dimitrios!

Excellent question. 

In short, first attempt them on your own, then check the solution. 

The most important thing though is to focus on quality instead of quantity. Take your time with each case to understand how it works. Once you're finished, take 10-15 min to reflect on what went well, what didn't, why and what are you planning on doing differently about it next time. This way each case is like a little brick that you're setting down and soon you'll be amazed at everything that you've learned. 

Best,

Cristian

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Dimitrios on Jul 31, 2022

Thank you!

Clara
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jul 31, 2022
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

Do you mean PrepLounge cases?

The team just  made a huuuuge effort to convert some of the cases in the Library to a new method, one to self-case yourself!

It hids the answers, so you can just see the questions at first, and only check your answers when clicking. It works amazingly!

Here I leave you the link of 4 cases that I have published here in the library. Another great thing is that, if you have any questions, you can reach out directly to the author!

Telco startup:  https://www.preplounge.com/en/management-consulting-cases/interviewer-led-mckinsey-style/intermediate/supermovil-telco-startup-market-expansion-184 

COVID 19 planning:  https://www.preplounge.com/en/management-consulting-cases/interviewer-led-mckinsey-style/intermediate/covid-19-impact-on-heathrow-airport-197 

US market sizing: https://www.preplounge.com/en/management-consulting-cases/candidate-led-usual-style/intermediate/market-sizing-new-startup-launch-baby-strollers-in-the-us-244

Swiss manufacturer market assessment, profitability and scenarios: https://www.preplounge.com/en/management-consulting-cases/candidate-led-usual-style/advanced/swiss-coffins-the-death-business-245

Railway market entry: https://www.preplounge.com/en/management-consulting-cases/interviewer-led-mckinsey-style/intermediate/market-entry-disrupting-the-new-york-boston-railway-industry-258

A great thing about solving coaches´ cases, apart from them being very current, is that you can always reach out if you have questions or suggestions :)

Best regards, 

Clara

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Dimitrios on Jul 31, 2022

Wow, this is actually very helpfull. I didn't know about that, thank you very much!

Udayan
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jul 28, 2022
Top rated McKinsey Case & PEI coach/Multiple real offers/McKinsey EM in New York /6 years McKinsey recruiting experience

The reason everyone recommends practicing cases with others is because it is a very different skillset to read and solve a case vs listening and solving a case. If doing self study I highly recommend video or audio practices over written ones.

To answer your original question - ALWAYS solve it first on your own then look at the answer. It is very unlikely that you are learning anything by looking at the answer first. It is easier but not a good approach and does not actually help with progress. 

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Dimitrios on Jul 28, 2022

Thank you very much, this is exactly the answer I was looking for. Clear and concise, without promoting coaching services in an aggresive manner. Thanks again

Ian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jul 28, 2022
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi Dimitrios,

Solving your own cases (reading them) has pretty rapidly diminishing returns! 

You need to get cased by others in a live scenario.

As I recall, I told you this just 1-2 days ok in a prior Q&A and you seem to have chosen to ignore this answer :)

I am a little concerned about your prep given your questions - I would recommend a coach to make sure you're approaching things properly (I don't think you are)

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Sofia
Expert
replied on Jul 29, 2022
McKinsey San Francisco | Harvard graduate | 5+ years of coaching | DISCOUNTED SESSIONS Sep 2022 | Free 15 min intro call

Hello,

By far the best way to practice cases is practicing them live with a partner. This could be an expert coach, your friend, a family member, etc. This is the only way to practice cases in a way that mimics the interview format, so it is imperative to do a lot of practice like this to be successful in the process. The issue you mentioned that with some cases it is hard to solve them on your own just using the description is also dispelled here, because the interviewer can help guide you through the case and provide additional information when necessary.

Other ways of working with cases can also be helpful, but much less so. I would only do this if you have a lot more time after doing live cases, I very much advise focusing on live case prep. If you are going to read cases by yourself, I would always advise to read a case and try to think through it yourself before turning to solutions, as this at least encourages you to problem-solve first. Just looking at solutions is not particularly helpful for learning casing skills.

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Dimitrios on Jul 30, 2022

Thank you very much!

Francesco gave the best answer

Francesco

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