Speed of case solving

Cases MBB speed
Edited on Sep 10, 2020
8 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Sep 05, 2020


I am in the middle of my preparation for MBB. One of my friends who started working for an MBB earlier this year gave me a case today, and the main feedback was that I took too long to solve the case. I did the right things, but was not speedy enough. So how can I effectively practice my speed? Any recommendations? Thank you!

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replied on Sep 05, 2020
McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 350+ candidates secure MBB offers

Hi Anonymous!

I believe this is very dangerous advice from your friend, and I would bet that he joined MBB in a rather junior role (Business Analyst or (Junior) Associate).

Generally, speed should be the LAST THING you worry about when building your case solving muscle! Similar to learning an instrument, you HAVE TO do it in a slow and meticulous way in order to properly learn the "craft and art" of case solving. Increasing the speed of framing, structuring and solving the problem is just a natural consequence of you increaslingly mastering the whole process.

Taking MORE time in the beginning typically saves a lot of time over the duration of the case when you know how to rigorously define the decision logic which will allow you to anser the precise question of the client.

From my experience, trying to just focus on speed is practically ALWAYS damaging! It is also damaging to try and become lightning fast with math, because this invariably damages the quality of your communication and your ability to take along the interviewer to follow the stringence of your analytical thinking (the interviewer will always assume that the way you behave in the interview is also how you behave with the client, and if you are hard to follow because you are doing multiple steps of math in your head at a fast pace, then this is damaging to you because you are harder to follow for a client!).

So my advice is: get your case skillset right! Learn how to set up a bullet-proof top-down logic how to answer the precise case queston. Then, speed is a natural consequence, since you will be able to cut through all irrelevant noise and immediately discuss the core of the issue. Trying to increase speed in an isolated manner usually creates more harm then benefit!

Cheers, Sidi

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replied on Sep 06, 2020
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


I would disagree with Sidi here. Speed is super important and it's one of the major enemies while solving the case

You should keep in mind you can get the feedback that you are not driving the case enough or that you have low energy. Thus:

  1. Practice to speed up the way you are solving the case
  2. If you don't have enough time, it is always fine to ask the interviewer in a polite manner to repeat what he just said. Basically, you have no choice.
  3. Another way is to increase the speed of taking the notes. Use acronyms, and practice to write short descriptions.
  4. Make a recap - usually, I recommend making a recap after asking clarifying questions, but in your case, it may be beneficial to make a recap right in the beginning. "Do I Understand correctly that..."
  5. Never stop using the structures. Make an initial structure, present the structure (literally, rotate your paper and show your structure) and then dig deeper using the new structures. If you get stuck - make a structure. If you need to isolate the problem - make a structure. And go through the structure as fast as possible, trying to narrow down to the problem part of it.


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Content Creator
replied on Sep 06, 2020
McKinsey offers w/o final round interviews - 100% risk-free - 10+ years MBB coaching experience - Multiple book author

Hi Anonymous,

Speed is definitely important, but for basically all candidates which I have seen over the last 10+ years it's only a symptom and not a root cause to fix.

The underlying issue unfortunately is nothing which allows a quick fix, but is an essential skill and without out you won't make it into MBB. The root cause for nearly all candidates is that they are not capable of setting up a clear and logical structure for the case and boiling the ocean inside their main buckets. So they start analyzing the wrong (or at least not most important) topics in the first place, and even worse they do it in an inefficient way by not having clarity what they want to achieve with a specific analysis to solve the overall case question at hand.

You probably don't wont to hear that, but it means back to the start and learning to builld appropriate case structures and analyzing those areas with laser-sharp focus. And yes, it's a learning process and won't come overnight, so take your time to get this one right and many other issues will be solved automatically for you afterwards (as speed is one of them).

Hope that helps - if so, please be so kind to give it a thumbs-up with the green upvote button below!


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Anonymous replied on Sep 06, 2020

Dear A,

I would say that you have to understand how to build a sructure and solving cases correctly, and by lots of practice you can gain the speed.

Speed is importnat, but you can't gain it artificially for the sake of quality.

If you need any further help or advice, feel free to reach out.


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Content Creator
replied on Sep 09, 2020
McKinsey | NASA | top 10 FT MBA professor for consulting interviews | 6+ years of coaching

Hi, it is an important point but maybe it is due to a lack of case-experience. With more cases solved, you are going to become more fluent


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Content Creator
replied on Sep 08, 2020
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Most importantly is: Are you solving the case and solving it well?

Then, ff you are consistently taking 35-45 minutes you have a problem. If it's less, you're probably ok.

While some cases can be that long, many should be solved in 20-30 minutes.

However, remember that cases + interviewers are all different, so try to stick less to a hard and fast rule/number and more self evaluate your speed/efficiency.

How do you speed up your casing?

  • Practice fast math
  • Practice chart reading
  • Learn the major industries out there and how they work (so you don't need to ask as many clarifying questions)
  • Learn to signpost
  • Learn to write notes in shorthand
  • Organize your papers effectively (so as to quickly write down information, not lose/ask a 2nd time for information, and be quick at synthesizing thoughts/driving the case)
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updated an answer on Sep 10, 2020
Top rated Case & PEI coach/Multiple real offers/McKinsey EM in New York /12 years recruiting experience


Speed comes with consistent practice and focusing on the most important variables.

In my opinion, focus on speed depends on what stage you are when it comes to preparation. If you are just starting out, Sidi's advice is important to follow. Make sure you run through the process and do the case right and especially focus on the core elements of structuring and communication.

If you are nearing the end of your preparation, speed becomes a lot more relevant and you need to start to focus on answering the questions in a reasonable time frame. Here, speed essentially refers to the time it takes for you to structure a problem once you have the question at hand. Some of the times it is also the execution of the mental math but I find this is rarely the part that takes up much time. Structuring a problem when you hear the initial prompt or question should get quicker as your preparation nears the interview stage. Vlad has some really great points here - I think note taking in particular is a highly overlooked skill.

All the best,



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Content Creator
replied on Sep 07, 2020
BCG |NASA | SDA Bocconi & Cattolica partner | GMAT expert 780/800 score | 200+ students coached


Resolution speed is really important, since the time for your interview is very strict and this could force the interviewer to stop you before completing the case.
The good news is that, if you do the right things and structure the case effectively, you can easily increase your speed with some practice.
More over, you have to consider that during your interviews the interviewer will be an active part of the case. This means that he will try to drive your resolution and also to suggest you the right level of detail that you should use according to the lenght of the case, that is well known by him.
Try to practice with other people and measure the time, during real interviews case resolution does not take more than 30/40 minutes. It could be interesting for you to do a mock interview with an expert, that could give you a clear idea of how to handle time and interviewer interaction during interviews.

Hope it helps,

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Sidi gave the best answer


McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 350+ candidates secure MBB offers
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