Struggling with setting up quantitative problems

Bain BCG MBB Mck
New answer on Dec 21, 2020
6 Answers
Anonymous A asked on Dec 20, 2020

Hi and Happy Sunday!

I am having trouble structuring equations for quantitative problems. I have a strong technical background but I always complicate the problem and get lost. I would greatly appreciate any tips on how to best think through a quantitative case problem and set it up.

Many thanks!

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Content Creator
replied on Dec 21, 2020
McKinsey | top 10 FT MBA professor for consulting interviews | 6+ years of coaching

In interviews the aspect which causes more errors is pressure: start to solve calculations with a strict time constraint. For longer formulas always share the calculation structure with the interviewer before writing the numbers down: this helps to take time, reduce the pressure and
it gives you the opportunity to receive feedback from the interviewer avoiding wrong calculations.
I recommend practicing with:
- Preplounge math tool:
- Youtube channels with math tricks:



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Anonymous replied on Dec 21, 2020


I would suggest to always start with the objective of the calculation and write the formula step-by-step to solve the problem.

Another ways it to use a table where the column is your variables and the rows are your data. The formula should be written from left to right.

To practice, have a look at math problem in GMAT / GRE / SAT tests.

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Content Creator
replied on Dec 20, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut


Happy sunday to you too :)

I had a similar issue back in the day, and i also had a strong tech background. Don´t worry, this is only a matter or practice tbh.

The thing was helped me most in prep was GMAT. Hence, I would strongly recomment you practice it with the Integrated Reasoning part of the GMAT exam.

There are free exams in the internet that you can use for practice (the one of LBS MBA page, Verits prep, as well as some free trials for courses such as the one of The Economist (

Furthermore, you can leverage the MBB tests (,, and many others)

Hope it helps!

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Content Creator
replied on Dec 21, 2020
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

#1 recommendation. Use tables for multi-dimensional data.

If the interviewer gives you linear data, you can simply jot it down on the LHS. However, if they say, for example "We have 4 main costs", you better be setting up a table ASAP! Those 4 costs will be your rows, and any additional information given will be in each respective column.

Not only will this help you write down all of the information quickly AND keep track of it, but it will help you figure out where to go next!

By the way, the same applies for exhibits. Write down the key information back onto your sheet!

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updated an answer on Dec 20, 2020
Ex-McK Experienced Hire and EM - I show you how to perform at your best

My advice for you is to simplify things by working backwards. Here's how you do that:

  • Start with the end in mind: What are you trying to solve for? What's the number you need?
  • Working backwards, what information do you need in order to solve for that number?
  • Check the units in the calculation to make sure they work
  • Finally, relate the approach to the interviewer. If they agree, check to see that you have the required information. If you do, state this out loud and if you don't, just ask for what you are missing.

(Note: The rest is more straightforward: Do the math on your own, walk your interviewer through the calculations, and do a sanity check at the end.)

Hope this helps,



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Content Creator
replied on Dec 21, 2020
Ex-Mckinsey|Certified Career Coach |Placed 500+ candidates at MBB & other consultancies

Hi there,

Some tips:

  • What's the end result you're looking for? Knowing that, define your steps for calculation.
  • There are many Youtube channels providing training in mental math.
  • GMAT & MBB tests.
  • Run case interview simulations to trace your progress in solving quatitative problemms.
  • Consider taking a couple of coaching sessions. (It saves your time on preparation)

Hope it was helpful,


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Antonello gave the best answer


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Content Creator
McKinsey | top 10 FT MBA professor for consulting interviews | 6+ years of coaching
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