What are some (preferably free) online resources to prepare for McKinsey (associate) in 2021? Scientific background

Excel McKinsey mckinsey associate
New answer on Aug 31, 2020
3 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Aug 24, 2020


Starting as an associate at McKinsey in 2021. Coming from scientific background, no business/Excel knowledge. I would like to optimize the time I have between now and my starting time (next summer) to learn tools that I will have to master anyway. Looking online, it seems like being proficient with Excel and Powerpoint would be required. And perhaps stats as well (R, python?)

What are some online resources (preferably free or cheap) that I can use to prep? Tried to look on Edx, Coursera and Udemy, but wasn't sure which ones were best or even adequate for consulting work.



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Content Creator
updated an answer on Aug 24, 2020
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

First congratulations on the offer! Great news!

Second, you've come to the right place :)

Now, there's a few ways to break this down.

First: Read the 25 tips in my consulting handbook here: https://www.spencertom.com/2018/01/14/consulting-survival-guide/


Second: In terms of things you can learn/do to prepare beforehand:

1) Daily Reading

  • The Economist, The Financial Times, BCG/Mskinsey Insights

2) Industry deep-dives

  • Learn, in-depth, how the industries/companies your office advises, work. (PM me for an industry overview template)

3) Analytics tools

  • Alteryx, Tableau, etc.

4) Excel

  • https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/free-online-resources-to-learn-excel-basics-6946
  • Pivottables
  • Working with data
  • Key fuctions (vlookup, Index match, count and sum if/ifs, sumproduct, concat, etc.)
  • Hotkeys (i.e. use keyboard more than your mouse)
  • Financial modeling

5) Powerpoint

  • Wireframing
  • Lead-in titles
  • Best practices/standards
  • Different layouts
  • Quickly editing/updating slides
  • Thinking in PowerPoint

6) Presentation skills / sharp communication

  • There are some online/virtual classes for this


Third: In terms of doing well in your role when you're there:

1) Understand the context/prompt (what role are you in, what company, who's watching, etc.)

2) Understand the objective (what, specifically, is expected from you...both day to day, and in your overall career progression)

3) Quickly process information, and focus on what's important - Take a lot of information and the unknown, find the most logical path, and focus on that.

4) Be comfortable with the unknown, and learn to brainstorm - think/speak like an expert without being one

In summary, there will always be a flood of information, expectations, competition etc. and not enough time. Find out which ones matter when. (i.e. be visibile and focus efforts on the things that people care about)

Some Excellent Q&As

What to expect in the first 90 days (and how to thrive) - https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/first-90-days-as-associate-business-analyst-consultant-7185

What to prepare/learn beforehand - https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-best-preppare-for-a-consulting-position-if-you-have-a-couple-of-months-of-free-time-7164

How to improve your ability to remember details - https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-improve-ability-to-remember-details-is-it-important-in-consulting-6998

How to be confident - https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-build-up-confidence-and-look-smart-and-sharp-in-a-consultant-role-6955

Notetaking effectively - https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/note-taking-7215


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Content Creator
replied on Aug 31, 2020
McKinsey | NASA | top 10 FT MBA professor for consulting interviews | 6+ years of coaching

there are 4 aspects of the application process you have to focus on:

  • CV and cover letter: prepare impactful documents that highlight your achievements, skills, and motivation.
  • Test: you should understand if your office assesses candidates with PST, SHL or Imbellus, since every McK office can use one of these 3 standards.
  • Personal Experience Interview: fit and CV questions to assess your personal impact, leadership skills, and entrepreneurial spirit. You should prepare impactful stories about your experiences that cover these 3 main pillars.
  • Case Interview: typical business case to evaluate your structure in approaching problems, problem-solving skills, and business sense. This is the most time-demanding aspect to work on. I recommend reading Cosentino's Case in point to fix the theory. Then, what will be really important is practicing mock cases with other candidates here on Preplounge.

Hope it helps,

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Anonymous replied on Aug 25, 2020

Hi A,

Congratulations to your offer!

To help you prepared for your job, explain and teach you the key principles of success in consulting and share guidelines on how to get fast promotion and good exit options I have created a special program "First 100 days in your career".

In this program I will combine 3 main ingredients:

  • fundamental knowledge from the internal documents of consulting firms about career model and expectations you need to fulfill to become the top-rate consultant

  • my personal 6+ year experience in consulting, where I have been promoted from associate to the manager within 3 years, which is extremely fast, while others need 5-6 years

  • coaching approach which helps you to imprint the best patterns, behavior, skills and knowledge into you everyday life, into your own career path

If you have any further questions, feel free to reach out.


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Ian gave the best answer


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