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Which case topics to focus on first? Market entry, M&A, profitability analysis...?

Case Interview case interview preparation case study case type M&A market entry profitability analysis
Recent activity on Feb 26, 2018
4 Answers
5.3 k Views
Anonymous A asked on Feb 25, 2018

Hello everyone!

I just started my case prep, so I'm really knew to this and have no experience in consulting. I'm now wondering what is the best approach. I've read through the different types or topics of cases and am a bit overwhelmed.

Can anyone tell me which ones would you focus on first or which ones are most frequently used?

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replied on Feb 26, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


I would start with either market sizing or with profitability cases since they are much easier:

1) In market sizing cases I would try to understand the basic approach:

  • How to structure market sizing case
  • Key tools (Assumptions, Households, using personal experience, adjustments, age groups, Income split via 80/20, peak / off-peak calculations, replacement rate, using size of the area to calculate markets, calculating adjacent markets, sanity checks, etc).
  • How to do math in the case interview

2) In Profitability cases, I would learn

  • How to ask clarifying questions
  • How to structure profitability cases
  • How to work with data (Comparing with competitors, segmentation, historical data)
  • How to answer the questions on creativity
  • How to provide recommendations

3) Then I will switch to Market context cases (Market Entry, New product, Acquisition, etc). In addition, I would learn how:

  • Structure market context questions
  • How to analyze graphs and tables

4) After that I would look at other case types: Operational math problem (e.g. Should we increase the speed of an elevator or just buy a second one? How should we reduce the queues? Etc.), Cost Cutting, Valuation, Private equity due diligence, Synergies, etc.

Also, I would try to focus on the most common industries in the following priority(sorted by probability of getting a case): 1-retail and CPG; 2-airlines; 3-Telecom; 4-banking; 5-natural resources; 6-tech


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Oleksandr (Alex)
replied on Feb 26, 2018
Very experienced ex-McKinsey consultant with cross-country expertise

Hi there,

It really depends where you're heading to, but in principle the easiest are:

* Market entry

* Profitability

* Revenut growth

* Market sizing

The next (a bit harder) you have:

* Pricing

* M&A

* Industry analysis (Competition analysis)

* Investments

First, become pro in these types - then will be easier to handle more complicated. BTW, these cover 80% of all cases from top-3.

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replied on Feb 26, 2018

Hey anonymous,

I mostly agree with the other responses, except for the absolute first type to start with: I would start by the profitability ones (rather than market entry or sizing), as profitability tends to be the key for almost all the cases so it wouldn’t be really important that you’re able to understand and master these ones before jumping into more complicated ones



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replied on Feb 26, 2018
Former BCG interviewer

I would suggest to follow the below order because each subsequent typology builds on some concepts practiced in the preceding one. These are also in general order of increasing difficulty:

- Market Sizing

- Market Entry

- Profitability

- Acquisition

- Merger / Consolidation

Hope it helps,


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