Does anyone have experience with written cases? How to prepare for them?
as for a previous post I wrote, I would recommend you to focus on 5 areas to crack a written case; I have reported them below with some suggestions on how to prepare for each of them.
1. Learn how to define a plan of action and stick to that
The first thing you should do in a written case is to define a plan and allocate in the best possible way your time. Assuming 60 minutes for the analysis, a good approach would include:
- initial quick reading – 5-10 min
- structure the approach – 5 min
- make slides/answer to the questions adding detailed analysis and math – 35-40 min
- final review – 10 min
You should then practice to stick to the time allocated, in order to maximize your final performance.
2. Practice graph interpretation
You will normally have to analyse graphs in a written case. The best way to practice is to take graphs from online resources and use a timer to test in how much time you can understand the key message. McKinsey PST graphs could be a good practice for that.
3. Work on quick reading and quick understanding of key information
You will not have time to read and prioritize everything, so you have to understand where to focus. The ideal way to practice is to use long cases such as HBS ones, and practice on reducing the time needed to absorb the key information that can answer a defined question. Quick reading techniques could also help.
4. Practice quick math
You will normally have math to do in a written case. GMAT and McKinsey PST math should work well to prepare on this.
5. Learn how to communicate your slides/answers (if required)
You may have to present your findings at the end of the case. I would apply the same structures of final sum up in a live interview case, that is:
- Sum up the main questions you have to answer
- Present your proposed answer and detail the motivation behind
- Propose next steps for the areas you have not covered
As you will not be able to double check hypothesis with the interviewer as in the live case before the presentation, it could make sense to clearly state when you are making hypotheses and that you will have to verify them with further analysis.
Riccardo and Norah also provided some information at the link below, specifically for presentation interviews:
If you want to provide some more information on the specific written case interesting for you, we may bring some additional feedback.
Hope this helps,
To answer June's comment to the previous post, this is what I found could improve quick reading. Besides that, there are multiple other elements one could consider; however, in my experience the following are those that can cover 80% of the improvement:
- Start with the end in mind. Don’t just think about absorbing everything you are going to read (this is normally impossible). Rather, spend some time to identify what are the key questions and which information you have to look for. This will allow you to skim through the text till when you identify an answer to those questions.
- Be mentally focused. It is very easy to read something and get distracted by other thoughts. Once you have define the target information to identify and the allocation of time you want to dedicate to skimming the case, just focus 100% on the reading. Don’t rethink what you are doing, or you will find yourself reading far slower at the end. The Pomodoro technique works great to train on this point, also for tasks different from reading.
- Use a ruler/finger to push you to a certain speed level. This will force you to maintain a certain speed constantly, thus increasing your overall speed.
- Highlight/take notes of relevant parts. Once you have identified the part with the key information, be sure to highlight the relevant areas, so that if you have to use it later you don’t have to lose time looking for such information again.