A Guide To Numerical Reasoning Testing in Management Consulting Interviews

Published: 27th January 2012
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Performing well on numerical reasoning tests comes down to one thing: preparation. You cannot memorize information as you can on a normal exam, so no amount of last-minute cramming is going to help you. It all comes down to how much you have practiced your skills at offhand calculation without the aid of calculators and working on practice problems again and again so that you are an old hand at the patterns, not the answers. As virtually all of the top-tier consulting firms are requiring that you undergo a numerical reasoning test, boning up on your skills and adopting some useful strategies for test taking will go a long way toward getting you through to the next round.

Most numerical reasoning tests are timed and require a high level of numerical understanding, such as statistics and the ability to synthesize data. The numerical reasoning test offered by some of the top-ranked consulting firms like McKinsey, Bain or BCG test speed and power. The numerical speed questions involve basic types of arithmetic, such as division, percentage, ratios and fractions. Quick and accurate calculations must be made in order to score favorably on these types of questions. A calculator cannot be used during the exam; therefore, fast and accurate computation and estimation must be made.

According to hiring firms, such as Booz and AT Kearney, power as well as speed are under examination as a part of these exams. These types of tests require the examinee to interpret the questions in order to logically answer them. The question must be analyzed in order for the answer to be derived, rather than answering through a formulaic calculation. Management consulting firms want to know how well a candidate synthesizes material and derives an accurate answer. The firms are testing much more than simple math skills with the numerical reasoning exam.

You don't need to have been a math major in college in order to score well on a numerical reasoning test. The tests offered by consulting firms assess more than the basic math skills. Your reasoning skills are under the microscope. Preparing for a consulting numerical is the key to doing well on the exam. Most hiring committees recommend taking a practice exam prior to the real thing in order to see what kind of questions will be asked. There is no way to actually study for the exam, but exposing yourself to the kinds of questions asked is a great way to increase your readiness.

Sample questions and practice exams can be purchased online and offer the best way to prepare for the test. If you are told by the consulting firm that a numerical reasoning test is required it is okay to ask about the format and the types of questions that will be asked. This will help guide you on how to prepare for the exam. When looking for a practice exam, make sure that it is appropriately designed to test management consulting personnel. Finding a good practice exam or exams makes a big difference in your preparedness, as there are several different kinds of numerical reasoning tests.

There is no substitute for practice and preparedness; getting a feel for the kinds of questions you will face on the exam by taking a practice exam will give you the needed edge. Aside from the practice exams, reviewing and analyzing business articles that detail charts and data can be helpful. Management consulting teams do a lot of data analysis in an effort to find best practices and improve functionality. Another technique for preparing thoroughly is to familiarize yourself with charts, graphs, infographic data and other means of presenting information and work through interpreting the data therein.

Preparation is the key to success when it comes to performing well on the numerical reasoning test for a management consulting career. Begin early and ready yourself ahead of time in order to do well. Cramming the night before may have worked in college, but will not prove to be beneficial in this case.


Are you ready to tackle the numerical reasoning test in your consulting interview? For tips on the whole interview and hiring process, download our free guide: "How To Land A Job In Management Consulting". ConsultingFact.com is a source to help guide you to landing your dream consulting job.

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