Bain SOVA Test (2024): Proven Strategies to Prepare and Succeed

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Last Updated on March 26, 2024

The Bain SOVA Test is one hurdle to pass if you want to work for Bain & Company. Bain has partnered with SOVA, a UK-based provider of aptitude tests to add an element to their recruiting process. Depending on the office it can be either a gatekeeper between application screening and the case interviews or is used in conjunction with the first round of case interviews to evaluate candidates in the Bain recruiting process.

In that sense, it is used in a similar way as the McKinsey Problem Solving Game or the BCG Online and Chatbot CaseBCG Pymetrics.

In terms of its content, it contains typical elements of aptitude tests such as numerical, verbal, and logical reasoning as well as elements from personality tests. It is very similar to general application aptitude tests, which we are seeing across different industries and firms.

In this post, we focus on

  • the format of the Bain SOVA assessment
  • the types of questions Bain expects you to answer
  • simple ways to prepare for the Bain Online Test
  • tips to maximize your performance when taking the test

Before we start, make sure to clarify with your local HR what type of test you will have to go through in your Bain application. Not all offices employ the SOVA and some employ different assessment tools in what is known as the Bain Online Tests like the business case, the analytical test, the Pymetrics, or the HireVue video interview instead.

Why Bain Uses SOVA Assessments

Why does Bain employ the SOVA test in addition to case interviews and personal fit questions?

Mainly for two reasons:

First, it is a quick and cost-effective way to assess a large number of candidates. By creating an additional step in the recruiting funnel, Bain reduces the number of candidates that move on to the case interviews and thereby decreases the expensive consultants’ hours spent on interviewing applicants. Consequently, for Bain SOVA is a valuable partner, decreasing the cost of recruiting over time.

Second, the Bain pre-screening assessment is highly standardized. While different questions are used, the metrics that they assess are the same. Hence, Bain can compare the performance of candidates across objective metrics. This adds a level of objectivity to the recruiting process, a marker that top-tier consulting firms are constantly striving for.

Preparing for Bain consulting roles involves honing your problem-solving prowess and thinking processes, similar to what is required for the case interviews, even though direct business knowledge might not be mandatory. Hence, your Bain SOVA Test preparation should be as diligent as possible, in addition to your case practice. After all, since a similar skill set is needed for both the case interview and the SOVA, training for one increases your performance for the other and vice versa.

With the SOVA existing for many years before Bain introduced it, employing effective SOVA aptitude test strategies is crucial as candidates are usually well prepared, leading to score inflation over time.

For insights on how to prepare for the Bain SOVA Test, read on!

The Bain SOVA Guide (+560 Practice Questions)

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Ace the Bain SOVA Test with ease. Detailed preparation, tips and tricks, up-skilling, and test-taking strategies for maximum scores. Now with more than 560 practice questions for numerical, verbal, and logical reasoning, as well as personality assessments.

The Format of the Bain SOVA Test

The SOVA test is a comprehensive, data-driven talent assessment platform that several firms are using in their recruiting. It helps Bain to gather more data points about their applicants in the process. This data is used to inform decisions on each applicant who takes the test.

In that sense, the Bain SOVA test is quite different compared to the McKinsey and BCG recruitment tests.

Consulting firmTest nameSectionsSkills assessedPreparation tips
Bain & CompanySOVA TestNumerical, Verbal, Logical Reasoning, PersonalityAnalytical, Problem-solving, Cultural fit in a more abstract environmentPractice numerical reasoning, Improve verbal skills, Logical thinking exercises
McKinsey & CompanyProblem Solving GameEcosystem creation, Research analytics in the Redrock gameFamiliarize yourself with digital scenarios and games, Use an Excel Solver, Practice quantitative reasoningFamiliarize with digital scenarios and games, Use an Excel Solver, Practice quantitative reasoning
Boston Consulting GroupOnline CaseProblem-solving in a case contextAnalytical, Problem-Solving, CommunicationData analysis practice, Case interview preparation, case math practice
Comparison of Consulting Firms’ Aptitude Tests

The Role in the Bain Recruiting Process

In the Bain & Company recruitment process, the Bain SOVA Test is a key step, acting as a filter after they review your resume but before you progress to the case and fit interviews. It’s designed to quickly find out who has the right skills and personality for the job, so Bain can focus on the most promising candidates in their interviews, which tie up a lot of valuable consultant hours.

The hiring process at Bain has three main parts: first, they review your resume; next comes the Bain SOVA Test; and if you do well there, you move on to the final interviews.

At the moment, the SOVA Test is used at a few Bain offices globally, mainly in Europe and the Middle East offices.

You take the test from home on your own computer and there is no need to resit the test in the office before the interviews commence.

Test Setup

In the Bain SOVA assessment, candidates will navigate through two core segments:

SegmentSection
ReasoningVerbal
Numerical
Logical
PsychometricSituational judgment
Personality traits
Segments and sections of the Bain SOVA Test

In the Bain verbal and logical reasoning tests, your cognitive skills are evaluated through a focus on logical, numerical, and verbal reasoning challenges. This part contains elements of a typical business case, GMAT-like questions, and the BCG Online Case.

The psychometric personality test assesses your cultural and personal fit with the consulting lifestyle and Bain itself. Similar to the Pymetrics, Bain looks at certain personality traits. While the Pymetrics lets you play games to learn about your personality, Bain has you answer very targeted questions.

Your final score hinges not just on the precision of your responses but also on the swiftness with which you arrive at them. It’s a delicate balance to strike – answering with both speed and accuracy is essential for a commendable performance.

Each section in the SOVA test for Bain comprises 15 questions. While the test does not impose a strict time constraint, nor does it flaunt a ticking clock on your screen, it’s crucial to recognize that the time you spend on each answer is logged.

Most candidates have to go through two segments of the test. Candidates who apply at Bain during MBA recruiting are usually only tested through a psychometric assessment.

The test is designed in a way that allows you to use all materials that might help you. When preparing for the SOVA test in Bain, it’s advisable to keep a calculator, paper, or an Excel sheet handy for calculations and organization.

As one of Bain’s recruitment aptitude tests, the SOVA offers predictive validity for the skills it assesses, serving as a crucial component in evaluating candidates. It is a computer-based test, where the data and answers are displayed on a screen. This means that it artificially constricts the nature of possible answer spaces, thereby already ‘pre-framing’ the cognition of test-takers.

Generally, multiple-choice tests ask specific and static questions with one or several correct choices and several wrong choices. They focus on the end choice or result (i.e., is it correct?). You can use this format to your advantage, and we show you how in our Bain Sova Test Guide.

The Skills Assessed by the Bain SOVA Test (& Sample Questions)

The full SOVA tests three different reasoning skills as well as your personality. We discuss each section with a sample question. If you want to know the answers, please scroll to the bottom of the page.

Verbal Reasoning

Verbal Reasoning evaluates your skill to understand complex information under time pressure. In this format, you have to read one or more paragraphs to answer a multiple-choice question. Either you can select a specific answer or have to indicate if a given statement is true, false, or no statement can be supported based on the information provided.

According to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), global renewable energy capacity grew by 8.5% last year, marking the fastest rate of growth in two decades. The increase has been attributed to advances in technology, more competitive pricing, and countries’ efforts to reduce carbon emissions. The IEA’s projections indicate that with current policies and investment trends, renewable energy sources are on track to meet 40% of the global energy demand within the next five years. Despite the rapid growth, energy experts warn that continued investment and policy support are crucial to sustain this trend and achieve international energy and climate goals.

Statement: Low investment levels are the primary cause for the accelerated growth in renewable energy capacity.

  • True
  • False
  • Cannot Say

Logical Reasoning

Logical Reasoning. The Bain logical reasoning test focuses on inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning. Inductive reasoning looks at how you handle abstract concepts and unfamiliar information. For example, you might be asked to continue a logical sequence (figures, numbers, etc.). Deductive reasoning questions usually give you a set of facts to answer whether a certain statement is true or false or they ask you to weaken or strengthen the statement. In that sense, it is similar to the verbal reasoning we discuss above.

Continue the sequence on top by selecting one item from below.

the image shows an example of the bain sova visual inductive reasoning test

Numerical Reasoning

The Bain SOVA numerical reasoning section focuses on your ability to handle complex quantitative data, utilizing tables and other exhibits. They use tables and other exhibits to present data and ask you to elicit specific information and facts in a multiple-choice style question.

Equipment TypeUnit PriceNumberAnnual Usage HoursDepreciation Rate
Laptop€1,200502,00020%
Desktop€1,000401,80015%
Tablet€600301,50010%
Smartphone€800801,20025%

A company department has a budget of €50,000 to cover the costs for replacing technology equipment due to depreciation over a year. How much budget is left after the department replaces the depreciated tablets?

A. €46,200 B. €47,200 C. €48,200 D. €49,200

Personality Traits

The most common format that is reported is based on the SOVA Personality Test, conducted via two types of questions:

  • Traditional personality test: Read several sentences and decide how much this is true for you based on a scale of: Least Like Me, Little Like Me, Neutral, Somewhat Like Me, Most Like Me
  • Situational judgment test: You see a video or statements related to a workplace situation and have to rank responses from Last favorable to Most favorable

For each statement, please indicate to what extent these statements reflect your actions on the job from ‘least like me’ to ‘most like me’.

I am proactive in taking on new responsibilities.
I feel stressed when I have to meet tight deadlines.
I prefer to work independently rather than in a team.
I am comfortable with speaking up and sharing ideas in meetings.

How to Prepare for the Bain SOVA Assessment

As with every other assessment you need to learn 3 things to become proficient and understand how to pass the Bain SOVA test:

  1. Learn what the test is all about, what types of questions are asked, and what skills are evaluated
  2. Get access to the right tools and preparation exercises to build your skills and stamina for the test
  3. Practice those skills and internalize the strategies to become proficient and confident in our abilities on the test day

We have compiled a 110-page preparation document that helps you understand the types of questions and build the skills needed for the analytical and psychometric parts of the assessment.

In the document, we dive deep into the different skills and provide essential SOVA test tips and tricks to approach every question effectively. Included in the guide are more than 560 practice questions for you to upskill as well as tools that help you maximize your approach efficiency and score when taking the test.

Improve Your Reasoning Skills

Practice in simulated test conditions

When practicing, emulate real testing conditions. Most importantly, set yourself time constraints, focus on practice questions that are similar to the Bain questions, and use your computer as the main source of information. Do not print out any handouts, exhibits, data tables, etc.

Use the practice tests provided by the firms to prepare as well.

Look for official examples of the McKinsey Problem Solving Test, which are still online on some McKinsey recruiting websites. If you have trouble finding them, please reach out to us.

Practice text analysis and verbal reasoning

As with every other aptitude test, you will have to sift through large amounts of data, which leaves you with significant time pressure.

For text analysis, you will have to pick a correct answer or statement. To do this successfully, learn three things.

  • Reading comprehension: Find the needle in the haystack and zero in on the important bits of a complex business text to interpret its core statements. Use business publications, research papers, and articles to train this skill.
  • Chart, table, and data interpretation: Practice the ability to understand and interpret complex data and elicit true conclusions and statements from it. We have written extensively on chart interpretation here.
  • Logical reasoning: Learn how to deduct correct statements from the different sources of information. GMAT reasoning questions are your best friend when preparing for this.

Brush up your mental math, pen-and-paper math as well as numerical reasoning skills

We have written extensively on case interview math here. In the article, we discuss what to expect and how to prepare. The same principles we discuss in the linked article also apply to the Bain SOVA assessment. While you can use a calculator, you should still be proficient in quickly setting up calculations and then performing them.

In general, the level of math required is not more complex than what you have already learned in school and you do not need a specific degree to pass the test.

Keep in mind that for every calculation, there are two steps: First, you will need to come up with the correct calculations (the logic), and second, perform swift calculations (the calculation).

If you want to go deeper to brush up on your math skills, we have created a program with detailed insider learning materials, 25 videos, and a guidebook as well as 2,000 practice drills that mimic the McKinsey, BCG, and Bain case interview math as well as the aptitude and analytics test math for you here: the Case Interview Math Mastery Program.

Monitor your progress

Assess your strengths and weaknesses and build your skills up from there. Create a preparation plan and monitor your progress in developing the right kind of skills. Work both on your strengths and weaknesses so that your strengths can secure your baseline score in the assessments. Your weaknesses should be at a good enough level to gain additional points on top of your baseline score.

Work on the Right SOVA Personality Traits

Bain wants you to match the typical consultant’s profile. Based on your answers, SOVA creates a personal profile for each candidate. While there is no perfect profile, certain traits are more commonly found in consultants. Think about this when you decide on your answers on the Bain test.

So, what qualities should you focus on demonstrating during the SOVA?

  • Attention: Approach each task with structure and a steady pace
  • Focus: Swiftly adjust to changes in the tasks and handle multiple issues at once without neglecting one or the other
  • Learning: Show a willingness and openness to learn quickly and adapt to the feedback you receive
  • Decision Making: Make your decisions based on evidence and data and less so by relying on your instincts or intuition
  • Risk Tolerance: Show a balanced risk-taking attitude. Do not be overly prone to take risks, but also do not spend endless time weighing your options before you choose
  • Fairness: Put more focus on fairness and equality when making decisions in the game and spot unfair situations
  • Effort: Demonstrate an 80/20 approach, working most effectively on the task at hand to find a swift outcome. Don’t get lost in the noise
  • Emotion: Show that you can understand people’s reactions, emotions, underlying concerns, and motivators. Look below the surface
  • Generosity: Be a team player, willing to forgo personal gain for other people’s sake or the greater good of the team

If in doubt, try to err on the side of the spectrums we discuss above. Obviously, there is some leeway in the personality profile as Bain is explicitly targeting new types of candidates. Still, you don’t want to be a rogue profile and diminish your chances for your application.

A word of caution: Provide a natural sequence of answers. Personality Tests have many control questions that assess the same dimensions to spot people who try to game them and deliberately choose favorable traits. Sometimes these tests also adjust their question sets based on your previous answer to make sure you are consistent.

Strategies for Bain SOVA Test Success

Make sure your tech setup works

Make sure that your computer works properly, the internet connection is fast and stable. Also, take the tests in a quiet and orderly location, where you can make sure that no one will disturb or interrupt you.

Do not replicate results or solutions 

Focus on your own test and the process instead of trying to replicate answers you have discussed with friends and peers.

Get comfortable with 80/20 decisions and incomplete information

There is a lot of data and many questions. Focus on the ones you can solve quickly. Sometimes, you might not select the best answer, e.g. in the personality test and that is ok too.

Get comfortable with estimations and simple math. That way you will be able to calculate and compare the expected outcomes of several options. Sometimes being in the right ballpark is good enough.

Read the instructions carefully and take an educated guess if possible

Make sure that you understand clearly what your task is and what you are asked to solve. Also, focus on whether or not you are allowed to use a calculator and if there are any negative points for selecting the wrong answer. Adjust your strategy accordingly.

Scan the rest and prioritize key bits of information

Whenever you have to deal with large walls of text and data blocks, scan the information provided.

First, read the question carefully and make sure you understand what you are asked to do. Find your objective!

Second, figure out what information you need to answer the question.

Third, for a math question, draft your logic and look for the information. For a verbal reasoning question, scan the document for the relevant information.

Fourth, once you found it, zero in and read the specific part carefully.

Train your reading speed with speed reading exercises and smartphone apps.

Keep an eye on the time 

It is easy to get lost in the details and the sheer complexity of information overload these tests present. Make sure to go swiftly through each task. You still want to answer the test within a reasonable time frame, even if Bain does not officially set a time limit.

Set yourself goals and time markers. For instance, if you want to finish 1 question per minute, you should have answered 15 questions after 15 minutes. Compare your pace during the test with your set goals and adjust accordingly. Also, be aware that some sections like the personality test can be answered quicker than, for instance, visual inductive reasoning.

Have a plan on how to approach every question

Use a process to help you make more deliberate and thoughtful decisions on how to approach each question and move through the test. This will increase your organization, your pace, and your performance.

Take proper notes

Write down key observations, calculations, and intermediate steps. Keep the notes organized since you might need them at a later stage. Think about using an Excel sheet to organize your notes and computations.

Our Comprehensive Bain SOVA Assessment Guide

If you want a full preparation program with preparation plans, detailed insights into the test, the preparation, and test-taking strategies, check out our 110-page Bain Sova Test Guide (which also contains sections on other Bain assessments).

The guide has been fully refurbished in December 2023 and includes more than 560 practice questions in all relevant areas:

  • Verbal Reasoning (comprehension, inference, statement)
  • Numerical Reasoning (abstract and business cases)
  • Logical Reasoning (deductive, inductive, visual)
  • Personality Questions
  • Situational Judgement Tests

Answers to the Sample Questions

Verbal Reasoning

Correct answer: False

The passage states that the rapid growth in renewable energy capacity is attributed to advances in technology, more competitive pricing, and countries’ efforts to reduce carbon emissions, not low investment levels. Therefore, the statement that low investment levels are the primary cause for the accelerated growth in renewable energy capacity is false according to the information provided in the text.

Logical Reasoning

Correct answer: C

Numerical Reasoning

Correct answer: C

30 tablets x 10% x 600 = 1,800

Personality Traits

Correct answer: There are no correct answers here and everything occurs on a scale. Answer truthfully and realistically (not all statements can be ‘most like me’).

Frequently Asked Questions about the Bain SOVA

Below, you will find answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about the test format, preparation strategies, and more.

What is the format of the Bain SOVA Test?
The test comprises sections on numerical, verbal, and logical reasoning, alongside a personality assessment.

How does the SOVA Test fit into the Bain recruitment process?
It serves as a filtering stage between the initial application review and the subsequent case and fit interviews.

Are there any specific skills assessed by the SOVA Test?
Yes, it assesses analytical skills, problem-solving abilities, and cultural fit through various reasoning tasks and personality questions. This requires implementing specific strategies to succeed in SOVA aptitude tests.

How can I best prepare for the numerical reasoning section?
Practice handling data, performing calculations quickly, and interpreting graphs and tables with real sample tests.

What strategies are effective for the verbal reasoning portion?
Improve reading comprehension and critical thinking. Practice summarizing complex texts and drawing inferences.

Can you offer tips for improving logical reasoning skills?
Engage in exercises that enhance your ability to identify patterns, understand logical sequences, and apply deductive reasoning.

How does the personality assessment influence the overall test score?
While it may not directly affect the score, it helps assess your cultural fit with Bain, which is crucial for the selection process.

What resources are recommended for SOVA Test preparation?
Utilize official and unofficial practice tests, study guides focusing on reasoning skills, and materials that simulate the test’s format. Our guide is packed with tips and tricks for acing the SOVA test, diving deep into the requisite skills and strategic question approaches. We offer tips for verbal and logical reasoning tests at Bain, aimed at evaluating and honing your cognitive skills in these key areas. We also provide relevant insights on mastering numerical reasoning for the Bain SOVA Test, focusing on handling complex quantitative data efficiently.

How does the Bain SOVA Test compare to other consulting firms’ assessments?
Similar to other firms, Bain uses the SOVA Test to evaluate a mix of cognitive abilities and personality traits, but the test’s structure and content are tailored to Bain’s specific requirements.

Are practice questions available for the Bain SOVA Test?
Yes, there are practice questions available through official SOVA preparation materials and third-party resources like StrategyCase.com designed to mimic the test’s format.

We’re eager to hear from you!

If you have any questions about the Bain SOVA Test or if there are specific topics you’d like us to cover in future posts, please share your thoughts in the comment section below. Your input is invaluable as we strive to provide the most comprehensive and helpful resources for your career journey.

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