The recruiting process of the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is one of the toughest in the industry. Only 1-3% of applicants land a consulting job offer with the firm. The first hurdle that aspiring BCG consultants need to take is the Online Case or Potential Test as it is sometimes called. The test assesses the applicants’ problem-solving skills in a time-constrained environment.
Below we have compiled everything you need to know about the BCG Online Case in a nutshell.
- What it is: A computer-based test with questions about a specific business case
- Design: A sequence of questions surrounding an issue a company is facing, developed internally to represent the types of problems that BCG consultants face in their daily lives.
- Length: 45 minutes, it cannot be paused
- Structure: 23 questions with different emphases
- Content: Expect questions about an abstract real-life business problem of a specific company (e.g., an airline that is constantly losing market share). The questions are split in math and word problems (40%), as well as data interpretation and reading comprehension (60%)
- Tests for: The Online Case measures your answers and computes an absolute product score. You get +3 points for every correct answer and -1 for every wrong answer. Currently, the inofficial cut-off score is below 70-75%
- Does not test for: The process of how you arrived at your answers, like most cognitive-based assessments. BCG has no idea how you think, approach problems, and make decisions by using this type of test
- Test setting: The test is done at your local BCG office on stationary or laptop computers provided by BCG
- Test-takers: Mandatory for all candidates applying for consulting roles
- Feedback: If the test is part of the first round, then you will be notified immediately about your results. If the test is used as a gatekeeper to move on to the case interviews, you will be notified within 10-14 days about your results. Ping HR if you have a more urgent deadline or counter-offer.
The purpose of the BCG Potential Test is twofold
- 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, BCG reduces the number of candidates that move on to the case interviews and thereby decreases the expensive consultants’ hours spent on interviewing new applicants. Consequently, for BCG the Potential Test is a valuable one-off investment decreasing the cost of recruiting over time.
- Second, the Potential Test is highly standardized. While different cases are used, the metrics that they assess are the same. Hence, BCG is able to compare the performance of candidates across objective metrics. This adds an additional level of objectivity to the recruiting process, something that top-tier consulting firms are constantly striving for
How to prepare for the BCG Online Case
With the tool being out for several years now, candidates are usually well prepared and BCG has seen significant score inflation over time. Hence, you need new strategies on top of the old ones to score higher than the rest.
For the candidates we coach, we have developed a framework to expedite their development and really improve their skills needed for the test. The framework consists of both the ‘what to prepare’ and ‘how to prepare.’ You need to develop 3 key areas to improve your performance to hit the cut-off score.
- Mental math: Practice the skill to quickly and accurately do arithmetical calculations using only your mind and pen-and-paper, without the help of any other device
- Chart and table interpretation: Practice the ability to understand, and interpret complex data and elicit true conclusions and statements from it
- Reading comprehension: Practice to find the needle in the haystack and zero in on the important points of a complex business text to interpret its core statements
We are currently working on a training program focusing on how to prepare these skills most effectively as well as on how to take the test to maximize your score. You can find it here:
If you have taken the BCG Potential Test and want to share your experience or have further questions, please let us know in the comment section below!