McKinsey Solve Game: Red Rock Study

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Last Updated on July 8, 2024

McKinsey Solve’s Redrock Study game is a unique addition to the Problem Solving Game lineup that evaluates candidates’ skills in data collection, processing, and interpretation, case math, and numerical and verbal reasoning. The McKinsey Problem Solving Game challenges candidates to utilize these skills effectively in a simulated setting, making it a pivotal part of the assessment process for prospective consultants.

Looking for how to prepare for the McKinsey Red Rock Study Game? Our guide provides comprehensive strategies tailored for success. This article not only offers a comprehensive overview but also aids in Redrock Study game preparation, outlining its primary objectives and providing valuable insights.

An Introduction to the McKinsey Redrock Study Game

The McKinsey Red Rock Study Game, the latest offering in McKinsey Solve’s Problem Solving Game collection, is a research-focused assessment that measures candidates’ aptitude for dissecting and resolving issues within a simulated setting. Acting as the McKinsey PST replacement, this game serves as a modernized counterpart to the former Problem Solving Test, which was replaced by the original Solve games, including the ecosystem creation and plant defense games. The reintroduction of a PST-inspired game highlights McKinsey’s evolving approach to candidate evaluation.

Distinct from the original PST, the Redrock Study game situates challenges within a research context rather than a consulting or business framework. As a result, candidates do not require prior business knowledge to excel in this assessment. Instead, the Redrock Study game emphasizes candidates’ problem-solving capabilities independent of their domain expertise.

This means that candidates from all academic and professional backgrounds can engage with the game on an equal footing, as it prioritizes general problem-solving skills over specific business knowledge or experience. This aspect of the Redrock Study game is particularly important for candidates to understand, as it allows for a more equitable evaluation process, free from domain-specific biases.

Despite its new format, the Redrock simulation fundamentally assesses the same skills as the previous Problem Solving Test (PST) that was discontinued in 2019 and 2020 in favor of the Solve Game. For instance, in the PST, you might have analyzed a company’s financial statement to project its growth over the next decade. In contrast, the Redrock game might present data on a jungle animal species, requiring you to forecast their population numbers in the next ten years. Implementing strategies for solving the McKinsey Problem Solving Game is crucial for candidates aiming for high scores.

The skillset remains consistent, but the context has shifted. This change in the McKinsey consultant evaluation process indicates a move away from the Plant Defense game, previously a part of the Solve Game lineup, towards the Redrock simulation. Our prediction from 2020 holds true: the McKinsey game-based assessment model might not always effectively identify consulting talent as it is too far removed from the typical tasks of a consultant (like defending plants in a tower-defense-like game). The first part of the McKinsey game-based assessment, the Ecosystem Creation, lives on, requiring a specific Solve Game strategy.

Rollout of the McKinsey Red Rock Study Game

The Red Rock Study game was initially released in late summer 2022. During that period, McKinsey conducted a testing phase, with only a select group of candidates experiencing this new addition to the assessment process. However, from the end of February and into early March 2023, there was a notable shift. All of the candidates we interacted with reported encountering both the Ecosystem game and the Redrock Study game in their assessments as of February 2024.

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Exploring the Tasks Within the McKinsey Red Rock Study Game

Curious about how McKinsey evaluates consultants through gaming? The Red Rock Study Game provides insights into their innovative approach.

The Redrock Study game evaluates a candidate’s problem-solving skills through a detailed research task based on specific criteria. The game is divided into two main sections. The first is the Study Section, the namesake of the Redrock game, which involves a three-phase process: the investigation phase, the analysis phase, and the report phase. The second is the Case Section, consisting of 6-10 individual questions. Both sections are set in an environmental context, usually dealing with an animal population of a certain kind.

The Redrock Study Section

The Redrock Study Section consists of three stages:

Game stageKey challengesTips for success
Investigation StageIdentifying relevant data amidst distractions; managing a large volume of diverse information.Focus on the objectives to filter relevant information; use the drag-and-drop feature to organize data effectively in the Research Journal.
Analysis StagePerforming complex calculations with a potentially buggy interface; deriving accurate conclusions from data.Practice calculations to increase speed and accuracy; be prepared to troubleshoot or find workarounds for technical issues.
Report StageSynthesizing findings into a coherent report; selecting the most effective visual data representation.Ensure clarity and conciseness in written summaries; understand different chart types to choose the most suitable one for data representation.
The 3-Stage Process of the Redrock Study Section

The Investigation Stage

In the initial investigation phase of the Redrock Study game, candidates are presented with a context and specific research objectives, along with a wealth of data in various forms, including text snippets, charts, and tables. The main aim during this stage is to gather relevant information for inclusion in the Research Journal.

This phase requires players to meticulously examine data that aligns with their set objectives, as this will be pivotal for their progress in the game. Amidst a range of distractions and potentially misleading data, it’s important for candidates to hone their skills in ignoring irrelevant information and spotting crucial data points. While focusing on key elements is important, attention should also be paid to smaller details like units and timeframes.

Both overarching points and finer details are essential and should be systematically recorded in the Research Journal. This is facilitated through the game’s drag-and-drop feature, enabling players to select pertinent data and place it into their Research Journal, located on the right side of the screen. Within the journal, players can organize the information and mark crucial data with an exclamation point for emphasis.

Particular attention should be paid to any anomalies in the data, such as an animal in the study exhibiting distinctly different characteristics from others. Spotting such outliers can be critical in the context of the game’s objectives.

the image shows a chart in the red rock study game by mckinsey
Example of a Red Rock Study Chart displayed during the Investigation Stage

The Analysis Stage

Following the investigation phase in the Redrock Study game, candidates enter the analysis stage, where they face several numerical questions, typically ranging from three to five, sometimes with additional sub-questions. In this phase, players use an on-screen calculator to analyze the data collected earlier.

The game allows for a drag-and-drop functionality: candidates can move data from their Research Journal into the calculator to formulate and execute necessary calculations, then transfer the results back into the designated fields in the game interface. Key findings must be carefully selected and recorded back in the Research Journal, again utilizing the drag-and-drop feature. These documented outcomes are crucial as they form the basis of the final report in the concluding stage of the game.

Two main challenges are prevalent in this stage. Firstly, the interface of the game, particularly the on-screen calculator, can be somewhat laggy and prone to bugs, which can complicate the process of performing calculations. Many candidates have reported that the calculator and the drag-and-drop function do not always work smoothly, making it a tricky tool to use effectively under the time constraints of the game. Secondly, the complexity of the required calculations presents its own set of difficulties. Often, these calculations are not straightforward, and candidates must devise the correct formulas quickly and accurately.

These interface and calculation challenges have led many candidates to seek assistance from the help desk during or after their assessment. Some have been granted a second attempt, while for others, the results from the Redrock game were not considered in their overall evaluation due to technical issues with the user interface. This aspect of the game has been a significant point of feedback from our clients, highlighting the need for both technical improvements and perhaps more robust preparation for the analytical demands of this stage.

Based on the data above, what is the percentage change in the average stopover duration of all species between 2018 and 2022? The answer is -11.76%.

A typical question in the Red Rock game

The Report Stage

In the final phase of the Redrock Study game, candidates are tasked with compiling a comprehensive report that includes both a written summary and graphical data representation. This phase is crucial as it tests the candidate’s ability to synthesize and present the data collected and analyzed in the earlier stages, emphasizing the importance of synthesizing and the ability to create convincing arguments.

The textual part of the report involves filling in the blanks in a given text template. This task is relatively straightforward, provided that the candidate has effectively analyzed and understood all the relevant data points from the previous stages of the game. The key here is to accurately summarize the findings and insights derived from the data in a clear and concise manner, ensuring that the report effectively communicates the main conclusions drawn from the analysis (which is ideally saved in the Research Journal as well).

The graphical component of the report requires candidates to select the most appropriate way to visually represent the data. This part of the task demands a good grasp of various chart types such as line charts, bar charts, and pie charts, and an understanding of which type best suits the data at hand. The ability to choose the right chart type is critical, as it helps in illustrating the relationships and trends within the data more effectively. A well-chosen graph can significantly enhance the clarity and impact of the report, making it easier for the reader to grasp the key messages and insights.

The concluding report phase of the Redrock Study game is designed to test a candidate’s ability to coherently present both textual and visual information, drawing upon their analytical skills to create a report that accurately reflects their findings.

the image shows the user interface of the red rock study game by mckinsey
The User Interface of the Red Rock Study section

Interface of the Redrock Study Game

The Redrock Study game features an interface designed to facilitate seamless navigation and interaction across its different stages. Each component of the interface is tailored to the specific requirements of each stage.

1. Navigation panel

  • Central to the game: The navigation panel is a key element of the interface, allowing players to access all stages of the game.
  • Access to stages: Through this panel, players can move between the Investigation, Analysis, and Report stages in the Study section, and view the mini-case questions in the Case Section.

2. Data and tools

The game provides distinct sets of data and tools for each stage, designed to match the requirements of the tasks at hand.

  1. Investigation stage
    • Interaction with scenario data: Here, players interact with the scenario’s data, which includes objectives and various charts.
    • Objective-focused approach: The focus is on understanding the scenario and identifying relevant data for the tasks ahead.
  2. Analysis stage
    • Calculation prompts: This stage presents calculation challenges, requiring players to engage with numerical data.
    • Draggable calculator: A unique feature is the draggable on-screen calculator, enabling real-time math calculations essential for this phase.
  3. Report Stage
    • Compilation of findings: Players are tasked with compiling their findings into a coherent report.
    • Visualization tools and text inputs: The stage is equipped with tools for data visualization and text fill-ins to facilitate report creation.

3. Research Journal

  • Central repository: The Research Journal is a crucial component where players can store key data.
  • Drag and drop functionality: Players can drag important data from the central game area into the Journal.
  • Utility across stages: The stored data in the Journal is instrumental for calculations in the Analysis stage and for generating the final report.

This interface design of the Redrock Study game ensures that players have all the necessary tools and functionalities at their disposal to effectively navigate through the game’s stages, from understanding and analyzing data to reporting findings.

The Redrock Case Section: A New Challenge in the Assessment

In March 2023, McKinsey introduced a significant update to the Red Rock Study assessment, adding a mini case component that significantly ramps up the challenge. This new section features 6 to 10 questions focused on quantitative reasoning, closely related to the scenarios explored in the study segment of the game, yet with individual data and information for each. This addition brings a new challenge in terms of time management.

Time management and increased complexity

One of the key changes with this update is the consolidated time limit. Candidates are now required to tackle both the study portion and the quantitative reasoning questions within a total time frame of only 35 minutes. This has significantly raised the assessment’s difficulty, as candidates must think rapidly and use their time efficiently to complete all tasks within this period. Feedback indicates that this has been a major hurdle for many test-takers, with a considerable number struggling to finish within the allotted time.

Analytical demands of the mini-case

The mini-case questions demand a high level of quantitative and analytical skills. Candidates are required to extract and process information from various data representations, including pie charts, bar graphs, line graphs, and textual data. The objective is to set up and perform accurate calculations to derive the correct answers. This part of the assessment tests the ability to quickly and accurately interpret complex data sets. In that sense, it is very similar to the Study section, yet with less information overload for each question.

Alignment with Industry Standards and Technical Issues

The addition of the Redrock simulation signifies a shift in McKinsey’s approach to candidate evaluation. Moving away from purely game-based assessments, this new format aligns more closely with the types of assessments typically used in the consulting industry. However, this transition has not been without its challenges.

The Red Rock game, in its current iteration, has faced a range of technical issues that have impacted the user experience. Reports from users indicate frequent bugs and crashes, leading to disruptions during the game and necessitating restarts and support from the Imbellus team.

These technical difficulties have affected not only the performance of candidates but also raised questions about the fairness and reliability of the assessment outcomes. The recent updates, while intended to improve the experience, seem to have exacerbated some of these issues, particularly with the Ecosystem User Experience (UX), which has been noted to be increasingly unstable.

In conclusion, while the addition of the Red Rock Study game adds depth and aligns with broader industry practices, it also introduces new challenges in terms of complexity, time management, and technical stability. These factors are crucial for candidates to consider as they prepare for and engage with this evolved assessment tool.

Preparing for the Updated McKinsey Red Rock Game

This section is dedicated to offering McKinsey Redrock Study game tips and tricks to enhance your performance.

In response to the recent addition of the mini case section in the McKinsey Red Rock Study game, we’ve revised our McKinsey Solve Game Guide to encompass these latest developments. This updated guide is specifically tailored to assist test takers in preparing for the new challenges they will face. It includes targeted tips and strategies for effectively tackling the scenarios and the associated questions.

The integration of the Red Rock simulation marks a significant shift towards a more comprehensive and diverse skill assessment, aligning more closely with the evaluation practices of other top consulting firms (and with the evaluation McKinsey used before the Problem Solving Game or PSG). This change, while elevating the complexity of the assessment, also opens the door for test takers to practice a broader spectrum of their abilities, while also working on skills that are relevant for the McKinsey case interviews later on. Previously, preparing for the Solve Game was seen as beneficial solely for the game, with little to no relevance for subsequent case interview preparation.

However, the skills you develop for the Solve Game are no longer confined to the game alone. The approach and techniques you practice, particularly those involving hypothesis-driven analysis and mathematical problem-solving, are also applicable in the case interview scenario. The key difference is that in case interviews, you apply these skills within a business context.

Therefore, it’s advisable to focus on enhancing your data interpretation and numerical reasoning abilities. Engaging in case studies and practice tests can be especially effective in sharpening these skills. This dual-purpose preparation not only helps you succeed in the Solve Game but also equips you with valuable competencies for your case interviews.

Tips for Approaching the McKinsey Red Rock Study Game

Effective time management

Time management is essential for success in the Red Rock Study game, especially given the stringent 35-minute limit. It’s important to utilize each minute wisely. If the Red Rock game is included in your assessment, remember that this 35-minute limit also applies to the Ecosystem Creation game.

Understanding the timer

A common issue among some candidates has been a misunderstanding of the game’s timer. It’s crucial to note that the timer at the top of the screen covers both the case study and the mini-case questions that follow. This means that the entire game, including both components, must be completed within the single allotted time frame.

Balancing time between game segments

With the addition of the Case Study segment, properly allocating your time between the game’s two main parts becomes even more important. Ideally, you should divide your time equally between the Investigation-Analysis-Report section and the Mini Case Questions. This balanced approach will help ensure that you have adequate time to address both sections effectively.

Staying focused on objectives

Focus is key in the Redrock Study game, especially regarding the objectives. During the investigation phase, it’s vital to concentrate on information directly related to these objectives. Time spent on irrelevant data is time wasted, as it doesn’t contribute to the analytical questions you’ll face later. Learning to distinguish essential data from unnecessary details is crucial – think of it as finding the signal in a sea of noise.

Vigilance in analysis

Accuracy in analysis is non-negotiable in the Redrock Study game. This means thoroughly checking your work and recalculating as needed to ensure that your information and answers are correct. Make sure every part of each question is addressed and that all relevant data is integrated into your final report. Watch out for common pitfalls, such as overlooking units in measurements – these mistakes can lead to incorrect comparisons and flawed conclusions.

Enhancing data interpretation and quantitative reasoning skills

The ability to interpret data and apply quantitative reasoning is at the heart of the Redrock Study game. Understanding and interpreting data accurately is essential for drawing valuable insights for your report. Familiarize yourself with various chart and graph types, as this knowledge will help you choose the most effective way to visualize and represent your data findings. Developing these skills will not only aid in your success in the game but also bolster your overall analytical capabilities.

For more information on data and chart interpretation and case interview math, check out our articles below, as well as our data interpretation drills.

Our Solve Game Guide includes 6 Red Rock tests, 3 Study sections with all stages, and 3 Case sections, in total, 99 questions like the ones you have to expect in the game:

the image shows mckinsey red rock practice tests by there are 6 tests
Overview of Red Rock Sample Tests

Staying Updated with the McKinsey Red Rock Study Game

As the Redrock Study game continues to evolve, it’s important to keep abreast of the latest developments. Since the game is currently undergoing modifications, there may be further changes and updates in the future. Staying informed about these modifications is crucial to adjust and refine your preparation strategy effectively.

Don’t hesitate to contact us for the most recent updates regarding the McKinsey Solve Game.

Key takeaways for success in the Redrock Study game

In summary, the Redrock Study game is a recent addition to the McKinsey Solve Game suite, designed to evaluate skills in information processing, data collection, case mathematics, and the interpretation of visual data. To excel in this game, candidates should:

  • Manage time efficiently: Given the strict time constraints of the game, effective time management is crucial.
  • Focus on objectives: Keep the game’s objectives in mind throughout and focus on relevant data.
  • Conduct thorough analysis: Ensure a meticulous approach to analyzing data, double-checking calculations for accuracy.
  • Sharpen data interpretation skills: Practice interpreting various types of data and visual representations.

While the Redrock Study game is still in a phase of testing and development, staying updated on any new changes is essential for candidates. By following these guidelines, you can prepare thoroughly for the Redrock Study game and enhance your chances of success in the McKinsey PSG application process.

Our comprehensive guide to the Red Rock Study game offers an all-encompassing look into mastering the assessment. It is packed with effective strategies for the McKinsey Solve Game, ensuring you tackle the challenges proficiently.

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FAQ for the McKinsey Red Rock Study Game

Navigating the McKinsey Red Rock Study Game is a complex process for most candidates. This FAQ section is designed to provide concise answers to some of the most common questions about the game, its structure, and preparation strategies.

What skills does the McKinsey Red Rock Study Game assess?
The game evaluates data collection, processing, case math, numerical reasoning, and verbal reasoning skills.

How is the Redrock Study game different from the original PST?
Unlike the PST, which was set in a business context, the Redrock Study game focuses on research and problem-solving in various scenarios, requiring no prior business knowledge. Yet, the analytical challenges are the same

Can candidates from non-business backgrounds excel in the Redrock Study game?
Yes, candidates from all backgrounds can excel, as the game assesses general problem-solving skills over specific business knowledge. If you are familiar with quantitative and logical reasoning exercises found in standardized aptitude tests like the GMAT you are at an advantage, however.

What are the main challenges candidates face in the Redrock Study game?
Candidates often struggle with time management, navigating the interface, and performing complex calculations under time constraints.

How can candidates effectively manage their time during the Redrock Study game, and what should you do if you get stuck?
Prioritize tasks, practice under timed conditions, and if stuck, move on to questions you can answer to maximize your score. Set a strict time limit for each question to avoid running out of time as so many candidates do.

Are there any technical issues to be aware of when playing the Redrock Study game?
Yes, candidates have reported bugs and interface lag, particularly with the on-screen calculator and drag-and-drop functionality. Reach out to tech support if you have suffered from any issues to get a second chance.

How does the Redrock Study game interface work?
The interface includes a navigation panel for accessing different game stages, tools for data analysis and report compilation, and a research journal for organizing data.

What is the best way to prepare for the Redrock Study game?
Practice with similar games and questions to improve your problem-solving and time-management skills, and familiarize yourself with various data representation forms, and common calculations found in the game. Review tips and strategies from professional preparation guides.

How does the addition of the mini-case section affect the game’s complexity?
The mini-case section increases the assessment’s complexity by adding quantitative reasoning questions.

Can skills developed for the Redrock Study game help in case interview preparation?
Yes, the problem-solving, data analysis, and numerical reasoning skills are directly applicable to case interviews, offering valuable practice for these critical consulting interview components.

We value your curiosity and engagement!

If you have any questions about the McKinsey Red Rock Study Game or need further clarification on preparation strategies, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comment section below.

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2 Responses

  1. mck says:

    I did not manage to finish the last part of the red rock. ecosystem was fine. is it still okay to pass?

    • Florian says:

      Hi, Yes I have worked with several candidates that did not finish all elements of the Solve game over the last couple of years, also the Red Rock part and passed. The overall answer is that it is hard to tell from the outside. It depends on several other factors like the performance in the rest of the game (how much time did you take to pass the ecosystem and are you sure it is correct, how much time did you take for the first part of the rr game and are you sure all answers are correct), your resume, the general hiring situation. Fingers crossed for a positive outcome! Florian

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