McKinsey Solve Game: Red Rock Study

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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 game is designed to test candidates’ abilities in analyzing and solving problems in a simulated setting.

This article offers a comprehensive overview of the Redrock Study game, outlining its primary objectives and providing valuable insights to help candidates achieve success.

An introduction to the Redrock Study game

As the latest offering in McKinsey Solve’s Problem Solving Game collection, the Redrock Study game is a research-focused assessment that measures candidates’ aptitude for dissecting and resolving issues within a simulated setting. This game serves as a modernized counterpart to the former Problem Solving Test (PST), 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 should allow the evaluation of candidates without any biases.

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Exploring the tasks within the Redrock Study game

The Redrock Study game assesses candidates’ problem-solving abilities by requiring them to conduct comprehensive research on a specified study with distinct criteria. Within the original context of targeted scenarios, players must navigate a three-phase process: the investigation phase, the analysis phase, and the report phase.

The Investigation Stage

During the initial investigation phase, candidates receive research objectives and an article containing preexisting data. The primary goal of this stage is to collect pertinent information for the Research Journal.

Players should use this phase to scrutinize data related to their objectives, as this information is crucial to their success in the game. With various distractions and misleading data present, candidates must develop the ability to bypass irrelevant information. Key elements should be identified, however, do not miss the minor details such as units and timeframes. Both types of data (important big-picture points and details) should be identified and recorded in the Research Journal. Emphasis should be placed on any particular outliers that you might find in the data (e.g., one of the animals in the study is very different from the others based on certain characteristics).

The Analysis Stage

In the subsequent analysis phase, candidates encounter three numerical questions, each accompanied by sub-questions. Utilizing an on-screen calculator, players must analyze the data gathered during the investigation phase to answer these queries. It is essential to record the most relevant information and document it in the Research Journal. Ultimately, these findings will be used to complete the report in the final stage of the Redrock Study game.

The Report Stage

The concluding report phase tasks candidates with crafting a summary and illustrating the data on an appropriate graph. This stage aims to showcase the relationships between the various data points, making strong data interpretation skills highly advantageous. The report can be presented in either a textual or graphical format.

Composing a textual report is straightforward, provided the player has thoroughly assessed all data points in the previous stages. For the graphical report, a solid understanding of popular chart types (e.g., line charts, bar charts, pie charts) and their functions is essential for success.

In the past, players had 25 minutes to finish these tasks.

The Case Questions

At the beginning of March 2023, McKinsey added a new component to its Red Rock Study assessment – a mini case that combines 10 quantitative reasoning questions related to the context from the study segment of the game. This addition has made the assessment even more challenging, as the time limit for both the study part and the 10 case questions at the end is only 25 minutes.

While the previous version of the simulation allowed 25 minutes for the study segment alone, candidates now have to complete both the study and the ten quantitative reasoning questions in the same amount of time. This means that candidates need to be able to think quickly and make efficient use of their time to complete the task within the given time frame. This has been a major concern for many test takers who have found it difficult to complete the assessment within the given time frame. Everyone I was interviewing over the last two weeks was struggling with the time limit.

Update: McKinsey reacted quickly, and you now have 35 minutes for both components of the Red Rock Study game (which is still challenging).

The 10 quantitative reasoning questions in the mini case require test takers to analyze and take information from charts such as pie, bar, and line graphs, as well as paragraphs of text and set up calculations to arrive at the correct answers. This requires strong quantitative and analytical skills and the ability to interpret data quickly and accurately.

The addition of the mini case to the McKinsey Red Rock simulation takes the assessment beyond just a game-based approach and makes it more aligned with the type of assessments used by other consulting firms. The addition of the mini-case marks a departure from the game-based assessment approach previously employed by McKinsey.

The game, in its current state, has experienced a myriad of technical issues that have negatively impacted players’ experience. Several of our customers have reported encountering bugs and even multiple crashes, forcing them to restart the game and seek assistance from the Imbellus support team. Moreover, the recent update appears to have exacerbated these problems, even in terms of the Ecosystem UX, which has become increasingly unstable. This has not only hindered players’ performance in the game but has also raised concerns about the outcome.

Prepare for the new version

To help test takers prepare for this new addition, we have updated our McKinsey Solve Game Guide McKinsey Red Rock to incorporate these changes. This guide provides tips and strategies on how to approach quantitative reasoning questions and interpret charts quickly and accurately.

Overall, the addition of the mini case to the McKinsey Red Rock simulation is a change that better reflects the assessment practices of other consulting firms. While it does make the assessment more challenging, it also provides an opportunity for test takers to demonstrate a wider range of skills and abilities. With the right preparation, test takers can successfully navigate this new addition and excel in the assessment.

Addressing the primary challenges of the Redrock Study game

With a strict time constraint of 35 minutes, the Redrock Study game diverges from other Problem Solving Game minigames in terms of tasks and time management. To optimize their performance, candidates must remain cognizant of time allocation while carefully and efficiently strategizing their approach. Utilizing the provided data, players must derive accurate and significant conclusions. Following the analysis phase, it is crucial to review one’s work to confirm that all aspects of the question have been addressed and a comprehensive analysis has been conducted.

With the new addition of the Case Study segment, allocate your time appropriately between the 2 segments.

It is recommended to split that time equally between the Investigation-Analysis-Report part and the Mini Case Questions.

The roll-out of the Red Rock Study game

The Red Rock Study game has been rolled out in late summer 2022, and McKinsey was in a testing stage for the remainder of the year with a limited number of candidates actually receiving this game. Since the end of February and the beginning of March 2023, we are seeing increasing reports from our clients, and it seems that the Red Rock Study game has now replaced the Plant Defense game for many.

Over the last couple of months, all of the candidates we talked to had the Ecosystem game and the Redrock Study game (September 2023).

Tips to approach this Red Rock study game

Practice time management

As mentioned earlier, time management is critical to succeeding in the Red Rock Study game. The 35-minute time limit is short, so you need to make the most of every minute. If the Red Rock study game is part of the assessment, the time for the Ecosystem Creation game is fixed at 35 minutes. In the usual setup with the Ecosystem Creation and the Plant Defense games, candidates can freely choose how to allocate the 60 minutes between both games.

Some of our candidates mentioned that they got caught out by a misunderstanding of the timer at the top as they thought they have time for the case study, and after the timer runs out, they can answer the questions. However, the timer is both for the case study and the mini-case questions afterward.

Maintain focus on the objectives

Given the central role of objectives in the Redrock Study game, it is essential to remain mindful of them throughout the process. When examining information during the investigation phase, concentrate solely on data pertinent to the objectives. Avoid devoting time to unrelated data that will not contribute to answering the questions in the analysis phase. Discern the key signals amid the noise.

Remain vigilant

It is crucial to perform a meticulous analysis during the Redrock Study game. Verify your work and re-examine your calculations to guarantee the accuracy of the information and responses provided. Ensure that all components of the question have been addressed and all germane data has been incorporated into your report. Avoid falling into traps (e.g., by neglecting units and, as a result, comparing apples and oranges).

Practice your data interpretation and quantitative reasoning skills

Data interpretation and quantitative reasoning are critical skills in the Redrock Study game. You need to be able to understand and interpret the data to provide meaningful insights in your report. Make sure you’re familiar with different types of charts and graphs so that you can choose the best one to represent your findings.

For more information on data and chart interpretation, check out our article, as well as our data interpretation drills.

Our Solve Game Guide includes 3 Red Rock full-length Quantitative Reasoning Questions:

Overview of Red Rock Sample Tests

Keep up with the news

As the Redrock Study game is currently being modified, potential additional changes and updates may arise in the future. Stay on top of the news to become aware of any modifications to prepare and adapt your strategy accordingly adequately. Feel free to reach out to us to ask for the latest updates to the McKinsey Solve Game.

In conclusion, the Redrock Study game is a new addition to the McKinsey Solve Game lineup that assesses candidates’ information processing, data gathering, case math, and interpretation of visual data skills. To pass the game, candidates need to be mindful of their time management, stay focused on the objectives, be thorough in their analysis, and practice their data interpretation skills. While the game is still in the testing phase, candidates should stay up to date on any changes or updates. With these tips in mind, you should be well-prepared to tackle the Redrock Study game and succeed in your McKinsey PSG application.

Our McKinsey Solve Game Guide

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