The Passing Rate and Passing Score
There has been so many people asking me about this topic. So it’s time to tackle this topic. Today’s question comes from David Bäcker from Germany.“Hi Kim, thank you so much for such helpful materials on the McKinsey PST. The question breakdown gives me a much better understanding of what to expect on the test. It also helps me have a very sound approach to questions rather than just purely intuition and ad-hoc technique. However, as I practice some tests, I really wonder what is considered a good score? Do you have any data on the average score across different offices? Do they have a passing rate (e.g: top 1% get in regardless of score) or do they use a cutoff score (i.e: minimum passing mark where you will pass if you reach that bar? In each case, what is the exact level? What should I target on my practice test? I would appreciate your timely response!”
Let me try to address your question through a series of bullets.
(See also: How to prepare for McKinsey PST)
1. McKinsey uses a Cutoff score, NOT a Passing rate!
Yes, there is a fixed minimum passing score, you will be guaranteed to pass if you get that score or better. And yes, this is regardless of how many applicants take the Problem Solving Test with you and regardless of how many points they score on their test.
You are competing with yourselves only!
2. The passing score is identical across McKinsey offices and across history, sources say.
This information was never confirmed by McKinsey but I believe we have enough reports to be reasonably assured that the difficulty level of applying to the McKinsey Tokyo office is the same as the McKinsey New York office.
On very rare occasions, you will be granted extra time depending on very specific programs at some particular offices. The McKinsey Hanoi office actually gives local students (who do not study abroad) 10 minutes extra when applying for internship positions. But make sure you ask the HR specialist of your chosen office for details. Don’t assume every office does this.
3. My best estimation of the McKinsey PST Cut-off score is 70% – 75%.
Again, McKinsey would never reveal or confirm this score. My estimation is based on my interviews with former colleagues from various offices. Most of them got 60% – 80% on the practice problem solving test and believed that they did a little better on the real test.
4. If I were you, I would worry about getting enough practice, not about the Passing score.
Thinking about the Passing score just makes you feel stressed during your test. The more important thing is, no matter what the exact Cut-off score is, the more you practice, the better the chance you have.
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