Did I Pass? McKinsey PSG Scoring Explained (2024)

The McKinsey Digital Assessment (McKinsey PSG) score entails both the final score and the process score. In other words, your result is the number of correct answers you get AND how your action is related to a potential consultant.

An understanding of the scoring mechanism of the PSG will help you improve your game-play strategy, furthering the chance at a case interview.

PSG scores in McKinsey recruitment process

The PSG seems to lower the resume threshold

With the PSG in place, the passing chance is spread more equally among candidates.

Being held entirely online, the McKinsey PSG saves McKinsey from the logistical burden of holding offline assessment sessions. Candidates are also spared from all the time and travel costs. Thanks to this flexibility of PSG, the barriers to passing the resume screening round are significantly lowered. A higher number of candidates can take the PSG than PST.

As a result, those with weaker resumes still stand a chance at case interviews, as their good score in the PSG may compensate for the resume. On the other hand, non-optimal performance in the PSG can be made up for with an excellent consulting resume.

Although it’s best to invest time and effort in both rounds, this refined recruiting protocol allows candidates to focus on optimizing one round, either resume or PSG, while keeping the other one at an acceptable level. 

PSG scores are only relevant before the interview

Once you are in for the case interviews, the PSG scores will not be relevant anymore. The chance at an offer will be based solely on your case interview performance. Every candidate who makes it to the case interviews will stand an equal chance, and no one has a further advantage for scoring better in the PSG round.

Therefore, to land a McKinsey position, it’s important that you strive for both an excellent PSG round and outstanding case interviews.

McKinsey will only tell you if you pass or fail

The resulting email you receive from McKinsey, within 2-14 days after the test, will only inform you if you pass or fail. McKinsey will not include the final score, component score, or any feedback on your performance afterward.

The time for receiving results varies, but it should not exceed two weeks. You may get your result as soon as two days after taking the test. But if you don’t get it too soon, don’t worry; there may be some procedures in the process. But after two weeks and still nothing, try contacting your application office for more information.

Contact HR department of your application office if you are worried about the result.

Failing to meet game objectives does not always mean failing the test

McKinsey will not make a decision based solely on the results of the PSG. The PSG results will be considered together with the rest of your application. McKinsey recruiters will make a decision based on multiple factors such as your resume or cover letter.

Our field report shows that most of those who pass the PSG manage to successfully complete at least one game. However, there is still some chance that you fail in both games but still manage to pass the test. This is not to say that you should ignore the PSG final score, it is still one of the most important aspects of assessing your performance.

That said, there is a significant correlation between having good final scores and passing the PSG. According to our surveys, at least 80% of passing candidates have completed all the game objectives – and usually well within the allocated time limit.

PSG passing rate is 20-30%

The passing rate for the McKinsey Problem Solving Game is estimated at roughly 20-30%. As more candidates are invited to take the test, the proportion of those who pass is lower than the old PST.

Also, McKinsey uses the PSG to recruit a wide range of candidates for various positions, not just consulting track. Therefore, the passing chance will depend largely on which position you are applying for at McKinsey.


How is PSG scored?

Each candidate will be assessed using both final scores (i.e. the product score/final results) and process scores (i.e. how they get those results).

Final Scores measure your success in achieving games’ objectives

Final scores are calculated based on your level of success in achieving the objectives of the game scenarios. While there is no correct answer, some solutions will be better than others.

In Ecosystem Building, final scores are the number of species surviving. Meanwhile, in Redrock, it would come from the number of correct answers. For Plant Defense, it would come from the number of turns you survived till the end.

Final scores are the easiest aspect to optimize through intensive practice. We offer a PSG Simulation Package that resembles 95% of the real PSG.

It is reported that the final scores of candidates practicing with PSG Simulation increased 2-3 times in the real test, with a total finishing time of under 30 minutes for both games, all species surviving for Ecosystem Building, and a maximum of 50 turns per map for Plant Defense (well over the 12-18 turns average observed in non-users who do not practice beforehand).

Process Scores measure your game-playing behavior

On the other hand, process scores are calculated using data on your patterns during the whole game-playing process – every keystroke, every click, and every mouse movement will be assessed.

Although claims that the process is recorded and taken into account, McKinsey has never explicitly stated the measurement method of these process scores. We have several working hypotheses on how the process scores are measured that need to be verified. If you have ever sat the PSG, help us validate our hypotheses by filling out this survey.

In the meantime, test-takers need to operate under the assumption that every action on the screen will reflect their problem-solving approach. Thus, the best way to optimize the process scores is to have a well-thought-out strategy from the beginning. My advice is to train yourself with a methodical, analytic approach to every problem, so when you do come in for the test, you will naturally appear as such to the software.

You can see the article on Issue Tree and MECE for important concepts of the problem-solving approach.

The PSG assesses candidates based on five core dimensions

PSG assesses five core dimension: critical thinking, decision making, system thinking, meta-cognition, situational awareness

While there is no official statement from McKinsey about which candidates they select, it is likely that the more you resemble a high-performing consultant at McKinsey, the higher your chances will be. That is to say, it would be beneficial if you can “show off” your consulting traits throughout the game-playing process.

The process and final scores shall be combined to form a profile of problem-solving skills and capabilities. According to Imbellus’s research, your problem-solving capability is assessed based on the five following dimensions:

  • Critical thinking: the ability to form a rational judgment from a set of facts

  • Decision-making: the ability to select the best course of action among several options

  • Meta-cognition: the ability to use strategies to make learning information and solving problems easier (e.g., testing hypothesis, taking notes)

  • Situational awareness: the ability to determine the relationships between different factors and to project the outcomes of a scenario

  • Systems thinking: the ability to understand cause & effect relationships involving several factors and feedback loops (e.g., anticipating several orders of consequences)


Scores in Ecosystem Building

Ecosystem Building score is calculated using the number of surviving species 

According to McKinsey, the main objective of Ecosystem Building is to build a sustainable ecosystem in the given environment. However, the precise scoring mechanism of the game is not clearly stated in the instruction. To our best assumption, the final scores component is calculated using the number of surviving species. Specifically, how many species survive after the eating process.

Scores are not displayed whatsoever

In the real McKinsey digital assessment, the scores of Ecosystem Building will not be shown to candidates in any way. During or after the test, McKinsey will not inform you how many of the species you select survive.

The best you can do is understand the eating rules and calculate the number for yourself. In this Free Prospective Candidate Starter Pack, we provide a note-taker template to facilitate keeping track of your scores.

To help you gain better insight on the scoring mechanism in the Ecosystem Building, in our PSG Simulation, we provide a results display screen at the end of the game, demonstrating indexes such as the number of species fully surviving, unfit with location, starving to extinction, and eaten to extinction.

Ecosystem Building scores display in MConsultingPrep’s PSG Simulation


Scores in Redrock Study Task

There are definitive right and wrong answers

Recently, Redrock Study Task (Redrock for short) has gradually replaced Plant Defense as the second scenario of the McKinsey PSG. 

While the scoring mechanism of the game is not clearly stated, based on the math-like format that resembles the old McKinsey PST, we can assume the final score is calculated using the number of correct answers.

It is also worth noting that because of Redrock's resemblance to the old PST, we cannot eliminate the possibility that candidates can lose points for wrong answers. So make sure every shot counts.

Watch the Redrock guide video here!

How you organize the Research Journal in Redrock may affect your score

The Research Journal (Journal for short) in Redrock stores the necessary information a candidate has picked to do the test. 

We deduce that the way you collect and store data on the Journal might be rated by McKinsey to evaluate the final score. In fact, McKinsey also suggests that candidates keep the Journal organized. 

Even if that is not the case, a clean and organized Journal will help a candidate navigate faster through all the collected data, which might save a lot of time in a time-stressed test. To have a clean and organized Journal, each data point should be labeled, and related data points should be set close to each other to ensure coherence. 

Accuracy is better than speed

Many candidates have reported that time constraint is their biggest problem at Redrock. As a result, some candidates decided to rush the test, hoping to gain as many points as possible. This is a grave mistake.

Rushing the test means a candidate might miss the chance to evaluate the answer properly, which might lead to many wrong answers. Even when you don’t lose points from wrong answers, you still miss a chance to gain points from correct ones. So, be slow, but sure. 

Scores are not displayed whatsoever

Similar to the Ecosystem Building, the scores of Redrock will not be shown to candidates in any way. 

During or after the test, McKinsey will not inform you how many of the candidate’s answers are correct. 

The best you can do is to practice rigorously and take every question carefully so that you may get a good score in each question. 

In our PSG Simulation, we provide a review screen at the end of the game to help you gain better insight on your performance with Redrock. It will demonstrate which answer is correct or wrong, and what should have been chosen in place of the wrong one.

Redrock Study Task review in MConsultingPrep’s PSG Simulation

Scores in Plant Defense

Plant Defense score is calculated using the number of turns surviving

The Plant Defense scenario of the McKinsey Problem-Solving Game is a turn-based tower defense game. The candidate is charged with defending a plant at the center of a grid-based map from invading pests, using obstacles and defenders. Candidates have two main objectives in this game scenario: (1) keep the plan alive after the 15 turns and (2) keep the plan from the invaders for as many turns as possible.

In general, the final score in Plant Defense is the number of turns you keep your plant away from the invaders. Thus, try to achieve the highest number of turns possible.

The key final scores are displayed throughout the process

Throughout the game-playing process, there is a counter displaying the number of surviving turns at the bottom of the screen. As the number of turns is made visible, you can focus on optimizing your strategy without worrying about counting.

There is a counter displaying the number of turns (Image: MConsultingPrep’s PSG Simulation)



Final Score Criteria

Optimal Score

Score Display

Ecosystem Building

Build a Sustainable Ecosystem – keep your species from extinction

Number of surviving species

8 species survive


Plant Defense

Defend your plant – keep the plan from the invaders for as many turns as possible

Number of turns

32-38 for round 1 and 2, above 42-48 for round 3

Counter at the bottom during game

Redrock Study Task

Conduct a research – investigate, collect and analyze data

Number of correct answers

5-6 for Part 1, above 8 for Part 2.



How to optimize your scores in the PSG?

Practice mental math and fast reading skills

The McKinsey Problem-Solving Game – especially the Redrock Study Task – requires good numerical and verbal aptitude to absorb and analyze huge amounts of data quickly. Such skills are also vital to case interviews and real consulting work.

That means a crucial part of PSG preparation must include math and reading practice. To master these skills, read the following articles on Consulting Math and Speed Reading to know how to improve your mental calculation and reading speed: 

Practice with similar games

Test-takers with experience playing video games, especially strategy games, hold a significant advantage thanks to their “gaming sense”. Video games with data-processing and system management improve the necessary skills for the PSG.

Also, the McKinsey PSG is in fact similar in logic and gameplay to a few popular video game genres. The more similar a game is to the PSG, the better it is for practice.

In my comprehensive guide on the McKinsey Problem Solving Game, I include a list of games compatible with the Imbellus game suitable for practicing.


New Release: Redrock Expansion (early access), an update of McKinsey PSG Simulation

On September 1st, 2022, we released our own Redrock Expansion to feature the new game of McKinsey. The Redrock Simulation can be purchased as a standalone product or in the Mckinsey PSG Simulation (All-in-one package).

McKinsey PSG Simulation is an end-to-end, most updated interactive practice platform for the McKinsey Problem-Solving Game with a 50-page in-depth strategy guide, template spreadsheets for the Ecosystem Building game, and an infinite number of practice scenarios in an interactive practice environment.

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