Behavioral interview questions and case study interviews allow top management consulting firms insight into how the candidate functions when presented with different problems. However, to have a solid quantifiable metric, some consulting firms do ask the candidates to take numerical reasoning tests. Read on…
What Are Numerical Reasoning Tests?
There are only three major suppliers of numerical reasoning tests, and they all follow the same general format. Over roughly half an hour, management consulting candidates are asked to make sense of graphs and tables similar to those found in publications like Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal. There are usually 30 or so questions, meaning that the time crunch can feel intense for those without prior practice. While the most advanced concepts can include percentages and currency conversion, the most extensive math required are the four basic operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
How Are Results Used By Management Consulting Firms?
No management consulting firm is going to dismiss your candidate profile out of hand because of a potentially weak numerical reasoning exam score. On the other hand, if you are a good or nearly strong candidate, it can sink you against someone who shines on a more even basis among the other assessments or the interviews. It, like the GRE and SAT in United States higher education, is used as another barometer of ability to use as a tie-breaker for candidates who seem to be on the cusp. It’s critical to get a good score on it, not because of this issue, but simply because you can prepare for it very easily.
You Can Succeed With Some Practice
So, you don’t think math is the greatest thing in the world, and graphs and charts may leave you a bit dizzy? First, get used to reading lots of articles with charts, graphs and infographics. Rather than just glancing over them, teach yourself to answer questions that are not necessarily there. For example, doing the mental math to figure out how many people are represented by a slice of a pie chart is one way to begin making those mental connections.
The other is the obvious one: practice tests. Since most exams used by top management consulting firms are designed to only offer enough time for just one or two percent to answer each question correctly. Your natural math ability may limit you to an extent, but practice will take away some of the nerves that keep you from reaching your first potential.
This practice is also important if the firm you are applying to does not use numerical reasoning tests. You will be able to use these skills quite well in case study interviews, where math, chart reading and quick analysis skills are important.
If you’re looking for options with free exams for you, you can review the following:
- IBM – one of the top three exam providers; offers free practice exams
- SHL – global provider of ability assessment tools with some great practice test