If you’ve applied to the Boston Consulting Group, you might get an invitation to interview that mentions not only in-person cases but an online case interview as well.
Are you wondering what BCG’s online case interview looks like and how you should prepare?
Don’t worry! We’ve got all the details here to make sure you pass.
If you’re applying to a BCG office in Southeast Asia, be sure to see our section about differences in that version of the test. In fact, we suggest everyone take a look at this section because BCG is preparing to roll this new version of the BCG online case out more broadly.
Let’s get started!
What is the BCG Online Case?
The BCG online case is a business problem you’re asked to solve on a computer rather than in a one-on-one discussion with an interviewer.
Via the computer, BCG candidates are given an overview of a client, their business problem, and data relevant to the client’s business and the overall market (revenues, costs, business lines, market size, etc.)
They’re asked questions with multiple-choice answers. Many of the questions in the online test are quantitative.
What Skills Does the BCG Online Assessment Test?
BCG is using the online test to give candidates an in-depth example of the types of problems they help their clients to solve.
This means you should consider whether you’d enjoy solving problems like this.
They’re also using from the online case questions to assess the following skills:
- Business judgment;
- Logical reasoning; and
- Quantitative aptitude.
What Does the BCG Online Case Look Like?
Above is a screen-shot of a practice BCG online test question.
If you have taken or prepared for the GMAT test, you might notice the similarities in appearance and also skills tested.
The screen is split into 2 windows. The left window has a question as well as multiple-choice answers.
In the right window, there is data you can use to answer the question.
During the actual test, you’ll have more than 20 questions to answer and 45 minutes to complete the test.
During this time, you’ll be able to move forward and backward through the case to review data. You may also change your answers.
The online case is conducted as part of a round of interviews.
In the round, you’ll interview one-on-one with 2 BCG interviewers as well.
What Types of Questions Are Being Asked in the BCG Online Test?
Many of the questions on the BCG online case are quantitative. The sample cases we’ve seen include:
- A gasoline pricing strategy for a fuel retailer in a country that has recently deregulated gas prices and
- A revenue growth study for a ferry line serving islands with a tourism-based economy.
Quantitative questions included:
- Gross margin calculation,
- Determining the price that would maximize sales (using a supply and demand graph),
- Determining the price that would maximize profit (using a supply and demand graph and other data), and
- GDP growth rate calculation.
In addition to the quantitative questions, there are also logical reasoning questions.
In these questions, you’ll be asked things like explain trends in the data based on the information provided.
During the test, you’re not allowed to use a spreadsheet program on the computer to calculate answers.
You will be allowed to use a simple calculator.
You can also use a pen and paper to take notes.
BCG’s Online Case Has a Format Similar to the GMAT
Our team of former McKinsey, Bain, and BCG consultants includes consultants who were also former GMAT tutors.
We had our team evaluate the BCG online case and here is what we found…
Common types of questions include:
Mathematical reasoning questions:
- Ratios, and
- Weighted averages.
Verbal reasoning questions:
- Drawing inferences and
- Strengthening and weakening arguments.
- Supply and demand,
- Maximizing revenue, and
- Maximizing profit.
6 Steps to Prepare for the BCG Online Assessment
Based on the similarity between the online case questions and the GMAT questions, here is how our team recommends preparing before your interview:
1. Study the sample online case questions and answers provided by BCG.
These cases are your best guide to what the online test will look like.
2. Study using practice questions for the GMAT test.
The online case does not cover exactly the same material as the GMAT so this isn’t a perfect study guide, but it’s quite good.
Pay particular attention to questions in the quantitative and integrated reasoning sections. See our resource section below for recommended test-prep guides.
3. Review your GMAT test practice questions for trends in the types of questions you missed.
If your mistakes were careless errors, ask yourself what habits you can develop to limit those types of mistakes in the future.
If your mistakes were based on a gap in your understanding of a concept, spend more time studying that concept.
Most people simply do practice questions without reviewing their results for how they can study smarter. Don’t do this.
Focus on the types of problems you struggle with until you can consistently get them right.
4. Reviewing Economics 101 principles could help your score if you’re weak in this area.
The online case expects you to have more in-depth knowledge of economics principles such as supply and demand and profit maximization than the GMAT does.
5. If you’re short on time before your test, focus effort on the types of questions most likely to come up on the BCG online case.
Integrated reasoning, multi-source reasoning, table analysis, and graphic interpretation are the types of questions that come up most frequently. Focusing on these areas will improve your score the most.
6. Know the optimal strategy for maximizing your score on this test.
BCG’s practice test is graded by giving 3 points for a question answered correctly, 0 points for a skipped question, and taking 1 point away for an incorrect answer.
From this, we can infer that guessing is not a good idea unless you can eliminate a couple of possible answers.
In short, if you can narrow a question down to 2 potential choices, it’s better to guess, but if you can’t eliminate at least 2 answers, then skip.
This also makes skipping a difficult question a good idea to ensure you have time to complete simpler questions you haven’t yet gotten to. If you have extra time at the end of the test, you can return to difficult questions.
Differences in the BCG Online Assessment Used in Southeast Asian Offices
The BCG online assessment and interviewing process are different for candidates in Southeast Asia. There, the BCG online case has an online question component and a video component.
Here are the differences:
- The online case comes before any in-person interviews as a separate interview round,
- The test takes under an hour to complete and includes 2 sections, one with questions and then one with a video recording,
- In the recording, candidates will explain their analytic process and provide recommendations to the “client”,
- This online case is used for both applicants who are experienced hires and those who are graduating from degree programs,
- The recruiting process is: 1) the online case, 2) 2R (or 2nd round) – 2 in-person interviews assessing case and behavioral skills, and 3) DR (or decision round) – 2 in-person interviews with partners assessing case and behavioral skills.
We wanted to highlight this difference because if you are planning on just answering questions on a computer and then are asked to record your answers on video, this would be a big surprise.
Which BCG Offices Are Using the New Online Case?
So far, we have confirmation that some Scandinavian offices and some North American offices are using the older version of the online case.
But the new video version of the case being used in Southeast Asia is going to be piloted in other BCG offices. If these pilots are successful, it could be rolled out to all offices. The timeframe for this is not clear, but you should be ready for either version.
As we get more information on offices using the online case, we’ll update that information here.
Example of BCG’s Online Case
The screenshot above is an example of a practice question that requires the candidate to interpret text and graphical data.
Links to Resources for Prepping for the BCG Online Assessment
The best resources to practice with are the 2 BCG practice online cases. If you need more practice materials to feel confident with your preparation, we recommend the following:
- A GMAT test-prep book. The book we recommend using to practice for the online case is this book. Do keep in mind that the BCG test is similar, but not the same.
- A GMAT test-prep book focused on quantitative questions. This is the best resource to use if you’re having problems with the quantitative questions. We recommend this book.
In particular, look at chapters 4, 7, 13, 17, and 18. You’ll want to work on the word problems and problem-solving, but filter out for ONLY the questions related to business problems and not, for example, the geometry and symbolic algebra.
- If you haven’t taken an Economics 101 course, you’ll need to learn some basic principles. Khan Academy has a great series on microeconomics here.
- If you’re running short on time, focus on integrated resource questions. Specifically, this will help with multi-source reasoning, table analysis, and graphics interpretation questions.
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