Many of the leading management consulting firms require a verbal reasoning test as part of their application process. Not all use the test, but some of the big-named firms like McKinsey and A.T. Kearney have started, therefore it is beneficial to brush up on the skills required to ace the consulting verbal reasoning test.
A verbal reasoning test is often referred to as a psychometric exam. The test is designed to reveal to employers the examinee’s verbal reasoning and language skills, which include language logic and even grammar. In your everyday career as a management consultant, you will have to prove your communication abilities; therefore, more companies like Bain or Booz are leaning toward the results of the verbal reasoning test in making a decision on their potential hires.
The format of a verbal reasoning test is very straightforward and involves passages that the examinee is required to read in order to answer the questions. There are three possible answer choices for each question. These answers are: True, False or Cannot Say/Cannot Be Determined. When the question is marked “true” the answer can be logically determined from the passage of reading. If you mark the answer as “false”, you are stating that there is not a logical way to conclude an answer from the passage you read. A “cannot say” answer is neither false nor true and cannot be derived clearly from the passage. The key to answering the questions is to focus on only the passage at hand, not your own knowledge of the subject. Previous knowledge or understanding may complicate your answer.
In order to ace the verbal reasoning test for your potential management consulting job, you must prepare. Without preparation you will almost certainly perform poorly on the exam. Preparation does not involve cramming the night before the exam, but requires time and concentration. You can easily find study guides and sample exam practice books, which will be invaluable to you as preparatory tools for this exam. Most consulting firms like BCG recommend practicing analysis when reading magazines, newspapers and online articles. The purpose of practicing while reading these materials is to get you in the habit of synthesizing information, breaking down sentence structures and gaining useful information rather than simple amusement.
A key to acing the management consulting verbal reasoning test is to leave assumption at home. Never assume a right or wrong answer, but take the time to synthesize the questions and sentence relevancy. Guessing is one of the most common mistakes you can make on this kind of test. The test is designed to a candidate’s level of concentration; therefore, the exam is designed to make you question and be precise in order to come up with an answer.
Another strategy in acing the exam is to focus your attention on synonyms. The test’s creators develop these exams intending to muddle meanings and incorporate synonyms to confuse the test taker. In the event that confusion sets in, focus on the meaning of the words and synonyms that can be utilized as a replacement. Remember that irrelevant synonyms are one of the most common pitfalls when taking a verbal reasoning exam.
Concentration is required in being successful on this exam. Jumping around, skipping questions and allowing yourself to be distracted will only harm your results. You will benefit from focusing clearly and answering the questions in the order they are listed, rather than jumping around on the test. The exam’s construction has been done deliberately, which is why it is important to answer the questions in order rather than skipping around.
While not every top-tier consulting firm uses the verbal reasoning test for hiring decision making for their management consulting candidates, more and more are leaning toward using the scores from these exams. After targeting your consulting firm, find out if the test is a requirement and begin your preparation early. Your preparation will pay dividends when you are invited to return during the hiring process.