80 pages

McKinsey Problem Solving Game (Solve)

The Problem Solving Game (Solve) was constructed to meet McKinsey’s changing value proposition. which promises to strive for an unbiased and smoother recruiting process. Previously, candidates had to take PST either at assessment centers or at the office, while Solve can be taken at home, which makes it more convenient for both candidates and McK.

Another factor for change was that the nature of the consulting business has become quite complex, with more stakeholders to manage in fast-evolving conditions. As a result, strong business judgment and analytical skills are not enough to solve today's business problems effectively.

Because of the factors above, Solve has taken the place of the original Problem Solving Test, which no longer challenges candidates with the dynamism that McKinsey requires.

136 trainees
Get access to all 4 online assessment guides!
6-month subscription

Game Details

As McKinsey continues to strive for a smoother recruiting process, the PSG assesses candidates for adaptability and application of knowledge in uncertain environments. Crafted by Imbellus to be a game that cannot be prepared for, many hopeful applicants out there are looking for a window into what to expect.

The online game is a 60-75 minute assessment that consists of two parts (candidates play a different game in each part).

Each scenario requires different preparation, but there are tactics that can help you gain time and crack the game for all scenarios

Part 1
Part 2

Ecosystem Creation (Coral Reef): Objective of the game is to create a sustainable ecosystem (i.e., stable food web) in a coral reef by selecting the most suitable location and the most appropriate species.

Top Tip: Start by identifying the ideal location to build your ecosystem. Once you build the ecosystem, ensure that you created a sustainable food chain in which all species survive.


Ecosystem Creation (Mountain Ridge): Create a sustainable ecosystem (i.e., stable food web) on a mountain ridge by selecting the most suitable location and the most coherent species.


Plant Defense: Defend the native plant from the attacking predators for as many turns as possible beyond 15 turns by preventing their access with barriers or reducing their population with other animals.

Top tip: Analyze your resources and identify their strengths; then deploy them to block invaders. As you play the game, analyze behaviors of invaders and test the effectiveness of your resources to set your new strategy.


Migration Management: Identify the most efficient route for animals to migrate to reach the endpoint with the highest proportion of animals remaining alive.

Top tip: Analyze the pattern between routes and their effects on animals and optimize routes to the endpoint, including the intermediate stops.

Screenshot 2022-10-26 At 12.15.31

Red Rock Study: Review objectives, answer questions by analyzing data and summarize findings by visualizing key insights for a business problem. 

Top tip: Collecting information is the most crucial step, look for context, figures, and timeframes of the directions provided in the assessment. Be prepared to answer around 10 questions by filling in the blanks, hence time management and note-taking are key to success. 


Disaster Management: Determine the type of the disaster and try to minimize its damage on your animals by moving them to a more convenient location.

Top tip: Identify the type of disaster and commonalities among species. Once you identify the type of disaster and common characteristics of the species, you can choose the best location to maximize the survival rate.


Disease Management: Prevent the disease to save the animals in the ecosystem.

Top tip: Start with understanding key characteristics of the species and analyzing how change in time affect different species. Once you derive relationships between time and species, finalize a list of species to be affected and identify the right treatment.

Why a Problem Solving Game?

The McKinsey Problem Solving Game occupies the space between CV screening and face-to-face case interviews. It is mandatory for all McKinsey candidates. Its purpose is to weed out those who lack the mindset and skills necessary to be an effective business consultant. By pre-emptively eliminating most of these unfit candidates before they reach the expensive (for McKinsey) face-to-face interview stage the company dramatically reduces their recruitment costs.

In theory, the new game cannot be cracked. However, the Prepmatter Online Assessment Package ensures no candidate need to go into the test unprepared. Still, many candidates wonder why McKinsey decided to incorporate game theory into their assessment of potential business consultants.

The company felt multiple-choice tests were ultimately of limited use when it came to assessing whether a candidate would make a good business consultant. And with the business landscape shifting under our feet as you read this, a better method was needed to assess the ability of candidates to think on their feet. Enter the McKinsey Problem Solving Game.

How Prepmatter Can Prepare You for the Unexpected

When you enlist the aid of the Prepmatter team to prepare for the McKinsey Problem Solving Game you will benefit from the collective knowledge who have actually taken the test. We cover every aspect of the test process including, but not limited to:

  • A breakdown of the different games, their underlying logic and successful strategies
  • A variety of game tips that will help you optimise your chances of success
  • Other games that serve as useful McKinsey Problem Solving Game practice games

Just keep in mind that since neither McKinsey nor the game’s creator Imbellus publicize the details or mechanisms of the Problem Solving Game, and since the games are constantly evolving, it is possible that some tips or insights may not reflect with complete accuracy current in-game elements. However, we are continuously updating our guide to make sure that it says relevant.

What is included?

In our guide, we lay out exactly how Solve works with publicly available and remastered in-game visuals, as well as a host of tips to crack the games. We also provide the best preparation guide available. Our guide is continuously revised with the latest insights.

You can access the McKinsey Problem Solving Game guide as part of the Prepmatter Online Assessment Package, which includes comprehensive guides for 3 of the McKinsey, BCG, and Bain assessment models.

How else can I prepare?