Understanding the McKinsey Problem Solving Game (PSG) Scoring (Latest update 2023)

Have you ever wondered how the scoring system of the McKinsey PSG works and how it affects your final result?

The McKinsey Problem Solving Game (PSG) is a digital assessment that has left many candidates puzzled about its scoring mechanism. Unlike its paper-based counterpart, the McKinsey Problem-Solving Test (PST), which follows a straightforward scoring system based on the number of correct answers, the PSG scoring is more complex. It combines both the final score and the process score, making it essential for candidates to understand how it works to improve their gameplay strategy and enhance their chances of success in the case interview.


Table of Contents

What Constitutes a Good PSG Score?

In its current format, the Imbellus presents you with a choice of 6 mini-games, out of which you play 2. The duration of the PSG ranges between 60 and 81 minutes, challenging your problem-solving abilities within a limited time frame. Since March 2023, the preferred games in the PSG have shifted to Ecosystem Building and Redrock Study, replacing the previous Ecosystem and Plant Defense games.

The instant you complete the PSG, you can make a quick estimation of your performance without waiting for the official notification. To assess your performance in the Ecosystem Building game, aim to create a sustainable solution within 30 minutes. If you can achieve this feat, you stand a decent chance of securing a good PSG score. In the Plant Defense game, surviving is the ultimate goal. Aim to last for a minimum of 15 turns in each round, ideally surpassing 25 or even 30 turns.

The PSG Scoring Breakdown

To evaluate candidates, the PSG employs both product scores, representing the final results achieved, and process scores, which assess the candidate’s approach to obtaining those results.

Product Scores: Measuring Success in Achieving Objectives

The product scores in the McKinsey PSG evaluate your level of success in achieving the objectives of the game scenarios. While there is no single correct answer, certain solutions will yield better results than others. In the first scenario, the product scores are based on the number of species that survive, considering factors such as energy consumption and provision. In the second scenario, the score is determined by the number of turns you survive until the end.

Process Scores: Evaluating Game-Playing Behavior

Process scores are derived from the analysis of your patterns and actions throughout the entire game-playing process, including keystrokes, clicks, and mouse movements. Although McKinsey has not explicitly disclosed the exact measurement method for process scores, it is crucial to assume that every action on the screen reflects your problem-solving approach. To optimize your process scores, it is essential to adopt a well-thought-out strategy from the beginning. Train yourself to approach problems analytically and systematically, allowing your actions to naturally align with desired problem-solving behaviors.

Unlocking the Secrets to Success in Every Game

The Imbellus platform presents a diverse array of games, each demanding its own unique approach and mindset. For a step-by-step guide on winning strategies, be sure to explore the McKinsey PSG Simulation.

List of current games

Ecosystem building

Embark on the Ecosystem Building game, where your task is to construct a robust food chain pyramid by thoughtfully selecting 8 species, including animals and plants. Employ these strategies to optimize your performance:

  • Prioritize caloric supply and intake, ensuring optimal nourishment within the ecosystem.
  • Build the food chain top-down, starting from the main predator to establish a harmonious structure.
  • Respect the constraints imposed by randomly generated boundary conditions and eating rules.
  • Select a location where all species can thrive and coexist.
  • Identify the key influencing variables that drive the stability of the food chain.
  • Strive for compatibility between the food chain and the chosen location.

Plant Defense

In the Plant Defense game, your objective is to safeguard a vulnerable plant from invading species. Utilize these strategies to create an impenetrable defense:

  • Strategically position a combination of animals and barriers to impede and decimate the attackers.
  • Prevent the invaders from reaching and harming your plant.
  • Ensure the survival of your plant for as many turns as possible, displaying resilience against relentless threats.

Red Rock study

Uncover the mysteries of the Red Rock Study game with these winning strategies:

  • During the research stage, meticulously sift through information regarding your objective and the surrounding data.
  • Save the most relevant data points and record crucial insights on paper.
  • During the analysis stage, leverage your notes and utilize the in-game calculator to answer questions accurately.
  • In the report stage, effectively communicate your findings by utilizing the visual tools’ interface to present compelling visualizations.

List of former games and trials

Although the following games are no longer part of the PSG, we provide insights into their strategies to ensure preparedness for any unexpected scenarios.

Disease Management

  • Identify a subset of an animal population that is affected by a disease
  • Identify the subset of an animal population affected by a disease.
  • Discern patterns of disease spread based on specific characteristics observed in the animals.
  • Extrapolate the disease’s progress to predict which subset of the population will be affected next.

Disaster Management

  • Recognize potential disasters by considering relevant variables.
  • Effectively relocate animals to new locations that suit their needs (similar to ecosystem building).

Migration Management

Take charge of organizing the migration of 30 to 50 animals from one location to another within a limited timeframe of 3 to 5 turns. Ensure successful migration with these strategies:

  • Document the available routes meticulously on paper or in an Excel sheet.
  • Calculate the outcome variables for resources and animals for each route.
  • Select the route that maximizes animal survival and meets resource requirements, preserving the delicate balance of the ecosystem.

The PSG Score: Not the Sole Determinant of Success

While the PSG score is a vital component of the screening stage, it alone cannot determine whether you pass or fail. McKinsey does not reveal your test results; instead, you receive an email notifying you if you have advanced to the consulting case interviews. No explanations, criticism, or component scores are provided, making it challenging to assess your performance.

The final decision to advance to the next rounds is based on multiple factors, including your performance in the interview screening and the Solve game, as well as the evaluation of your resume. The PSG results are taken into consideration alongside the rest of your application. McKinsey recruiters evaluate your overall profile, including your resume and cover letter, before making a decision. A high PSG score can compensate for a weaker resume, while a non-optimal PSG performance can be offset by an impressive consulting resume.

Benefits of Scoring High on the PSG Assessment

Although controversies surround the significance of the PSG score in the overall selection process, there are several reasons why a high score can be advantageous in McKinsey recruitment.

Challenging Passing Rate

McKinsey is known for its highly competitive nature, with a low passing rate for the PSG. According to various consulting preparation sites, the passing rate typically ranges from 20% to 30%. To stand out among thousands of applicants, it is crucial to aim for a score that places you in the “safe zone” and increases your chances of advancing to the next stage.

Support for Your Resume

If you come from a non-business background or your resume lacks a standout element, a good PSG score can effectively demonstrate your potential as a consultant. Achieving a high score showcases the qualities required of a McKinsey consultant, enabling hiring managers to make a more comprehensive decision and offer you an interview opportunity.

Strategies to Optimize Your PSG Scores

Practice Mental Math and Fast Reading Skills

The PSG, particularly the ecosystem-related mini-games, requires strong numerical and verbal aptitude to quickly analyze vast amounts of data. Developing mental math and fast reading skills is crucial for success not only in the PSG but also in case interviews and real consulting work. Practice exercises to improve your mental calculation speed and enhance your reading comprehension skills.

Engage in Similar Games for Practice

Candidates with experience playing video games, especially strategy games, have an advantage due to their developed “game sense.” Video games that involve data processing and system management can enhance the necessary skills for the PSG. The logic and gameplay of the McKinsey PSG share similarities with certain popular video game genres. Practicing with similar games can sharpen your problem-solving abilities and familiarize you with the strategic thinking required to excel in the PSG.


Understanding the scoring mechanism of the McKinsey Problem Solving Game is crucial for candidates aiming to succeed in the highly competitive world of McKinsey recruitment. The PSG score, comprising both product scores and process scores, plays a significant role in the screening process. While a high PSG score does not guarantee advancement, it can support your resume and showcase your potential as a consultant.

By familiarizing yourself with the PSG scoring system, optimizing your gameplay strategy, and honing your problem-solving skills, you can increase your chances of success in the McKinsey recruitment process. Embrace the challenge, decode the scoring system, and unlock your full potential in the McKinsey Problem Solving Game. Good luck on your journey to consulting excellence!

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