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LNAT Practice

Welcome to our LNAT Practice tests page.

The LNAT is used by universities to select students for their undergraduate law degrees.

We hope you find out LNAT practice test resources useful!

Here is the official LNAT Preparation site. This is the best place to find details of any changes in the process. It is also worthwhile to check the LNAT Onscreen.

Rob Williams Assessment Ltd recommends School Entrance Tests‘ LNAT test practice.

LNAT Practice Test Tips

  • Read through each passage. Make a mental note of those statements that are facts. Plus, those “weaker” statements which only express an opinion.
  • Any verbal reasoning test requires careful reading of both the passage and each question. Critical verbal reasoning tests require even more careful reading!
  • Sometimes a question will highlight particular words in bold text. Here you need to ensure that this emphasis is recognized by your answer.
  • In many job roles that require verbal reasoning skills one of the specific abilities required is that of critical reasoning.

LNAT Practice Tests

We hope you enjoy our free LNAT practice tips and LNAT practice test below.

Here is our LNAT PRACTICE TEST 1 free download.


Here is our LNAT PRACTICE TEST 2 free download.


Here is our LNAT PRACTICE TEST 3 free download.


Here is our  LNAT PRACTICE TEST 4 free download.


LNAT question types

There are four broad types of LNAT question:

  • Interpretation LNAT question type
  • Summary LNAT question type
  • Deduction and Inference LNAT question types
  • Assumptions LNAT question type

More LNAT Practice Tests:

(1) Interpretation

How can you best summarize the passage?

  • Find the word which could be substituted for another in the passage?
  • The most suitable replacement is which one of these options?
  • What’s meant by the following term?
  • Which fact is included in the passage?

(2) Summary

What is the main point the passage is making?

  • Which of the following statements best summarizes the second paragraph?
  • What best summarises what the author is saying in the last paragraph?
  • Do any statements not form part of the passage’s argument?

(3) Deduction and Inference

It’s not just the person writing a newspaper article who needs to use critical reasoning skills – the person reading the article needs to apply their own critical reasoning skills too.

An astute reader always asks: Does the writer’s overall conclusion follow on from the evidence and facts presented?

This question is an example of logical deduction or deductive reasoning – the linking of one or more statements, or premises, to make a logically sound conclusion. Are the argument’s premises true?

On the other hand, inductive reasoning or inference is based on discerning what is probable or what is likely to be true from true premises. Critical reasoning involves applying both inductive and deductive reasoning to arguments.

(4) Assumptions

  • What can be inferred about X from the passage?
  • Which of the following can be deduced from the passage?
  • Find an assumption within the passage?
  • Which statements lend support to the passage’s argument?
  • Whose opinion is expressed by the author?
LNAT practice and critical reasoning practice. Woman analysing painting


SATs Grammar Practice

English writing skills. Womeon on laptop with dog.

How to improve your written English language skills


11Plus Verbal Reasoning Test 2. Child showing hands full of writing.

11 Plus Verbal Reasoning Test 2

11 Plus Verbal Reasoning Test 1. Man with letters all around

Verbal Reasoning Test 1 for the 11 plus

11 Plus Verbal Reasoning Test. Candidates writing test in exam venue

11 Plus Verbal Quiz 3

CLOZE Verbal Reasoning Tests. Girl with glasses on her head resting her arms on a stack of books

CLOZE Verbal Reasoning 11 plus Test

LNAT test practice

Need more LNAT practice?

 The official LNAT preparation Website has LNAT Hints and some useful critical reasoning LNAT Preparation tips.

There is also the site for the slightly different LSAT test for admission to Law Schools in the United States. Their official Website also has critical reasoning practice questions.

LNAT Practice Test Taking Strategies

Improving the speed with which you can digest complex prose will help your critical reasoning test performance. Read the passage quickly the first time to get a feel for the main points. Then read the passage a second time more carefully, mentally noting the key content of each paragraph. Focus on the core of the argument and its supporting evidence, together with the author’s stance on the issue.

While you need to absorb the critical reasoning test passages as efficiently as possible, that does not mean that you need to rush your answers. Quite the opposite, since there will be many different question formats. It is very important to double-check that you are 100% clear on what the question is asking for.

To pass a critical reasoning test you need to understand the development of an argument – in particular, what points provide factual support. Reading commentary on political, social and economic debates will certainly improve your understanding.

Passing the LNAT Test

  • How are individual’s opinions, counteracts and factual evidence expressed?
  • Is there one or more argument? One or more conclusion?
  • Look out for any assumptions and consider which specific pieces of information are being used to make a conclusion.
  • Is each piece of information reliable? Would you draw the same conclusion yourself?
  • What additional information would you need to frame a counterargument?

Do not let your own general knowledge lead you astray. It’s vital that you do not let any of your personal opinions or your general knowledge influence your answers even slightly. This recommendation applies even if it seems that the correct answer is in direct contradiction to what you know or believe to be true.

To summarise, these are the skills you need to demonstrate to succeed in a critical reasoning test:

  • Separating facts from inferences and opinions
  • Identifying the implications of a factual statement
  • Making logical deductions from a passage of prose

Watson Glaser Critical Reasoning Test Practice

We have tips for critical verbal reasoning Watson Glaser format questions.

Also, here’s some practice verbal reasoning test sites – most offering general verbal reasoning test practice – as follows: Guardian verbal reasoning test practice.

LNAT practice and critical reasoning practice. Two men discussing legal documents

JobTestPrep LNAT practice

LNAT test strategies Part I

A critical reasoning test, like the LNAT, typically asks you to use different types of logical reasoning to “test” the accuracy and the interpretation presented in the passage of a particular topic. Read the passage quickly the first time to get a feel for the main points. Then read the passage a second time more carefully, mentally noting the key content of each paragraph.

There follow some elementary points that are hopefully easy for you to remember. The practise question section will also give you a feel of the type of text that you will need to understand in a critical reasoning test. Such practice, together with your raised awareness of what to expect, can certainly improve your performance in most critical thinking tests. Unfortunately, there isn’t any secret formula for passing this type of verbal reasoning test.

With all psychometric tests, it is important to read and fully understand the test instructions before starting the test. With such complex test formats as these, it’s worth repeating this advice again. There are many different types of question format when it comes to critical thinking tests and you must know in advance exactly what each type of question is asking for.

Why not try some LNAT test practice?

LNAT practice test strategies Part II

  • Firstly, do not let your own general knowledge lead you stray. It’s vital that you do not let any of your personal opinions or your general knowledge influence your answers even slightly.
  • Secondly, expect that each passage contains at least two sides from the “undecided debate” of a contentious issue.
  • Thirdly, improving the speed with which you can digest complex prose will help your test performance.
  • Fourthly, focus on the core of the argument and its supporting evidence, together with the author’s stance on the issue.
  • Fourth, whilst you need to absorb the test passages as efficiently as possible, that does not mean that you need to rush your answers.
  • Fifth, double-check that you are 100% clear on what the question is asking for.

JobTestPrep LNAT practice

Also, do take care when interpreting the meaning of complex words.

Finally, look out for any words that imply something absolute, such as “always”, “never”, “all”. Do not confuse these with similar words or phrases that are not so definitive (e.g. “almost always, most of the time, invariably” and “often”) and the weak forms (e.g. “sometimes”, “some of the time” etc).

Following on from the above point you need to understand the development of an argument. In particular what points are relevant to a specific argument and what points are irrelevant.

Critical reasoning test strategies

Familiarise yourself with how journalists write a comment and Opinion articles online or in the broadsheet newspapers.

– How are individual’s opinions, counteracts and factual evidence expressed?

– Is there one or more argument? One or more conclusion?

– Is each piece of information reliable? Would you draw the same conclusion yourself?

– What additional information would you need to frame a counterargument?

Why not try some LNAT test practice?

LNAT practice and critical reasoning practice. People analysing empty frames on a wall.

LNAT Preparation

We recommend that you read a quality general daily newspaper (in English) every day, or as often as you can, and think about the issues that are raised. What assumptions are present? How would you frame a counterargument? Reading a quality daily newspaper will also help you to be aware of the world around you.

LNAT practice and critical reasoning practice. People at computers with supervisor.

LNAT Essay topics

Read online newspapers (usually freely available, although registration may be required). If you do read the online versions, remember to read the comment pieces as well as the news. (One question you might ask yourself: What exactly is the difference between news and comment? Is the contrast really apparent in practice?)

The other thing you can usefully do is practise. This has two objectives: the first is to familiarise yourself with the format of the LNAT and its questions; the second is to familiarise yourself with the kind of thinking that the LNAT requires. We offer our own practice test to help you and our own commentary on the answers. You can also try freely-available questions from other sources that are similar to LNAT questions.

Why not try some LNAT test practice?

What does the LNAT test? 

The purpose of a critical verbal reasoning test is to assess reasoning abilities when applied to a complex passage of text. You also need to analyse the different points within the passage. How would you evaluate each of these points? What logical conclusions
can you draw from the information that you have read? As you can see this goes beyond the understanding of the text that has formed the basis for other verbal reasoning tests discussed so far.

How to Find a Specialized LNAT Tutor Online

Hiring expert tutor to aid preparations for the LNAT test can significantly contribute to good scores. Several tutors usually advertise on online platforms to reach potential students. However, some individuals posing as tutors are not experts in LNAT and may mislead candidates. Therefore, applicants should know methods of identifying specialized tutors. It is essential to conduct background checks on a tutor before seeking his or her services.

A potential tutor should have adequate experience in LNAT tests. Exceptional understanding of LNAT tests enables a tutor to give students helpful knowledge. Referral by comrades can connect an individual with a specialized tutor, Therefore, a candidate may inquire from other students receiving similar tutoring services and learn about their experience.

LNAT practice. Books scale and gavel on top..

Your Law School admission depends on LNAT practice!

Many highly qualified candidates apply for admission to various law programs in law schools. Therefore, LNAT critical reasoning tests provide a suitable solution to this problem as it ensures that law schools choose individuals for various programs depending on abilities displayed by their LNAT scores.

Pearson VUE usually provides the LNAT scores to universities on 20th October. Admission tutors of each university then use these scores as part of candidates’ application, Along with other admission criteria, universities use the LNAT test marks to select suitable students (LNAT, n.d). Therefore, universities can utilize LNAT in the best way that satisfies their admission requirements or policies. Notably, LNAT is not a replacement to A levels but used together with other criteria including formal qualifications, performance at interview, the information provided on the UCAS, and personal statement.

Why not try some LNAT test practice?

Critical Reasoning Test Practice

The McKinsey Problem Solving Test (McKinsey PST) is a data interpretation and critical number reasoning test used by McKinsey to select candidates to be admitted to the first round of case interviews. The use of the PST is the main difference between the McKinsey recruiting process and those of its main competitors. The other distinct element is the PEI, or Personal Experience Interview. However, with this set of questions on personal impact McKinsey closely approximates the fit interviews of other firms.

The McKinsey PST is so notoriously difficult because it tests a very diverse skillset and requires you to work under the tightest of time constraints. However, we are proud to say that despite the average PST pass rate being so low, 85% of candidates who use our course pass their own PST. For anyone who doesn’t pass, we return half of their money.

This article serves as a guide to help you prepare for your McKinsey PST. We begin with an overview of what the PST is all about – this gives you a five minute briefing on all the essential information and the context of the PST.

Next, we spend some time going through each kind of PST question in turn, providing structured approaches to tackling them, complete with fully-worked PST example questions and specific PST tips and tricks which might come in useful.

Finally, we put everything together, with step-by-step guidelines on how to prepare for McKinsey PST success using our adaptive learning methodology.



The first step is to take one or two practice PST test papers. This will let you get a feel for what the tests are actually like generally, but – crucially – will also allow you to start your prep off with an idea of which skills you need to work on, as per our iterative method above.

You can find everything you need on this website or on the McKinsey website.

There are seven key facts which you will need to know about the McKinsey PST:

Who takes the PST?

Not everyone has to do the McKinsey Problem Solving Test.

If you are not sure whether you will be required to do the PST, your default assumption should be that you will, but you should ask with the HR team at the office you are applying to so as to be certain – this is a perfectly reasonable enquiry to make.

Format: 26 Questions, Pen and Paper

The PST is a multiple choice test completed on paper. 26 questions are divided between three business cases. These cases test how you would perform in the different phases of a consulting project: client interaction, problem definition, problem solving, analytical work and implementation. The cases are on the kinds of issues that real consultants will encounter in the field, including problems on market entry, profitability and operational improvement.

3. 60 Minutes

Quite simply, if you had three hours to work on an individual McKinsey PST, you could pass easily without any help. Time is the single major constraint in the PST.

60 minutes equates to just over two minutes per question, with a few minutes at the end to enter answers onto the answer sheet and quickly check everything is in order. Many candidates actually fail simply as they do not allow enough time at the end for this basic task. You have to be ready to work fast!

Passing is mandatory. Even after you pass and interview, your PST score will be considered alongside your interview performance to determine whether you are given an offer.

70% Cut-Off

Success in the PST is an absolute function of your score rather than how it compares relative to other candidates – there is no “curve”. As such, performing better than the next candidate will be meaningless in itself. If all the candidates are sub-standard, all will fail.

Whilst McKinsey does not publish the exact cutoff for the PST, the best estimates (based on surveys of successful candidates) place it at around 70%.

One important point to remember is that you should give an answer for every question even if you are not entirely sure. The PST is not scored negatively – tha. As such, you should always give your best guess, just in case you get lucky.

1-in-3 Success Rate

Whilst scoring is absolute, unofficial surveys have indicated that a fairly regular PST pass rate at around 33%. Most of those candidates who fail do so because they didn’t work efficiently enough and/or failed to manage their time correctly, rather than because they lacked any cognitive capacity. One of the major causes of failure is actually candidates not allocating sufficient time at the end of the test to fill in the PST answer sheet!

You need to understand the relevant time saving methods and strategies to approach the test as a whole if you want to pass and eventually land your job at McKinsey.

Extract the facts!

Reading critical reasoning questions tests your ability to extract and elaborate data from graphs and tables. These are the most common question type, and you can expect them to make up around 35% of your LNAT.

Typical Formats

  • Which of the following values is the best estimate of …?
  • Which of the following statements is valid, based on the data …?
  • What is the current ranking of options 1 to 5?


  • Which of the following values is the best estimate of ABC revenue in Year 4?
  • To the nearest tenth percentage point, what is the difference between Italy’s and Spain’s respective average annual agriculture sector growths due to fertilizing over the last 10 years?

Worked Example

There are a couple of tricks you can employ to get through Reading Facts questions more efficiently:

Begin with an end in mind

Before performing any calculations, be clear on which formula/equation you need to use. This is crucial as there is no time for trial and error in the PST. Spending just a few more seconds nailing down the exact formula you need at the beginning will pay dividends by saving you much more time in the calculation phase.

Minimise the number of calculations

When going through your solutions, you will be surprised by how many calculations can be avoided or approximated mentally. The fundamental question you should ask yourself before performing any calculation is “does this affect the answer?”.

This might sound a little odd, but it is a habit which you must form to become quick enough to pass the LNAT. Here are a couple of examples where you can “work clever” to avoid redundant calculations:

The Anchoring Technique

This the technique we used in the example above. When looking for the highest value amongst several possible answers, run calculations for the first answer and use that value as a threshold value as you work through the others. If other answers look immediately wrong, do not perform any further calculations.

The Selection Technique

Here, you pre-select only the calculations which are essential to identifying the answer. For example, the question below asks you to rank the effectiveness of 5 solutions:

Calculating whether solution A is the most effective is a complete waste of your time – it is the least answer-changing analysis. Instead, calculate which is the most effective between solutions B and C, working from there.

Master quick percentage calculations

In particular, it is pretty much a certainty that you will be asked to calculate growth rates over multiple time periods. This is theoretically feasible by hand, but extremely time-consuming. For example, say the revenues of a given company are growing at 5% per year for four years. In order to get a precise result, you would need to calculate the four year compound growth rate as follows:

Quite simply, regardless of how quick you are at math, you absolutely do not have the time to go through this whole calculation. It would almost certainly take more than two minutes just for this step, which might not actually be enough to answer the whole question (usually, calculating such a percentage will only be a subset of a question).

Instead, you can arrive at an approximate but good-enough value for this growth rate by using a straightforward shortcut. To do this, we simply multiply the growth rate by the number of years it will apply for, estimating the compound growth rate. Here, this will be 5% x 4 years = 20%.

There are a couple of caveats here which will already be obvious to more mathematically inclined readers:

  • With positive growth rates, the compound rate will be underestimated. Above, we estimate 20%, but the real figure is actually 21%. Conversely, with negative growth rates, this method will overestimate the compound value.
  • The greater the magnitude of the annual growth rate and the greater the number of years for which it is applied, the less precise this technique becomes. For instance, five years of compound growth at 5% per annum yields a 27% compound growth rate, whilst this shortcut would give us a value of 25%.

Critical Reasoning Examples

  • Which of the following reasons, if TRUE, is most likely to be the reason for the drop in house prices in year two?
  • Which of the following, if true, LEAST explains the data for Slovenia and the Czech Republic in Exhibit 2?

Zapclothing is a global fashion retailer, traditionally catering primarily to teenage girls and with shops across Europe. Five years ago, the senior management at Zapclothing decided to embark up an move upmarket, with the aim of catering to a slightly older and more affluent customer base.

Leading French and Italian designers were hired to create unique and exclusive lines for Zapclothing, whilst prices were raised across the entire product line by 20-30%. A series of events were held in all major global cities in order to launch the new incarnation of Zapclothing as a brand with a more sophisticated, upscale image.

Initially, this mid-market transition boosted profit margins without altering sales volumes. However, one year later, the company has found itself with plummeting revenues and a decreased profit margin. In order to return profits to their previous higher levels, the marketing manager has proposed a permanent price reduction of 10% across all lines.

Which of the following facts, if true, would best challenge the sales manager’s price reduction proposal?

  1. Over the last year, due to higher commodity costs, prices increased by 15% on average for the whole fashion industry
  2. Consumers consistently quoted price among the top three quality attributes for mid and high-level fashion brands in surveys over the last 5 years
  3. In a recent survey, over 80% of the existing customer base claimed that they would still buy more than 50% of their clothes from Zapclothing, regardless of price
  4. Females aged 20-30 consider price among the top three criteria for deciding whether to make a purchase


  1. Read the question carefully, making sure that you understand what is being asked.
  2. Scan the answers and underline the key words in the text. Don’t spend any more than 10 seconds on this step – the intention is simply to make you quicker in finding the relevant parts of the introductory paragraph.
  3. Think carefully about how this proposal can be challenged. The most effective challenge is necessarily that acting based on this proposal would not help to solve the company’s problems – in our example, restoring high revenues. If this is the case, then the proposal does not correctly identify the cause of the focal issue.
  4. Go back to the answers, crossing out the incorrect ones. Let’s see how we assess the four answers in our example:
  5. Not relevant. The fact that prices increases increased on average by 15% for the whole industry does not tell us whether a decision to reduce prices would bring in additional revenue from existing and/or new customers. FALSE
  6. If consumers consider a higher price to be a signal for superior for mid and high-level fashion brands (where Zapclothing hs positioned itself), reducing prices could have a neutral or even counterproductive effect on revenue growth. TRUE
  7. Not relevant. This statement is only relevant to revenue derived from existing customers. The information provided is incomplete and would not be sufficient to challenge the sales manager’s proposal. FALSE
  8. Opposite Direction. This fact would not challenge the sales manager’s idea, but reinforce it. FALSE

Tips and Tricks

Correct answers in Root-Cause Reason questions will always have two elements in common:

  • Relevance – they have a significant effect on the target stated in the introductory paragraph
  • Correct Directionality – their effect on the target should be going in the direction required by the question

As we have already observed in the example above, there are generally three kinds of answer in Root Cause Reasons:

1. Not Relevant

These are answers which have no, or only limited, effect on the proposal in question (as with answers A and C in the example above). By identifying the kind of fact which would have some bearing on the proposal, you will be able to quickly pick out answers which simply have no influence on the relevant issue.

Often, there can be a temptation to think beyond what is actually on the page. For example, when you are assessing C above, some candidates might assume that the preferences of existing customers will also be representative of potential new customers as well, or perhaps that the focus on existing customers indicates their particular importance to the problem. This would make C seem more relevant to the sales manager’s proposal and would thus then ultimately lead you into error. PST questions are a test of your ability to read closely and think logically – not of your imagination!

2. Relevant, But With the Wrong Directionality

These answers affect the proposal in question, but with the effect going in the opposite direction to what you are looking for. For example, D above actually reinforces the sales manager’s proposal rather than challenging it.

One of the most common errors in Root-Cause Reason questions is selecting answers which are relevant, but with the opposite directionality to what the questions is asking for. As such, you must always keep in mind what the question has actually requested and the kind of answer which fulfils that request.

3. Relevant and With the Correct Directionality

These are answers which significantly affect the proposal in the correct direction, according to the parameters set by the question.


Fact-Based Conclusion PST questions test your ability to draw logical conclusions from a collection of facts. These questions can manifest the greatest degree of variation of all types, and can range from something relatively similar to a Reading Facts question to a requirement for you to make some very tough inferences from rather vague introductory text.

  • Which of the following statements can be concluded from …?
  • Based on the data on table …, which of the following statements is a valid conclusion?


Word Problem PST questions require you to solve business problems by combining information across sources. In other kinds of question in the Problem Solving Test, you will find all the relevant data from exhibits or introductory paragraphs. If you have taken the GMAT, you will find that word problems are the closest of the PST question types to what you will find in the GMAT.

  • Assuming that a machine costs $2m, how many years will it take for the firm to break even from its investment?

Assuming that the economy keeps on growing at 2% per year for the upcoming 10 years, which of the following equations best approximates the decrease in the debt/GDP ratio?

Carefully read and understand the Word Problem

Go through the answers to assess the level of precision which you are going to need in your calculations. Here, since the answers are quite far apart, you will be able to estimate rather than calculated precisely.


Client Interpretation questions focus on understanding project requirements and the analyses which will be necessary to tackle the client’s concerns. In consulting projects, you will engage every day with various stakeholders from the client company . Fundamentally, client interpretation questions are about understanding:

  • What the client says that can have an impact on defining the scope of your project
  • …client implying about given choice or strategy?
  • What’s the best analysis decisions to take in order to fit the client’s needs
  • Which of the following best summarizes the CEO’s concerns?
  • …best describes the thoughts of the CEO regarding…?
  • Based on the opinion of the Head of Department, which of the following statements is/are valid?
  • Which of the following statements best describes the CEO’s aims for the McKinsey study?
  • Which of the following analyses would be LEAST useful to address the CEO’s concerns?
  • Given the aims of the CEO, what would be the LEAST relevant question for the team to answer?

Critical Reasoning Test Tips

Here, two aspect of the established method from above take on increased significance over the others:

  1. Read the question. This is generally pretty straightforward, and simply enquires as to the client’s reason for engaging McKinsey.
  2. Scan the answers and underline key words. Do not spend any more than 10 seconds on this step. As before, the purpose is simply to facilitate finding relevant pieces of information later.
  3. Go back to the text and quickly jump to the relevant part. More than 50% if the paragraph is of little or no use. Precisely reading the essential sentence will be enough to answer the question.
  4. Go back to the answers, crossing out the incorrect ones:
    1. This answer may be true, but it does not capture the purpose behind engaging your team. The CEO did not call your team to advise him on branding or design, but because he wants to understand the causes of his company’s downturn. FALSE
    1. The reason for engaging your team is not to understand the causes of the poor shopping experience, but the causes of the downturn – these are not necessarily going to be the same thing. FALSE
    1. The purpose of this engagement is finding out whether inconsistent shopping experiences across stores led to the current downturn. TRUE
    1. Again, this answer could be true, but it is not the reason for engaging your team. The CEO did not bring you in to redesign policies, but to understand the causes of the downturn. FALSE

Critical Reasoning Test Tricks

  • Highlight the keywords in all answers. Prioritising the right words and sentences will save you a great deal of time.
  • Cross out incorrect answers. Often, one or more answers will be clearly incorrect, whilst two or more will appear to be correct or almost correct. Cross out the obviously wrong answers before returning to the introductory text to pick out which of the “almost right” answers is actually correct.
  • Beware of the “sensible answer trap”. Sometimes, answers contain implications which look rational and sensible. However, be very careful about making assumptions beyond the information you have been supplied. No matter how reasonable a statement might seem, if the client has not actually said something to that effect, that statement is simply not valid.

So, what are the KEY CRITICAL REASONING skills?

Each PST question type tests a subset of the skills that are useful in consulting. It is worth remembering that there is only so far practicing PST example questions alone will get you if you have not taken the time to develop these skills. Think about a kid trying to learn math – they can spend hours looking at all the sums they want, but they won’t get very far if they haven’t learnt to add yet!

  • Identifying Root Causes

Just like doctors, consultants focus on identifying and treating the underlying causes of a problem. When you address a problem, you shouldn’t ever stop at the superficial level of observable symptoms, but must dig deeper and find the real issue underlying what you are dealing with.

For example, imagine a doctor who has a patient complaining of persistent headaches. A good doctor is not just going to keep dishing out painkillers, but are going to want to establish what is causing the pain. It might be, say, that the headaches are caused by poor eyesight. If so, the patient will be dispatched to the optician to get some glasses to solve the problem more permanently.

Critical Reasoning Skills Tested

  • Drawing Fact-Based Conclusions and Prioritising

Consultants always anchor their diagnoses and recommendations on data and analysis – never on opinions or hunches! This is called a fact-based approach.

In order to be able to correctly answer all the PST questions (and fill in that answer sheet!) within the time limit, you will need to be able to prioritise important data and calculations, effectively deal with uncertainly and generally find a good compromise between accuracy and speed. This includes the ability to select salient information from large volumes of text and to deal with ambiguity within that text. Once they are on top of the raw facts of what is happening, consultants will always then extract the salient implications – or the “so-what” – of the situation, rather than just re-describing the same data.

  • Numerical Agility
  • Reading Charts

Most PST questions will require you to perform some kind of calculation.


By now, you will have a good idea of what the McKinsey Problem Solving Test is, what the questions look like and the skills it is assessing. The categorisation of different question types and the methods and tips we have discussed for each already give you the building blocks for a solid prep. However, to make your preparation both as effective and time efficient as possible, you should really begin by making a plan to provide some structure. This will make sure that you don’t miss out any key elements and also that you distribute your time sensibly.

As you will have realised by now, the PST is difficult – especially because of the acute time constraints. Having made a plan and diligently practiced all your skills might not actually be enough to pass. You also need to consider your strategy for tackling the test optimally. We have already given a few tips on this, peppered throughout the sections above, but there are also several points on general test management which you will need to know about.

Let’s look in more depth both at how you should plan your prep and at your strategy for approaching the McKinsey Problem Solving Test:

1. Critical Reasoning Skill Building

You need to build your general consulting skillset to be able to reliably perform well on real PST questions. As mentioned above, you should take note of where you are underperforming and address your attention there. In particular, you will want to focus on the following:

  • Numerical Agility

You will find that the need to make rapid estimates will recur constantly in PST questions. This includes understanding the appropriate degree of approximation as well as getting through calculations quickly.

  • Reading Charts and Solving Problems

Again, the ability to extract information from diagrams and set up and solve mathematical problems are critical to being able to deal with many PST problems. Indeed, the numbers and equations for your mental math must come from somewhere! You will have to read charts in the McKinsey PST and will have to do so under severe time pressure. Similarly, various types of PST question will test your ability to work through problems in an efficient fashion.

2. Refining

To optimise your performance on the PST, your prep should always include a blend of practice and skill building. Your first step should be to try a practice PST to see where exactly your weak spots are.

It is worth noting that this method also makes sense at a more pragmatic level, as there is only a limited supply of sample PST test papers available to practice with online. This iterative approach, then, has the added benefit of letting you make best possible use of the scarce resource that is PST examples.

3. Simulation

Once you have practiced enough, it will be time to step up to simulating the real PST more fully. There is a temptation to skip what might seem like the “theatrics” of a full simulation.

You should replicate the PST test environment as closely as possible. Print out your sample PST test paper, staple it and print out your answer sheet. Find a quiet room and do the test strictly in the allotted time and without a calculator or any other such “contraband”. You might feel a bit silly doing all of this, but it really is worth it. Sticking exactly to the rules is the only way to really practice your PST test strategy. Even relatively small things like becoming accustomed to keeping your notes entirely in the booklet and actually filling in the answer sheet at the end will save you precious time in the real PST.

4. Keeping an Error Log

When you run through a practice test with a mark scheme, everything will seem very easy. “Oh, of course, that’s exactly what I should have done…” Fast-forward couple of weeks later, though, and you will find yourself staring at a PST question with precisely the same structure, but with no idea of how to solve it.

This is precisely why you need to keep an error log. You might already be familiar with error logs from GMAT prep, but we recommend you extend the practice here.

There is no single correct format for your error log. Some will prefer very organised, detailed logs, whereas others will prefer a more old-fashioned paper record. Really, you should chose whichever method you personally find most convenient, as what is most important is that you actually make consistent use of the log over time.

Critical Reasoning Test Tips

Whichever way you chose to set out your error log, though, we recommend that each entry should contain the following information.

  • Question type – as per our categorisation above.
  • Reason why you found the question difficult – you might have taken too long to answer or not been able
  • Question and answer choices – record what the question actually was
  • Proposed solution – work out the method which you should ideally have used to solve the question – that is, whichever solution you find quickest and most effective given your own abilities.
  • Key takeaways – what you should learn in order to answer this kind of question more efficiently. For example, you might need to learn how to simplify fractions more rapidly or to improve your quick reading skills.

Critical Reasoning Test Strategy

Most McKinsey PST questions are not actually all that conceptually demanding. The real difficulty derives from the extreme time constraint. As we noted above, given three hours with the same PST test paper, everyone would pass. In practice, then, the successful candidates – who go on to get interviews and jobs – might not actually be the most clever or able, but will often simply be those who have been able to manage their time most effectively.

Obviously, we have already explained a whole host of time saving methods for use in different kinds of questions above. Building up your skills will also help get through questions faster – improving your mental math in particular will see significant reductions in your time taken per question.

Critical Reasoning Test Tricks

However, to pass you must also consider your time usage not just individual questions, but for the problems solving test as a whole. In this section, then, we will go over both an overall test time strategy and a consistent strategy to answer PST questions:

Test Timing Strategies

To start to optimise your approach, you should combine this realisation as to varying question difficultly with the following two facts we alluded to near the beginning of this article:

  • All questions are worth the same
  • There is no penalty for wrong answers (there is no “negative marking”)

Critical Reasoning Test Tips

Now (as we keep mentioning), you will need to leave at least five minutes at the end to fill in the answer sheet. Of the remaining time, you can allocate two minutes to each of your 26 questions (the maths geniuses amongst you will note that that leaves 3 minutes spare, but you can be assured that they will disappear whether you like it or not).

Given that all the questions are worth the same marks, you simply cannot allow yourself to become bogged down on one particularly tough PST question and leave yourself without time to answer two easy ones. To avoid this, you should keep track of how far through the test you are relative to how much time has elapsed – that is, make sure you are actually getting through questions at a rate of one every two minutes. For instance, if you are 10 minutes in, you should at least be just finishing question five.

If you get to the end of the test and have some time left besides that required to fill in the answer sheet, you can go back and look at the question again. Often, coming back and looking with fresh eyes will break you out of an analytic rut. However, if you still simply can’t make head nor tail of the question, or if you end up without any more time to devote to it, you should simply pick one of your circled likely-answers at random and put that down on the answer sheet.

Critical Reasoning Test Strategies

We have already said quite a bit above about how you should approach individual kinds of question. However, we can also make some helpful remarks about how you should be approaching each question more generally.

The first fact to note is that whenever you first sit down to a practice test, you will realise that a minimum of 20% of your mistakes are simply due to mis-read questions. Indeed, a great deal of excellent candidates will fail their PST ultimately because they failed to read a critical number of questions properly. However, it is true nonetheless and you can see why we so consistently instructed you to carefully read all the different kinds of questions as we ran through them!

How you should proceeds next depends upon whether you have to chose between qualitative or quantitative answers:

Qualitative and Quantitative

Here, you should pursue an iterative method of going back and forth between the questions and the text, eliminating (and then physically crossing out to prevent any future confusion) incorrect answers one-by-one. This is fundamentally a test of your linguistic reasoning, though we have provided various hints and helpful techniques for different kinds of question above. Of course, the most fundamental advice we can give is to read PST questions carefully, but you can also do things like considering what would be true if the exact opposite of the focal statement were true.

You have a couple of options when dealing with quantitative answers, depending upon the specific nature of the question you have been asked. As such, you can chose to do either of the following:

The “Conventional” approach

Here, you simply identify the relevant data and solve the problem directly. Run through all the calculations on paper and then see which of the multiple choice answers matches the solution you generate.

Working “Backwards”

Often, though, you will not have enough time to work through all the calculations required to answer a particular question via the conventional approach. In such cases, you will need to take a more strategic approach. We can do this by effectively working backwards from the answers. This is not as strange a method as it might sound – you simply need to build a framework of the relevant calculation and plug in the suggested answers until you find one that works.

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