PrepLounge Logo

Case Presentation Interview – Ace the Written Case Interview With Ease

Are you about to have your written case presentation interview ? Lukasz shows you the main differences between the different case types and gives you a detailed overview of the five essential steps in your case interview to prepare you for the process effectively. Moreover, our expert guides you through the decisive evaluation criteria . With his longstanding experiences and smart tips, you will master your written case interview more successfully.

Expert Article Lukasz

Land your dream job!

Join the world’s leading case interview community today and get everything you need to prepare for your upcoming case interviews!

Intro to Case Presentation Interviews

Case Presentation Interview is a unique variant of the traditional case study interview . The underlying structure of the case is the same - you’re placed in a hypothetical business situation and are asked to resolve a business problem . However, in this type of case study, you’re asked to solve the case by working independently rather than by collaborating with the interviewer. Case Presentation Interviews are less commonly used but are as important for  candidate assessment as traditional ones. You can encounter them as part of the BCG or Bain first or second-round interview, as well as when applying for managerial roles in the corporate strategy departments or startups. They have been growing in popularity in recent years given their 360° approach to testing candidates in “on-the-job” work leveraging real-life scenarios .

The specific details of this type of case interview differ by the company. In the case of BCG or Bain, you’re usually given a handout of 20 to 40 pages of information including graphs, charts , or tables , and given 1 to 2 hours to analyze information and prepare 3 to 5 slides with your analysis and recommendation. However, there are three major differences among different types of written case studies you should be aware of:

Depending on the case study , you might get an overall business problem or a specific list of 3-4 key questions to investigate and answer. In the former, you have to decide on areas to explore and you have the freedom to solve them, while in the latter you should focus on areas mentioned in the questions. The difference is similar to interviewer- vs interviewee-led traditional cases.

If you’re in the recruitment process for BCG or Bain you’ll most probably get 1-2 hours to analyze information and prepare the slides . However, for smaller consultancies and business roles it became a standard to give case studies with a 2-3 days deadline - which requires your resolution to be more refined and thorough.

In the majority of written case interviews , you are expected to create slides from scratch . This involves both the visual and content sides of the presentation. However, you might also encounter case interviews where you’ll be given (partially) pre-filled slide templates (e.g., titles, graphs, charts ). Then your focus should be on analysis and filling in the missing numbers or messages.

How Is Your Performance Assessed?

Case Presentation Interview simulates the consulting job environment by placing you in a hypothetical business situation with access to data and further presentation of your insights and work. It helps to predict how you would perform if you joined the company for the role . While they are aimed at testing similar skills to traditional case interviews , they help to assess your critical reading and problem-solving skills , as well as your ability to research and analyze information . It also tests your communication and more “technical” skills in preparing an actual presentation.

The following points are the usual assessment criteria for Case Presentation Interview:

Ace The Case

There is a clear five-step process you should follow to successfully solve the Case Presentation Interview:

You should start solving the Case Presentation Interview by making sure you understand the objective and the primary business question you try to answer. Solving the wrong problem or misunderstanding key challenges is the quickest way to fail the case interview. Spend time reading the instructions and understanding the primary problem or questions you are trying to answer. This will allow you to understand the most important areas of the case and derive your framework. In case you get a specific list of questions then focus on those.

Before you begin collecting, reading, and analyzing the data, you should create a basic framework to help guide your analysis. This framework will also shape your target presentation agenda and storyline . Remember - each case is unique and it doesn’t necessarily fit in one of the typical frameworks described in multiple casebooks (applicable especially in the interviewee-led approach). Don’t be afraid to apply a tailored solution, an out-of-the-box way of thinking could make you shine among all other applicants (but still - be complex). You should start by selecting 3 to 4 areas that are needed to answer the primary objective of the case study. If you received a list of detailed questions these can often substitute the framework and there’s no need to add anything else. However, you may identify other important areas and you might decide to add them to your framework. Also, if you received pre-filled slide templates, they will usually provide support on what are the areas you should focus on. Otherwise, you will need to create your framework from scratch . Use your knowledge of the business problems , screen through the data available, and determine the main areas of your framework .  

The next step is to understand the data available to solve the case. For interviews with only 1-2 hours of preparation time, you will be given a handout with information to be leveraged for analyzing and solving the case. Don’t spend time reading and analyzing every slide. That would take too much time. Instead, understand what data and information are out there. Decide and prioritize which information is important to read and analyze in more detail later to solve the case interview. Case presentation interviews have strict time constraints , so you want to make the most of the limited time that you have.

Next, match different pieces of information that exist to areas in your framework . This will enable you to conduct further analyses and solve the case study.  

You should already know what questions you need to answer based on the framework you created. You also understand the data and information available for answering each question. All that is left is to process and analyze information and data that is relevant for each area of the framework. As you analyze the data and start answering major questions in your framework make sure to summarise your learnings and takeaways . It is important you keep a record of key answers that you can then leverage for the storyline of your presentation as well as make it easier to remember the work and decide on target recommendations. Following an analysis of all relevant materials, you should have a list of key takeaways and answers for all core elements of your framework . You should now proceed to define the comprehensive recommendation derived from these data points which would be collectively supported by them.

Not each takeaway will support your final recommendation. Sometimes you might find a takeaway that goes against your hypothesis and proposed recommendation. In this case, you need to mediate conflicting insights and decide on which one is the most important. You might decide that contradicting takeaway is a potential risk or the next step to be further discovered in the way of investigation.

Remember that there is no such thing as a wrong recommendation. As long as your proposal is supported by data-driven evidence your solution will be solid enough for the interviewers.  

As soon as you decide on a recommendation and collect all the supporting data and evidence , it’s time to prepare a structure for the presentation slides. For this purpose, you can structure your presentation into a simple communication pyramid structure - start with the recommendation and 3 supportive arguments , deep dive into supportive reasons and data on the following slides (one slide for each argument), finish with a summary of all covered information, and then present potential next steps or open questions . In case of having received pre-filled slide templates, the structure of your presentation slides might have been already decided for you. Otherwise, you can leverage the approach described above. In the end, you should derive a structure of 6-10 slides which you can start filling in with the content.

Once you finalize the structure of the presentation, the next step is to start putting your content and key messages on them. Make sure you use descriptive slide titles communicating the message of the slide , as well as creating a sound storyline when combined together. Moreover, prepare your slides in a way they’re easy to digest. None of the slides should have more than one, powerful key message.

In case you’re left with some time, review your slides one more time. You should correct any mistakes or errors as well as clean up the slides for them to look neat and polished. Obvious omission can be perceived as a big question mark to your ability to work under pressure in a client-facing role.

Moreover, you should spend the last minutes thinking about potential questions  interviewers might ask you during your presentation. These might include your approach used to analyze or your conclusions. Be prepared for challenges of your assumptions and interpretations of the data!

Last Tips

There are 4 small tips I’d like to share with you that you should keep in mind when preparing Case Presentation Interview:

You can practice those by solving an example of a BCG Written Case study which can be found here .

Please leave feedback if you found those tips useful and good luck with your Case Presentation Interviews!

Profile Picture Cristian

After being a consultant for Deloitte, Lukasz has worked for several years as a Senior Consultant at McKinsey. He has helped over 50 candidates land their dream job as he has worked together with consulting firms such as McKinsey, BCG or Bain. Lukasz is currently working as a Manager in a global startup and is also a CoachingPlus Expert here at PrepLounge.

Questions on this blog article

Here's the announcement about a special offer - learn more here

Written case interviews: the ultimate guide

Many candidates think that if they are comfortable cracking regular case interviews they should also be able to succeed at written cases. But unfortunately, over the past few years we have worked with many candidates and noticed that this wasn't necessarily the case.

BCG and Bain written cases include 20+ pages of documents which you need to analyse to answer a few client questions. In addition, you need to summarise your answer to the case on 3 to 5 slides and present them to your interviewer.

The written case format therefore requires you to quickly find key pieces of information that are burried in pages of unimportant content. And to craft and deliver a high quality presentation and slides. These two skills are not tested by regular case interviews and mastering them requires some training.

Most candidates overlook this fact. As a consequence, if you prepare specifically for written case interviews you will have a significant advantage over other candidates. This guide summarises everything you need to know to get from "What's a written case interview?" to "I'm confident I can crack written cases and get an offer at BCG and Bain."

Click here to practise 1-on-1 with MBB ex-interviewers

Part 1: written cases: bcg vs. bain.

The first step to succeed in written case interviews is to understand why both BCG and Bain use them in their 2nd round. And to also get familiar with the characteristics of the written case format used by each firm.

1.1 Why do BCG and Bain use written cases?

In your daily life as a consultant, you will have to deal with a lot of data and transform it into insightful presentations to answer your clients' questions. BCG and Bain both use written cases in their 2nd round interviews to make sure you've got those skills before giving you an offer.

Skills tested in written cases by BCG and Bain

More specifically, Junior consultants spend a lot of time on the following three tasks when they start their career:

Not surprisingly, the written cases BCG and Bain use test these three skills. First you will be given a series of questions to answer and will have to structure your approach to be as efficient as possible. Second, you will be given too many documents to analyse and will only have very limited time. And third, you will have to summarise your findings in slides and then present them to your interviewer.

If you do well at written cases it will be a clear indication for the firm that you can do well on one of their projects. These cases closely resemble the situation you will be in when you get hired and BCG and Bain's objective is really to recreate the job's conditions as closely as possible.

BCG and Bain don't systematically use written cases in their recruiting process. So far we've heard people having to take written cases in the countries listed below: US, UK, Russia, etc. In all instances, written cases were part of the second round of interviews, not the first one.

If your country is not on that list, and you would like to confirm if you will have to take the written case, ask your question in the Q&A section below and our team will get back to you with the best information we have got.

Countries where BCG and Bain use written case interviews

1.2 BCG written case interview characteristics

BCG written case characteristics

~3 questions on free slides

The first page of a BCG written cases is a printed email from a BCG Partner who asks for your help to put together a few slides for a client presentation. The printed email is actually quite realistic and looks a lot like what you could receive from a Partner on the job.

In the email, the Partner asks you to answer 3 or 4 questions about the client situation in a short presentation of 3 to 5 slides. Here are some examples of the type of questions the Partner could ask:

One important aspect of BCG written cases is that you will need to decide how many slides to write and what to put on them. The slides are completely free. This won't be the case at Bain for instance where you will get more guidance.

~40 pages, 2h prep

In addition to a Partner email, your BCG written case will also typically include ~40 pages of documents. These documents include a mix of tables, graphs and texts from industry and company reports as well as press articles.

Reading through that many documents in 2h is IMPOSSIBLE. The right approach is to look for specific information in these documents that will let you prove / disprove your hypothesis and write the 3 to 5 slides that the Partner has asked for.

The most common mistake candidates make in written cases is to missallocate their time between the different tasks that need to be completed. We will discuss how you can avoid this in more details below. 

40mins presentation + Q&A

Once you have written your 3 to 5 slides you will need to present and discuss them with your interview. Interviewers tend to give you ~20mins that to walk them through your slides. And the remaining ~20mins are used for Q&A.

You should be ready for that part of the written case to be very interactive. Your intereviewer will ask you questions and debate some of the points you make. This is normal and will feel a lot like a regular case interview.

Calculators allowed

Finally, one last important point about BCG written cases is that you will be allowed to use a calculator. But you won't be able to take notes on the documents you will be given. This is mainly because BCG reuses the same documents with multiple candidates.

Not being able to take notes on documents actually makes the written case even harder according to past candidates we worked with. It makes it harder to remember where key data points are located and is something you should try to get used to during your preparation.

Note: we also recommend reading the following guide if you are preparing for BCG interviews more broadly.

1.3 Bain written case interview characteristics

Bain written case characteristics

~5 pre-filled slides

In Bain written cases you will get a pack of ~5 pre-filled slides that you will need to complete by doing analysis. Some of the slides will only be pre-filled with a title and you will need to build the whole slide to support that title. Other slides will include graphs and tables that need to be filled with numbers you will calculate.

The fact that the slides are pre-filled means you that, unlike at BCG, you don't have to worry about the overall story for your presentation. You can focus on creating the content that will support the arguments made in the slide titles.

~20 pages, 1.5h prep

You will be given ~20 pages of documents to help you fill your different slides. These documents will include tables, graphs and text from industry and company reports. Only a SUBSET of these documents will be helpful to answer your questions. One of your objectives will be to find those as quickly as possible.

Bain written case interviews include less documents than BCG ones (~20 vs. ~40 pages). But you only have 1.5h to complete the work instead of the 2h you are given at BCG. Overall, the time pressure you will get is therefore quite similar.

30mins presentation + Q&A

Once you have completed the different slides, you will need to present them to an interviewer over a 30mins slot. The first half of the slot will mainly consist in you walking through the slides. And the second half will mainly be a discussion with your interviewer about your conclusions and some of the points you might have missed.

Calculators NOT allowed

Finally, you should note that unlinke at BCG, Bain does NOT allow candidates to use a calculator during written cases. You should therefore expect to have to do a number of calculations mentally to get to the right answer in your written case.

In addition, you will not be allowed to write on the documents Bain will provide you with (apart from the pre-filled slides). As mentioned above, this makes it harder to remember where key pieces of information are located in ~20 pages of documents. It is therefore something you should try to get used to during your preparation.

Part 2: Top 10 tips to crack written cases

Now that you know what to expect in BCG written cases and Bain written cases, let's turn our attention to what you need to do to succeed. We have listed our top tips below to help you become a written cases pro.

Top 10 tips for passing written cases at BCG and Bain

Tip #1 Manage your time

Written case interviews are designed to test your time management skills. As mentioned previously, you will be given TOO MANY documents and will have to QUICKLY the pieces of information that are actually useful. If you don't time-box the different steps of your case (e.g. reading questions, structuring, analysing, writing slides, etc.) you will most likely spend too much time looking at the data. Our recommendation is to use a schedule to work through the case and to stick to it.

Tip #2 Define the issue

If you don't understand the question you are trying to solve correctly you are almost certain to fail the case. Your first job at the beginning of the written case is therefore make sure you are 100% clear with the questions you are trying to answer.

This is what Partners do with senior clients at the beginning of projects. They make sure they perfectly understand the question the client wants their team to answer. This might sound very basic, but misunderstanding your client can be an extremely costly mistake. And you should avoid making that mistake in your written case. There's no point looking at the data until you know EXACTLY what you are looking for.

Tip #3 Use a framework / hypothesis

One of the first things you probably learned at the beginning of your case interview preparation is that you need to use a framework to structure your analysis , and a HYPOTHESIS to explore your framework. Consultants use these approaches on real projects to solve their client’s problem in a STRUCTURED way. One of the benefits of these techniques is that they force you to focus on the problem at hand and end up saving you a lot of time. This is why we strongly recommend that you use them in written case interviews too.

Tip #4 Test it with the data

The biggest mistake you can make in written case interviews is to dive in the large amount of data you have without a specific PURPOSE. Once you have a framework to run your analysis and a hypothesis about the root cause of the problem, you should look for SPECIFIC information in the data to help you prove or disprove your hypothesis. This will enable you to speed-read instead of trying to absorb all the information available in all the documents. It’s a HUGE time saver.

Tip #5 Crunch the numbers

You will very likely have to do a number of calculations to get to the “answer”. If you are trying to calculate the revenue decline rate for a company, it’s very unlikely that the documents will contain exactly that information. It is more likely that one of the exhibits will be the company’s revenues for the past 5 years. And that you’ll have to compute the percentage decline by yourself.

One mistake some candidates make is to forget that they can infer results from the raw data that’s available. In fact, your ability to do this is one the skills that’s being tested in the written case.

Tip #6 Build a storyline

Once you have found the answers to the questions you were asked you need to package that information in a story. This is the first thing you should do BEFORE starting to write any slides.

This is what good consultants do for their client meetings. But make no mistake, the storyline is NOT a summary of the analysis you have done. It is a summary of your FINDINGS and recommendations.

Note that tips #6 and #7 only apply to BCG written cases. In Bain's written cases the slides you will be given will already have titles which makes these points less relevant.

Tip #7 Give your recommendation first

The way you structure your presentation should be exactly like you structure a conclusion in a regular case interview. You should give your recommendation FIRST. If the conclusion of your analysis is that the company should NOT enter the Chinese market, then this is the first thing you need to say. This is because CEOs and clients in general don’t have a lot of time. They want to know your conclusion before knowing how you got to your conclusion. Your overall recommendation should therefore be the first slide of your presentation.

Tip #8 Back it up with supporting arguments

Once you have laid out your conclusion, you then need to support it with with three or more qualitative and quantitative arguments. So the outline of your presentation should feel something like this:

Tip #9 Present as confidently as possible

Once you have written all your slides you will then need to present them. The way you do this is important. This is by no means easy but you should try to come across as confident as possible. We’re all stressed when presenting. It’s ok to be stressed and it’s ok to not be very confident. But you should try to not let that be too visible to your interviewer. Make eye contact with them and walk them through your presentation as calmly and surely as you can.

Tip #10 Be ready to debate

Most of the time, there’s no single right answer in strategy projects. There are different ways of looking at the situation and of solving the problem at hand. It’s the same thing in written cases. As a consequence, you should be ready to debate your recommendations with your interviewer.

They’ll likely agree on some of the points you made. But they’ll also challenge some of your conclusions and introduce new ideas you hadn’t thought of to test how you react. You should not be surprised by this behaviour.

Part 3: Written case interview preparation plan

What's the best way to prepare for your written case interview? And how do you make sure you succeed? In our experience the following 3-step approach makes for a great preparation.

Written cases preparation plan

3.1 Develop fast maths and reading skills

The first thing you should do if you have not already done so is to take the free written cases made available by BCG and Bain (you can download them at the top of this page). When you do these cases you will probably realise that doing calculations efficiently and finding information quickly plays a HUGE part in completing the case on time.

Fortunately, these skills can be trained. If you are preparing for consulting interviews you are probably already working on improving your mental maths speed . You should continue doing this as it will also be helpful for written cases.

In addition, we also recommend investing some time thinking about how you can minimise the time you spend looking for information in the different documents you will be given. In our experience, focusing on the following two aspects brings the best results:

3.2 Learn to write presentations like a consultant

Once you are familiar with the BCG and Bain written cases format and have brushed up your maths and reading skills you need to improve your slide writing technique. Consultants write a LOT of slides. And there are some rules they follow to write them.

Here are the top 3 high-level rules you should be aware of:

You can train putting slides together in many different ways. One approach we suggest is to download a few reports written by BCG and Bain that you are interested it. These reports are usually 10+ pages long. We encourage you to summarise them in 3 to 5 slides using the tips above. A lot of these reports are also in Power Point format so you will both familiarise yourself with how consultancies write slides, and you will get used to writing your own.

3.3 Practice written cases

Finally, the last step of your preparation should be to practice on written cases. The difficult thing about this step is that there aren't many written cases available on the Internet.

The best alternative we have found so far are MBA case studies. They are very similar to actual written cases: they include a business situation with texts, graphs and tables.

When you do them, we would encourage you to treat them like regular written cases. You should identify the 3 or 4 questions you want to answer about the case using the guidelines provided. And you should then give yourself 1.5 to 2h to answer these questions in slide format. After you have done this you should train to walk someone through your slides orally.

The more your train in real conditions, the better you will perform on the day. In our experience successful candidates are really rigorous about this. And we encourage you to follow their example.

Most business schools charge for access to their case studies. But MIT makes a number of case studies available for free here . If you find other helpful MBA case studies available for free post them in the comment section below and we will add them to this article.

Any questions about written case interviews?

If you have any questions about written case interviews, do not hesitate to ask them below and we will be more than happy to answer them. All questions are good questions, so go ahead!

The IGotAnOffer team

Shopping Cart

Your cart is currently empty.

Enable cookies to use the shopping cart

You're saving $0.00

Shipping & taxes calculated at checkout

Hacking The Case Interview

What is a Consulting Written Case Interview?

Consulting written case interviews are a special variant of the traditional case interview . Like a case interview, you’ll still be placed in a hypothetical business situation and asked to develop a recommendation or answer to a business problem.

However, for written case interviews, you’ll be solving the case by working independently rather than by collaborating with the interviewer.

In the beginning of the consulting written case interview, the interviewer will give you a packet of 20 to 40 pages of graphs, charts, tables, notes, and other text. The interviewer will then leave the room.

You’ll have 1 to 2 hours to analyze the information in the packet and make 3 to 5 slides to present your analysis and recommendation.

When the time is up, the interviewer will return to listen to your presentation. They will likely ask follow-up questions on your work and findings.

Consulting written case interviews are much less commonly used than traditional case interviews, but are as equally as important. They are given in second or final round interviews.

For firms and offices that do use them, you will not receive a consulting job offer unless you pass your written case interview.

The specific details of the written case interview differ by consulting firm. To give you a better idea of what a consulting written case interview looks like, let’s look at how BCG and Bain conducts them.

BCG Written Case Interview

BCG written case interviews use the following format:

Bain Written Case Interview

Bain written case interviews use the following format:

Differences Among Consulting Written Case Interviews

There are three major differences among different types of consulting written case interviews that you should be aware of.

List of key questions vs. no list of key questions

In some written case interviews, you’ll get a list of 3 to 4 key questions to investigate and answer. This list of questions identifies the major areas of the case that you should focus on. If there is time remaining, you can analyze other areas that are not mentioned in the list of key questions.

 In other written case interviews, you’ll only be given the overall business problem and you’ll need to decide what are the most important areas to explore. These types of written case interviews are more open-ended because less guidance and direction is given to you.

Blank slides vs. pre-filled slides

In some written case interviews, you’ll have to create slides completely from scratch. You will need to decide what the slide titles should be and what content you want to show.

In other written case interviews, you’ll be given pre-filled slide templates. These slides may already have titles given to you and you will just need to fill in the content. These slides may also have charts, graphs, or tables partially filled in. You will need to do some analysis and calculations to fill in the missing numbers.

1 hour vs. 2 hours to prepare

Some written case interviews give you an hour to analyze information and prepare your slides. Other written case interviews give you two hours.

Typically, the longer you are given to finish a written case interview, the more refined and thorough your work should be.

For longer written case interviews, expect to produce more slides than in shorter written case interviews. Also expect that your slides in longer written case interviews to be held to higher standards. This is because you have more time to create a clear and insightful presentation.

Why are Written Case Interviews Used?

Consulting written case interviews are used because they are a way for consulting firms to predict which candidates would make the best consultants.

Written case interviews simulate the consulting job by placing you in a hypothetical business situation in which you are given data, asked to make slides, and then present your work. This is exactly what consultants do.

Written case interviews are used in addition to traditional case interviews because they test for different skills than traditional case interviews.

Traditional case interviews focus on speaking. In this type of case interview, you are constantly collaborating with the interviewer, answering their questions, asking them your own questions, and getting their feedback.

Written case interviews focus on reading and writing. In this type of case interview, you will be reading tremendous amounts of information. Afterwards, you will be handwriting presentation slides to communicate your work and findings.

To be a great consultant, you need to be good at all three of these skills, speaking, reading, and writing.

The traditional case interview primarily assesses speaking, so written case interviews are designed to assess reading and writing more closely.

What Qualities do Written Case Interviews Assess?

There are four major qualities that consulting written case interviews assess.

Logical, structured thinking : Consultants need to be organized and methodical to work efficiently  

Data and information analysis

Slide making skills : Consultants need strong writing skills to make their work easy to understand and digest.

Presentation skills : Consultants need strong communication skills to present their work in a clear, concise, and persuasive way.

The Best Way to Solve Consulting Written Case Interviews

There are ten steps to solve consulting written case interviews in the most efficient way. Follow these steps to make the most of the limited time you have to complete written case interviews.

1. Understand the business problem and case objective

The first step in completing a written case interview is to understand what the objective is. What is the primary business question you are trying to answer with the data and information provided?

Answering or solving the wrong business problem is the quickest way to fail a written case interview. Therefore, the first thing you should do is to read the instructions and the case background information so that you clearly understand the primary question you are trying to answer.

2. Read the list of major questions

Some written case interviews will provide you with a list of 3 – 4 key questions that you will be expected to address or answer.

Once you understand the overall business problem and case objective, read through the list of key questions. This will tell you what the most important areas of the case are. These will be the questions that you want to investigate and answer first.

If the written case interview is more open-ended and does not provide you with a list of key questions, skip this step and move onto the next step.  

3. Quickly flip through the material to identify what information exists

The next step is to flip through the information packet that is provided to see what information is available. Identify what data you have and what data you do not have.

If the written case interview has provided you with pre-filled slide templates, make sure to flip through those as well.

The goal in this step is not to read and analyze every slide. That would take too much time.

Instead, you want to get a sense of what data and information is out there. This will help you decide and prioritize which slides are most important to read and analyze in more detail later.

Written case interviews have strict time constraints, so you want to make the most of the limited time that you have.

4. Create a framework

Before you begin reading and analyzing the information in the slides in more detail, you should create a basic framework to help guide your analysis.

Select 3 to 4 broad areas that you think are the most important to analyze. In other words, what are the 3 to 4 things you need to know to answer the primary question of the written case interview?

If the written case interview has provided you with a list of 3 – 4 key questions, make sure to include these important areas in your framework.

Sometimes, these 3 – 4 key questions are your entire framework and you will not need to add anything else. Other times, you may identify important areas from flipping through the slides that you want to add to your framework in addition to these 3 – 4 key questions.

If the written case interview has provided you with pre-filled slide templates, these slides often provide clues on what the most important areas are.

If the written case interview does not provide you with a list of key questions or pre-filled slide templates, you’ll likely need to create a framework from scratch. Use your knowledge of what information exists that you gathered by flipping through the slides to help you determine what the main areas of your framework will be.

5. Match information that exists to areas in your framework

Now that you have a solid framework to guide your analysis, the next step is to identify what information you can use to answer each area of your framework.

Since you have already flipped through the material and catalogued what information exists, you can match different pieces of information that exist to areas in your framework.

6. Read and analyze the material

The framework you created tells you what questions you need to answer. From the previous step, you know which slides the information is in to answer each question.

All that is left to do is to read and analyze the information that is relevant to each area of your framework.

As you answer the major questions in your framework, make sure to write a one or two sentence summary of the key takeaway or answer. This will help you remember the work that you have done and make it easier to decide on a recommendation.

7. Decide on a recommendation

Once you have finished reading and analyzing all of the important and relevant material, you should have a list of key takeaways or answers to the major areas of your framework.

In this step, you’ll read through the key takeaways and decide on what recommendation they collectively support.

You should not expect every key takeaway to support your recommendation. Often, you’ll have key takeaways that support your recommendation, but also key takeaways that go against your recommendation.

If this is the case, you’ll need to mediate conflicting insights and decide on which insights are the most important.

Remember that there is typically no right or wrong recommendation. As long as your recommendation is supported by data and evidence, you will be in great shape.

8. Structure your presentation slides

When you have decided on a recommendation and have the supporting data and evidence for it, you’ll want to create a structure for your presentation slides.

A simple, but effective structure you can use is:

If the written case interview has already provided you with pre-filled slide templates, the structure of your presentation slides may already be decided for you. If not, you can incorporate the pre-filled slide templates into your overall presentation structure.

9. Fill in your slides

Once you have the structure of your presentation slides, the next step is to fill in the slides with content.

When filling in slides, make sure you use descriptive slide titles that clearly communicate the main message of the slide.

Additionally, try to make your slides easy to digest. Each slide should have one key message.

10. Review your slides and prepare for potential questions

If you have time remaining, review your slides one more time to check for any mistakes or errors. You can also spend some time cleaning up the slides to make them look neat and polished.

Afterwards, you can brainstorm potential questions the interviewer may ask you during your presentation. They may want to know how you performed your analysis or reached your conclusions. They may also challenge your assumptions or interpretations of the data.

Preparing for potential questions that could be asked will help your presentation go much more smoothly and you’ll feel much more confident while presenting.

Consulting Written Case Interview Tips

Below are the eight biggest written case interview tips. Following these tips will help give you an edge over other candidates.

Tip #1: Make sure you understand the overall business problem or objective

You can have the best-looking slides and the best-sounding presentation, but if you answer the wrong business question, you will fail your written case interview. Make sure you are solving the right business problem and answering the right question.

Read through the written case interview instructions and case background information at least two times to be sure of this.

Tip #2: Manage your time well

Time passes extremely quickly during a written case interview. You can easily spend the entire time reading the case material without having made any slides.

Manage your time well by creating a plan on how much time you want to allocate to each step of the written case. At what point should you have your framework completed? At what point should you have decided on a recommendation? At what point should your slides be done?

Set deadlines for each milestone and do time checks to ensure that you are on track to finishing on time.

Tip #3: Answer the most important questions first

For consulting written case interviews, you will not have enough time to answer every single question and perform every type of analysis.

Focus on answering the most important questions first. These questions have the greatest impact on shaping your recommendation.

If the written case interview provides you with a list of 3 – 4 key questions, answer these questions before answering your own questions that you have.

Tip #4: Use a framework

Consulting written case interviews don’t require you to create a framework, but you should absolutely use one.

A framework keeps you on track and ensures that you are answering the most important and relevant questions to solve the case. It also saves you time by helping you avoid performing unnecessary analyses or reading irrelevant information.

Tip #5: Start your presentation with your recommendation first

Your presentation slides should start with your recommendation first because this is how consultants give their presentations to their clients.

Executives often don’t have much time, so consulting presentations typically start with the recommendation and then provide the evidence and data that supports it.

The more you can act like a consultant, the better you demonstrate the skills and qualities that interviewers are looking for.

Tip #6: Slide titles are important

The slide title is the most important aspect of the slide.

A slide title should communicate the key message of the slide. If the interviewer were to only read the title of a slide, they should know what content the slide is going to show.

Additionally, the titles of your slides should collectively read like a story. If the interviewer were to only read the slide titles in your presentation, they should know your entire presentation.

Avoid using generic slide titles such as “Analysis” or “Conclusion.” These titles do nothing to help the interviewer understand what the main point of the slide is.

Tip #7: One slide should have one message

Avoid having too many charts, graphs, or tables on one slide. This makes the slide dense and difficult to digest. You’ll also likely confuse the interviewer by having too many different messages.

The most effective slides have one key message each.

If you have too much content on one slide, you either have redundant information or too many messages. If you have redundant information, delete everything that does not add significant incremental value. If you have too many messages, separate the slide into multiple slides.

Tip #8: Include next steps

Having a slide with a few bullet points outlining potential next steps you would take if you had more time is an easy way to stand out from other candidates. Including next steps demonstrates initiative and ownership.

You can generate ideas for next steps by asking yourself the following questions:

Creating a next steps slide may only take one or two minutes, but it can make a big difference on your written case interview performance.

Land your Dream Consulting Job

If you found this article helpful, you’ll love our comprehensive case interview course. The material in the course has helped 6,000+ students across 13+ countries land offers at top-tier consulting firms such as McKinsey, BCG, and Bain.

Try the course for free today .

Viewing offline content

Limited functionality available

written case study interview

Preparing for the case interview has been saved

Preparing for the case interview has been removed

An Article Titled Preparing for the case interview already exists in Saved items

Join Deloitte

Preparing for the case interview

Demonstrate your problem solving skills.

Our case interview prep tool gives you the chance to practice demonstrating your problem-solving skills, analytical ability, and strategic and logical thinking. And, you’ll learn more about what we do at Deloitte.

Explore content

practice a case interview

Our interactive case site gives you the opportunity to practice a number of cases as you prepare for case interviews. Visit our case interview prep tool and start building your case interviewing skills today!

More case interviewing tips Learn a few more ways to stand out in your case study interview . 

Explore Your Fit The impact you’ll make through your career begins by finding work that inspires you and puts your strengths front and center. We have thousands of possibilities at Deloitte. Which ones fit you? Check out our Explore Your Fit tool to find out.  Career journeys Our people and our culture make Deloitte a place where leaders thrive. Get an inside look at the rich diversity of background, education, and experiences of our consulting professionals through our career journeys .  Consulting Learn more about our career opportunities in consulting . 

Search for job opportunities in management consulting


Welcome back.

To stay logged in, change your functional cookie settings.

Social login not available on Microsoft Edge browser at this time.

Link your accounts

You previously joined my deloitte using the same email. log in here with your my deloitte password to link accounts. | | deloitte users: log in here one time only with the password you have been using for dbriefs/my deloitte., you've previously logged into my deloitte with a different account. link your accounts by re-verifying below, or by logging in with a social media account., looks like you've logged in with your email address, and with your social media. link your accounts by signing in with your email or social account..

100 Best Case Study Questions for Your Next Customer Spotlight

Brittany Fuller

Published: November 29, 2022

Case studies and testimonials are helpful to have in your arsenal. But to build an effective library, you need to ask the right case study questions. You also need to know how to write a case study .

marketing team coming up with case study questions

Case studies are customers' stories that your sales team can use to share relevant content with prospects . Not only that, but case studies help you earn a prospect's trust, show them what life would be like as your customer, and validate that your product or service works for your clients.

Before you start building your library of case studies, check out our list of 100 case study questions to ask your clients. With this helpful guide, you'll have the know-how to build your narrative using the " Problem-Agitate-Solve " Method.

Download Now: 3 Free Case Study Templates

What makes a good case study questionnaire?

The ultimate list of case study questions, how to ask your customer for a case study, creating an effective case study.

Certain key elements make up a good case study questionnaire.

A questionnaire should never feel like an interrogation. Instead, aim to structure your case study questions like a conversation. Some of the essential things that your questionnaire should cover include:

You can adapt these considerations based on how your customers use your product and the specific answers or quotes that you want to receive.

What makes a good case study question?

A good case study question delivers a powerful message to leads in the decision stage of your prospective buyer's journey.

Since your client has agreed to participate in a case study, they're likely enthusiastic about the service you provide. Thus, a good case study question hands the reins over to the client and opens a conversation.

Try asking open-ended questions to encourage your client to talk about the excellent service or product you provide.

Free Case Study Templates

Tell us about yourself to access the templates..

case study questions, attributes of helpful questions

Categories for the Best Case Study Questions

Case Study Interview Questions About the Customer's Business

Knowing the customer's business is an excellent way of setting the tone for a case study.

Use these questions to get some background information about the company and its business goals. This information can be used to introduce the business at the beginning of the case study — plus, future prospects might resonate with their stories and become leads for you.

How many people are on your team? What are their roles? This will help describe key players within the organization and their impact on the implementation of your solution.

case study questions to ask, how does our product help your team or company achieve its objectives?

Case Study Interview Questions About the Environment Before the Purchase

A good case study is designed to build trust. Ask clients to describe the tools and processes they used before your product or service. These kinds of case study questions will highlight the business' need they had to fulfill and appeal to future clients.

How has your perception of the product changed since you've become a customer? Get the interviewee to describe how your product changed how they do business. This includes how your product accomplished what they previously thought was impossible.

case study questions examples, what were the major pain points of your process prior to using our product?

Case Study Interview Questions About the Decision Process

Readers of the case study will be interested in which factors influenced the decision-making process for the client. If they can relate to that process, there's a bigger chance they'll buy your product.

The answers to these questions will help potential customers through their decision-making process.

case study questions examples, would you describe a few of the reasons you decided to buy our product?

Case Study Interview Questions About the Customer's Business Case

Your case study questions should ask about your product or solution's impact on the customer's employees, teams, metrics, and goals. These questions allow the client to praise the value of your service and tell others exactly what benefits they derived from it.

When readers review your product or service's impact on the client, it enforces the belief that the case study is credible.

case study questions to ask, are there any metrics or KPIs you track with our product?

Case Study Interview Questions About the Buying Team and Internal Advocates

See if there are any individuals at the customer's company who are advocates for your product.

Case Study Interview Questions About Customer Success

Has the customer found success with your product? Ask these questions to learn more.

Case Study Interview Questions About Product Feedback

Ask the customer if they'd recommend your product to others. A strong recommendation will help potential clients be more open to purchasing your product.

case study question examples, do you have any feature requests or suggestions for our team?

Case Study Interview Questions About Willingness to Make Referrals

case study questions to ask, can you think of any use cases your customers might have for our product?

Case Study Interview Questions to Prompt Quote-Worthy Feedback

Enhance your case study with quotable soundbites from the customer. By asking these questions, prospects have more insight into other clients and their success with your product — which helps build trust.

case study questions to ask, what is your advice to others who might be considering our product?

Case Study Interview Questions About the Customers' Future Goals

Ask the customer about their goals, challenges, and plans for the future. This will provide insight into how a business can grow with your product.

Case study questions examples, what are the growth plans for your company this year? Your team?

Before you can start putting together your case study, you need to ask your customer's permission.

If you have a customer who's seen success with your product, reach out to them. Use this template to get started:

Thank you & quick request

Hi [customer name],

Thanks again for your business — working with you to [solve X, launch Y, take advantage of Z opportunity] has been extremely rewarding, and I'm looking forward to more collaboration in the future.

[Name of your company] is building a library of case studies to include on our site. We're looking for successful companies using [product] to solve interesting challenges, and your team immediately came to mind. Are you open to [customer company name] being featured?

It should be a lightweight process — [I, a product marketer] will ask you roughly [10, 15, 20] questions via email or phone about your experience and results. This case study will include a blurb about your company and a link to your homepage (which hopefully will make your SEO team happy!)

In any case, thank you again for the chance to work with you, and I hope you have a great week.

[Your name]

written case study interview

If one of your customers has recently passed along some praise (to you, their account manager, your boss; on an online forum; to another potential customer; etc.), then send them a version of this email:

Hey [customer name],

Thanks for the great feedback — I'm really glad to hear [product] is working well for you and that [customer company name] is getting the results you're looking for.

My team is actually in the process of building out our library of case studies, and I'd love to include your story. Happy to provide more details if you're potentially interested.

Either way, thank you again, and I look forward to getting more updates on your progress.

written case study interview

You can also find potential case study customers by usage or product data. For instance, maybe you see a company you sold to 10 months ago just bought eight more seats or upgraded to a new tier. Clearly, they're happy with the solution. Try this template:

I saw you just [invested in our X product; added Y more users; achieved Z product milestone]. Congratulations! I'd love to share your story using [product] with the world -- I think it's a great example of how our product + a dedicated team and a good strategy can achieve awesome results.

Are you open to being featured? If so, I'll send along more details.

written case study interview

Case Study Benefits

1. Case studies are a form of customer advocacy.

If you haven't noticed, customers aren't always quick to trust a brand's advertisements and sales strategies.

With every other brand claiming to be the best in the business, it's hard to sort exaggeration from reality.

This is the most important reason why case studies are effective. They are testimonials from your customers of your service. If someone is considering your business, a case study is a much more convincing piece of marketing or sales material than traditional advertising.

2. Case studies provide a joint-promotion opportunity.

Your business isn't the only one that benefits from a case study. Customers participating in case studies benefit, too.

Think about it. Case studies are free advertisements for your customers, not to mention the SEO factor, too. While they're not promoting their products or services, they're still getting the word out about their business. And, the case study highlights how successful their business is — showing interested leads that they're on the up and up.

3. Case studies are easily sharable.

No matter your role on the sales team, case studies are great to have on hand. You can easily share them with leads, prospects, and clients.

Whether you embed them on your website or save them as a PDF, you can simply send a link to share your case study with others. They can share that link with their peers and colleagues, and so on.

Case studies can also be useful during a sales pitch. In sales, timing is everything. If a customer is explaining a problem that was solved and discussed in your case study, you can quickly find the document and share it with them.

4. Case studies build rapport with your customers.

While case studies are very useful, they do require some back and forth with your customers to obtain the exact feedback you're looking for.

Even though time is involved, the good news is this builds rapport with your most loyal customers. You get to know them on a personal level, and they'll become more than just your most valuable clients.

And, the better the rapport you have with them, the more likely they'll be to recommend your business, products, or services to others.

5. Case studies are less opinionated than customer reviews.

Data is the difference between a case study and a review. Customer reviews are typically based on the customer's opinion of your brand. While they might write a glowing review, it's completely subjective and there's rarely empirical evidence supporting their claim.

Case studies, on the other hand, are more data-driven. While they'll still talk about how great your brand is, they support this claim with quantitative data that's relevant to the reader. It's hard to argue with data.

An effective case study must be genuine and credible. Your case study should explain why certain customers are the right fit for your business and how your company can help meet their specific needs. That way, someone in a similar situation can use your case study as a testimonial for why they should choose your business.

Use the case study questions above to create an ideal customer case study questionnaire. By asking your customers the right questions, you can obtain valuable feedback that can be shared with potential leads and convert them into loyal customers.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in June 2021 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

New Call-to-action

Don't forget to share this post!

Related articles.

ACV: What It Means & How to Calculate It

ACV: What It Means & How to Calculate It

What Is An Account Development Manager? (And How to Become One)

What Is An Account Development Manager? (And How to Become One)

Strategic Account Managers, Here's How to Amplify Your Efforts

Strategic Account Managers, Here's How to Amplify Your Efforts

3 Questions that Ensure Key Account Success

3 Questions that Ensure Key Account Success

Account Management vs. Sales: What's the Difference? [FAQ]

Account Management vs. Sales: What's the Difference? [FAQ]

Showcase your company's success using these free case study templates.

100% Free CRM

Nurture and grow your business with customer relationship management software.

Table of content

35 Case Interview Examples: MBB Firms & More

Studying case interview examples is one of the first steps in preparing for the  management consulting  recruitment process. If you don’t want to spend hours searching the web, this article presents a comprehensive and convenient list for you – with 35 example cases, 16 case books, along with a case video accompanied by detailed feedback on tips and techniques.

A clear understanding of “what is a case interview” is essential for effective use of these examples. I suggest reading our  Case Interview 101  guide, if you haven’t done so.

McKinsey case interview examples

Mckinsey practice cases.

What should I know about McKinsey Case interviews?

At McKinsey, case interviews often follow the interviewer-led format , where the interviewer asks you multiple questions for you to answer with short pitches.

How do you nail these cases? Since the questions can be grouped into predictable types, an efficient approach is to master each question type. However, do that after you’ve mastered the case interview fundamentals!

For a detailed guide on interviewer-led cases, check out our article on McKinsey Case Interview .

BCG & Bain case interview examples

Bcg practice cases.

Bain practice cases

What should I know about BCG & Bain case interviews?

Unlike McKinsey, BCG and Bain case interviews typically follow the candidate-led format – which is the opposite of interviewer-led, with the candidate driving the case progress by actively breaking down problems in their own way.

The key to acing candidate-led cases is to master the case interview fundamental concepts as well as the frameworks.

Some BCG and Bain offices also utilize written case interviews – you have to go through a pile of data slides, select the most relevant ones to answer a set of interviewer questions, then deliver those answers in a presentation.

For a detailed guide on candidate-led cases, check out our article on BCG & Bain Case Interview .

Deloitte case interview examples

Deloitte practice cases.

Undergrad Cases

Advanced Cases

What should I know about Deloitte case interviews?

Case interviews at Deloitte also lean towards the candidate-led format like BCG and Bain.

The Deloitte consultant recruitment process also features group case interviews , which not only test analytical skills but also place a great deal on interpersonal handling.

Accenture case interview examples

Accenture divides its cases into three types with very cool-sounding names.

Sorted in descending order of popularity, they are:

These are similar to candidate-led cases at Bain and BCG. albeit shorter – the key is to develop a suitable framework and ask the right questions to extract data from the interviewer.

These are similar to the market-sizing and guesstimate questions asked in interviewer-led cases – demonstrate your calculations in structured, clear-cut, logical steps and you’ll nail the case.

These cases have you sort through a deluge of data to draw solutions; however, this type of case is rare.

Capital One case interview examples

Capital One is the odd one on this list – it is a bank-holding company. Nonetheless, this being one of the biggest banks in America, it’s interesting to see how its cases differ from the consulting ones.

Having gone through Capital One’s guide to its cases, I can’t help but notice the less-MECE structure of the sample answers. Additionally, there seems to be a greater focus on the numbers.

Nonetheless, having a solid knowledge of the basics of case interviews will not hurt you – if anything, your presentation will be much more in-depth, comprehensive, and understandable!

See Capital One Business Analyst Case Interview for an example case and answers.

Other firms case interview examples

Besides the leading ones, we have some examples from other major consulting firms as well.

Consulting clubs case books

In addition to official cases, here are a few case books you can use as learning materials.

Do keep in mind: don’t base your study on frameworks and individual case types, but master the fundamentals so you can tackle any kind of case.

written case study interview

Case interview example – Case video

The limitation of most official case interview examples is that they are either too short and vague, or in text format, or both.

To solve that problem for you, we’ve extracted a 30-minute-long, feedback-rich case sample from our Case Interview End-to-End Secrets Program .

This is a candidate-led, profitability case on an internet music broadcasting company called Pandora.

In 30 minutes, this candidate demonstrates the exact kind of shortcoming that most candidates suffer during real case interviews – they come in with sharp business senses, then hurt their own chances with inadequate techniques.

Here are seven notable areas where the candidate (and you) can improve:

Thanking Throughout the case, as especially in the opening, he should have shown more appreciation for the time the interviewer spent with him.

Structured opening The candidate’s opening of the case feels unstructured. He could have improved it by not mixing the playback and clarification parts. You can learn to nail the case in a 3-minute start through this video on How to Open Any Case Perfectly .

Explicitness A lot of the candidate’s thought process remains in his head; in a case interview, it’s better to be as explicit as possible – draw your issue tree out and point to it as you speak; state your hypothesis when you move into a branch; when you receive data, acknowledge it out loud.

Avoiding silence The silence in his case performance is too long, including his timeout and various gaps in his speech; either ask for timeout (and keep it as short as possible) or think out loud to fill those gaps.

Proactivity The candidate relies too much on the interviewer (e.g: asking for data when it can easily be calculated); you don’t want to appear lazy before your interviewer, so avoid this.

Avoiding repeating mistakes Making one mistake twice is a big no-no in consulting interviews; one key part of the consulting skill set is the ability to learn, and repeating your mistakes (especially if the interviewer has pointed it out) makes you look like someone who doesn’t learn.

Note-taking Given the mistakes this candidate makes, he’s probably not taking his notes well. I can show you how to get it right if you watch this video on Case Interview Note-Taking .

Nonetheless, there are three good points you can learn from the candidate:

The candidate sums up what he’s covered and announces his upcoming approach at the start and at key points in the case – this is a very good habit that gives you a sense of direction and shows that you’re an organized person.

The candidate performs a “reality check” on whether his actions match the issue tree; in a case interview it’s easy to lose track of what you’re doing, so remember to do this every once in a while.

The candidate prompts the interviewer to give out more data than he asked for; if anything, this actually matches a habit of real consultants, and if you’re lucky, your interviewer may actually give out important pieces you haven’t thought of.

These are only part of the “ninja tips” taught In our Case Interview E2E Secrets Program – besides the math and business intuition for long-term development, a key feature is the instant-result tips and techniques for case interviews.

Once you’ve mastered them, you can nail any case they throw at you!

For more “quality” practice, let’s have a mock case interview with former consultants from McKinsey, BCG, Bain, Oliver Wyman, Strategy& and many other consulting firms. They will help you identify your problem areas and give you actionable feedback, making your preparation much easier and faster.

Hi! This is Kim and welcome to another performance in the Tips & Techniques part of our amazing End-to-end program. You are about to hear a really interesting performance.

There is a common Myth that Profitability cases are easier. Well, for beginners, that’s may make sense, but I would argue that Profitability cases can be really tricky and candidates without good foundation will make about the same level of mistakes regardless of type of cases given.

The profitability case we are about to watch will show that. It’s a very unconventional

Profitability. It started out like a typical one but getting more and more tricky toward the end.

The candidate is fairly good in term of business intuition, but the Tips & Techniques aspect needs a lot of fine tune! Now let’s go ahead and get started! 

It’s actually a little better to playback the case information and ask clarifications. The candidate does not distinguish between the two and do both at a same time. Also, the candidate was asking these clarifications in an unorganized and unstructured fashion. This is not something terrible, but could have been better, especially when this is the very first part of the case, where the crucial first impression is being formed.

My pitch would sound like this:

“That’s a very interesting problem and I am happy to get the chance to solve it. First of all let me tell you my understanding of the case context and key objectives. Then I would like to ask a few clarifying questions regarding a few terminology and concepts. Both of these are to make sure that I will be solving the right problem.

So here is my understanding of the case: The client is ABC. Here are some DEF facts about the situation we just talked about. And the key case question is XYZ.

Does that correctly and adequately summarize the case?”

Once the interviewer confirms, I would move to the clarification part as follows: “Now I would like to ask a few clarification questions. There are three of them: No 1, … No 2, … and No 3, …”

You may see above pitch as obvious but that’s a perfect example of how you should open any cases. Every details matters. We will point out those details in just a second. But before we do that, it’s actually very helpful if you can go back, listen carefully to the above pitch, and try to point out the great components yourselves. Only after that, go back to this point and learn it all together.

Alright, let’s break down the perfect opening.

First of all, you hear me say: “That’s a very interesting problem and I am happy to get a chance to solve it”. This seems trivial but very beneficial in multiple ways:

1. I bought myself a couple of seconds to calm down and get focused. 2. By nature, we as human unconsciously like those who give us compliments. Nothing better than opening the case with a modest compliment to the interviewer.

And (c) I showed my great attitude towards the case, which the interviewer would assume is the same for real future consulting business problems.

You should do that in your interviews too. Say it and accompany it with the best smile you can give. It shows that you are not afraid of any problems. In fact, you love them and you are always ready for them.

Secondly, I did what I refer to as the “map habit”, which is to always say what you are about to do and then do it. Just like somebody in the car showing the drivers the route before cruising on the road. The driver would love it. This is where I said: “Let me tell you my understanding of the case context and key objectives. Then ABC…”.

Third, right at the beginning of the case, I try to be crystal clear and easy to follow. I don’t let the interviewer confused between playing the case vs. asking clarification questions. I distinguish between the two really carefully. This habit probably doesn’t change the outcome of how the case goes that much, but it certainly significantly changes the impression the interviewer has of me.

Fourth, in playing back the case, each person would have a different way to re-phrase. But there are three buckets to always include:

1. Who is the client 2. The facts regarding the client and the situation and (c) The key question and the objective of the case.

Fifth, after playing the case context and objectives, I pause for a second and ALIGN with the interviewer: “Does it correctly and adequately summarize the case?”. This is a habit that every consulting manager loves for young consultants to do. Nobody wants first-year folks to spend weeks of passion and hard-work building an excel model that the team can’t use. This habit is extensively taught at McKinsey, Bain and BCG, so therefore interviewers would love somebody that exhibits this habit often in case interview.

Lastly, when asking clarification questions, you hear me number them very carefully to create the strong impression that I am very organized and structured. I said I have three clarifying questions. Then I number them as I go through each. No.1, No.2, and No.3.

Sometimes, during interviews it’s hard to know exactly how many items you are going to get. One way is to take timeout often to carefully plan your pitch. If this is not possible in certain situations, you may skip telling how many items you have; but you should definitely still number your question: No.1, No.2; and so on. 

Just a moment ago, the candidate actually exhibited a good habit. After going through his clarification questions, the candidate ended by asking the “is there anything else” question. In this case, I actually give out an important piece of data.

Though this is not very common as not every interviewer is that generous in giving out data. But this is a habit management consultants have to have every day when talking to experts, clients, or key stakeholders. The key is to get the most data and insights out of every interview and this is the type of open-ended question every consultant asks several times a day.

To show of this habit in a case interview is very good!

There are three things I would like you to pay attention to:

First, it took the candidate up to 72 seconds to “gather his thoughts”. This is a little too long in a case interview. I intentionally leave the 72 seconds of silence in the recording so you get an idea of how long that is in real situations. But it’s worth-noting here is not only that. While in some very complicated and weird cases, it’s ok to take that long to really think and gather ideas. In this case, the approach as proposed by the candidate is very simple. For this very approach, I think no more than 15 to 20 seconds should be used.

No.2, with that said, I have told I really like the fact that this candidate exhibits the “map” habit. Before going straight to the approach he draws the overall approach first.

No.3. You also see here that the candidate tried to align the approach with me by asking my thoughts on it. As I just said on the previous comment, this is a great habit to have. Not only does it help reduce chance of going into the wrong direction in case interviews, but it also creates a good impression. Consulting interviewers love people doing it often!

Here we see a not-really-bad response that for sure could be much better. The candidate was going into the first branch of the analysis which is Revenue. I would fix this in 3 aspects:

First, even though we just talked about the overall approach, it’s still better to briefly set up the issue tree first then clearly note that you are going into one branch.

Second, this is not a must, but I always try to make my hypothesis as explicitly clear as possible. Here the candidate just implicitly made a hypothesis that the problem is on the revenue side. The best way to show our hypothesis-driven mindset is to explicitly say it.

Third, you hear this a ton of times in our End-to-End program but I am going to repeat it again and again. It is better to show the habit of aligning here too. Don’t just go into revenue, before doing that, give the interviewer a chance to agree or to actually guide you to Cost.

So, summarizing the above insights, my pitch would sound something like this:

“So as we just discussed, a profit problem is either caused by revenue or by cost. Unless you would like to go into cost first, let’s hypothesize that the problem is on revenue side. I would like to look deeper into Revenue. Do we have any data on the revenue?”

And while saying this, you should literally draw an issue tree and point to each as you speak.

There is an interesting case interview tip I want to point out here. Notice how the candidate responds after receiving two data points from me. He went straight into the next question without at least acknowledging the data received and also without briefly analyzing it.

I am glad that the candidate makes this mistakes… well, not glad for him but for the greater audience of this program. I would like to introduce to you the perfect habit of what you should react and do every time you have any piece of data during case interviews. So three things you need to do:

Step 1: Say … that’s an interesting piece of data. This helps the interviewer acknowledge that you have received and understand the data. This also buys you a little time. And furthermore, it’s always a good thing to give out modest compliments to the interviewer.

Step 2: Describe the data, how it looks, is there any special noteworthy trend? In this case, we should point out that revenue actually grew by more than 50%.

Also notice here that I immediately quantified the difference in specific quantitative measurement (in this case, percentage). Saying revenue went up is good, but it’s great to be able to say revenue went up by more than 50%.

Step 3: Link the trend identified back to the original case question and the hypothesis you have. Does it prove, disprove, or open up new investigation to really test the hypothesis? In this case, this data piece actually opened up new investigating areas to test the hypothesis that the bottleneck is within revenue.

My sample pitch for this step 3 would sound like this: “It’s interesting that revenue went up quite a bit. However, to be able to fully reject our hypothesis on the revenue, I would like to compare our revenue to that of the competitors as well.”

Then only at this point, after going through 3 steps above, I ask for the competitors’ revenue like the candidate did.

Notice here that I ended up asking the same question the candidate did. This shows that the candidate does have a good intuition and thought process. It’s just that he did all of these implicitly on his head.

In consulting case interview, it’s always good to do everything as explicitly as possible. Not only is it easier to follow but it helps show your great thought process.

… the rest of the transcript is available in our End To End Case Interview

Learn the Secrets to Case Interview!

Join countless other successful candidates around the world with our Case Interview End-to-End Secrets Program ! 10 example cases with 100+ real-time feedbacks on tips and techniques, 50+ exercises on business intuition and 1300+ questions for math practice!

Scoring in the McKinsey PSG/Digital Assessment

The scoring mechanism in the McKinsey Digital Assessment

Related product

Thumbnail of Case Interview End-to-End Secrets Program

Case Interview End-to-End Secrets Program

Elevate your case interview skills with a well-rounded preparation package

Master strategy consulting interview with coach Frederic.

This article will give you fundamental concepts of the case interview and instant-result tips that help you land an offer at top consulting firms!


Written Case Interview - Everything You Need to Know [2022]

Rebecca Smith-Allen

Former McKinsey Engagement Manager

Why Do Firms Use the Written Case?

How Should Candidates Approach the Written Case?

Bain Written Case - What to Expect

Tips to Feel Confident in the Written Case

Are Written Cases Different from Case Questions?

The written case interview is less common than the typical case study interview, which is conducted one-on-one with an interviewer. But even top firms like Bain and BCG use them in some geographic regions, so you’ll want to be prepared for them.

The good news is that the written case is just a different form of the case interview. If you’ve been preparing for the case study interview , then you have the foundations to pass the written case as well. But the things you need to do to ace a written case are not exactly the same as a normal case.

In this article, we’ll provide:

Why Do Bain and BCG Use Written Case Study Questions?

Some people are great at talking. Some people are great at writing. To succeed in consulting, you need to be pretty strong at both.

Bain and BCG use written case study interviews to make sure they hire consultants that can absorb key facts whether the data is provided in a conversation or in writing. They’re also looking to see whether you can go through large amounts of data quickly and whether your written communication is effective.

In a written case interview, your interviewer is still looking for the same key problem-solving skills:


Bain Written Case Study Questions — What to Expect

Your written case study at Bain will start with you receiving 20-30 PowerPoint slides that describe a client’s situation .

You’ll have 55 minutes to read the slides, pull key data and insights from the material, and handwrite missing data into 3-5 slides provided to you.

You’ll then meet with one or more Bain interviewers  for about 40 minutes to discuss your analysis and recommendations. During the first half of this time, you’ll present your slides. During the second half, your interviewer will ask questions.

Your interview may challenge your assumptions or conclusions. This does not necessarily mean that you got the “wrong” answer. It only means that your interviewer wants to test whether you can support your recommendations when pressed. 

Over the course of a 6-month study, things change. Your interviewer wants to know that when they do, you’ll be able to react to the situation in a way that shows your insight into the problem, not panic.

As mentioned above, you’ll get a few slides that contain some pre-filled information but they are not complete. These slides might have a title and be otherwise blank. In this case, you’ll be required to find the appropriate information to support the title and to create the page. 

Alternatively, these slides might have graphs and tables that require data to be filled in. In this case, you need to find the information required and do the appropriate calculations to provide the missing numbers.

The good news is that because you’re provided direction on what belongs on the page, you don’t need to create a storyline for the presentation or decide how many pages to present.

During the Bain case interview you are not allowed to use a calculator.  

The quantitative problems in the written cases are not complicated, but your interviewer is looking to see that you can do basic analysis correctly.

Which Candidates Get a Bain Written Case Interview?

Not all Bain recruits are given written case interviews. They’re primarily used in the European and Asian offices, not in North America. They’re very common in Bain’s Greater China offices.

Any recruits—undergraduates, business school students and people looking to transition to consulting from jobs in other fields—could all be given written case interviews. People applying for summer internships could as well.

Bain uses written cases in final round interviews , not the first round. The final round interviews will include a fit interview as well as a written case.

The written cases count as much as “normal” cases do. They can involve any industry and any type of client problem

BCG Written Case Study Questions — What to Expect

The BCG written case question is structured like an email written by a partner at the firm. In the email, the partner asks you to answer 3-4 questions. He or she wants you to prepare slides that could be used to discuss the issues with the client. 

Along with the email, a slide packet of about 40 pages will be provided. These slides will include data charts, graphs, and text. 

You’ll have 2 hours to go through the information you’re provided on your own and create the slides. However, with 40 slides of dense information in your hands, you could easily spend the entire 2 hours just reading and not have anything to show your interviewer. 

Use your time efficiently , skimming for information that’s directly relevant to the questions you were asked to answer. 

Your packet will include a few blank pieces of paper to use to create the slides that answer the partner’s question. Because these pages are blank, you’ll have to decide how many slides to create and how to structure them. This puts a lot more pressure on you to decide how to shape the story about the solution to the client’s business problem than in the Bain written case.

A couple more small but important points:

You’re allowed to use a calculator during the BCG written case interview.

You’re not allowed to write on the slides you’re given because BCG uses the se same slides with other candidates. This can be challenging because you won’t be able to make notes on the slides you’ve pulled data from in case you want to go back and reference it.

After the 2 hours working on your own, you’ll have a 40-minute discussion with an interviewer . 

Which Candidates Get a BCG Written Case Interview?

BCG does not use written cases in all of its locations. We’ve heard of BCG using written cases in U.S. offices, Russia, Sweden, the Netherlands, and South Africa.

When they do use written cases, it’s always in the second round of interviews and you will know well ahead of time to prepare for them, so no need to worry if it will be a surprise come interview day.

What Are the Differences Between the Bain and BCG Written Case Study Interview Assessments?

The Bain written case is shorter both in terms of the number of slides you’ll need to sort through for information and in terms of the time you have to work on your own. 

The Bain written case also provides slides that are partially filled in, which you will need to complete.

You are not allowed to use a calculator on the Bain written case interview but you are allowed to on the BCG written case interview. 

For the BCG written case, you’ll have more slides to sort through and more time to do it. You’ll be provided with blank slides on which you can provide your answers to the questions from the partner’s email.

Are Written Case Questions Different from Normal Cases?

Written cases are similar to normal cases. The interviewer is still assessing how you structure and solve a business problem.

There are 4 key differences though:

Don’t use the slides to describe how you did the work.

Don’t document every step you went through to reach your conclusion or every calculation you did. Use headings that speak to the steps you recommend the client takes. On graphs or charts, headings should speak to the implications of data, not simply regurgitate what the chart shows. 

What Written Case Study Questions Tell You About the Job of a Junior Consultant

Look at the structure of the Bain and BCG written cases:

This is actually a fair representation of the work new consultants do at any of the top consulting firms. Partners work with multiple clients so they will not be around to tell you exactly what to do and how to do it. 

A great consultant will work independently finding and analyzing data and creating slides.

Because of this, a written case is a great second round interview. It will tell your interviewer a lot about how well you’ll perform in the job. It will also give you good insight into what the job is like.

Written Case Study Interview Examples

A written case study question could focus on any industry and any geographic region, just like a normal case study can.

Writing PowerPoint Slides – The Best Approach

In our intro page on Case Study Interview Prep , we talk about the 4-part process for answering a case. 

The one time we don’t recommend you use this approach is on written case study questions.

If you go through the 4-part process for answering a “normal” case in your PowerPoint slides, you’ll spend too much time on less important topics and not enough on your recommendation for the client. Instead, turn the structure around and start with your conclusion or recommendation. We recommend your written slides follow the following 5 R outline:

Below, we’ll provide more detail on each point.

1. Recap the question.

This is a simple step but it ensures that everyone is focused on the same goal. Don’t skip this step even though it seems obvious.

2. State your recommendation.

The best way to move the discussion forward efficiently and keep the interviewer (and your future consulting clients) focused on what you’re saying rather than on guessing what’s coming next is to simply lead with your answer. 

3. Provide the reasoning behind your recommendation.

Now is the time to show that you thought through your solution and crunched all the necessary numbers. Create a slide with the data behind each supporting argument.

4. Outline any risks to your recommendation.

Many recruits can do steps 1-3. Their computations are correct and they come up with a reasonable recommendation. What will set your written case study answer apart? 

Going above and beyond the average answer. One way to do this is by outlining risks.

Whoa, you might say, if I talk about risks won’t my answer sound weaker?

First of all, any senior business leader knows that all business decisions come with risks. There is risk in doing nothing because your competitors will act faster and come out with better products or better marketing plans. 

There is also risk in acting fast because you might find that with imperfect information, you didn’t make the best possible decision.

But knowing what risks are the most relevant to a business situation will help the client minimize the risks or avoid them altogether.

5. Retain the client by suggesting next steps.

Like outlining risks, suggesting next steps is a way to go beyond the basic answer most recruits provide. In particular, you want to show how you can help with the next steps.

Consultants make money by providing support to their clients. If there are ways that you can help the client with the next stage of the project, that will also create more interesting work for you and continue to help your client’s business.

What Does this Approach to Writing PowerPoint Slides Look Like?

9 Tips for Solving Written Case Study Questions

1 | Contact your recruiter or prior applicants to get a solid understanding of the written case. Will you be expected to complete slides provides or write slides from scratch? How long is the preparation time, presentation time, and Q&A time? Who will you be presenting to?

2 |  Focus on the question you need to answer. If you start with the end in mind, it will help you zero in on the information that will drive the answer to the client’s question. It will also help you discard irrelevant facts.

3 | Develop a hypothesis you can prove or disprove. A strong hypothesis will keep you focused on finding data and anecdotes that are relevant.

4 | Prioritize relevant data. Not all facts or slides are equally important. Focus on the key issues and avoid getting lost in the weeds.

5 |  Analyze key numbers. Figure out what data is important for the decision the client must make and perform necessary calculations. Ignore the rest of the data.

6 |  Structure your slides as a client recommendation. While the “normal” case has 4 stages: the opening, the structure, the analysis, and the conclusion, your written case study answer should start with the conclusion or recommendation.

What should the client do? Don’t waste time describing the tables you created or the calculations you did if they have no bearing on your recommendation. Everyone assumes you can do the math. What they care about is the “so what” that comes out of the math.

7 | Keep an eye on the time. It’s important to make sure you have enough time to write your slides. Allocate the time you’re given to skimming the slides provided for information, doing necessary calculations, and drafting slides. Make sure you don’t run over on reading slides.

Optimally, you’ll want to leave a few minutes to think through how you’ll present the slides to your interviewer as well.

8 | Remember there is no “right” answer. The key to this interview is to make a well-reasoned recommendation and have a rich discussion about how to achieve results for your client. 

Everyone gets nervous during an interview, but second-guessing whether your recommendation is right or wrong will only waste time. Instead, focus on making your argument for the recommendation you’ve chosen as strong as it can be.

9 | Conclude with insights that go beyond the average answer to the case. As mentioned above, most recruits will get the math right and present a reasonable recommendation. Go beyond this by highlighting risks that the client should be aware of as they implement your recommendation and ways your consulting team can continue to assist the client through the next steps. 

How Should Candidates Approach Written Case Study Practice?

Learn to write presentations like a consultant..

The key to writing presentations like a consultant is to tell a story. Use the 5R framework from above t o create your story.

Start with your recommendation to the client. Back up your recommendation with supporting arguments and the data that lead you to them.

Use message headings rather than titles that just repeat the data in a  chart.

Chart Title: Product C has higher sales than products A or B.

Message Heading: Product C’s success in the domestic market indicated that it is the best product to launch into the new market.

Practice your consulting math skills.

If your basic math skills are rusty and making you nervous, that will slow you down in any case interview. Rusty math skills can be particularly problematic in a written case because there will be no interviewer to coach you that you’ve made a mistake until your slides are already written. Bad math could cause you to create slides with the wrong recommendation and that would be difficult to recover from. 

See our page on  Case Interview Math   for more information on what types of calculations case study questions typically ask for and tips on how to practice.

Preview written case interviews.

Just knowing what to expect in a written case interview is a huge advantage. Take a look at the resources listed in the next section. Reviewing a couple of BCG or Bain written cases will make you feel more confident and allow you to answer the question faster once you’re in the interview.

Additional Resources on Written Case Study Questions

For more information on written case study questions, see:

This Bain video or  BCG’s Guided Consulting Cases .

In this article, you’ve learned about both the Bain written cases and the BCG written cases. You’ve learned what the format is, what to expect and how to prepare for these written case study interview questions. 

We hope you ace that written case!

Still have questions??

If you have more questions about written case interviews, leave them in the comments below. One of My Consulting Offer’s Bain or BCG case coaches will answer them.

Other pages people preparing for written case study interviews found helpful include:

Want to feel confident walking into your written case interview? Find out how.

Leave a Comment Cancel reply

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.


Featured Resources

3 Top Strategies to Master the Case Interview in Under a Week

We are sharing our powerful strategies to pass the case interview even if you have no business background, zero casing experience, or only have a week to prepare.

No thanks, I don't want free strategies to get into consulting.

We are excited to invite you to the online event., where should we send you the calendar invite and login information.


Case Interview Preparation

Perform at your best during your case interview., bcgers share their case study interview tips., follow these dos and don ’ ts to ace your case prep:, use these examples to help structure your case interview., setting a climate strategy for a client., driving revenue growth at a healthcare company., your client is genco, a large, international, diversified company with a healthcare division that produces a wide variety of medical instruments and related services., ​​​​​​crafting a distribution strategy., your client is the sugar cereal division of foods inc., a u.s.-based distributor and manufacturer of packaged foods..

People also looked at

Community case study article, the importance of high school on the university students’ success in the subject of mathematics.

written case study interview

This research examines the relationship between high school, namely, high school profiles, and students’ success during an elementary mathematics course at university. For the analysis of this relationship, a mixed methods case study was chosen as the research design. The instruments for collecting the data were a questionnaire and a semi-structured interview that provided answers to the research questions. The sample consisted of 81 students ( N = 81) from the University of Applied Sciences in Ferizaj, Kosovo, who participated in the questionnaire, and 12 out of the 81 students were also interviewed. The research results indicated that a positive, not strong , correlation exists between high school and university success. Moreover, students expressed that knowledge gained in high school made them feel sufficiently prepared during the lectures on elementary mathematics. The high school profile makes a difference in the students’ success in the elementary mathematics course at the university.


Unfortunately, in recent times, pre-university education in Kosovo has faced a lack of students who are well prepared even with basic knowledge of mathematics. According to the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) results, Kosovar students performed worse in the 2018 PISA compared to the 2015 PISA ( Shala et al., 2021 ). A lack of knowledge in mathematics creates gaps and difficulties in understanding the subjects taught during the first year of studies ( Gjonbalaj, 2013 ). This is an issue that professors have expressed in various formal meetings organized by faculties, such as program/department committee meetings. They have expressed that they have noticed a decrease in the level of knowledge students are expected to have in the relevant level of studies. The research conducted by Ayebo et al. (2017) , which examined the role of high school preparation in students’ success at calculus, has led us to consider addressing this problem in Kosovo as well. The results obtained from Ayebo et al. (2017) show that good preparation in pre-calculus in high school represents a link to success in calculus at university. Since calculus is not taught in the University of Applied Sciences in Ferizaj, Kosovo, we have deemed it appropriate to conduct our research on the subject of elementary mathematics (EM), because it is taught in several faculties of this university. The review of the EM syllabuses ( University of Applied Science in Ferizaj, 2020 ) at these faculties indicates that the course content generally comprises topics covered in high school (HS) such as sets, sequences, limit of sequences and functions, derivative of functions, percentage, financial mathematics, measurement, geometry, and trigonometry. The difference is that in EM classes, this content is handled quickly because it is considered that students are already familiar with the topics and the professors focus only on students’ needs regarding certain parts of the material. In almost all the faculties, the EM course aims to equip the students with knowledge and skills regarding concepts, structures, and basic mathematical operations so they can successfully use them in other subjects as well. Another important aim of this course is to fill the gaps in previous education by developing the students’ skills and abilities to be better prepared for their field of study and better integrate mathematics with other areas. The purposes and content of the EM course indicate that preparation with basic mathematical knowledge in high school is necessary, and its importance is unquestionable. Based on our experience with students, the fact they have difficulties in successfully completing the EM course is concerning for us. Students need time to pass this exam and all the energy they should spend focusing on professional subjects is spent on learning mathematics. Furthermore, because of their difficulties in successfully completing the EM course, sometimes they drop out, whereas others engage in additional private classes (additional paid math classes taken outside the school).

In Kosovo, upper secondary education is divided into gymnasiums and vocational schools. Gymnasiums are divided into three profiles: the Gymnasium of Natural Sciences, the Gymnasium of Social Sciences and Languages, and Specialized Gymnasiums (Artistic, Mathematical, Languages, Technical). Profiles in vocational schools are created based on their core curricula ( Ministry of Education Science and Technology, 2016 ). Mathematics is an obligatory subject in all these profiles, but the difference lies in the number of classes held per week. None of these profiles offer different branches of mathematics (algebra, analysis, geometry), neither as mandatory nor as elective courses; therefore, one of the research questions is focused on the role of HS profiles for EM courses.

This research examined students’ mathematical preparation from these profiles based on their homework and participation in various projects, as well as their private course attendance. Looking closely at the students’ poor results, especially in the first exam session, these issues have been researched as a case study at the University of Applied Sciences in Ferizaj. This university comprises five faculties, but the research was conducted in three of them because the EM course is taught only in these three faculties (during the first year of studies). This empirical research aims to examine the following questions:

Does the students’ chosen high school profile play a role in their success in the EM course?

To what extent does the high school prepare the first-year students for the EM course?

Answers to the research questions have been obtained using mixed methods.

The importance of this research lies in the fact that the results obtained can provide useful information to make the necessary interventions in the community. This means identifying the problems so students can be properly prepared in regard to the mathematical knowledge needed for their studies. In Kosovo, there is no way that high school math teachers have the opportunity to track their students’ success in mathematics during their studies. Therefore, this research can serve as an opportunity for them to get feedback in order to focus on filling the students’ gaps regarding basic mathematical concepts.

Literature review

In order to succeed in a particular area, a particular working method is obviously needed ( Gjonbalaj, 2013 ). According to the teachers’ interactions with students on a daily basis, it was observed that a small number of students use a specific learning system or study continually. Within a classroom, such a group of students–who are almost always prepared for their classes–is immensely small. The rest of them start preparing for the course only if they have an oral or written assessment within one or 2 days. Students who are part of the group with a special work system are the potential students likely to succeed in their studies as well. In the research conducted by Edge and Friedberg (1984) , three groups of students were involved in finding the factors from which success in calculus could be predicted. The results obtained indicated that the combination of algebraic skills, psychological factors such as persistence, and long-term stability, play an important role in predicting success in calculus. The knowledge that students obtain in high school is an essential factor in how prepared they feel for the calculus subject in college ( Ayebo et al., 2017 ). Moreover, even in the first lecture, when the course syllabus is presented, students notice and self-evaluate their preparation by recalling the course syllabus topics. The students’ suggestion to their high school math teachers was to include the reviewing of limits and tell them about the specific use of the concepts so they can better prepare for university level. High school teachers, on the other hand, emphasized some difficulties that their students encounter, starting from exponential expressions, the composition of functions, and the factorization of complex fractional expressions ( Godfrey, 2020 ). Additionally, mathematics professors at the faculty expressed their concern about the lack of their students’ knowledge and claim that this issue derives from the level of knowledge they have obtained in high school ( Sadler and Sonnert, 2017 ). They highlight certain skills that students typically need to develop in high school and expect them to be able to interpret results, analyze phenomena, solve complex problems, and support evidence-based ideas ( Conley, 2010 ). On the other hand, the professors of EM at the university where this research was conducted, based on their syllabuses, expect their students to have basic conceptual knowledge, to understand the elements of linear algebra, to know the concept of sequence and function, and be familiar with the limit of functions. Between what students remember from the knowledge gained in high school and what university professors expect in calculus, there is a gap that prevents them from building new knowledge ( Godfrey, 2020 ).

The students’ transition period from high school to college is very complex and much-discussed, especially for the subject of mathematics ( Burrill, 2017 ). Identifying the reasons for students’ challenges throughout the transition phase has been an ongoing component of many studies. According to Burrill (2017) , challenges may arise from the fact that the majority of high school textbooks do not regularly incorporate practices in their approach to teaching mathematics, such as providing opportunities for students to think about mathematics by reasoning and connecting concepts, implementing algebraic processes, and developing notational fluency.

According to Bressoud (2017) , if high school students choose a calculus course to enroll more easily in college rather than focus on perfecting the course content and, furthermore, if it is established that this purpose affects their ability to remember better and assimilate the information, then special attention should be paid to this students’ purpose. Choosing the right HS profile is an early and important step for good preparation for further studies. If the students in this phase have clear views and ambitions for their profession in the future, then the more dedicated they will be to the engagements that guide them to that profession, and they are more likely to be successful. The transition from high school mathematics to university mathematics can be successfully completed when everyone works toward a common goal ( Bressoud, 2021 ).


Research design.

This research design is a case study conducted at the University of Applied Sciences in Ferizaj, Kosovo. In order to carry out this research, written permission was obtained in advance from the university management for access to student lists and data collection through research instruments, which started 4 weeks after the end of the winter semester. Based on the regular contact with students we dealt with during our lectures and exams, we noticed a lack of adequate preparation for the EM courses. Therefore, the case study with these students sheds light on the problem. The method used in this research is the mixed method because the data was collected through a questionnaire and a semi-structured interview. The questionnaire was conducted virtually through Google Forms, due to the circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, thus giving participants 2 weeks to complete it. One week after the completion of the questionnaire, physical interviews were conducted with 12 students at the university campus, respecting the anti-COVID measures in place.

Sample and data collection

The population comprises students of the Faculty of Management, the Faculty of Tourism and Environment, and the Faculty of Architecture, Design, and Wood Technology at the University of Applied Sciences in Ferizaj. The city where the research was conducted is among the top three municipalities by number of inhabitants in Kosovo. The sample ( N  = 81) was chosen randomly by taking every fifth student (probability sampling) from the lists of students of these faculties, generated by the UMS (University Management System). It comprised 56 women and 25 men who completed high school in one of the public schools in Kosovo. Regarding the study year, 33 of the participating students were in the first year of studies, 40 in the second year, and eight in the third year of studies. The questionnaire was conducted with the entire sample, while the interview was conducted with 12 students. Four students were randomly selected for the interview for each study year. Considering the fact that the questionnaire was conducted virtually, depending on the time students submitted the completed questionnaires, they were selected for the interview by taking the first student, then two students from the middle, and the last one.

The instrument for gathering the quantitative data was a questionnaire, while the qualitative data were gathered through a semi-structured interview. The questionnaire as a tool for data collection was chosen to include more students in the research, so their representation of characteristics of their previous education was decent. The questionnaire included 29 questions about HS, the subject of mathematics, and questions about the students’ engagement in mathematics. These categories provided the data on the profiles, the number of mathematics classes, the topics covered during their previous education, how much they felt prepared for these topics at the university, whether their knowledge from high school helped them, solving homework, and the attendance of private mathematics courses. Data on success in high school were gathered from the questionnaire through the following question: What was your average grade in the subject of mathematics during your three years of high school education? Meanwhile, the students’ grades in EM were obtained from the list generated by the UMS; consequently, direct questions in the questionnaire about their grades in EM were not included. The reliability of the questionnaire was calculated using Cronbach’s Alpha with a value of 0.807. This means the questionnaire was highly reliable ; therefore, the questions had internal consistency and were closely related ( Hameli, 2017 ). The interview contained questions that aimed to elicit more details of participants’ knowledge and their views and opinions ( Creswell and Creswell, 2018 ). Hence, the interview was supposed to provide more detailed information about the students’ experience in high school and their mathematical knowledge using seven questions and three mathematical problems. The questions provided information regarding their liking of the subject of mathematics and the factors that influenced their success in this subject, while through the mathematical problems more detailed information was gathered regarding the students’ knowledge of formulas, concepts, and mathematical rules. Since the interview contained questions and mathematical problems, in order to increase its validity and reliability, we consulted two experts in the field of mathematics who assessed that the interview questions’ content answer the research purpose.

Data analysis

The data gathered from the questionnaire were analyzed using the SPSS program (Statistical Package for the Social Science). Via this program, the correlation between different variables was examined and the Chi-square test was used to test the raised hypotheses ( Norusis, 2008 ). When entering the data into the SPSS program, there were questions that contained multiple selections and had to be coded as new variables; consequently, the number of items increased to 60 even though there were 29 questions in the questionnaire. Godfrey (2020) investigated students’ gaps between their high school knowledge and the knowledge obtained during mathematics lectures at university. He divided the answers of the students’ tasks during the interview into several categories to compare them with their grades. A similar analysis was used in this research by dividing the solving of tasks included in the interview into five categories, depending on the number of mistakes made during the problem-solving process. These categories indicate the level of knowledge students have about mathematical formulas, concepts, and rules.

The results from the questionnaire

In order to see whether the students’ success in high school is associated with the success they achieve in their studies, the Spearman correlation coefficient was used. High school success was measured by a question included in the questionnaire where participants had to choose their grade (1–5) in mathematics based on the rounded mean during your three years of high school education. Of all the participants, 11.1% had poor grades (2), 34.6% had fair grades (3), 35.8% had good grades (4), and 18.5% had excellent grades (5). The high school grading system in Kosovo is 1–5, where 1 means “failed” and 5 means “excellent.” While the assessment at the university level is done according to the following division: “5 = failed,” “6 = sufficient,” “7 = satisfactory,” “8 = good,” “9 = very good,” and “10 = excellent.”

Success in the EM course was calculated from the grades of each participating student, derived from the lists generated by the UMS, of which the passing rate (grades 6–10) is approximately 80%, so 51.9% (6), 9.9% (7), 8.6% (8), 7.4% (9), and 2.5% (10). Approximately 20% of the students did not pass the EM exam.

To ensure that the data are not normally distributed, the test of normality is done ( " s i g . , p = .000 < .05 ), and then a non-parametric test like the Spearman correlation can be used to measure the degree of the relationship between two ordinal variables. The Spearman coefficient is denoted by ρ and takes values in the range [−1,1] and, if ρ is positive, then the variables are in direct proportion ( Denis, 2016 ).

It can be seen in Table 1 that ρ = .279 , therefore, there is a positive correlation between success in HS and success in EM, but this correlation is not strong . However, a coefficient of 0.279 is still statistically significant and if one of the variables increases, there is a tendency for the other to increase to a certain degree.

Table 1 . The Spearman correlation coefficient.

On the other hand, the EM syllabus mostly comprises topics that are taught in HS, and its purpose is to fill the gaps in the knowledge the students may have from HS. Students were asked to select the topics taught in HS and, based on their responses, the graphic below depicts an overview in percentages of students’ responses for each topic taught, e.g., 75 out of 81 students reported that the topic “Sets” was taught in high school.

Since the topics presented in Figure 1 are also covered in the EM course, and it can be seen that seven out of nine of these topics are taught in relatively high percentage in HS, then participants were asked to answer the Likert scale (1–5) question about how well they were prepared when these topics were handled during the EM lectures. The scales were as follows: “1- Unprepared,” meaning that students feel not adequately prepared to complete the tasks or participate in the activities; “2- Slightly prepared” suggests that students may start to solve any given task but they need additional preparation; “3- Sufficiently prepared” indicates that students have only basic knowledge of the subject and may have some doubts or uncertainty about their preparation; “4- Prepared” indicates that the students feel comfortable with the material covered in the class, there is less doubt in their mind and they have modest confidence and certainty; and “5- Very prepared” implies that the students feel fully prepared and confident in their ability to complete the given task or activity successfully.

Figure 1 . Overview of topics taught in high school.

As seen in Table 2 , approximately 38% of the students felt sufficiently prepared during the EM lectures, indicating that they had only basic knowledge of the subject and may have some doubts or uncertainty about their preparation. The 9.9% value in the table represents students who felt very prepared during EM lectures, implying that they feel very confident and competent in their mathematical abilities and in their preparation for the course. This percentage is a relatively small value and presents a concerning situation that could be considered as an issue for further studies to identify the causes of this result.

Table 2 . Students’ preparation during the EM lectures.

As there is a connection between HS and EM success, and the first research question concerns the high school profiles, the analysis below indicates the profiles chosen in HS and the preparation for EM. Table 3 shows the participants’ distribution according to profiles and it can be seen that the highest number of participants completed vocational school.

Table 3 . Distribution of participants according to profiles.

The Pearson Chi-square test is a standard statistical test used to see if there is a significant relationship between two variables, comparing the observed frequencies with the expected ones. If the standard frequencies are less than five, then the Chi-square is not a reliable test ( Hameli, 2017 ). The Chi-square test was used to observe the role of high school profiles on the students’ preparation for the EM course and their significant relationships. Therefore, the null and the alternative hypotheses were raised:

H 0 : There is no significant association between HS profiles and good preparation for the EM exam.
H a : There is a significant association between HS profiles and good preparation for the EM exam.

If the null hypothesis is accepted, then the values of cells in Table 4 will be uniformly distributed and the asymptotic significance of Pearson Chi-square will be higher than the alpha level of 0.05. Otherwise, the alternative hypothesis will be accepted ( Moore et al., 2013 ).

Table 4 . Relationship between high school profiles and students’ preparation for the EM exam.

Participants were initially asked to rate, according to a Likert scale (1–3), their opinion on how much the knowledge gained in HS helped them to prepare for the EM exam. The scales were: “1- Insufficiently,” meaning that students feel that the knowledge gained in high school did not adequately prepare them with the proper information or skills to pass the EM exam; “2- Sufficiently” suggests that the students feel that the knowledge gained in high school provided some support and preparation for the exam, but not to a level that they feel fully confident or well-prepared; and “3- Satisfactorily” implies that students feel the knowledge gained in high school has adequately prepared them with the necessary knowledge and skills to perform well in the EM exam.

Table 5 indicates that the value of p 0.02 is less than 0.05 and therefore the alternative hypothesis is accepted. In addition, there is a significant association between HS profiles and preparation for the EM exam. Considering the fact that there is a relationship between the variables, then we describe the cells that make the difference. Only eight participants from vocational schools stated that the knowledge obtained in HS helped them “satisfactorily” for the EM exam, compared to the expected value of 13.3; whereas 15 participants stated that the knowledge obtained in HS helped them “sufficiently” for the EM exam, compared to the expected value 8.5. It can be concluded from the above tables that HS profiles have an impact on the students’ opinion of their preparation for the EM exam; therefore, we can say that the chosen profile also makes a difference regarding success in EM. Moreover, 44.4% of the participants stated that the HS profile affected their preparation to the extent of “ satisfactorily ” for the EM exam.

Table 5 . Chi-squared test.

After completing their upper secondary education, students need to choose the profile for further education. Some of them look for a program with as little mathematical content as possible, others look for the appropriate profile to get the basic knowledge that will be useful to them in their bachelor’s studies, whereas the rest of them choose professional profiles for various reasons (e.g., to become a doctor, economist, or lawyer). Table 6 shows the frequency of answers to the question of how much students think their HS profile has played a role in their success in EM.

Table 6 . Frequency of the role of HS profile on success in EM.

After rating their opinions on the role of profiles for success in EM, in the following question, students were asked to expand on their opinions and one of the participants whose profile was Gymnasium of Natural Sciences stated : “During the math classes in high school, various topics from which I gained skills that now help me a lot in dealing with various issues in the subject of elementary mathematics were addressed.” According to the participants’ answers, regardless of the factors that led them to choose the profile of high school, they now think that the HS selected profile plays a very significant role in succeeding in EM.

During the questionnaire analysis, several potential factors that could play a role in the success of EM were examined, depending on the students’ profile in HS. To the question, if they had done their homework, 93% of the participants answered “Yes.” Since this result presents the students’ answers that belonged to all three profiles, it is obvious that engagement in homework cannot be considered as a factor in seeing the differences between profiles in the students’ success in EM. Additionally, the students’ answers were analyzed to investigate to which profile those who did not solve their homework belonged, and 50% of the “No” answers were from the Gymnasium of Natural Sciences, 33.3% from the Gymnasium of Social Sciences, and 16.7% from vocational schools. Furthermore, Pearson’s correlation was conducted s i g . ,   0 .901 > 0.05 ,   r = 0.014 between homework engagement and success in EM and, according to the results, the relationship between these two variables is not statistically significant . However, for further studies, it would be important to investigate those variables and identify if there is any relationship between them, under certain conditions, e.g., how homework is organized, the way homework is checked, giving feedback as guidance to improve, and frequency of engagement with tasks. On the other hand, when asked if they were involved in high school working projects and whether they attended any private additional mathematics courses, 93 and 88% of the students answered “No,” respectively. The results obtained above are not influenced by these two factors, due to the high percentages of non-attendance. The correlation between engaging in additional courses and success in EM was found through the Pearson correlation with a value of 0.273, which means that there is a weak correlation between them. But, considering that 88% of participants stated that they did not attend any additional course, then: Would the Pearson correlation be stronger if the percentage of non-attendance were lower? However, we can say that the attendance of additional courses presents a factor that could affect the students’ success in mathematics. Additionally, the Pearson’s correlation was conducted to see the relationship between working projects and the success in EM and, according to the result ( s i g . ,   0.256 >   0.05 ), the relationship between these variables is not statistically significant .

The results from the interview

During the interview, students were asked to address some other factors (that were not part of the questionnaire) which may have influenced their success. The most often mentioned factors were: student interest, teacher commitment, and the number of weekly classes . The following citations are some students’ opinions: “ Mathematics is the same subject, wherever you go, in all schools. Therefore, if you are interested, you can learn a lot. ”

“ Until the 10 th grade, I was quite prepared, whereas in the 11 th and 12 th grade, the teacher’s explanation was not appropriate; therefore, I was left behind .”

The last, but not least, important factor was also the number of mathematics weekly classes. “In the Gymnasium of Natural Sciences, we dedicate only 4 h per week to the subject, and we had not the opportunity to choose specialized branches within the elective classes,” said one of the participants.

Another student of the same profile said that this number of classes enabled them to solve more tasks during their mathematics classes. Generally, other participants of this profile also appreciated the importance of a larger number of classes per week compared to other profiles whose workload of mathematics was smaller.

Since the interview, in addition to the questions, also contained three tasks ( Figure 2 ) which had to be solved, then their categorization was done depending on the given solutions? The categorization was done in order to examine in detail the students’ mathematical knowledge.

Figure 2 . The task part of the interview (translated from Albanian into English).

In the figures below, the red pencil shows the researcher’s feedback.

Ca tegory 1 includes students who solved all three tasks without any mistakes ( Figure 3 ).

Figure 3 . Problem solving of a student in Category 1.

In the first task, the student has correctly used the procedures for solving the problem, starting from equating the quadratic equation with zero to using the formula. It is worth noting here that the problem was solved without skipping even one single step. This indicates that the student had properly acquired the procedural knowledge in high school. In the second task, they did not use the formula to calculate the sum of the first nth-terms of the arithmetic sequence but used the concept of addition, thus increasing the number of cars for each month, and then finding their sum. Although the student may not be familiar with the formulas of the arithmetic sequence, they were able to find the result, indicating that their understanding of mathematical ideas is at an adequate level. While in the third task, they used the triangle rule to calculate the third-order determinant. This was also an indication that the student has sufficient knowledge to implement the rules .

Category 2 includes students who solved all the tasks but did not correctly recall the formulas ( Figure 4 ).

It can be seen that the student started to solve the problem correctly, equating the equation with zero. They then miswrote the formula, confusing the coefficients b with b 2 , which followed them to the end of the task. We noticed that the student did not remember the formula for finding the solutions of the quadratic equation and, moreover, they did not try to test the obtained solutions in the equation to see if they represented its roots. This means that the student did not develop work habits from previous education to validate the task solutions. The student solved tasks two and three using conceptual knowledge and knowledge of mathematical rules.

Figure 4 . Problem solving of a student in Category 2.

Category 3 includes students who did not solve the first problem, while in the second and third problem they had difficulties developing concepts and rules, respectively ( Figure 5 ).

Figure 5 . Problem solving of a student in Category 3.

In the second problem, the student began to properly develop the concept of addition, presenting an arithmetic sequence of the machines’ monthly output but discontinued the task in the tenth term. This made it impossible to find the sum of the 12 terms of the sequence; consequently, they had difficulties conceptualizing the total sum of some terms. While in the third task, they used Sarrus’ rule to find the value of the determinant. During the calculations, they erred in multiplying the numbers with the sign, which made us realize that they either ignored it or had difficulties with multiplication.

Category 4 includes students who used formulas and rules but did not achieve the correct result ( Figure 6 ).

Figure 6 . Problem solving of a student in Category 4.

In the first problem, the student used the quadratic equation formula correctly but did not start the task correctly, making mistakes in the signs and adding monomials with the same exponent. In the second task, the student was noticed to have had a straightforward addition but did not complete the solution. In the third task, they marked the first step of Sarrus’ rule correctly, adding the first two columns, but did not perform the production of numbers according to this rule. This means that they did not master the rules for calculating third-order determinants.

Category 5 includes students who did not solve any of the problems ( Figure 7 ).

Figure 7 . Problem solving of a student in Category 5.

Presenting all the categories separately, we introduced the participants’ division according to these categories in Table 7 , and 33.3% of them belong to the third category. This category includes the students who had no knowledge of definitions and formulas, while having difficulties in developing concepts and rules. Since first-year students still have fresh knowledge from HS and the EM course contains topics most of which are already taught in HS, we have decided to analyze these students’ division into these categories based on their success.

Table 7 . Distribution of participants according to categories.

Figure 8 shows that two of the first-year students belong to the first category, while one student belongs to each of the fourth and fifth categories. On the other hand, we can also see that all the students had the maximum grade in mathematics in HS. Therefore, since all the students were excellent in HS and half of them belong to the top categories, while a quarter to the categories four and five, these results make us question the HS preparation. Considering the fact that the students had the maximum grades in HS, it is assumed that they should have at least basic knowledge of formulas, concepts, and rules. However, students in Category 4 have only partially used the procedures and rules, and they have failed to obtain the correct result by making elementary mistakes while applying them, whereas those in Category 5 have not solved any task, handing in blank tests, despite their excellent grade in HS.

Figure 8 . Division of first-year students into categories and their grades in high school.

The findings of the first research question indicate that the chosen profile in HS has a significant relationship between the students’ preparation and success in the EM exam. Our findings matched with other research examining the role of high school in calculus at university level ( Ayebo et al., 2017 ; Sadler and Sonnert, 2018 ; Bressoud, 2021 ). According to Ayebo et al. (2017) , good preparation for pre-calculus in high school represents a bridge to success in calculus at university; furthermore, according to Sadler and Sonnert (2018) , good preparation in calculus in HS carries advantages even for weaker students. On the other hand, according to Bressoud (2021) , high schools do not need to offer pre-calculus courses on their curricula so that students to succeed in calculus at university. Instead, high schools should provide students with challenging learning experiences, confronting them with non-routine problems that help to develop mathematical skills and abilities.

Participants in this study highlighted some factors that contributed to their success: student interest, teacher commitment, and the number of math classes. One of the factors identified through the questionnaire that could affect the students’ success in mathematics was the students’ attendance in additional courses. This echoes the finding of Ayebo et al. (2017) in that the choice of elective mathematics classes had a greater impact on the students’ success than other more common factors such as socioeconomic status, ethnicity, or parents’ educational backgrounds.

Professors of mathematics at the university constantly express their concern about the students’ lack of knowledge and skills in the EM course, knowledge which they need for other fields as well. The analysis of the tasks included in the interview indicated that several students have limited knowledge of rules, formulas, and mathematical concepts. This lack of understanding from high school has also been explored by other researchers ( Conley, 2010 ; Sadler and Sonnert, 2017 ; Godfrey, 2020 ). Students’ difficulties in mastering basic mathematical knowledge are related to their high school experience ( Sadler and Sonnert, 2017 ). According to Conley (2010) , university professors hope students have a deep conceptual understanding of mathematics as well as the ability to apply mathematical concepts to real-world problems; having basic mathematical skills, such as algebraic manipulation, graphing, geometry, and trigonometry are also some initial expectations. Godfrey (2020) emphasized that university professors expect students to have a strong mathematical background and remember the foundational algebraic concepts in order to apply those concepts more easily to higher-level math classes, which may help students acquire a deeper understanding of the material.

This research is part of the studies mosaic that emphasizes the importance of good preparation in high school. Findings from the interviews showed that some first-year students, even though they were assessed with the maximum grades in mathematics in HS, have difficulties with basic knowledge of formulas, concepts, and rules. Our results contribute to the work of high school math teachers by providing them the opportunity to evidence students’ shortcomings and the paradox that occurs between students’ grades and their expected mathematical knowledge. It is important that students complete their high school with adequate preparation for the subject of EM so that they do not have difficulties of the kind that would make them take a longer time than necessary to pass the exam, or, in the worst case, abandon their studies.

From the collected data, after analyzing the answers to the question about the role of the high school profile and good preparation for elementary mathematics through the Chi-square test, we can assert that there is a significant relationship between these variables. Research participants have estimated that the HS profile plays an important role in success in EM. Only 26.7% of students from vocational schools reported feeling “ satisfactorily ” prepared for the EM course, while for students of the natural sciences and social sciences gymnasiums, the proportions were much higher (56.5 and 53.6%, respectively). Therefore, profiles with a greater number of mathematics classes per week provide students with better preparation for EM.

The Spearman’s correlation coefficient ( ρ = 0.279 ) indicates a positive correlation between success in high school and success in elementary mathematics, but this correlation is not strong . According to the participants of this research, the potential factors that can affect the students’ success in EM are the students’ interest in acquiring knowledge during their classes, their math teachers’ commitment, and the number of math classes. Another three factors were explored regarding their role in the students’ success in EM. According to the Pearson’s correlation, engaging in additional courses is a weak factor affecting the students’ success. Working on projects and doing homework, on the other hand, were not statistically significant variables in students’ EM success. Considering the importance of homework on students’ abilities to memorize, receive feedback, and prepare for exams, it would be important for further studies to explore how homework is organized in high schools.

Concerning the tasks included in the interview and their solution divided into categories, approximately 33% of participants did not know the definitions and formulas and had difficulties developing concepts and rules. Only 16.7% of the students solved all the tasks without errors, whereas 8.3% of them made mistakes only in the quadratic equation formula. The data analysis leads us to conclude that the participants came out of high school with limited knowledge of rules, formulas, and even mathematical concepts.


To the question of how prepared they felt during EM classes in regard to the topics that were taught in HS, 9.9% of respondents stated that they felt very prepared . This value is relatively small and represents a situation of concern that should be considered an issue to be studied further in order to identify the causes of such a small number of students prepared with adequate mathematical knowledge for EM. Approximately 38% of the students felt sufficiently prepared for EM, which means they had only basic knowledge of mathematics. In the future, to increase the number of students who are prepared with decent knowledge for university studies, the results of this study can serve as awareness for high school math teachers to reflect on their teaching practices and pay more attention to the students’ preparation by filling the gaps that have been observed in this research. Regarding the attention paid to a good HS preparation and its importance mentioned in other research, looking at the transition programs of other countries, we suggest a transition planning program that would support high school students to better prepare for university studies. This transition program could begin in the summer semester of the 12th grade. At that period, most of the students will have already decided on their future profile in bachelor’s studies. Initially, students should answer a questionnaire that would enable the selection of students who have chosen the faculty profiles that comprise the elementary mathematics course. This questionnaire should also include questions about the students’ experiences in learning mathematics, their difficulties, shortcomings, and advantages. High school math teachers should have 1–2 meetings per week with the selected students until the end of the summer semester. During these meetings, students would be able to improve their limited knowledge of rules, formulas, and mathematical concepts (derived from this research), raising questions about ambiguities and misunderstandings regarding the previously covered topics. At these meetings, students could also be offered the opportunity to discuss their needs regarding the subject of mathematics, which they may lack in their regular math classes because of the teachers’ time pressure to cover all the topics defined by the curriculum within a school year.


This study has several limitations. Firstly, it is a case study at the University of Applied Sciences in Ferizaj and the results cannot be generalized to all universities in Kosovo. Further studies can expand the sample size to all universities in Kosovo that have EM courses on their study programs.

Secondly, the largest number of participants in the research were students who completed vocational high school; therefore, the results of this paper can be slightly affected by the sample content. Future studies may focus on separate research for the three profiles that were part of this study.

Data availability statement

The raw data supporting the conclusions of this article will be made available by the authors, without undue reservation.

Ethics statement

The studies involving human participants were reviewed and approved by University of Applied Science in Ferizaj. The patients/participants provided their written informed consent to participate in this study.

Author contributions

All authors listed have made a substantial, direct, and intellectual contribution to the work and approved it for publication.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Publisher’s note

All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article, or claim that may be made by its manufacturer, is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.

Ayebo, A., Ukkelberg, S., and Assuah, C. (2017). Success in introductory calculus: the role of high school and pre-calculus preparation. Int. J. Res. Educ. Sci. 3, 11–19.

Google Scholar

Bressoud, D. (2017). The role of calculus in the transition from high school to college mathematics , pp. 1–8. Available at:

Bressoud, D. M. (2021). The strange role of calculus in the United States. ZDM 53, 521–533. doi: 10.1007/s11858-020-01188-0

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Burrill, G. (2017). Challenges in the transition from high school to post-secondary mathematics. Role of Calculus in the Transition from High School to College Mathematics, No. 67 , pp. 1–84.

Conley, D. T. (2010). College and career ready: Helping all students succeed beyond high school . New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Creswell, J. W., and Creswell, J. D. (2018). Research design: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches . (5th Edn). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Denis, D. J. (2016). Applied univariate, bivariate, and multivariate statistics . New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Edge, O. P., and Friedberg, S. H. (1984). Factors affecting achievement in the first course in calculus. J. Exp. Educ. 52, 136–140. doi: 10.1080/00220973.1984.11011882

Gjonbalaj, Q. (2013). Si të rrisim interesin dhe suksesin e studentëve në lëndët matematike [How to increase students' interest and success in mathematics] . ResearchGate. Available at: .

Godfrey, L. (2020). Expectation gaps between high school mathematics courses and college calculus . Available at: .

Hameli, K. (2017). Teknikat statistikore me shumë ndryshore me aplikim në SPSS [Multi-variable statistical techniques with application in SPSS] . ResearchGate. Available at: .

Ministry of Education Science and Technology . (2016). Curriculum Framework of Pre-University Education of the Republic of Kosovo . Pristina. Available at: .

Moore, D. S., Notz, W. I., and Fligner, M. A., (2013). The basic practice of statistics (6th Edn). W. H. Freeman and Company. New York.

Norusis, M. (2008). SPSS 16.0 statistical procedures companion . Hoboken, NJ: Prentice Hall Press.

Sadler, P. M., and Sonnert, G. (2017). Factors influencing success in introductory college calculus. In David M. Bressoud, The role of calculus in the transition from high school to college mathematics , pp. 53–65. Available at: .

Sadler, P., and Sonnert, G. (2018). The path to college calculus: The impact of high school mathematics coursework. J. Res. Math. Educ. 49, 292–329. doi: 10.5951/jresematheduc.49.3.0292

Shala, A., Grajcevci, A., and Latifi, F. (2021). Do teacher characteristics matter? Findings from the PISA performance of Kosovar students. Int. J. Manage. Educ. 15, 580–597. doi: 10.1504/IJMIE.2021.119357

University of Applied Science in Ferizaj . (2020). Available at:ër-Biznes_syllabus_shqip.pdf .

Keywords: elementary mathematics, preparation from high school, students’ success, mathematical knowledge, high school profiles

Citation: Lubishtani FQ and Avdylaj BT (2023) The importance of high school on the university students’ success in the subject of mathematics. Front. Educ . 8:933465. doi: 10.3389/feduc.2023.933465

Received: 30 April 2022; Accepted: 24 April 2023; Published: 18 May 2023.

Reviewed by:

Copyright © 2023 Lubishtani and Avdylaj. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) . The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Blerina Tafolli Avdylaj, [email protected]

  • Current students
  • Staff intranet
  • Find an event

Case study interviews

Case study interviews put you in the driver’s seat: you’re given a real business problem to work through and solve. The logical reasoning you use to work through the case is just as important as the conclusions you reach.

Case study interviews are common in recruitment for management consulting roles but can be used in other industries as well. They’re different to standard ‘question and answer’ interviews, as case study interviews involve working through a business problem or scenario with the interviewer to reach a logical conclusion. This situation mimics the work management consultants do for their clients, giving the interviewer an insight into how you might perform on the job.

Example case study interview formats and scenarios

Most case interviews are conducted face-to-face with the interviewer or a panel. Your case will be given to you either verbally or in writing, and you’ll be required to describe the assumptions, strategies and steps you’re using to solve the case out loud within a designated time frame. Most interviewers will provide pen and paper or a whiteboard and marker so you can record important information, perform mathematical calculations, or visually demonstrate your thinking process by using flow charts or diagrams. Less common case interview formats include written exercises or role plays.

The type of case or problem will vary depending on the employer and the role. Common types of cases include: 

  • Real or theoretical business scenarios : ‘LMN is a medium-sized grocery chain wishing to expand its online presence and services. What issues will need to be examined to decide whether this is a viable opportunity?’. You may be provided with some basic numerical and/or statistical data in these cases.
  • Numeracy scenarios asking you to estimate figures: ‘How many people do you think will vote in the next New South Wales Government election?’
  • Lateral thinking scenarios : ‘What creative suggestions and methods can you suggest to further decrease the number of smokers in Australia?’
  • Interpretations of pictorial information such as graphs or charts.
  • Corporate and business strategies examining profitability, growth opportunities, business mix, customer service improvements, investment strategy (viability of acquisitions) or performance improvement (e.g. effective management structuring, performance measurement, staff rewards systems and process improvements).

It’s not necessary for you to have in-depth knowledge of the industry on which the question or scenario is based, but it’s useful to have a reasonable grasp of basic business principles and some knowledge of current affairs in the corporate sector. Research your target company prior to the interview to find out more about their clients and the scope of their work. 

What do case study interviews assess?

Working through a case gives you the opportunity to display problem-solving skills, quantitative reasoning skills, analytical skills, logical reasoning, communication skills, creativity, and the ability to think on your feet and work through a problem in real time.

The interviewer may also be assessing the personal qualities you display during the process of solving the case, like your ability to stay calm in a stressful situation and your general interpersonal skills.

Structuring your response

There may not be a single ‘correct’ answer to any case study interview question or scenario, as your thought processes used to reach a conclusion are as important as the conclusion itself.

When you are given your case, it can be useful to go through the following steps to ensure that your response is clear and well structured:

  • Have a clear understanding of the case and what’s required: do you need to solve a problem, make a recommendation or help a company make a decision?
  • Synthesise and filter the information provided as necessary. Identify the key issues and decide which information is most pertinent to the case. It’s possible that not all the information provided will be equally relevant.
  • Develop a structure for how you will approach your answer and talk this through with your interviewer.
  • Make sure your approach is organised – take it step by step.
  • Explain your thinking and decision-making processes to the interviewer. Do not assume that they know why you are proceeding in a certain way.
  • Ask for more information or clarification. The case interview is a two-way street and the interviewer may reveal further information if you ask (just be clear about why you are asking).
  • Anticipate concerns or objections as the interviewer may ask questions to highlight weaknesses in your argument.
  • Support your conclusions with evidence, particularly in scenarios where you have been given figures or statistics.

Tips for handling case study interviews

  • Visit the web pages of any of the major management consulting firms and look for the section on careers and interview preparation for good tips. Practice talking through the cases as you would in the interview room.
  • Listen carefully to what the interviewer says, take notes and refer to them if necessary to summarise the scenario, analysis and solution.
  • Make use of any resources in the room, such as a whiteboard, pens and paper.
  • Use visual aids to document and demonstrate your structure or response. Depending on the question, you could use organisational charts, pie charts, timelines, graphs, flow charts or any other project management methodology.
  • Be realistic. The interviewer is looking for real-world solutions to the problem so be wary of proposing unrealistic budgets, risky endeavours or other solutions that would be excessively difficult to implement.
  • Showcase your communication and interpersonal skills. Treat the interviewer as you would treat a client in the workplace. Use positive body language and try to explain your reasoning clearly.
  • Ensure your conclusions flow logically from the steps you have taken throughout the interview.

Come to a career skills workshop

Useful links.

  • IGotAnOffer - Case interview examples

Sample job interview questions

Here are some common job interview questions to guide your practice. Research your industry and review the job ad or job description to determine which questions are most relevant to the role you’re seeking.

Assessment centres

An assessment centre tests your abilities in a group setting so assessors can predict your performance in the workplace. Be authentic, remain professional, and work cohesively with your group.

Behavioural interviews

Behavioural interviewing, also known as ‘competency-based interviewing’, is a common technique among internship and graduate recruiters.

Telephone interviews

Phone interviews are an important part of the recruitment process, requiring the same preparation and professionalism as a face-to-face interview.

  • Find an expert
  • Media contacts

Student links

  • How to log in to University systems
  • Class timetables
  • Our rankings
  • Faculties and schools
  • Research centres
  • Campus locations
  • Find a staff member
  • Careers at Sydney
  • Emergencies and personal safety

Group Of Eight

  • Accessibility
  • Website feedback


  1. 49 Free Case Study Templates ( + Case Study Format Examples + )

    written case study interview

  2. Case Study Interview

    written case study interview

  3. Case Study Interview Prep : Professional Consulting Cases for your

    written case study interview

  4. Case Studies Interview

    written case study interview

  5. Case Interview Examples: The 9 Best in 2022 (McKinsey, Bain, BCG, etc

    written case study interview

  6. 003 Interview Essay Examples Free Example Best Photos Of Template

    written case study interview


  1. IIM Interview ques

  2. Supporting Tutorials: WebLearn

  3. Corinne Leeper case study

  4. Case study interview with senior for career guidance

  5. Case study interview with Lorena from Coco and Pineapple Retreats

  6. Safran Landing Systems


  1. Written Case Interview

    The written case interview will require you to develop a recommendation based on the challenge described. You will receive the key questions, facts about the case and some time to prepare before you meet with your interviewer. Your job is to review your client's situation, present a persuasive recommendation that considers the trade-offs of ...

  2. How To Succeed in a Case Study Interview

    1. Research the framework of case study interviews. A case study interview, also known as a "fit interview, " is laid out like a brief. You'll be informed about a business scenario. You, in turn, need to review the necessary materials and present a solution to the interviewer. However, there may be other elements to the interview such as ...

  3. Case Study Interview Examples (With Tips to Answer Them)

    Here are some case study interview examples. You can utilise these samples to gain a better sense of how interviewers may pose case interview questions and what subjects they may address: 1. A hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, is a customer of a corporation. Their core consumer base consists primarily of international visitors.

  4. 47 case interview examples (from McKinsey, BCG, Bain, etc.)

    Written cases guide (by IGotAnOffer) BCG live case interview extract (by IGotAnOffer) - See below. 3. Bain case interview examples. CoffeeCo practice case (Bain website) FashionCo practice case (Bain website) Associate Consultant mock interview video (Bain website) Consultant mock interview video (Bain website)

  5. A Guide To Written Exercises During Interviews

    Types of written exercises. Here's a look at some of the most common types of written exercises used during an interview: Paraphrasing exercise: In some cases, candidates are asked to read a large amount of text and then create a concise summary of the information. Employers use this written exercise to evaluate the type of information you pay ...

  6. Ace the Written Case Interview With Ease

    Case Presentation Interview is a unique variant of the traditional case study interview.The underlying structure of the case is the same - you're placed in a hypothetical business situation and are asked to resolve a business problem.However, in this type of case study, you're asked to solve the case by working independently rather than by collaborating with the interviewer.

  7. Written case interviews

    Once you have written your 3 to 5 slides you will need to present and discuss them with your interview. Interviewers tend to give you ~20mins that to walk them through your slides. And the remaining ~20mins are used for Q&A. You should be ready for that part of the written case to be very interactive.

  8. 10 Case Interview Question Examples (Plus Tips on How To ...

    While preparing for a job interview is often an important step in the job search process, case interviews often require extra preparation time to be successfully completed. Related: How to Prepare for an Interview. Case interview question examples. The following are 10 examples of case interview questions. You can use these examples to get a ...

  9. Consulting Written Case Interviews: A Step-by-Step Guide

    There are ten steps to solve consulting written case interviews in the most efficient way. Follow these steps to make the most of the limited time you have to complete written case interviews. 1. Understand the business problem and case objective. The first step in completing a written case interview is to understand what the objective is.

  10. Written Case Interview

    Written Case Interview | Caseinterview

  11. Preparing for the case interview

    Demonstrate your problem solving skills. Our case interview prep tool gives you the chance to practice demonstrating your problem-solving skills, analytical ability, and strategic and logical thinking. And, you'll learn more about what we do at Deloitte.

  12. Case Studies for interviews (Sample Questions and Answers)

    How to prepare for a case study interview. Follow these steps to prepare for case study interviews: 1. Conduct research on frameworks for case study interviews. Interviewers commonly present case studies as a brief containing the business scenario. The interviewer expects you to use certain materials and frameworks to analyze and deliver your ...

  13. 8 Case Study Interview Tips (With Sample Questions)

    Choose the solution that you think works best and demonstrate your analysis of the entire case study. Be open to discussing alternative solutions with your interviewers and understand their points of view. 7. Practise ahead of the interview. Practise presenting to your friends or mentors in a similar industry.

  14. 100 Case Study Interview Questions [Updated for 2020]

    Case Study Interview Questions About the Customer's Business. Knowing the customer's business is an excellent way of setting the tone for a case study. Use these questions to get some background information about the company and its business goals. This information can be used to introduce the business at the beginning of the case study ...

  15. 35 Case Interview Examples: MBB Firms & More

    Studying case interview examples is one of the first steps in preparing for the management consulting recruitment process. If you don't want to spend hours searching the web, this article presents a comprehensive and convenient list for you - with 35 example cases, 16 case books, along with a case video accompanied by detailed feedback on tips and techniques.

  16. BCG & Bain Written Case Interviews

    The BCG written case question is structured like an email written by a partner at the firm. In the email, the partner asks you to answer 3-4 questions. He or she wants you to prepare slides that could be used to discuss the issues with the client. Along with the email, a slide packet of about 40 pages will be provided.

  17. Case Interview Prep

    BCGers share their case study interview tips. To learn more about how BCGers embraced the opportunity and thrived during the case interview process, check out their advice for how to prepare at every step—and enjoy yourself along the way. How graduates should prepare for a case interview. David Ogbechie is an Associate based in our London office.

  18. Frontiers

    This research examines the relationship between high school, namely, high school profiles, and students' success during an elementary mathematics course at university. For the analysis of this relationship, a mixed methods case study was chosen as the research design. The instruments for collecting the data were a questionnaire and a semi-structured interview that provided answers to the ...

  19. How to Create and Write a Case Study (+ 12 Great Examples)

    Step Two: Conducting your case study interview. Once you find a customer willing to participate in your case study, it's time to set up an interview. This interview will give you the specific information you need to write the most engaging case study possible. Here's everything you need to know to handle it well:

  20. How to Impress at a Case Study Interview: What to Expect and ...

    5. Complete a sample case analysis. Use example business scenarios to create a mock case study interview. Search for case study interview prompts and sample business cases in your industry, then look for trends, make estimations and summarise your findings. After completing a practice case study, review your work and identify areas for improvement.

  21. Case study interviews

    Case study interviews put you in the driver's seat: you're given a real business problem to work through and solve. The logical reasoning you use to work through the case is just as important as the conclusions you reach. Case study interviews are common in recruitment for management consulting roles but can be used in other industries as well.

  22. Healthy Meals Incentives for Schools

    Healthy Meals Incentives Grants for Small and/or Rural School Food Authorities. FNS and Action for Healthy Kids have worked together to offer competitive grants (up to $150,000 per SFA) for small and/or rural SFAs to support their efforts to improve the nutritional quality of their school meals and meet the HMI Recognition Awards criteria.. The Request for Applications (RFA) and online grant ...