2016 PwC Graduate Assessment Centre

Total
STEP

#1

Hi everyone,

I applied for PwC Assurance/Consulting Graduate Program 2016 in London, and have just passed its AC last week. Here I would like to share you with my experience of AC and provide some suggestions and tips for it.

The process of AC in PwC contains three stages, which are written task, numerical and logical tests, and group discussion.

  1. Written Task

In this stage, a booklet containing around 15 pages of multi-source information would be given, and I was asked to produce a report no more 2 pages within 40 minutes.

The topic of the written task was Water Conservation Condition in UK, and 4 methods (reporting, trade & cap, taxation, and subsidies) to reduce the consumption of water in UK were provided. As required, I had to discuss both cons and pros of each method and give my own recommendation at the end of the report.

Tips and suggestions:
(1) From my own experience, the completeness of the structure of the report matters the most. The report must contain the 3 components (Aims of the report, Cons and Pros for each method, and Recommendation), which means any exclusion of the required component would definitely cause you to fail in Written Task.

(2) Writing professionally comes to the second importance. The language in the report should look to be professional, and every bullet point should be a complete sentence. Be careful about the spelling and grammar, because such kind of errors are not favourable by the recruiter.

(3) The content of the report is not that important compared to the completeness of structure and the professional use of language. In my report, I do not think I made good point in every cons and pros, and I even left one con of a particular method to be blank. However, this seemed to have no or just little negative impact on my report according to the feedback from PwC.

(4) 40 minutes was really limited. I suggest you quickly scan the whole booklet first and locate the 4 methods, and then grab the useful information as reading and write down the relevant information at the same time.

  1. Numerical and Logical Tests

Questions in this stage were still SHL style, and the general difficulty was at the same level as or even easier than the one of online test. 20 min for 20 numerical questions and another 20 min for 40 logical questions.

However, for numerical test, questions related to the same table and figure would not be in a sequence; in stead, they would be separated. So it would be better if you could find those questions related to the same table or figure, and finish them as a group.

For logical test, there was no tricky question and many of them were exactly the same as those in online test.

In general, my suggestion is that solve questions with your regular pace and do not need to be hurry. The time would be definitely enough for finishing more than two thirds of all the questions, which would ensure you are above the benchmark if you could finish questions with a high accuracy.

  1. Group Discussion

In my point of view, this stage may be the hardest one for most non-native speakers. I was in a group of five and four of them are British people. However, the result turned out that the disadvantage in language did not negatively affect me much. What matters most is that you do contribute valuable things to the discussion.

The topic of this stage was dealing with by-products of an energy company called Born Oil. A defined general budget was given, and every one in the group would have a particular option to deal with different by-product.

The first thing I did was skimming the common booklet that shared by everyone in the group, and calculating the amount of the whole budget, the part assumed by the company, and the other part from Government Grant. Then, I calculated some key figures of my own option, such as payback period, set up cost, set up period, annual profit, time to produce environmental benefit, and 10-year profit. These figures were important, as they would be key factors to assess whether your option was appealing. The next step was comparing these figures to the requirement mentioned in common booklet, making my own judgement on the option, and recognizing risks within my option. I also organized my speech in the last minutes.

When it came to discussion, a British boy seemed to take control of the process of the discussion and volunteered to be the timekeeper. Under such a situation, I chose to be the first one to present my option, and this gave me chance to propose important figures of the total budget and ask others to check whether the figures were correct. After everyone had finished the presentation on his or her own option, the discussion was pushed to the stage where we set up criteria and selected feasible options. Though I did not talk much (mainly because the other candidates talked too fast), I played as a supporter in this stage, providing and comparing figures when needed. At the very end of the discussion, an assessor gave another sheet of paper, saying the government grant was not available and the the company would spend less on by-product treatment. However, no one noticed this point and I pointed it out with my calculation. In the end, my group decided to choose one particular option and there was no presentation after discussion.

Overall, according to the feedback, I think the most successful part I did was pointing out the change in the amount of new budget that was neglected by others, and providing precise figures immediately. I chose the strategy to act like a supporter as this would allow me to provide most useful information by calculation figures, which I am really good at, and to avoid making long speech, which is not my strength.

Other things, such as listening carefully, making notes effectively and eye contact, are also of great importance, and you have to perform or even pretend to be like that.

Above is what I have been through in AC. I am now preparing for my Partner Interview, and if anyone has experienced this stage, please could you give some advice. Thank you.


#2

Amazing sharing! Thank you so much!! You really did a great job!! And good luck for your partner interview :slight_smile:


#3

Thank you so much for sharing!!!
Good luck!!!


#4

Thank you very much for sharing and Gooood LUCK for your application!


#5

Hi, thank you so much for sharing your experience. Best of luck with your partner interview.
May I ask you, are we allowed use calculators on Written and Group exercise (for example to calculate the payback period or costs)?


#6

Yes, of course you can. Remember to bring your own scientific calculator and a watch to keep time.


#7

Great post! I also recently had a partner interview for assurance/consulting, were you told when we should be hearing back?


#8

I was told that they would come back to me this week, but I’m not sure about the exact date.


#9

Hi,
This was a wonderful post. Thank you so much. I had attended a few A.Cs before and the feedback I received is I am weak at group discussions. In real, I am good at talking and putting ideas but when it comes to A.C I always find some people not giving a chance to talk and if there is a common booklet, they would grab it and start reading and I have to wait for them to give. Also some people become time keeper and take a lead role. Can you suggest me how can we make ourselves get a space to talk?


#10

Hi Fighter,

Actually, for AC in PwC, you don’t need to be afraid of having no chance to talk, because everyone has his/her own option and you have to talk about your own option for the whole group to make a decision.

However, you may be worried about what to do after everyone has finished his/her own option. My suggestion is to listen carefully, and to find out what he/her has missed, so that you can ask or add your own opinion.

Another thing you mentioned is that what would be your role when someone takes the role of the time keeper or the leader. From my experience, I do think that everyone has the responsibility to keep an eye on time and move the discussion forward. So, it doesn’t matter whether you ‘officially’ become a time keeper (or leader). You can just suggest the group to move when someone is talking to much.

Above is my experience and thinking. Hope it helps.


#11

Hi Coconut water,

Thanks for your sharing, how was your partner interview? have you got an offer? and how long have you heard from them to arrange a partner interview?

I’m now preparing for the partner interview of Assurance role start in next spring, but I’ve been waiting for over one month after I passed my AC, called but they said they are still waiting for availability of interviewer. Could you give me some advice?

Cheers


#12

How long does it normally take for them to get back to you with the feedback after the A.C? I did it a couple days ago and think I did really really well on the group discussion! but I couldnt finish the writing section!! I wrote a length introduction, talked about two options, but couldnt get to the rest. Does that mean i’ve automatically failed?


#13

The forums helped me a lot so I’ll give my view on the day: :slight_smile:

I took the Assessment Centre last week at a London office and here’s what happened:
I was told to attend the office at 9am, when I got there I was given a name badge and then went and sat down with all the others. We were all very friendly and got chatting to each other asking about where we’d all came from and what we were studying. Then we were all taken into a room and were asked to introduce ourselves, which we already did before, but just asked to say our name and where we had came from really.

Then we were given an ‘In-tray’ excise which was a booklet of 8 emails, each email about a page long. Then we were given a question paper along side that with I think 12 questions. The questions revolved around the emails, you had to imagine that you were an undergraduate who’d just started off at PWC and the emails were mainly addressed to you. The questions were like: “Which email would you reply to first?” and you had to circle on the answer sheet which email e.g Email 4. Other questions were like: “In email 5, would you respond by…” and the answers were like “Delete the email straight away. Forward the email to your manager. Reply yourself” etc. The last in-tray task is to write an email which is half a page, you only get 10 mins to do so. The email is to do with the previous emails and basically you are organising a conference but you are emailed to say you need to email a lady called Sara as your speaker has cancelled. This is where I messed up as i completely ran out of time. All the info you need is in EMAIL 1, I was reading the wrong email and had no answers as to when Sara would have to speak and about what as I was reading off of email 5. ALSO, something I did do is that you are given the for the email. All you have to do is write your name in the sender but where is says “To:” write her actual email address which is given to you in email 5, don’t just write her name.

After that task was completed we all left the room and had a 15 min break and then half of us were taken to do the group excise and the other half to do numerical reasoning and VERBAL reasoning. Now, even though on the email is says DIAGRAMMATICAL reasoning which i presumed was like logical you actually undertake the exact same ones as you did online, not the exact same questions but the 2 tests. They’re fairly easy and straight forward.

The group excise was on tea and coffee. You have a booklet which has a few emails from a company who sell coffee and they are emailing you as a PWC employee and want your recommendation on how they can expand their business whilst staying ethical and achieving their business values of helping local farmers. Alongside the info booklet you are given your own individual sheet which has a country on. My country was Japan and it had info on about what tea or coffee it was the country was growing and how profitable it was. You basically have to chose one country out of 6 and explain why its the best choice: each country has pros and cons. Not too sure when but nearish to the end you get an email handed to you on Climate Change which could impact your main recommendation as the tea or coffee plant’s growing conditions in your country are impacted by this but it’s pretty straight foward.

LITTLE TIPS FOR THE GROUP EXERCISE:
As soon as you start on your task start a stop watch and notify your group when you have 15 mins left of discussion again when you have 5 mins
LEARN THE NAMES BEFORE YOU GO IN!!! and refer to people, make it evident you know their names
Don’t worry you do not need accounting knowledge

CALCULATIONS YOU NEED TO KNOW:
You do not have to be a maths genius for this exercise, I haven’t done maths since GCSE and this was 15 year old level maths…

You need to calculate the budget. You are given figures like the gross profit e.g: £1000 and it will say the budget is…
5% of the gross profit (which would be £50), next year the gross profit will increase by 10% and 5.5% of that figure will be for the budget (so 1000x10%= 100, 100+1000= 1100x5.5%= £60.50) and the government give them a grant of £10,000. All you have to do is add all the figures up and voila, there’s your budget figure. In this case it would be 50+60.50+10,000= £10,110.50 Budget.
On your individual sheet at the bottom it has a little table saying: COST OF MATERIAL= (e.g £5000) and SALES REVENUE= (e.g £10,000), this shows a £5000 profit which is also good to comment on.


#14

Usually it won’t take too long. I received phone call 1week after my AC


#15

Hi Coconut Water,

Thanks for your detailed post and the advice for non-native English speakers is awesome. Just want to ask whether the calculation of various costs and profits in group discussion requires some accounting knowledge?

Thanks


#16

Hi RYZ,

Don’t worry about this. No calculation involves accounting knowledge. Just use your common sense.