Case in Point: A Comprehensive Book Review
If you are looking for books and resources to prepare for your upcoming consulting interviews, you’ve likely heard of Marc Cosentino’s book “Case in Point.” It is one of the oldest and most widely known case prep books.
The book was first published in 1999, but Cosentino releases a slightly modified edition every few years. The Wall Street Journal calls his book the MBA Bible and it is the best selling case interview book for 13 years in a row on Amazon.
So, is this book the best case interview prep book on the market? How useful and relevant is the book today? Is this the only case interview prep book you need to read?
In this comprehensive review of Case in Point, we’ll answer all of these questions. We’ll also provide our recommendations for the best case interview prep books to read.
Case in Point: Overall Rating 3.5/5
Case in Point is a decent book for those that are completely new to case interviews. It covers a lot of information on what to expect in a consulting interview, the different types of cases, and general consulting interview advice. It also provides plenty of practice cases to read and work through.
However, the Ivy Case Method to solve cases has major issues and is not the most robust or effective way to solve cases. Additionally, the practice cases are not that representative of actual cases you’ll see in your interviews.
For these reasons, Case in Point may not be the best case interview prep book in the market. However, the book does provide a lot of information and may be worth a read for those that don’t have a strong business background.
Just know that you’ll likely need to supplement this book with other prep books, such as Hacking the Case Interview or Case Interview Secrets.
Case in Point is organized into four major sections:
- Introduction to Consulting Interviews
- Overview of Case Questions
- The Ivy Case Method
- Practice Cases
We will review each of these sections in greater detail.
1. Intro to Consulting Interviews: Section Rating 4/5
Case in Point provides an overview of the consulting recruiting and interview process. It covers:
- Resume and background questions
- The “why consulting?” question
- The “why should I hire you?” question
- Questions you should ask in the interview
- An overview of case interviews
- Advice for international students and industry hires
Many case interview prep books don’t cover behavioral or fit interview questions. Case in Point is thorough in covering all of the types of consulting interview questions you can expect.
However, some of the information and advice is fairly generic and the author does not go into too much depth on some of these topics. For example, the book does not provide a structure or explicit strategy on how to answer behavioral interview questions.
Nevertheless, this section provides a decent introduction on what you can expect to be asked in a consulting interview. To learn the best way to answer each of these questions, you’ll likely need to use other case prep resources.
“Good introduction and beginning guide for aspiring consultants. Provides a good baseline and proper advice for developing true case study skills.” (Frank, Goodreads)
“Practical and insightful guide to consultancy-type interviews. Plenty of examples and a roadmap to interview planning.” (Felipe, Goodreads)
2. Overview of Case Questions: Section Rating 3/5
In this section, the author briefly covers what firms look for when giving case interviews and then goes over the three types of case questions: market sizing questions, factor questions, and business case questions.
The book covers the fundamentals of market sizing very well. The author provides a great overview and solid examples. However, know that many consulting firms are using market sizing and estimation questions less and less in their interviews.
“I really loved the chapter about estimation. I could grasp it better than from Cheng’s [Case Interview Secrets book].” (Alvin, Goodreads)
The author defines factor questions as questions that start with “what factors influence…” or “what key issues would you consider when…” Although examples are provided, no explicit strategies or techniques are covered.
This section of the book wraps up by covering written group cases and tests, what to do when you get stuck, case math, and how to take notes. The author provides decent tips on all of these topics.
“Marc offers tons of spot-on tips, nuggets of information and clear guidance, each of which is worth the price of the book. Marc walks you through well thought out frameworks, explains the recruiters’ point of view, and shares “case math” tips that will keep you out of trouble.” (Girdonge, Amazon)
3. Ivy Case Method: Section Rating 3/5
The book provides a step by step approach in working through a case interview. There are four main steps: summarizing the case information, verifying the objective, asking questions, and laying out a structure. However, the information provided is terse and specific examples are not provided.
The core of the book is the Ivy Case System, which consists of 12 different types of case interview questions and frameworks. These are:
- Entering a new market
- Industry analysis
- Mergers and acquisitions
- Developing a new product
- Pricing strategies
- Growth strategies
- Starting a new business
- Competitive response
- Increasing sales
- Reducing costs
- Improving the bottom line
However, the Ivy Case System is not the best way to tackle case interviews.
Most cases you encounter in your consulting interviews won’t fit nicely into the 12 frameworks provided. Relying on memorizing these 12 types of cases and follow up questions is not a recommended strategy because interviewers will know that you are using memorized frameworks and not thinking critically for yourself.
“This is the book for all the basics that you can build on. However, be wary of forcing all cases into the 12 frameworks provided. Most cases don’t fit nicely into these packages.” (Lauren, Goodreads)
Many readers mention that the Ivy Case System is too complex and difficult to use in practice. Hacking the Case Interview and Case Interview Secrets have strategies that are more robust, intuitive, and effective.
“Read Case Interview Secrets by Victor Cheng instead. Case in Point’s multiple frameworks make it incredibly difficult to prepare for a real interview.” (Ryan, Goodreads)
“Things have changed quite a bit for MBB recruitment, and the frameworks of Victor Cheng and Case in Point have fallen behind. Hacking the Case Interview is really the only casing book you should be buying (unless the others see some drastic revisions).” (John, Amazon)
Case in Point does not teach readers how to create unique and tailored frameworks that are customized for each individual case. This skill is what separates outstanding candidates from average candidates.
However, reading about the 12 different case scenarios may be helpful for those that do not have a strong business background.
4. Practice Cases: Section Rating 3/5
The book provides 28 practice cases, which is much more than your average book. They cover a wide variety of different types of cases, including strategy, operations, marketing, and human capital.
These practice cases are written in two different formats. In the first format, the cases are written in the form of dialogue between the interviewer and the candidate. This format is helpful to see what a case interview sounds like.
The second format is called “partner cases,” which doesn’t have any clear structure. Data and key insights are provided, but there is no clear progression for readers to follow.
Be wary of exclusively using these cases to practice because many of these cases are too short and not representative of cases you’ll actually see in a case interview. Some readers mention that the cases are not challenging and complex enough. Additionally, the commentary at the end of each case is not the most helpful because it doesn’t break down the most direct and appropriate answer to each question.
“Decent guide for complete case prep newbies, but loses usefulness after the first 3-4 cases. Cosentino's example cases are in the form of a pre-written dialogue, which means loss in usefulness comes from 2 areas. 1) The dialogue NEVER asks the interviewee to structure issues or walk through their issue structure. 2) your case partner is probably not going to walk through issues in the same pre-formatted way that the in-book interviewee does.” (William, Goodreads)
Final Thoughts on Case in Point
Since it has been the best-selling case interview book on Amazon, know that most of your competition will also be reading and using Case In Point. Solely relying on the strategies and techniques in this book will not help you stand out from the crowd.
In summary, Case in Point is probably best for people that are unfamiliar with case interviews and are looking for an introduction to the concept of case interviews. You’ll definitely need to use this book in conjunction with other case interview prep books to learn more effective case interview strategies and techniques.
You can purchase Case in Point on Amazon here.
“[Case in Point] is a classic for those just starting the case interview practice process. While it's a great place to start, I personally don't believe it's the BEST place to start. However, if you have lots of time and cash, buy all of the books! I'd recommend Taylor Warfield's 'Hacking the Case Interview' and 'The Ultimate Case Interview Workbook'. They're straight to the point and offer many more examples that prepared me for the 33 interviews I ultimately went through for management consulting (MBB, big four) and smaller or boutique firms (LEK, Simon Kucher, ClearView, Health Advances, etc.).” (Julia, Amazon)
“For being one of the most popular case books, I found [Case In Point] less useful than expected. If you are completely unfamiliar with what a case interview is, it may be a good introduction and overview to general approaches that can be taken to address cases.” (Marisa, Goodreads)
Our Recommendations on the Best Case Interview Books
Read our comprehensive review of the top 12 case interview books to learn which books we recommend and why. In short, the three books we recommend are:
If you are looking to learn case interviews as quickly and efficiently as possible, check out our one week 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.