Test Taking Tips

test_thumb.jpgCivil service employment offers many career opportunities in a variety of fields; Firefighting, Code Enforcement, Law Enforcement, Public Works, Maintenance, Gardening and Grounds-keeping, Recreation, Engineering, Wastewater Treatment, Library Services, Finance, Human Resources, Clerical, etc.

Passing a competitive civil service written examination is one of the first steps in opening the door to a new career for many individuals. Advance preparation and knowledge of what to expect when taking an examination should help in being ready to take the exam.

Studying for the Examination

Most libraries and bookstores have a selection of books that have been written to assist individuals who wish to study for civil service examinations. These books address almost every field of work and contain detailed study guidelines, comprehensive explanations of written exams, and sample civil service exams.

Arriving at the Written and Performance Examination

Arrive at the examination room ten minutes early. It is not necessary to bring any materials, as all supplies will be provided for you. Once seated, the test area clear of unnecessary materials or personal items.

The Examination

Prior to the examination, a test proctor will give instructions. If seated in an area where you cannot hear, raise your hand and request to be reseated.

During the exam, if you have any difficulties such as defective test booklet, broken pencil, etc., inform the test proctor. Once you have started your test, the proctors may not assist you with further instructions. Be sure to read any written directions carefully. Do not assume that you know them already.

Examination Materials

Before the examination begins, the candidate generally receive
  • Identification Sheet
  • Answer Sheet
  • Scratch Paper
  • Pencil
  • Test Booklet

Review Your Exam

If time permits, review the examination when finished. Ensure that all questions have been answered, that no question has more than one answer checked, and that there are not any other marks on the answer sheet.

Types of Exams/Tests

Application Appraisal

A supplemental questionnaire may be required for some positions which may be the only step or one of several steps in the testing process. When completing the supplemental questionnaire, provide thorough responses to each question, giving examples where possible or appropriate.

Written Exam

The length of time for written exams varies, generally from 1-3 hours. Exams may be multiple choice, true/false, or short essay. Written exams generally test technical knowledge and other job-related characteristics, such as mathematical abilities, reading comprehension, and word processing skills.

Practical and/or Agility Exams

This test allows candidates to demonstrate a job-related skill or ability. Practical exams measure such things as physical strength, stamina, or dexterity in using certain tools and equipment. Examples of practical exams include typing tests or operating heavy equipment.

Tips on Preparing for Exams

For ALL types of examinations:

  • Find out about the job, if possible.
  • Review the job announcement to understand what knowledge or skills might be expected.
  • Wear appropriate clothing.
  • Be prompt. 

For WRITTEN exams:

  • Review books and sample written tests in the appropriate subject area (many types of test-preparation materials are available at libraries and bookstores).
  • Follow the instructions provided.
  • Read each test question carefully.
  • Pace yourself for the time period available.

For ORAL exams:

  • Prior to the exam, review past work experience and training, focusing on what has prepared you for the job.
  • Practice interviewing with another person.
  • Plan a brief closing statement, such as why you really want this particular job, and why you think the City should hire you.