Personnel selection holds particular importance in the public sector of employment. For this reason, testing has become a go-to pre-employment screening procedure in hiring practices of many civil service employers. Relying on the psychometrics of the merit system, it ensures that only the most capable job seekers become civil servants. Unlike the more traditional hiring process techniques, such as an interview, testing facilitates this with much less potential bias.
The Pennsylvania State Civil Service Commission is the sole civil service authority in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In this official capacity, it both schedules and administers various forms of civil service examinations across the entire state. Its assessment centers also determine the format and the content of civil service tests. Due to these factors, your civil service test remains the same regardless of where in Pennsylvania you take it.
The use of tests for aptitude assessment benefits civil service employers in a variety of ways. As a result, most Pennsylvania civil service job announcements expect you to take some form of civil service test. Before you discard civil service tests as formalities, consider that they can significantly increase your chances of successful employment. After all, civil service employment comes with a variety of material and career benefits:
A competitive government salary that grows with the time you spend as a civil servant.
Paid vacations and holidays.
Government health care coverage.
Sick leave when you need them.
A government pension plan.
A diverse choice of career growth and professional development opportunities.
How can you secure your chances of becoming a civil servant and reaping the benefits of government employment? Start now by learning more about how to become a civil servant in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
How to Become a Civil Servant in Pennsylvania
Most Pennsylvania civil service job seekers adhere to the following job search and application process:
Selecting a Civil Service Job When you come across the civil service job announcement that interests you, you must study it in detail. This will quickly help you to determine what PA civil service tests you have to prepare for.
Selecting Job Locations During this step, you will choose where in Pennsylvania you would like to perform your civil service job. You will be able to select up to 10 counties across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as job locations.
Scheduling an Exam There are seven available assessment centers across Pennsylvania. You will be able to choose the one that is closest to your location. Afterward, you will receive instructions on how to schedule your civil service test in PA.
The Pennsylvania State Civil Service Commission website is the best source of information regarding civil service testing in PA. You can also contact the PA State Civil Service Commission directly for any information about hiring and testing requirements.
What Types of PA Civil Service Tests You May Have to Take
Various factors may influence the content of your PA civil service exam. A lot can depend on the demands of your profession or preferences of your potential employer. Sadly, it is not feasible to describe every single Pennsylvania civil service test here. Yet, many PA civil service tests share similarities in terms of their format and the aptitude areas they assess.
Below you will find out about the most common types of civil service exams in Pennsylvania along with the aptitude areas they typically place under assessment.
Written Exams The Pennsylvania State Integrated Computerized Examination System designs and administers these computerized, time-limited and multiple-choice assessments. Most of them are role-specific and assess your aptitude for a specific professional role in civil service. Good examples of these are the supervisory and management test battery. The remaining ones are job-specific assessments and test your aptitude for the demands of a specific civil service position. Good examples of these are police and firefighter exams. Written exams almost always test the aptitude areas that are valuable in civil service. Some of them include your ability to:
Use English language grammar, punctuation, spelling and vocabulary skillfully.
Express yourself in writing clearly and accurately.
Proofread written materials efficiently.
Follow verbal and written instructions effectively.
Process information and deal with data.
Use sound situational judgment in your work environment.
Supplemental Questionnaires This type of assessment supplements other civil service tests. The questions within it typically inquire into your previous education, training, and work experience. In your answers, you can mention facts about yourself such as being a graduate with a relevant degree. Or you can list your prior work experience if your potential civil service employer may find it valuable.
Typing Exams These time-limited assessments evaluate your typing skills. They determine your typing aptitude depending on the word per minute typing rate that you demonstrate. Many job positions require you to be able to type at a certain speed with sufficient accuracy and clarity. Good examples of such job positions include jobs in civil service that require performing clerical and administrative support duties.
Oral and Essay Examinations This type of aptitude assessment is common in most structured interviews. Its purpose is to evaluate your ability to produce answers and ideas as a result of your critical thinking. Within its format, you present your answers verbally in front of civil service examiners or in an essay.
Police Exams Police departments across Pennsylvania rely on police exams as their go-to form of aptitude assessment. These tests evaluate whether you have what it takes to cope with the demanding nature of police officer duties. Police exam psychometrics places particular emphasis on the evaluation of your situational judgment and logical reasoning skills.
Performance-Based Assessments Sometimes it is not feasible to assess a highly specific skill within the format of a generalized civil service exam. For instance, as an aspiring police officer, you will have to demonstrate your driving skills. Police exams, however, do not encompass this type of assessment. As a result, a special driving test will serve as a performance-based assessment that will allow you to do that.
How to Pass for Your PA Civil Service Test
Regardless of what PA civil service test you have to take, only scores of at least 70% allow you to make it to the state’s eligibility board. Scores lower than this disqualify you from pursuing employment for the job position you want.
Keep in mind that the 70% threshold is merely a passing requirement by the Pennsylvania State Civil Service Commission. While it does qualify you for the civil service job that you want, it does not guarantee your employment. Since civil service job positions are competitive, you have to achieve better scores than most other job seekers.
To ensure your chances of successful employment in civil service, you can rely on a simple rule. The higher your exam scores are, the higher your rank on the state’s eligibility board gets. And the higher your position on the board is, the more priority you get as a job candidate.
How to Prepare for Your PA Civil Service Test
Increased levels of anxiety during the examination can become detrimental to your exam performance and affect your scores. Most of the anxiety, though, usually stems from simply not being familiar with the format of the test.
One of the most reliable ways to increase familiarity with your civil service test is to acquaint yourself with it well in advance. Various study aids can help you with this task. Some of them include:
PA Civil Service Test Prep Guide with detailed explanations.
Online practice with free sample questions.
Practice tests with sample questions and answers.
Each of these exam preparation methods will help you to increase your confidence with your civil service exam. Free from stress and anxiety, you will be able to perform to the best of your potential on your test.