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Federal Civil Service Exam Preparation 2023

Federal Civil Service Exam

Job seekers currently on the market looking for a job are in luck. On average there are approximately 55,000 monthly vacancies with the federal service. That simply means there are plenty of jobs to go around.  Uncle Sam hires about 2.8 million people who have answered the call to serve the nation’s taxpayers. Whether you are interested in offering good service, the excellent wages or the benefits, a federal civil service job might just be the right job for you.

How to Apply for a Federal Civil Service Job?

The Office of Personnel Management handles the employment process for federal civil service jobs.  The independent agency advertises vacancies along with their requirements and the steps candidates should follow should they want to apply for an advertised post. Some agencies such as the United States Postal Service, Fire and Emergency Services and various Law Enforcement agencies do not publish vacancies via the Office of Personnel Management, and therefore persons interested in employment at these agencies should consult their respective websites online.

To start the application process, visit and create an online profile. After creating your profile, you are free to search for jobs, set up automated job searches and other profile management related tasks such as updating your curriculum vitae and adding any necessary documents employment agencies may require. Searching for jobs while logged into the portal is advised, as it will improve job search results.

After finding and applying for a job, candidates are invited to take their USA Hire assessments. The USA Hire portal allows candidates to choose exam dates and assessment centers, which best suit them. The USA Hire process is a self-assessment process, which helps agencies in their screening process to determine if a candidate is a good fit.  Agencies may use the USA Hire assessments in conjunction with other assessments to make their decision.

What Is the Federal Civil Service Exam?

The Federal Civil Service Exam is a means by which agencies assess prospective employees using a series of written and/or physical exams and psychometric evaluations. The tests help to ensure that the hiring process remains fair and transparent, creating an open and level playing field. The tests usually focus on key skill sets that are relevant to the job. The Federal Civil Service Exam is not a single test governing all government professions, but the name given to any assessment used by the civil service to screen job applicants.  The tests are administered by the Office of Personnel Management, which means that the tests for each profession are quite similar regardless of the state in which it is administered.

Examples of the skillsets/knowledgebase the tests assess include:

Who Takes the Federal Civil Service Exams?

Not all jobs with the federal civil service require a pre-employment aptitude test. For some jobs, such as those in the healthcare sector, the applicants are evaluated based on their qualifications (usually these persons are graduates of professional programs) and years of experience. Below are agencies for which applicants will need to sit and successfully pass a federal government agency test:

  • United States Postal Service (USPS)
  • United States Postal Inspector Service (USPIS)
  • National Security Agency (NSA)
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  • Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
  • Secret Service
  • US Marshals
  • United States Border Patrol (USBP)
  • Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF)
  • US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
  • Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
  • Air Marshals
  • Air Traffic Control Specialists (ATCS)
  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
  • Treasury Enforcement Agency
  • The United States Foreign Service

How to Pass the Federal Civil Service Exams?

If you want to work with Uncle Sam, you definitely need to ensure that you obtain a passing grade on the Federal Civil Service Exam. Only candidates who obtain passing grades are eligible to move on in the hiring process. Better yet, it is a known fact that candidates with higher grades are most likely to receive a call-up from their respective hiring agency. With that being said, it is important that candidates prepare well for the exam process.

Preparation can take many forms, but below are a few tips that may be of some assistance:

  • Seek out study guides.
  • Speak to persons in your respective field and make queries about what to expect in the exam.
  • Tackle practice questions; do not just read over the questions, but also answer them.
  • Share your practice questions and answers on forums and gather feedback from others.

Once you are mentally prepared for the exam, think positively and give it your best.


Uncle Sam has ensured that the employment process is straightforward. As easy as the process might be, candidates need to do their part to stand out among the crowd, especially in a crowded workspace like the federal government.

Take the preparation process seriously, and all the best with the job hunt.