UK’s Civil Service Exam

If you are looking over this article, chances are you are interested in working as part of the UK’s civil service sector. This article will go over the online tests and the assessment centre exercises involved as well as the Civil Service Fast Stream and Fast Track programs. The two programs are popular options with the Civil Service and have both similarities and differences to the application process regular applicants go through. Those will be highlighted to improve your understanding of the programs.

What Is Civil Service Online Test?

The Civil Service Online assessments are a battery of psychometric tests that recruiters require applicants to take during the pre-employment process. The tests are similar to those required by most employers, with the exception of the e-tray exercise and video interview. These tests will be covered in detail later in the article.

What Is the Civil Service Assessment Centre?

The Civil Service Assessment Center is intended to give recruiters and interviewers a better understanding of each applicant’s skills. Candidates will be put through a series of different exercises and may also be asked to retake some of the online assessments for score-verification purposes.

Civil Service Exams Sections’

The Civil Service Online Assessments involve reasoning tests that are much like other comparable reasoning tests, but they also include some additional parts that may not be a part of other interview or online assessment processes for other employers. Review the assessments below.

->Verbal Reasoning
The verbal reasoning test is a basic verbal reasoning assessment. The questions are given as multiple choice with answer options of true, false, or cannot say. It involves reading long passages of information and answering from the passage. Answers should be based only on the knowledge gained from the passage, not on outside information. The test’s goal is to measure the candidate’s English language skills and ability to follow written instructions. Typically, each passage has three to four questions. The test has forty questions and should be completed in twenty minutes.

->Numerical Reasoning
Again, the numerical reasoning test is much like other basic numerical reasoning exams. The information for the test is usually presented in tables, graphs, or charts, and the questions are based on what is there. The questions are multiple choice, and they may require basic calculations. Any numerical information given is typically relevant to what is required of applicants on the job each day. There are usually three to four questions on each set of information, and about a minute per question is allowed.

->E-Tray Test
The e-tray tests are done online as well, and since there is no guaranteed opportunity to discuss the answers with the interviewers, any reasoning for answer choices or decisions should be noted down in the exercise as much as possible. The civil service E-tray tests are about more than just one’s email skills. The goal of the test is to simulate work tasks to accurately and efficiently measure the candidate’s probable performance in the work force. This means the exercise must be completed in the same way it would be if the applicant were actually employed and completing it for real-life work situations.

->Video Interview

The video interview gives a set of pre-determined questions and asks the applicant to answer them. It should go without saying, but the video interview will require a PC with a front-facing webcam, microphone, and solid Internet connection. While it may be tempting to complete the interview in casual clothing since it is done online at home, formal dress attire that would be worn for a normal interview is the appropriate dress code. The environment should be quiet and the room brightly lit.

->Personality Assessment
The civil service personality assessments are based on the qualities in the CSCF or Civil Service Competency Framework. Recruiters want to see that answers show dedication, commitment, and the other competencies of the CSCF. The test is not timed but usually takes about thirty-five minutes.

->Situational Judgment Test (SJT)
For most applicants, the situational judgment test will end up being the Civil Service Initial Sift test or a similar assessment. Find more information about The Sift assessment. However, whatever SJT is presented, the questions will also centre on the core competencies of the CSCF, particularly with Sift as it is built to work with the CSCF.->

Civil Service Assessment Centre Structure

The Civil Service Assessment Center presents the applicants with another set of assessments to further stretch them and to help recruiters understand more about each individual’s abilities. These assessments are broken down in more detail below.

->Written Exercise
The written assignment involves large amounts of reading material related to the area applied for. The written portion of the assignment is a short brief, which is written on reading material. The task is time-sensitive and assesses verbal and analytical skills as well as candidates’ ability to think clearly in stressful situations.

The presentation at the assessment centre comes in two forms. Which one will be given should be communicated with the applicant early enough for them to be prepared. The first type requires more preparation beforehand. Applicants are provided with a topic to research and must prepare the presentation beforehand. The other type is done entirely at the assessment centre. Materials are still provided, but the time is much more limited for preparing.

The interviews are competency based, panel interviews where applicants talk with more than one recruiter at a time. The questions typically relate to the CSCF competencies and requirements.

->Group Exercises
The group exercises vary significantly in type, but the focus is always on collaborative and teamwork abilities. Ideal candidates show a good balance between both teamwork and leadership skills. The exercise is not focused heavily on taking the lead but is instead more geared toward everyone having an equal say and working as a team.

->Leadership Exercise and Role Play
This is the exercise that allows applicants to demonstrate their ability to lead. The role play or leadership exercise goal may vary in terms of content, but the applicant’s goal should always be to demonstrate their approach to solving problems and leading.

Keep in mind that applicants may be required to retake some of the online tests to verify scores in a supervised environment at the assessment centre. Be prepared to take a shorter version of the basic tests upon arrival.

How to Prepare for Civil Service Assessments?

For the online tests, you can take practice tests that will be similar in format to the ones you will be taking. This is highly recommended, particularly for the e-tray exercise since it is a less common assessment for pre-assessment centre exams.

Familiarity with the format of your assessments helps tremendously in reducing the stress of taking the exam. In addition, if you are uncomfortable with video interviews or have not done one before, try a practice call with family ahead of time.

For assessment centre exercises, preparation is a bit more difficult. If you know you struggle with a particular area, try to find ways to practice that. When it comes to practicing for the speaking parts of the assessment centre, you can practice short presentations and interviews with friends and family to help take the nerves out of public speaking or presenting.

Always keep in mind the goal of each exercise and do your best to interact with the assessment in a way that will accomplish that goal in the best manner possible. Use each exercise as an opportunity to prove to the assessors that you have the skills and competencies given in the Civil Service Competency Framework.


The most important thing you can do to make the assessment centre and online tests less nerve-wracking is to practice. Proper preparation will give you more confidence because you will know the necessary material or will have practised the necessary skills for the assessments. Beyond that, relax and know that you will perform best when you are calm and thinking clearly. Passing the assessments on the Civil Service Online Tests and Assessment Center is within reach.