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Civil Service Exam Requirements, Pattern, Rules, Posts

Local, state, and federal governments all employ civil workers. Depending on where the position is located, the Civil Service exam might only be offered once or twice a year. When candidates submit their applications for certain government posts within a government agency or department, the Civil Service exam becomes a prerequisite. The current Civil Service test, which is explained in more detail below, is only necessary for a select number of federal civil service positions. Candidates can demonstrate the skills necessary to qualify for a post as a civil servant on the Civil Service test. The present Civil Service test is predicated on the civil service position one is applying for, but this wasn’t always the case in earlier iterations. Test takers must adequately prepare for the civil service examination in order to do as well as possible on the test. Civil Service Exam Requirements, Exam Pattern, Rules, Posts


In general, the word “civil service” refers to permanent, professional work duties that are necessary to properly execute a government’s laws and activities. A civil servant is someone who performs duties for the government. Public administration often has supervision over the civil service. Jobs in the civil service are officially classified as non-military and non-political. As a result, the military, elected officials, and the judicial branch of the government do not constitute civil service. The word “civil service” refers to a broad range of positions that are necessary to effectively operate the government (at any level).  


The American civil service system dates back to the 19th century. According to the merit-based system proposed by the Civil Service Commission, the first civil service exam was created. The Civil Service Commission (CSC) gradually developed into a bureaucratic nightmare that required a significant change, leading to the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978. For job seekers vying for civil service positions that still require the exam, government agencies (at all governmental levels) use the civil service exam as a crucial assessment instrument. Simply consider taking the civil service exam if you are seeking for a job in the civil service as one of the procedures necessary in the hiring procedure for the government. It is a good idea to be aware of how hiring procedures differ in the public and private sectors because they might be very different from one another. The people who have yet to get the chance to apply for a government job should take note of this guidance the most. The goal of the civil service test is to serve as a general screening test that determines if a test taker fits the government’s defined minimum requirements for civil service. However, each civil service test may vary (depending on the open civil service post). The purpose of the civil service test is to determine a candidate’s foundational knowledge and skill set for particular civil service occupations. It serves as a screening test to see if you qualify for further consideration in the civil service sector. The minimum passing score for the Civil Service exam is around 70%, which is at best average in the academic community. The civil service exam is actually only the first stage of the employment procedure. After the hiring division has examined your CV, contacted your references, and conducted in-person interviews, a decision will be made regarding your hiring.


In 1871, the US civil service system got its start. The Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act of 1883 made yet another change to the initial civil service structure. A few years after the beginning of the 20th century, a merit-based hiring system was used to pick around 66 percent of the federal employees. The Hatch Act (1939) forbade public personnel from participating in any political actions or gatherings. The civil service examination was regarded as – well into the middle to late 20th century.

  • a required examination for everyone applying for a position or career in the civil service a single examination for all government jobs

The general public’s distrust ofthe universal civil service examination started to grow. As a result, the Civil Service Reform Act (1978), passed under Jimmy Carter’s presidency, changed the way the civil service exam was currently structured. Following departments were added to the newly reorganized Civil Service agency, and various further policy changes were made.

  • Organization for Personnel Management Board for the Protection of Merit Systems

Additionally, the use and intent of the civil service test were changed at this time to include the development of particular civil service exams for particular civil service jobs. The US government stops using the worn-out form of the universal civil test after the passage of the late 20th-century legislation. The USA Hire program of the Office of Personnel Management now offers civil service tests. Be sure to adhere to following instructions if you are asked to sit the contemporary civil service exam:

  • Verify the precise civil service exam that you must pass.
  • Allow enough time for studying and choose the best test preparation resources to assist you properly prepare for the civil service examination.
  • Utilize the numerous practise exams available online to improve your test-taking abilities and check your knowledge against exam material. One can improve their test-taking skills by taking practise exams.

Keep in mind that not all civil service positions necessitate taking the civil service exam. You should thus double-check that you are taking the appropriate civil service test if you are required to take one.  

Civil Service Examination Prerequisites

Depending on the type of test you’re taking, there may be requirements for the civil service exam. You must take an open competitive exam if you’re seeking for a position that is currently available for application. The scores of other applicants for the open post will then be compared to yours. A continuous test, which is a necessary civil service exam for a vocation that does not currently have an open job post, is available if you wish to get a head start on your exam. You can apply for promotions if you already work for the government by taking a promotional civil service exam. Depending on the position, there may be more requirements. Specific credentials or educational levels, such a bachelor’s or master’s degree, may be prerequisites.  

How to Take the Civil Service Exam

The civil service test application procedure differs depending on the company. Although the total duration of the exam may vary, you should plan on spending at least a few hours taking it. Multiple-choice questions, short responses, and spoken portions are all possible in tests. You can be required to present a snapshot of your performance for the position, depending on the position. For instance, a prospective teacher would be required to give the test committee a brief lecture. A date and time for your civil service exam should be given to you by the hiring organisation with which you are in contact. If not, you might need to schedule a meeting. Normally, you have to sign up for the exam in advance. Although you might be able to take your test online, you should be ready to do so.  


The civil service examination’s sole purpose is to evaluate each test-present taker’s skill set. Before they ever take the test, many prospective test takers experience some anxiety when studying for the civil service exam. Most of this anxiety is caused by

  • a typical response to taking tests. This is incredibly typical, but it may be avoided with careful study planning. A test taker who is unclear about the test’s objectives

The best way to handle the customary stress associated with the civil service exam is to fully prepare for it. A confidence-building exercise is also properly prepare for the civil service exam. If you must take the civil service exam, take into account the following study guides:

  • To establish a baseline score against which to assess future advances, start by taking a civil service diagnostic exam. Understanding how much (and how quickly) progress has been accomplished through your study efforts depends on knowing your starting point score.
  • Make a sensible study schedule to adhere to. A few hours each day for the month before to the test date should be sufficient because the civil service exam is not a licencing exam. Create your study schedule such that it complements, not conflicts, with your personal body clock and way of living.

You must allot enough time for studying if you want to pass the civil service examination. Many students devote up to a full year to their exam preparation. While taking the civil service test, you should get ready to respond to questions in math, reasoning, reading, and writing. When taking your civil service test, be ready to provide answers to questions in math, reasoning, reading, and writing. The civil service exam practise tests and study guides are available from Mometrix, Kaplan, and JobTestPrep. Even free practise exams are available on JobTestPrep. To get ready, practise answering questions while keeping the clock running. One test-taking advice is to start with the questions you are familiar with and move on to the harder ones afterwards. You should be aware that guessing is not penalised on the exam. Typically, a passing grade of 70% or above is required. You are listed on a ranking list next to other test-takers based on your score. Your rating will increase as you do better, which may provide you an advantage over other job seekers for civil service positions.  

What Jobs Require the Civil Service Exam?

In the local, state, and federal governments, passing a civil service exam is a requirement for nearly every position. Although there are numerous posts available in the civil service, the majority call on passing a civil service exam.

  • Law Enforcement

These occupations include Secret Service agent, police officer, and highway patrol.

  • Department of Internal Revenue

Key IRS employees include tax and accounting experts as well as other financial professionals.

  • Postal Service

Post office managers and mail carriers are regarded as members of the civil service.

  • Manage Human Resources

HR departments are found in many firms, but only those employed by governmental institutions are required to sit for the civil service exam. HR specialist and compensation and benefits manager are examples of potential positions.  


The civil service exam’s content is determined by a variety of criteria, including:

  • Whether the position is with the government or a state/municipality What kind of job you’re applying for Whether or not the test is competitive (i.e., test-takers compete with one another)

The majority of civil service exams will typically test you on a mix of the following subjects: VERBAL SKILL A verbal aptitude test will be included of almost all civil service examinations. Your verbal aptitude can be assessed to see how well you read, edit, use manuals, write memos and letters, among other job-related skills. The following subjects will be covered on the verbal ability test:

  • Reading comprehension
  • Vocabulary and spelling
  • Writing and grammar

COMPETENCE IN MATH Only jobs needing a certain degree of math aptitude are subject to the mathematical ability test. The following subjects will be covered in the math proficiency test:

  • Arithmetic
  • Ratios and proportions
  • Algebra
  • Geometry
  • Reasoning problems
  • Interpreting/analyzing data, tables and graphs

OFFICIAL SKILL Your ability to complete various clerical chores quickly and accurately will be evaluated by the clerical ability test. Your ability to complete some of the following tasks will be evaluated by the clerical ability test:

  • Filing
  • Typing
  • Name/Number Checking
  • Stenography
  • Coding

OTHER AREAS Some jobs might ask you to sit for tests on subjects like:

  • Following directions, coding and memory
  • Decision-making
  • Reasoning

Frequently Asked Questions on Civil Service Exam


Job applicants who want to work for certain government positions within a government agency or department must pass the Civil Service Exam. The civil service test is frequently required for positions such as air traffic controller, border patrol agent, police officer, IRS employee, and many more.


Whether a job is federal, state, or local will affect the Civil Service Exam questions. Additionally, it will depend on the kind of job you are applying for. Most often, candidates will be evaluated on their verbal, mathematical, and clerical skills.


A civil service exam is necessary for employment as an air traffic controller, police officer, CIA or FBI agent, IRS or USPS employee, TSA employee, or US customs agent.

Are there any abroad job chances for Civil Service employees?

It’s possible that occasionally there will be jobs available for civil service employees abroad. Normally, career Foreign Service employees occupy these positions, but if qualified candidates are not found, they may be considered “Hard to Fill” and made available to Civil Service bidders on excursion tours. The positions were filled through a competitive process at the time. Some members of the civil service may also have the chance to fill vacant positions at foreign postings. Employees of the Civil Service frequently travel abroad as well.

Are dual nationals eligible to apply for Civil Service jobs?

If you are a citizen of the United States, you are eligible to apply for any open Civil Service position, regardless of your nationality.

Is there a Civil Service post in STEM at the Department of State?

Yes. Regular vacancies for information technology posts as well as sporadic ones for positions in engineering, architecture, and science are both available in the Department of State.

Will a background check be required for Civil Service employment?

A Secret security clearance is required for almost all Civil Service posts in the U.S. Department of State, and a Top Secret clearance is often required. The clearance process takes into account things like signing up for the Selective Service, defaulting on a student loan guaranteed by the U.S. government, failing to pay taxes, having credit or bankruptcy issues in the past, having an unsatisfactory employment history, breaking the law (including federal drug laws), abusing drugs or alcohol, or receiving a less-than-honorable discharge from the military.