The whole tradition of civil service examinations began in China with what was known as the Imperial examination that was specifically designed to choose those who were qualified to run the state’s bureaucracy. This created a class of scholar-bureaucrats who were deemed fit to be called the administrative officials of the Chinese Imperial government then. This is where the practice of administering written exams for those who wish to pursue a career in government basically originated from.
In the United States, the US Civil Service Commission was founded in 1883 via the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act. Whereas a civil service exam was mandatory for all government positions before, only about 20 per cent of jobs in the US government require a civil service exam today. Those who still need to undergo a written civil service exam include foreign service officers, customs, air traffic control, law enforcement, postal service and certain entry-level, clerical and secretarial jobs.
Usually, civil service exam topics include areas in math, memory, reading, writing and reasoning. Preparation is key to a successful outcome and if you aim to pass a civil service exam, you have to do your work beforehand. Get reviewers from bookstores, your local library or the Internet. Study guides and previous exam questions are usually found on these. Read all you can and perform all the practice exercises, especially in math, regularly. Study guides usually show you the quickest and simplest way of arriving at an answer especially where mathematical and algebraic calculations are concerned. Get the hang of these. It’s also important that you enrich your vocabulary as there will be portions of the test that require you to unlock meanings of words. Also, a rich store of vocabulary will greatly aid you as you take the reading comprehension portion of the exam. Review your spelling as well as the rules on grammar and punctuation. There will also be areas that test your alphabetizing and sequencing skills. For those interested to work in law enforcement, you need to hone your spatial abilities because there will areas in the test that would determine how well you can read and follow directions using maps and visuals.
Review a week or more before the actual test. Cramming won’t get you anywhere. Make sure you know where the venue is, the time you’re supposed to take the test and the materials and other things you need to bring with you on testing day. Get a good night’s rest before D-day and have a healthy breakfast before you go because your brain needs fuel to think and answer the questions. During the test, do not dwell too long on one answer. Go by your instinct if you’re not sure about your choice. Usually, your first answer is the right one. Stay calm all throughout the test. This is why preparation is essential.
Finally, prepare yourself psychologically to take and pass the exam. Manage negative thinking by channeling it into positive thoughts. Instead of thinking that you never do well on tests, tell yourself that you will do your utmost best no matter the degree of difficulty and that you will pass this because you have prepared for it with all your heart and mind (if you really have-if you haven’t, you know that you’re just kidding yourself and no amount of mantra or “psychologizing” will work).