How to Take a Written Test
What a Civil Service Examination Announcement Tells You
Read the New York State or local civil service examination announcement carefully. The examination announcement will tell you:
- the job titles involved
- the salaries of the titles involved
- the date of the test
- the date by which examination applications must be postmarked
- who may take the examination
- the minimum qualifications (education and/or experience) to take the examination
- the positions (a description of where the jobs exist or are located)
- the duties of the job
- the subjects of examination:
- whether the test will be written, oral, performance, etc.
- what subject areas the test will cover
- how to apply
- residency requirements (if any)
- additional information about:
- admission to the examination
- religious accommodation
- reasonable accommodations in testing
- if multiple examinations are scheduled for the same day
- the processing or application fee (if any) and how the fee may be paid
When you read an examination announcement, you should:
Find out what the job is about.
In the examples which follow, we will look at an imaginary examination announcement for Compensation Claims Clerk.
Here are The Positions and Duties statements for the Compensation Claims Clerk:
The Positions: These positions exist in the New York State Department of Labor, State Insurance Fund in Albany, Buffalo, Hempstead, New York City, Rochester, and Syracuse. Most positions and vacancies are in New York City.
Duties: As a Compensation Claims Clerk, you would perform responsible clerical work in the development and processing of workers' compensation and disability benefits claims cases. Under supervision, you would organize and determine priority of claims bills; pay certain bills; review claim files; consult appropriate manuals, guidelines, and schedules to determine if treatment is reasonable; verify ratings and compute allowable fees; complete vouchers; and respond to inquiries by doctors, billing offices, and claimants concerning the status of bills. You would also recommend arbitration of disputed fees when appropriate.
This information should help you decide whether you want to be a Compensation Claims Clerk.
To be a Compensation Claims Clerk, you should like to:
- work with numbers (pay bills; complete vouchers)
- read to obtain information (review claim files; consult appropriate manuals, guidelines, and schedules to determine if treatment is reasonable)
- keep records and make routine decisions (organize and determine the priority of claims bills; recommend arbitration of disputed fees)
Think about the kinds of things you like to do. If the duties listed on an examination announcement sound interesting to you, you should read further.
Find out whether you qualify for the examination.
Most examinations require a candidate to meet certain minimum qualifications. The minimum qualifications tell you the kind of background you must have in order to take the examination. Because each examination has its own specific minimum qualifications, it is extremely important that you read the minimum qualifications on the examination announcement carefully, to be sure you qualify for the examination.
For example, here are the Minimum Qualifications for Compensation Claims Clerk:
Minimum Qualifications: On or before the date of the written test, candidates must meet the following requirements:
Either: possession of a high school diploma or a high school equivalency diploma issued by an appropriate educational authority;
Or: four years of office, business, industrial, or other work experience which involved public contact; or military experience. Each completed year of high school study (grades 9-12) may be substituted for one year of work experience.
For many civil service examinations, there may be more than one way to meet the minimum qualifications. For example, to qualify for the Compensation Claims Clerk examination, a person could have either a high school diploma or four years of the listed work experience. A person could also have two years of high school study and two years of the listed work experience to qualify.
Education requirements will differ. Some examinations may not require any specific education, while others may require advanced degrees.
Find out if there is a residency requirement.
Examinations for some positions may have residency requirements that candidates must meet in order to be eligible to take the test or be appointed.
Find out if there is an application fee.
Many examinations require you to pay a non-refundable processing or application fee.
Find out about the subjects of examination.
For example, here are the Subjects of Examination for Compensation Claims Clerk:
Subjects of Examination: There will be a written test that candidates must pass in order to be considered for appointment. The written test will be designed to test for knowledge, skills and/or abilities in such areas as:
- Arithmetic computation
- Arithmetic reasoning
- Understanding and interpreting written material
- Office record-keeping
What does the information above tell you?
First, the examination for Compensation Claims Clerk involves a written test.
Second, the written test for Compensation Claims Clerk will cover four subject areas: arithmetic computation, arithmetic reasoning, understanding and interpreting written material and office record-keeping. (Often, each subject area on an examination announcement will be followed by a paragraph that describes, in more detail, what may be covered in that subject area.)
People hired to be Compensation Claims Clerks must have enough knowledge, skills, and abilities in these subject areas to do the job. These are critical areas of the job. They may not be the only critical areas of the job, but they are the only ones that will be covered by the written test for Compensation Claims Clerk.
Once you determine that you are interested in the job, meet the minimum qualifications for the job, and wish to take the examination for the job, you should apply for the examination.