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About the Civil Service Clerical Exam

The clerical civil service exam is one of the many professional exams offered to candidates interested in government employment. This testing method is an evaluation tool for the government to identify the most qualified and eligible candidates for clerical positions. 

Which Clerical Test to Take?

The job announcement for the clerical vacancy on the government authority's website will clearly feature which exam will be administered and the subjects covered by that exam. In some states this test is referred to as the Clerical, Office & Administrative Support Test (COAST Exam) as the exam is used to fill a variety of federal, state, and local clerk-related positions. The clerical assessment is also used to fill office positions in the US Postal Service and other government agencies.

Clerical Test Format & Content

The clerical exam itself can be either a written or automated test, administered by the civil service department of the government offering the job. Although the exams may vary based on the administrating authority, there are generally between 70 - 100 questions with a 2 - 3 hour time limit.

Civil service clerical exam questions cover subjects including:

Verbal Ability – This section of the clerical assessment test measures candidates' skills in reading comprehension and verbal reasoning. The test generally presents several short passages followed questions about each passage. No outside information is required in order to correctly answer these questions; all the necessary information can be found within the passages. Candidates may be asked to draw logical conclusions from the reading statements, define certain terms, or simply understand the complicated material.

Written Communication – Candidates for office support and clerical positions must have a high English proficiency, both in order to pass the civil service clerical exam and to succeed on the job. This section tests the grammar abilities of applicants, including questions regarding English usage, spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure. Questions may require candidates to identify grammar errors in sentences or paragraphs, rephrase incorrect statements, or reorder sentences so that they are sequenced in a logical, comprehensible paragraph.

Numerical Ability – Clerical testing involves candidates to be able to perform basic mathematical computations and simple arithmetic, such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. These questions are generally presented in a sentence or paragraph form. More complicated computations may involve the use of percentages, decimals, and fractions. Most civil service clerical exams allow the use of calculators. This section requires candidates to read and understand arithmetic reasoning problems and determine the appropriate solving operation.

Social Ability – Some government clerical exams may include a section consisting of situational judgment type questions and a personality inventory. These questions are meant to be answered as honestly and accurately as possibly; lying or exaggerating can negatively affect the final exam grade.

Clerical Ability – This section may be one of the most important challenges candidates will face on their clerical civil service exam, as it determines whether their knowledge of clerical skills and operations is efficient. The clerical knowledge tested in this section includes filing, comparing, alphabetizing, record keeping, and coding information.

In some questions, given rules regarding the correct filing, comparing, alphabetizing, etc. may be presented and then require candidates to correctly order a set of information, identify errors by comparing and paying attention to small details, or apply one or more rules to in order to find the correct answer. Remember that all the information necessary for any of the presented clerical tasks can be found in the given rules and not from any outside source of information. 


Prepare for Civil Service Clerical Exams

Generally, a passing score of 70 is required in order to be placed on the eligibility list and be considered for hire. However, the higher the score, the higher the ranking on the list - thus chances are higher of being contacted for employment. To increase your chances of success start preparing and practicing with JobTestPrep's civil service clerical practice test package which includes a variety of practice tests, score reports, study guides, and detailed explanations. Start practicing now - or try our free civil service clerical test sample questions.

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