Civil Service Exam: Free Practice Tests & Info [2023]

Asif, Civil Service Exam specialist at JobTestPrep.

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What Is a Civil Service Exam?

Civil Service Exams are used by various organizations' human resources to uphold a sufficient standard for those who work in civil service jobs, including police officers, firefighter, special agents, dispatchers, clerks, and many, many more. Almost always, you will be able to apply online for a civil service exam by keeping updated on job announcements for upcoming civil service exams.

The tests have various common question types, so let's learn more about them and try some!


Free Civil Service Exam Sample Questions

Reading Comprehension

This category includes questions that require you to deduce information from written text. It includes Verbal Reasoning, Reading, Understanding, and Interpreting Written Material.

Sample Question 1 - Reading Comprehension

Read the text and answer the following question.

A growing body of research suggests that the regular, high-level use of more than one language may actually improve early brain development. According to several different studies, command of two or more languages aggrandizes the ability to focus in the face of distraction, decide between competing alternatives, and disregard irrelevant information. These essential skills are grouped together, known in brain terms as ‘executive function’ and research suggests they develop ahead of time in bilingual children. While no one has yet identified the exact mechanism by which bilingualism boosts brain development, the advantage likely stems from the bilingual’s need to continually select the right language for a given situation.

What is not an example of an ‘executive function’?

A. Lydia calculated the expected yearly revenue of her store with ease.

B. Marvin can easily summarize a complicated text.

C. Marvin weighed his different options before choosing to study agriculture.

D. Despite the fire alarm going off in the middle of her test, Maria got an A.


The correct answer is A.

‘Executive functions’, as presented in the passage are: the ability to focus in the face of distraction, decide between competing alternatives, and disregard irrelevant information. After identifying the ‘executive functions’, we are left to translate the distracters into the corresponding abilities: The ability to summarize a complex text (distracter B) is a practical translation of the ability to disregard irrelevant information. The ability to weigh in different options before making a decision (distracter C) corresponds with the ability to decide between competing alternatives. The ability to continue concentrating during an exam despite background noise accords with the ability to focus in the face of distraction. Distracter A does not correspond with any of the three ‘executive functions’ mentioned in the text and is therefore the correct answer.

  • These questions require you to thoroughly read the text to make sure you get your answer right. Try to maintain focus and make sure you don't skip any important details!
  • Almost all would-be civil service employees face this type of question, but Written Comprehension questions appear prominently in Police exams and Firefighter exams as well as the DCAS NYC Sanitation Exam and Civil Court Officer Exam.

 Written Expression

The questions here cover different aspects of the English language and include written communication, paragraph organization, restatements, punctuation & capitalization, sentence completion, vocabulary, synonyms & antonyms, word analogy, and spelling.

Sample Question 2 - Written Expression

This part consists of several sentences, each followed by four possible ways of restating the main idea of that sentence in different words. For each question, choose the one restatement which best expresses the meaning of the original sentence:

The black widow spider's name comes from the female's habit of eating the male after mating.

A. As the male black widow usually dies in the course of mating, this species of spider has gained a reputation for being especially prone to death as its name indicates.

B. The black widow spider has earned its name by preying on other spiders of its type, with the female typically preying on the male.

C. Because the female spider consumes her male partner post mating, this species of spider is called black widow.

D. While both the male and the female spiders of the species known as black widow are killers, the female is especially dangerous inasmuch as she has a habit of consuming her partner after mating.


The correct answer is C.
Answer A doesn't include the fact that the female eats the male.
Answer B has no mention of the female praying on the male after mating.
Answer D says both the males and females are killers, information that is not expressed in the original statement.

Sample Question 3 - Written Expression

When training for the army, one should consider not only the rigorous physical demands but also the emotional toil, should he enlist.

How should the sentence be changed to become grammatically correct?


A. Remove the comma after "army"

B. Change "but also" to "in addition"

C. Change "he" to "one"

D. No correction is necessary


The correct answer is (C).
Answer (C) is correct because if the sentence starts with the word "one" as its subject pronoun, it is not logical to switch to the pronoun "he."
Answer (A) is incorrect because a comma is needed to separate the subordinate clause from the main clause.
Answer (B) is incorrect because the phrase “but also,” coupled with the phrase “not only,” is necessary for showing contrast between the rigorous physical demands and the emotional toil.

Sample Question 4 - Written Expression

1. There seems to be a lot of interest lately, in the field of digital watches

2. The death toll in Paris France has risen to seven people after an elderly lady was pulled from the rubble.

Which of the 2 sentences is written correctly?

A. Sentence 1 is written correctly.

B. Sentence 2 is written correctly. 

C. 1+2 are written correctly.

D. 1+2 are written incorrectly.


The correct answer is D.
1.There seems to be a lot of interest lately in the field of digital watches.
        •A comma is not needed after 'lately' as this is a complete sentence. Also, a period is needed at the end of the complete sentence.
2.The death toll in ParisFrance has risen to seven people after an elderly lady was pulled from the rubble.
        •A comma is needed between the names of a city and a country.

  • These questions require extensive knowledge and skills in the English language. Pay special attention to capitalization and spelling at all times!
  • Most clerical exams and dispatcher exams have a written exam which hones in on your Written Expression skills.

Reasoning Skills

These questions require one to understand the directions given properly and accordingly make correct decisions. They may also be categorized as Following Directions, Rule Interpretation, and Deductive Reasoning.

Sample Question 5 - Reasoning Skills


Organising a disordered inbox can be a frightening task, but with a few simple steps you can get your email under control and keep it that way.

• Move important and unimportant e-mails to a folder of their own.

• Highlight or set priority to certain addresses.

• Delete unimportant messages. This can help eliminate the stress you get when opening your e-mail account and seeing hundreds of unanswered e-mails.

• When replying to any of your e-mails try to keep the reply as short as possible and don't spend too much time on an individual e-mail.

 What will help eliminate stress?

A. Moving e-mails to their designated files.

B. Keeping replies as short as possible.

C. Deleting Unimportant Messages.

D. Setting priorities to specific addresses.


The correct answer is C.

According to the passage, deleting unimportant messages from your inbox will help, ’eliminate the stress you get when opening your e-mail and seeing hundreds of unanswered e-mails.’

Sample Question 6 - Reasoning Skills

In a restaurant's pantry, there are seven kinds of fruits - Figs, Guavas, Honeydews, Kiwis, Mangos, Nectarines, and Papayas. The restaurant's chef has to pick exactly four different kinds of fruits out of the seven to make a fruit salad. The selected fruits must meet the following conditions:

Papaya can be selected only if Kiwi is selected.
Fig can be selected only if Nectarine is selected.
Either Mango or Nectarine must be selected but not both.
Either Papaya or Honeydew must be selected but not both.

Which one of the following could be a complete and accurate list of the fruits from which the salad is made up?

A. Kiwi, Papaya, Fig, Mango

B. Kiwi, Nectarine, Honeydew, Guava

C. Mango, Nectarine, Fig, Papaya

D. Papaya, Mango, Guava, Honeydew

E. Guava, Papaya, Kiwi, Fig


The Correct answer is (B) - Kiwi, Nectarine, Honeydew, Guava.

In questions asking for a possible complete arrangement according to the rules, go over the answer options and eliminate every response that violates any of the rules presented.

The correct answer is the one that does not violate any of the rules.

Answer (A) - According to the derivatives, Fig can only be selected if Nectarine is selected (~N → ~F). In addition, Mango and Nectarine cannot both be used (M or N). So, a salad containing Mango and Fig is impossible (M → ~F).

Answer (B) - This setting does not violate any of the rules, and therefore this is the correct answer.

Answer (C) - According to the rules, Mango and Nectarine cannot both be selected (M or N).

Answer (D) - According to the rules, Papaya and Honeydew cannot both be selected (P or H).

Answer (E) - According to the rules, Fig can only be selected if Nectarine is selected, so a salad containing Fig but not Nectarine is impossible (~N → ~F).

Sample Question 7 - Reasoning Skills

All owls have night vision, and birds that have night vision aren’t black.

Which of the following statements must be true?

A. Black ravens don't have night vision.

B. All owls are not black

C. Birds that are black lack night vision

D. All of the above


The correct answer is D.

The illustration shows that black ravens don't have night vision, all owls aren’t black and finally that black birds lack night vision. All of the statements are true.

The answer is 'All of the above'.

  • Learning the rules of logic and how to apply them (like drawing the diagram for the last question) will immensely help with this section.
  • Most jobs for federal agencies (including the Secret Service and FBI Special Agent Exams as well as the Air Marshal Exam) include various logical reasoning sections, as skills like these are critical for such roles.

Problem Sensitivity

You will be presented with multiple-choice questions usually offering 4 answer options, of which only one is correct. Your task is to choose the best answer to each question from the options given.

Sample Question 8 - Problem Sensitivity

Read the text, and answer the following question:

Officer Noah interviewed four witnesses to shoplifting. They each described the suspect as follows:

Witness 1: “She was a White, elderly female woman, probably in her seventies. She was walking with a cane, was around five feet tall, maybe 120 pounds, and had very short grey hair. She had glasses strung around her neck and was wearing a red shirt with a dark green sweater and brown pants.”

Witness 2: “She was a short, White woman, no taller than five feet. She had very short grey hair, bright blue eyes and was around 130 pounds. She was wearing a red shirt with a green sweater and dark pants. Her grey hair, big glasses strung around her neck, and cane made her look old, but her face looked very young.”

Witness 3: “She was a White woman, no older than sixty, slightly under five feet tall and under 130 pounds. She had very short grey hair, was wearing a red shirt with a green sweater and black or brown pants, and walked with a cane.”

Witness 4: “She was a White female, who looked to be around seventy with grey hair. She was about five and a half feet tall and 115 pounds. She walked with a cane, had glasses around her neck, and was wearing a green sweater and black pants.”

Given this information, there is a problem with the description given by witness number-

A. 1 | B. 2 | C. 3 | D. 4


The correct answer is 4.

All of the witnesses agreed that the woman was White, had grey hair, and was around 120-130 pounds. They also all reported that she had a cane and was wearing a green sweater, and brown or black pants.

Witness 1 reported that the woman was five feet tall, witness 2 said she was no taller than five feet tall and witness 3 said she was slightly under five feet tall. It is therefore reasonable to assume that the woman is somewhere between 4’9” – 5’1. Witness 4 however reported that the woman was five and a half feet tall.


Witnesses 1 said the woman was seventy, witness 4 said she was in her seventies, and witness 3 said she was no older than 60. This is a large age difference which should raise suspicions about witness 3. However, witnesses 2’s report regarding the woman’s age can explain this discrepancy in a very reasonable way. Witness 2 said that it was very difficult to determine her age, because her grey hair, cane, and glasses strung around her neck made her look old, but she had a young face. Witnesses 1 and 4 must have thought her to be older because of her cane and grey hair, and witness 3 thought her to be younger because of her young-looking face.

This is further supported by the fact that witness 3 did not make any mention of the woman’s glasses around her neck.

  • Problem Sensitivity questions require you to make correct decisions based on applying the facts you were given along with using common sense. When some of the facts don't make sense- try to establish a reasonable explanation to get to the truth.
  • This type of question appears in various police exams as well as 

Spatial Abilities

These questions include Visualization and Spatial Orientation.

Visualization refers to the ability to imagine how something would look when it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged. Spatial aptitude refers to the ability to remain oriented in relation to the surrounding environment, both while in motion and at rest.

Sample Question 9 - Visualization

The letters near the sides of each shape point out where exactly should the different shapes be joined together. Which of the following options shows the joint shape?


 A | B | C | D | E


The correct answer is E.

Here is how combining the three shapes works:

  • For these questions, practicing is the best way to improve your performance and ability to create a mental map/image to follow through the question's instructions and reach the answer.
  • Firefighters, Police Officers, Dispatchersall commonly answer spatial reasoning questions in their exams.

Attention to Details

In this section, you will need to use your observational ability, pay attention to details and errors in data and compare information accurately.

Sample Question 10 - Attention to Details

Compare the names given and determine how many are exactly the same.

Peter R. Daniels
Peter R. Daniels
Peret R. Daniels
Peter R. Daneils

A. All of the names are different

B. Two of the names are exactly the same

C. Three of the names are exactly the same

D. All four names are exactly the same


The correct answer is B.

The first two names are exactly the same. The third and fourth names are different- here are the four names, with differences in bold.Peter R. Daniels
Peter R. Daniels
PeretR. Daniels
Peter R. Daneils

  • Attention to Details questions require mental focus and the ability to pay close attention. Make sure you take your time with these!
  • Dispatcher and clerical exams often include Attention to Details questions.

How to Pass Civil Service Tests

There are a few steps that are in common to most civil service exams' application process:

1. Search for the date of the exam you want to take and apply by either mail, in person, or online.

2. Check that you have all the minimum qualifications for the job on hand, such as an updated driver’s license and high school certification (note: some positions require different credentials).

3. Pay the application fee- There are different fees for different exams, which vary between states and counties.

4. If you’re entitled to veteran’s credits, you’ll need to show a copy of your DD214 military discharge when applying. This will get you an advantage over other test takers.

5. Practice towards your exam- Most civil service tests are difficult and require thorough preparation prior to taking them. Use practice tests to familiarize yourself with the content and format. That way, you’ll improve your ability to answer correctly with flying colors.

How Hard Is the Civil Service Exam?

Because there are so many different civil service exams, the answer really depends on the one you’re taking. A police officer doesn’t take the same test as an accountant or a clerk. What makes the civil service test so difficult is its competitive process.

Competitive VS Non–Competitive Exams

There are two primary types of civil service tests- competitive and non-competitive. In the competitive exam, you will be evaluated in relation to other candidates. A Non-competitive exam has a baseline passing score of 70%, which only a few manage to surpass (at around 15 percent!). That is why it is crucial to practice in advance in both cases.


The civil service exam comes in many forms and changes between states, counties, departments, and positions. Before taking an exam, you should look for details such as the date, fees, and the qualifications necessary. Then, address the exam itself by practicing in advance.

That is the surest way to pass a civil service exam and join the ranks of the many employees who enjoy government benefits and culture.

Good luck on your civil service exam!




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