NYC Sanitation Exam Preparation [2024 Updated]
Shir Enzer

Shir, Civil Service Assessments Expert at JobTestPrep.

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What is the NYC Sanitation Exam?

The Department of Sanitation NYC Sanitation Worker Exam is administered as a paper and pencil and multiple-choice question exam for aspiring sanitation workers in New York & Staten Island. In order to pass the exam, a minimum score of 70 is required. Your score is then ranked alongside all other applicants from highest to lowest, and you are considered for employment in this order.

The test requires an understanding of basic math along with other reasoning skills. Please note that by the date of appointment, you must have a commercial driver's license (CDL) and a high school diploma in order to continue the hiring process. The average base salary is $15.66 per hour.

The NYC Sanitation Exam happens only every 4-6 years. 

You can find more sanitation sample questions on our PSI Test Practice page. 

New York City Sanitation Civil Service Test Subjects

Below is a detailed explanation of the different sub-sections.

Written Comprehension

This section of sanitation testing is essentially reading comprehension. It measures your critical thinking skills and your understanding of the English language. Candidates will be presented with several passages to read and are required to draw logical conclusions from the material. Answers must be based on only the given information, and no prior or external knowledge is necessary to complete these questions. Although the position of a sanitation worker can be physically demanding, a necessary requirement is to read and understand different kinds of written information, such as departmental messages and memos.

WC Sample Question

When the only French-language teacher in the small town died, students needing tutoring in French had to call in a teacher from another town. The new teacher charged significantly more per lesson than their townsperson had, and some people were upset with the new teacher for taking advantage of her monopoly in the field of French-language tutoring to earn more money on each French lesson she gave. In fact, however, the new French-language teacher does not earn more money on each lesson than she would have before, because it costs her more for transportation from one town to the other, and therefore her expenses are higher than were those of the teacher living in town.

Which one of the following is an underlying assumption of the above argument?

A. When one person has a monopoly on a necessary product or service, the price for the product or service goes up.
B. When a new worker takes over a service, their rates will almost always be higher than those who began providing the service many years ago.
C. Over time, the service of foreign-language tutoring had become more prestigious and, hence, more expensive.
D. The price for a coveted service will go up if the provider of the service believes that will result in a greater appreciation for the service.
E. The transportation expenses are covered solely by the teacher's fee.
Correct Answer
Incorrect Answer

The correct answer is E.
Let's locate the main argument in the passage:

1. The French teacher charges more than her late predecessor. The French teacher lives out of town and has transportation expenses.
2. The transportation expenses are covered solely by the teacher's fees.
Conclusion: The French teacher is not taking advantage of her monopoly to earn more money.

Assumption E is actually a necessary assumption in order to arrive at the author's conclusion. The author must assume that the teacher is not receiving any other compensation for her transportation expenses apart from her fees to conclude that she is not taking advantage of her monopoly. Thus the assumption is correct.

We can double-check our answer by using the negative test:

1. The French teacher charges more than her late predecessor.
2. The French teacher lives out of town and has transportation expenses.
3. The transportation expenses are NOT covered solely by the teacher's fees. OR: The teacher receives compensation for her transportation expenses regardless of her high fees.

Conclusion: The French teacher is not taking advantage of her monopoly to earn more money.

The negative test proves to us that the assumption is indeed correct because once used in its negative form, it immediately invalidates the conclusion.

Written Expression

Here candidates are tested on their English language proficiency and are asked to identify errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, or answer sentence completion questions. The Sanitation Exam formats these grammar questions in different ways, such as requiring you to reorder a set of sentences to form a logical paragraph. Sanitation workers, as required by the sanitation department, must be able to clearly express themselves through writing in a way that is understandable to others.

WE Sample Question

Which of the following sentences is punctuated correctly?

A. The hamburgers are almost ready can you bring the ketchup from the refrigerator?
B. The hamburgers are almost ready; can you bring the ketchup from the refrigerator?
C. The hamburgers are almost ready, can you bring the ketchup from the refrigerator?
D. The hamburgers are almost ready, can you bring, the ketchup from the refrigerator?
Correct Answer
Incorrect Answer

The correct answer is (B).

A semicolon is used to separate two related independent clauses.

Answer (A) is incorrect because without punctuation, the two independent clauses create a run-on sentence.

Answers (C) and (D) are incorrect because using a comma to separate two independent clauses results in a comma splice error.

Problem Sensitivity

This section requires applicants to identify problematic situations from given information. You must read the presented situation, understand the problem, and then identify the different elements and causes of the problem. Sanitation workers may face issues with their vehicles or equipment and must be able to recognize when a challenging situation occurs.

PS Sample Question



A person may take down raccoons only in accordance with the following regulations:

1. Hunters must be on foot.
2. Artificial lights may be used to locate, attempt to locate or shoot a raccoon only if the raccoon has been treed or put at bay by dogs.
3. Handguns used must be .17 or .22 caliber rimfire (including .22 magnum).
Note: a person may pursue and tree raccoons with dogs during the closed season and without a license.

Which of the following is not in violation of the RULE?

A. Tom and his daugther ran after a raccoon until it climbed up a tree. While shining a flashlight on it, Tom used a .17 caliber centerfire handgun to take it down.
B. Missy and her grandfather saw their dog cornering a raccoon in their driveway. Missy used a shotgun with No. 4 rounds to take the raccoon down.
C. Jake and his sister pursued a raccoon with their 4X4 vehicle. After treeing the raccoon, they shot him with .17 caliber rimfire rifles.
D. Abigail tried to find a raccoon hiding in her barn while her son shined a flashlight for her.
Correct Answer
Incorrect Answer

The correct answer is (B).

Answer (A) is incorrect because "Handguns used must be .17 or .22 caliber rimfire (including .22 magnum)." – Tom used a centerfire handgun to take out the raccoon.

Answer (C) is incorrect because "Hunters must be on foot." – Jake and his sister drove a vehicle.

Answer (D) is incorrect because "Artificial lights may be used to [attempt to locate] a raccoon only if the raccoon has been treed or put at bay by dogs." – The raccoon is neither treed nor put at bay by dogs.

Information Ordering

This section tests your ability to understand and follow written directions. Based on a set of given rules presented in the questions, candidates must place numbers, letters, procedures, pictures, etc., in the correct order. No outside information is to be used to order the information, only what is given on the sanitation test itself.

IO Sample Question

If the names Sally Draper, Cara Doyle, Casey Dover, and Sam Donald were arranged for alphabetic filing, the position of the underlined name would be: 

A. First
B. Second
C. Third
D. Fourth
Correct Answer
Incorrect Answer

The correct answer is B.

Here are the names rewritten for alphabetic filing (last name first):
Draper Sally, Doyle Cara, Dover Casey, Donald Sam.

And then arranged by alphabetic order:
Donald Sam, Dover Casey, Doyle Cara, Draper Sally.

Deductive Reasoning

This section of the exam requires you to apply a general rule to specific situations. The general rule may be a set of orders that are followed by different situations and questions. You must use the rule to solve problems presented in the questions, or to come up with a logical answer to a specific scenario.

DR Sample Question

There are four famous topical pictures in a museum: scenery, a kitchen, a park, and oranges.

The paintings were painted by Jones, Smith, Hardy, and Lane. The scenery painting is hanging next to Smith's painting. The scenery painting also hangs between the park and Hardy's painting. Jones didn’t paint the scenery' or the oranges.

Who painted the kitchen?

A. Jones
B. Smith
C. Hardy
D. None of the above
Correct Answer
Incorrect Answer

The correct answer is A.

The scenery painting is hanging next to Smith's painting, and between Hardy's painting and the painting of the park. We can conclude, therefore, that Smith painted the park. Since Jones didn’t paint the scenery painting, the oranges painting, or the park painting (done by Smith), then he must have painted the kitchen.

The answer is Jones.


Spatial Orientation

This section of the test is highly important on the job. Having a general sense of direction is necessary to get from one point to another efficiently, and to avoid inconveniences like getting lost. Here, maps may be presented followed by questions on how to get from one point to another, or questions about what is the shortest or longest route.


Candidates must be able to visualize what an object would look like after undergoing a change or transformation like being rotated or unfolded. These questions may present an image of the original object with a description of the alteration the object will undergo, followed by four answer options of what the object will look like after its transformation.

New York Sanitation Worker Requirements & Duties

In order to be eligible to apply for the Department of Sanitation test, candidates must be a minimum of 17 ½ years of age. You are not required to have a driver’s license, an official educational diploma, or have any specific residency. However, in order to be appointed to the sanitation worker position, employees must be at least 21 years old, have a valid driver’s license and a high school (or educational equivalent) diploma.

The sanitation worker position can be physically demanding, requiring you to operate equipment involved in street cleaning, waste collection, recycling collection, snow removal, encumbrance removal, and waste disposal.

Preparing for the New York Sanitation Exam

Our state-of-the-art practice test package is specifically designed to prepare you for the New York Sanitation Exam. Our online practice tests can optimize your performance on test day.  With each practice test you take, your solving abilities improve. To prepare efficiently for this test, it is recommended to practice as much possible to familiarize yourself with all the varieties of questions you may encounter on testing day to get into the New York City Department of Sanitation. We provide:

  • The most comprehensive and in-depth Sanitation Exam practice test questions available online
  • Mock exams available in guided step-by-step or timed practice modes
  • Detailed explanations and informative study guides, testing time management tips, and more
  • Very affordable prices
  • Immediate online access 24/7

Our Premium Membership allows you to study for as many civil service exams as you'd like. The premium membership is licensed for 12 months, allowing you to study well in advance and arrive feeling confident.

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