EPSO testing is the European Union’s Civil Service test battery. They give a wide variety of assessments to ensure that the candidates hired are the best fit for the role, and the process has quite a few steps from the time an application is submitted to when the candidate is hired. If you are looking at this article, chances are you are considering applying with the EU for civil service or already have. Either way, this article will give you what you need to know about EPSO tests.
What Is EPSO Testing?
EPSO testing is a set of computer-based multiple-choice tests and assessment centre activities. The first set of EPSO tests are the computer-based cognitive ability tests. If candidates pass these with a high enough score, they will be invited to join the assessment centre activities. These are ordinarily held in Brussels or Luxembourg and may take one or more days.
Of note is the fact that specialist roles are not given the computer-based cognitive ability tests and are instead judged based on qualifications alone for the initial selection. Their goal in testing or using qualifications is to measure key reasoning abilities, not just to cut out candidates.
What Is on EPSO Tests?
All candidates applying for non-specialist roles will take computer-based, multiple-choice tests for their first round of testing. These are taken, for the most part, in the candidates’ main languages, which must be official EU languages.
Candidates may also have tests specific to their roles, and most assessment centre participants will be required to take a field-related test in addition to the computer-based ones they already finished. Other requirements vary widely based on the position within the government agency.
The main tests are covered below.
Numerical Reasoning Assessment
The numerical reasoning test is done in the candidate’s main language as long as that language is an EU-official language. The test has ten questions which should be answered in twenty minutes. The information is presented in a tabular manner with questions in multiple-choice format. The test assesses the candidate’s ability to work with percentages, ratios, and the four basic mathematical functions. It usually focuses on EU economic topics.
Verbal Reasoning Assessment
The verbal reasoning test focuses on getting the right answer more than it does speed in answering. Therefore, the test is comprised of twenty questions, which must be answered in thirty-five minutes. The assessment has passages on economics, geography, politics and more. The candidate’s task is to choose the best answer option in relation to the passage.
Abstract Reasoning Assessment
The abstract reasoning test contains ten questions to be completed in ten minutes. Candidates are shown a sequence of five images that have various logical relationships between them. The goal is to identify the patterns and choose the right answer from the options by deducing the correct image to complete the pattern using the relationships identified. The test is closely related to the classic inductive reasoning tests that trace back to the Ravens Matrices Test. The assessment may require test-takers to identify multiple rules to find the correct answer.
Situational Judgment Test
The SJT has twenty scenarios that should be worked through in thirty minutes. The situations given are ones that candidates may face on the actual job. Four answer choices are provided for dealing with the situation, and candidates must select two options: least likely to do and most likely to do. This assessment is taken in a secondary language—English, French, or German. Candidates need twenty-four out of forty marks to even be considered for the assessment centre.
Accuracy and Precision Test
This is an assessment centre test depending on the position applied for. The test lasts six minutes and has forty questions. The goal is to find discrepancies and mistakes between two tables of information quickly and accurately.
Prioritizing and Organizing Test
Another assessment centre test, this exam provides tables of information and asks candidates to answer questions about the information provided. There are twenty-four questions, and the test is timed at thirty minutes maximum. The test requires rudimentary math skills, fact finding capabilities, and logical thinking.
Case study exercise may be given either at the Brussels assessment centre or at a location in the county of application. The exercise is not required for every candidate in the recruitment process but is fairly common. Candidates are given fifteen pages of information on a subject relating to their application. Then they are given a computer to answer and formulate a report. The report is a written report for the actual assessment, but some study materials may ask for a presentation instead. The report should include an introduction, main body, and a full conclusion.
How to Prepare for the EPSO Assessments?
Most of the EPSO assessments have very reasonable time limitations. You should be able to complete the assessments within the given time limits with very little trouble as long as you are prepared. For those with stricter time limits, more preparation should be done to ensure accuracy in a short amount of time. You should take the time to review practice problems, look over free sample tests, and brush up on any reasoning skills that might be a bit lacking.
For the case study and verbal reasoning aptitude sections, you can also spend time reading business reports and newspapers to get used to the types of information you may see. On the numerical side, practice simple math problems and work with tables to become accustomed to the test style. For the abstract test, you should do logical puzzles that involve solving pattern-based problems to improve your speed on the test.
Although the sheer volume of material being tested for EPSO may seem daunting at first, it is entirely possible to succeed and stand out above the crowd. Doing this will require dedication and practice on your part, however, since you will need to score 80% or above on most of the tests due to the high competition for these positions. Keep this in mind as you practice and do your best to score above this on the practice assessments so that you know you are well-prepared to ace the real tests.