Are you interested in pursuing a job in local, state, or federal government? Then you may need to take a civil service exam.
New York State has one of the largest civil service systems in the United States, employing more than one million civil service employees. In this article, we’ll explain how to prepare for your career in civil service by taking the required NYS civil service exams.
What’s the Purpose of the Civil Service Exam NY?
The NYS civil service exams are designed to make sure that job applicants have the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in their work. If you pass one of the NYS civil service exams, you’ll have your name placed on an eligibility list for specific jobs that correspond to the test you passed.
Most civil service positions in New York require that you take and pass one of the NYS civil service exams. If you want to pursue a civil service job in New York State, you should check out the job listing to find out if you need to take one of the New York State civil service exams to qualify to apply.
If the job requires a civil service exam, then all candidates must take that test at a specific time. Candidate scores will be ranked and delivered to the hiring body, meaning that having a high score will help you stand out among the pool of applicants. Though having the highest score on a specific exam won’t 100% guarantee you’ll get the job (recruiters look at more than just your civil service exam score,) having a high passing score will boost your chances of getting the job you want.
NYS Civil Service Exams Format
There is no single format for the New York State civil service exams so the exact types of questions you’ll have to answer will depend on the subject area of your exam. That being said, here are the general categories of exams that your test may fall into:
Oral and Essay Exams: Oral and essay exams test your ability to respond to critical thinking questions and synthesize your answers into clear, coherent responses. You may be required to write your answer in the form of an essay or to present your answer orally to a panel of judges.
Training and Experience Evaluations: Training and experience evaluations are like supplements to your application. You may be asked to present specific artifacts that demonstrate your past education and work experience. Examples of artifacts include reports from your superiors or videos of your work.
Multiple-Choice Exams: Many NYS civil service exams are multiple-choice exams. You may take your civil service exam NY on a computer or by hand. The position you’re applying for will determine the content and skills tested on your exam.
Performance and Job Simulation Exams: For certain positions, you may have to do a job simulation to see how well you perform certain exams. For instance, you may need to take a typing test to show how many words you type per minute or perform a rescue simulation to show your handiness in the field.
How to Determine If You Need to Take a NY Civil Service Exam
Many different jobs in New York State require that you take and pass one of the New York State civil service exams. In fact, there are so many different jobs that require civil service exams that it would be almost impossible to list them all. Instead, we’ll talk you through how to determine whether or not the job that you want to apply for requires you to take a civil service exam and which type of exam you’ll need to take.
You may be required to take a civil service exam if you’re applying to be employed by the state of New York or by a local government within New York state. Basically, if you’ll receive your salary from the state of New York (or by an agency it runs, like the Department of Education or the Department of Health), you may need to take a civil service exam. If you’re applying to get a job from a private company or employer, you won’t need to take a civil service exam.
While all civil service exams are for jobs with New York State, not all New York State jobs require civil service exams. The best way to determine whether or not you need to take a civil service exam is to look at the job’s description on the StateJobsNY website. This website lists all of the open state and local jobs throughout New York state.
The vacancies section of the StateJobsNY lists all of the open jobs in the state.
When you open a specific job, click on the “Job Specifics” tab.
There, you’ll find information about whether or not you need to take an exam. If you do need to take NY civil service exam, this tab will also tell you what are the minimum qualifications to take this exam. We’ll discuss this more in a later section.
Types of NY Civil Service Exams
Here are NYS civil service lists of examples of civil service exams you’ll need to take for common jobs.
Police: If you wish to be a police officer in New York State, you’ll need to take and pass a written exam. The content of your exam will depend on the municipality in New York that you live in.
Firefighter: If you want to be a firefighter in New York, you’ll have to take a written firefighter exam that focuses on arithmetic, reading comprehension, situational judgement, and your capacity to learn and apply information. For many municipalities, you’ll also need to pass a performance and job simulation exam.
NYS Courts: Do you want to work in the New York State courts as a court clerk, court assistant, law librarian, or something else? If so, you’ll need to pass a job-specific written exam.
MTA Bus Operator: If you want to apply to work as a bus operator for the Metro Transit Authority, you’ll need to pass a civil service exam. For this exam, you’ll have to demonstrate your inductive and deductive reasoning, mechanical aptitude, spatial orientation, and written comprehension & expression through a written and practical test.
CUNY Public Safety Officer: The City of New York employees people as public safety officers to protect students on campus. Potential employees need to pass a civil service exam where they demonstrate their ability to do things like read maps, follow directions, and understand certain problems.
Environmental Conservation Officer: You must pass the Environmental Conservation Officer (ECO) exam to protect the State's natural resources and environment. This test has both written and reading components, as well as logical reasoning and memory sections.
Getting Ready to Take a Civil Service Exam NY
New York State civil service exams are administered by the NYS Department of Civil Service. This department is responsible for creating and administering thousands of civil service exams every year. Here are the steps you need to follow to prepare for taking one of the NYS civil services exams.
#1: Determine If You Need to Take a Civil Service Exam
Not all jobs for New York State require that you take a civil service exam. To determine whether or not you need to take a civil service exam, you should review the job’s listing. It will explain the specific requirements for that job and provide a link to the testing session for that job.
#2: See If You Meet the Minimum Requirements to Sit for the Exam
Applying for a civil service job in New York State isn’t as simple as registering for the exam you need to take. Before you register, you have to see if you even qualify to sit for the exam. The qualifications change depending on the exam itself, but you might need to demonstrate that you’ve received your Bachelor’s degree or have completed an appropriate level of training.
Here’s an example of the minimum qualifications for a job:
If you do not meet those minimum qualifications, you can’t sit for the civil service exam you need. So, before attempting to register, make sure that you meet the job’s minimum qualifications before wasting your time on an application that will be rejected.
#3: Register for the Exam
Once you’ve determined that you’ve qualified to take a specific exam, you need to register for the exam by the last date to apply. Each exam has a different date and fee associated with it. You can find the most up-to-date list of upcoming exams and their associated fees here (https://www.cs.ny.gov/examannouncements/types/oc/). Testing sessions happen on a rolling basis as jobs become available. Once a job’s testing window has closed, you won’t be able to take that specific exam for that specific job again.
#4: Prepare for the Exam
After you’re registered, you’ll need to prepare for your examination. How you prepare depends on the content and format of your exam. You may need to put together a portfolio or study specific topics. Remember, your score on your Civil Service Exam NY will determine your rank and likelihood of getting the job you want.
How to Take One of the NYS Civil Service Exams: Final Thoughts
The New York State civil service exams are designed to assess candidates’ preparedness for a specific position. Candidates may be asked to take a written exam, an oral exam, prepare a portfolio of previous work, or perform a job simulation.
All candidates for a specific job will take the same New York State civil service exam. Candidates will be ranked based on their scores. The better your score, the higher you’ll rank among the applicant pool and the better chance you have of getting the job of your dreams.
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Hayley Milliman is a former teacher turned writer who blogs about education, history, and technology. When she was a teacher, Hayley's students regularly scored in the 99th percentile thanks to her passion for making topics digestible and accessible. In addition to her work for PrepScholar, Hayley is the author of Museum Hack's Guide to History's Fiercest Females.