Civil Service Fast Stream Assessment Centre

Last Updated on October 19, 2021

A place in the Civil Service Fast Stream program is highly coveted and competition for places is intense. Only one in twenty applicants received a place in the 2020 Civil Service Fast Stream Assessment Centre (FSAC).

Gaining admission to the program can be a long and tedious process, but having been called to do the half-day fast stream assessments you are on your way. However, if you have never done one before it can be a daunting prospect.

Doing well on this assessment will put you in a position to proceed to the interview section of the recruitment process. Therefore, to land the job, it is vital to prepare for this section of the application process as best as possible.

In this guide we will take you through everything you need to do to ace the Fast Stream Assessment Centre.

Download our Ultimate Assessment Day & Interview Guide 2021 here. (It's packed with tips, tricks and insider-secrets to help you succeed.)

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What is a fast streamer?

Fast streamers are candidates accepted into the Civil Service Fast Stream graduate program. The graduates will work across Civil Service departments carrying out a range of duties. The training aims to develop their potential and skills so that they can eventually work at influential levels of the Civil Service.

What is the Fast Stream Assessment Centre (FSAC)?

The FSAC is the name given to the half-day assessment to get a place in the Civil Service Fast Stream program. It is for candidates who have already passed through earlier admission procedures. It is a virtual assessment and will include online exercises to test the candidates’ suitability to be fast streamers.

However, the half-day of testing and assessments is demanding and requires thorough preparation.

On the day it is vital that you have access to reliable broadband and have your mobile phone fully charged. This is in case you need to make in-person contact with the administrators at any point during the assessments. This may become necessary if you have connectivity issues.

How long is the FSAC?

The FSAC is half a day long. This translates to around 5 hours of testing covering a variety of different tests.

How much does Civil Service Fast Stream pay?

The Civil Service Fast Stream graduate program offers full-time work placements. These usually have a starting salary of somewhere between £27,000 or £28,000. The scheme does offer significant salary progression. By the end of the scheme, there is potential to be earning £45,000 to £55,000.

How can I prepare for FSAC?

Having reached this point in your search for a role as a Fast Streamer, it is vital that you prepare for the assessments you will be undergoing. This is a much-coveted role and the competition for places is intense. The assessments are also possibly different from any assessments you have done up to this point in your career.

Your first step in your preparation is to familiarise yourself with the types of exercises you will have to participate in at the FSAC.

That is best done by using the services of a job test preparation company. We recommend the services of an experienced company like Job Test Prep.

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They will provide you with accurate information on the FSAC. You can also rely on Job Test Prep to provide you with the resources to make your preparation effective. Using a test prep pack from them you will have access to a range of test materials mirrored on the exercises you will have to complete at the assessment centre.

What assessments will I have to do in the FSAC?

Expect your assessment centre half day to be a very busy one. To test your suitability for the Civil Service Fast Stream program you will be required to do the following exercises:

  • A virtual written exercise
  • A virtual leadership exercise
  • A virtual group discussion

As you complete these exercises, assessors will be able to decide if you have the skills and attributes required to work as a Fast Streamer in the Civil Service.

The required skills form the building blocks of working successfully in the Civil Service. They include:

  • Decision-making abilities
  • The ability to work with other members of a team
  • Communication skills
  • The ability to take a wide-ranging view of a situation

Fast Stream candidates also need managerial skills and the ability to consider the commercial outcome of projects.

If you succeed in showing those skills at the FSAC you are likely to be invited to the next stage of the recruitment process.

How is the FSAC assessed?

The skills are assessed through the series of exercises mentioned above. Each exercise has the aim of discovering if you have one or more skills.

Under the following descriptions of the exercises, the skills being assessed in each one are listed.
For example, the following section, “Leadership Exercise,” mentions that one of the skills being assessed is “Seeing the bigger picture.”

Consider what factors would make you decide if someone is good at seeing the bigger picture. Is it for example someone who maintains things should continue as they are, someone who insists a situation is beyond improvement or someone who is open-minded to the possibilities of making a difference through change?

What is on the Civil Service Fast Stream Assessment Centre?

The Leadership Exercise

You will take part in a virtual role-play with your assessor. In this test, you must imagine yourself as a Fast Streamer in a UK government department. You are responsible for leading a project.

  • You will have 30 minutes to read over the information on the project.
  • The following 30 minutes will be spent in discussion with your assessor who is playing the role of a senior manager who is anxious to see the project proceed.

In this exercise you are being assessed on your ability to take on a leadership role. From your performance, assessors will be able to decide how well you perform under the following headings:

  • Seeing the bigger picture
  • Changing and improving
  • Working together
  • Developing self and others
  • Communicating and influencing

The skills used in this type of discussion are very different to the skills we use in everyday conversation. To succeed in this type of exercise it is a good idea to keep the skill being measured to the forefront of your mind.
The exercises in your test prep pack will help you discover how to show those skills.

The group discussion

  • You and your fellow candidates will be given a brief about a project or government initiative, Information on facts that could be used to promote or object to the project will also be given to various members of the group.
  • The group is allowed 40 minutes to reach a consensus on the project. The aim of the discussion is to come up with the best decision both for yourself and the group in its entirety.
  • The assessors will be looking at how well you communicate, how effectively you put arguments forward and if you listen to others’ points of view.
  • The discussion shows your people skills as well as your ability to get your point across diplomatically.

The group discussion measures the candidates’ ability to:

  • Make effective decisions
  • Work with other people
  • Communicate with and influence others

Similar to the leadership exercise this is a different type of conversation to the ones you have every day and practice is needed to engage in a discussion at this level.

Work through the scenarios presented in your test prep pack. Doing this will enable you to adjust your skills to what is required in the group assessment and train your mind to present fluid coherent arguments.

The written policy recommendation exercise

This is a 90-minute test.

You will be presented with information about different proposed initiatives. It is advised that you spend the first 30 minutes reading through the information and getting a picture of the initiatives being considered.

For the following 60 minutes, you will be required to analyse the projects, answer questions and decide which initiative you would select as the most suitable.

Doing this exercise you will have to call on your ability to analyse material.
Assessors will expect to see strong supporting arguments for picking one initiative above another. Making a point and supporting it with relevant material is necessary here.

While carrying out this exercise assessors will be evaluating your skills in:

  • Seeing the big picture
  • Changing and improving
  • Making effective decisions
  • Communicating with and influencing others

This is a demanding exercise especially for candidates who may feel they need to brush up on their writing as well as their analytical skills.

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Preparing for the FSAC

Given that the types of assessment carried out at the FSAC are quite different to other assessments you may have done, an organised approach to preparation is essential.

Try doing the following:

  1. Set aside a place and specific times to do your preparation.
  2. Draw up a timetable and ensure there is continuity to your work.
  3. Devote your time equally to each aspect of the assessment

Use your sample exercises

Using sample exercises will give structure and continuity to your preparation process and will ensure:

  • You are working on material similar to the real exercises
  • You are guaranteeing yourself there will be no unpleasant surprises waiting for you on assessment day
  • You are learning to work within the time limits imposed in the assessments.
  • You are measuring your progress as you work through the exercises,
  • You are learning which areas cause you most difficulty and can arrange to devote more time to them.

On assessment day:

  • Ensure you are well rested in preparation
  • Ensure you are comfortable both in what you are wearing and in having the supplies you need to hand
  • Double-check your internet and online connections well in advance

Useful resources

And finally…

Enjoy yourself.

Many successful candidates report they enjoyed the day. You will be spending most of the assessment time in the virtual company of others so there will be a lot of interacting with fellow candidates and assessors.

A positive demeanour will make the experience a happy and enjoyable one.

If you have been asked to participate in the FSAC you will find the resources to help you prepare here.

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