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How to Prepare for the DSNY Sanitation Test?

Do you want to work for the DSNY, the Department of Sanitation New York?

To fulfill that ambition, you will have to prepare for an exam that will test your skills and abilities and determine your suitability for the position. After you apply online for a DSNY job, you will be notified of the time and location of your test.

Read on to discover all you need to know to prepare for the sanitation test.

What Is the Sanitation Exam?

The DSNY test is a computer-based multiple-choice question test on which you need to get a minimum score of 70%. Candidates are ranked in order of eligibility for jobs depending on their scores. The higher you score, the faster you will be assigned a job.

What Is the Format of the Exam?

Department of Citywide Administrative Services Logo

To take the exam, you have to register at a DCAS (Department of Citywide Administrative Services) testing site; there is one in each borough, and this is where your examination will take place.

In the examination, you will have to do assessments in each of the following areas:

  • Written Comprehension
  • Problem Sensitivity
  • Written Expression
  • Spatial Orientation
  • Information Ordering
  • Deductive Reasoning


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What Is on the Sanitation Test?

Written Comprehension

This is a test of your ability to read and draw conclusions from written information. You will be given several pieces to read and questions to answer. The questions can only be answered with the information contained in the passage.

Problem Sensitivity

When working as a sanitation officer, you are likely to encounter problems with vehicles and equipment. The DS need to assure themselves that all of their workers are able to judge when such a problem is going to arise.

The purpose of the problem sensitivity test is to determine if you have an awareness of when a problem with some equipment might occur and what might be the reason for it.

In the test, you will be presented with a situation where a problem is likely to arise. You must show that you can identify the problem and are able to pinpoint the reasons for it.

Written Expression

This is a test of your ability to write English correctly. Your potential work in the DSNY will require you to forward written information to colleagues in a way that can be easily understood.

The assessors will be looking at your spelling, punctuation, and grammar skills.


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Sample Question:

You can expect questions along the following lines:

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.

Other written expression questions may require you to complete sentences or put sentences in the correct order to form a logical paragraph.

Spatial Orientation Tests

Spatial orientation tests one particular skill that you will need every day in the workplace. The DCAS needs to know that you have a good sense of direction and are capable of carrying out your duties without getting lost or wasting time seeking to get from one point to another.

In this test, you can expect to be asked to study maps and answer questions on how to get from one point to the other in the fastest time possible.

Some tests will also assess your ability to visualize shapes. Test your visualization abilities with this free sample test.

Information Ordering

This tests your ability to understand and follow written instructions. You will be asked to put numbers, letters, and even pictures in the order laid down in the question. You may, for example, be asked to put names in alphabetical order.

Deductive Reasoning

The deductive reasoning test asks you to come up with a conclusion based on the information given.


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Sample Question:

In the following question, read the information carefully and then decide which of the statements that follow must be correct. And remember, as with the other tests, you can only use the information given in the question.

Review the facts below:

• Tim lives in a big apartment.
• Abby lives in a small apartment.
• There are no big apartments in Tinyville.
• Small apartments have one bedroom.

Based on the information above, which of the following MUST be true?

Tim lives in Tinyville.

Abby lives in Tinyville.

Big apartments have one bedroom.

Abby’s apartment has one bedroom.

Tim and Abby live in the same town.

Can I Prepare for the Sanitation Exam?

A girl sitting on a chair writing on a copy

Yes, you can and you should. Especially when you have your sights set on a well-paying job with the DSNY.

You can expect to be in contention with a great many applicants for your desired job, and naturally, the DSNY will employ the best performers in the exam. So, it is not simply a question of how good you are but a question of rising above your fellow competitors.

To ace pre-employment exams, it is advisable to use the services of a job test preparation company. For this, we recommend using Job Test Prep, a company with more than thirty years of experience in preparing applicants for pre-employment testing.

They will give you accurate advice on the format of the exam as well as a test prep pack with sample papers modeled on the real exam. You will also be provided with explanations of questions and answers and a method of checking your results as you work through the sample papers.

To get a feel for the sort of tests they give you, try your hand at this free sample verbal reasoning test.


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Preparing for the Test

Begin your preparation as soon as you can and, if possible, work using a timetable. Build break times into your timetable. Aim to take a 10-minute break after 50 or so minutes of preparation time.

Ensure, if possible, that you leave the day before the test free for last-minute reviews and to get some rest before the assessments

Use Your Sample Papers

Using your sample papers as the backbone of your preparation will ensure:

  • You are working on material that accurately mirrors the real tests
  • You are becoming familiar with the style of questioning
  • You are learning to work within the time allowed
  • You can monitor your progress by checking your scores from test to test
  • You identify areas that need more work

Approach the test knowing you have done the work and deserve to ace the assessment!

Is the Sanitation Test Hard?

Sitting Woman Reading Book in Library

All pre-employment tests are hard because of the level of competition for jobs. The questions in themselves may not be exceptionally difficult.

However, you are going to have to answer them under time pressure while knowing that your fellow applicants are trying to get that job as eagerly as you are.

In the test, you can expect to be assessed on a wide range of skills required to work in the DSNY. These skills range from written expression to comprehension abilities as well as your orientation skills.

The style of questioning may also be different from any assessments you have done to date, another factor that may make the test difficult.

The test is administered only once every four years period leaving you with possibly only one opportunity to ace the exam.

Good luck!

If you are getting ready for the DSNY test, you will find all the resources you need to succeed here.

Written by Elizabeth O Mahony

With 25+ years’ experience as a teacher and state examinations corrector, Elizabeth now writes for the education and careers industry. Her experience preparing students for examinations and running an academy for supplementary education give her invaluable insights into what it takes for job seekers and graduates to succeed in assessments.

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