Pennsylvania Civil Service Exam Preparation: A Definitive Study Guide with Practice Tests

Last Updated on October 4, 2022

Are you thinking about applying to be a civil service employee with the state of Pennsylvania? Are you interested in learning more about the requirements and what it takes to become a civil servant?

If so, you are in the right place! In this article, we’ll learn about the Pennsylvania 2022 Civil Service Exam and how you can practice scoring well enough to get the job of your dreams.

No matter whether you’ve taken the test in the past or if this is your first time, you should plan to study and be prepared for it. In addition, there are many varieties to the Civil Service Exam, depending on which position you are applying for.

Older versions of tests may contain different information that is no longer relevant, so updating your study materials is a must. Job Test Prep offers a specialized PrepPack for the Pennsylvania Civil Service Exam that includes several practice tests in each subject you’ll be assessed on, sample questions, and study guides to help you understand the topics. Access the study guide for Illinois Civil Service Exam here.

For the position-specific tests, there are additional PrepPacks you can purchase to aid in your studying.

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What Types of Tests Are There?

A unique type of assessment, the Pennsylvania State Civil Service Exam, and its variants depend on skills needed for the position. Therefore, you will more than likely have to take more than one test to qualify for the job you’re applying for.

Thankfully, all the content you’ll be studying will be relevant to the tasks you’ll complete on the job if you are hired; therefore, by investing in a PrepPack, you are investing in job training materials.

General Tests

The State Civil Service Exam has two general types, although there can certainly be more. Below is a brief explanation for each:

1. Typing. This test looks at how quickly you can accurately type words, measuring your “words per minute” skills. This is important, especially if you are applying for a position that involves clerical work.

2. Oral and Essay. Critical thinking and other analytic skills are the focus of this section. You will be asked questions and then have to formulate answers based on sometimes very little information. For some positions, you may even have to present your solution in person or virtually to a panel of people.

The PrepPacks for the general civil service exam include practice tests for each section, practice questions, and study guides designed to explain even the most minor concept for each question.

A score report is also included that helps you to interpret your final score, along with a breakdown of how well you did in each section. This, along with the solving strategies provided for each question can help you significantly improve your score no matter which tests you must take.

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Specific Tests – NCJOSI

In addition to the two general types of tests, some are specific to the job you are applying for. The National Criminal Justice Officer Selection Inventory (NCJOSI) test is an example of one that is required for employment in the law enforcement or criminal justice field. This test takes more time than others as is necessary for Pennsylvania civil servants at ⅖ hours. There are two versions of the test:

Version 1

The first version has 45 questions in the cognitive section, which cover:

  • Problem-solving ability
  • Reading or verbal comprehension
  • Mathematics
  • Writing ability

In addition, there are 42 questions in the “Behavioral and Attitudinal Attributes” section where you will have to rate a statement on a Likert scale from 1-5 based on how much you agree or disagree with it. This section resembles a personality assessment.

Version 2

The second version has 80 questions, which is a bit longer than the first. It covers the following areas of assessment:

  • Verbal comprehension
  • Verbal expression
  • Problem sensitivity
  • Deductive reasoning
  • Inductive reasoning
  • Information ordering
  • Spatial orientation
  • Visualization
  • Selective attention
  • Flexibility of closure

The second section has 120 statements in the “Behavioral and Attitudinal Attributes” section that follows the same format as the first version. This test will take longer to complete, but has a much different focus than the first version.

The PrepPack for the NCJOSI assessment covers both versions and includes two full-length practice tests for each, along with:

  • A full-length simulation of the test
  • Over 100 practice questions
  • Study guides and practice tests by section.

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Specific Tests – Civil Service Clerical Exam

There is also a Civil Service Clerical Exam, which is required for any clerical position such as a clerk, stenographer, typist, or data-entry administrator. The following areas are covered on this test:

  • Interpreting tables and charts
  • Arithmetic operations
  • Name and number checking
  • Following directions
  • Alphabetizing/filing
  • Knowledge of English grammar and usage, punctuation, and sentence structure
  • Reading, understanding, and interpreting written material
  • Clerical checking
  • Office record keeping

Similar to the other PrepPacks, the Civil Service Clerical Exam PrepPack includes 700+ sample questions, practice tests for over 10 different subject areas, and study guides for learning how to answer questions quickly and efficiently.

If you are interested in applying for multiple clerical positions, this PrepPack will help you with any you choose. It is a comprehensive resource that should be considered an investment for your future career!

All tests are administered through the State Integrated Computerized Examination system. Each question is multiple-choice, meaning that you will have at least three to four choices to answer from.

In addition to the more niched PrepPacks for specific positions, Job Test Prep also offers a General Civil Service All-Inclusive pack. This is useful for any job you could apply for in the civil service industry, especially if you have trouble deciding which career you want to pursue. This Pack is one of the most significant online practice materials available, even allowing you to create a customized package.

While these tests are generally stressful to those who take them, remembering to stay calm is the most important thing you can do when you’re sitting for the exam. You are less likely to perform at your best if your mind is focusing on other things.

Taking deep breaths, going to a “calm” place momentarily, and recentering your mind are all great tips to help reduce your test-taking anxiety. They also work for oral presentations.

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Exam Tips

Some more valuable tips for taking the Pennsylvania Civil Service Exam are:

  • Arrive 10-15 minutes early at the testing site. Allow time in your commute for traffic or unexpected situations.
  • Contact the job you are applying for to make sure you are signed up for the proper test. You will have to take the correct exam if you sit for the wrong one.
  • Purchase multiple PrepPacks for additional support. If you have any questions, contact the Job Test Prep customer service. They have a 100& money-back guarantee on all purchases.
  • Dress professionally for your test. You never know if your potential employer will be there!

Application

Before you take your exams, you’ll have to submit your application. As usual, you will include a resume or curriculum vitae (CV) along with your past education and work experience. The State also requires you to rate how comfortable you are with different work environments and jobs.

After someone from the State reviews your application, you will be given an experience and training rate. This will be factored into the hiring process, so it’s essential to be as accurate as possible.

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Job Search

As you navigate through the job opportunities with the state of Pennsylvania, know that the growth potential is immense no matter which field you choose. The State employs the most people in all of Pennsylvania, so there will always be a wide variety of options.

You also have the freedom to choose many things when looking for a position, such as a county you’d like to work in. When searching, there is an option to select ten different counties. Comparing the pay, benefits, and job descriptions for each county is also helpful for narrowing down where you want to apply.

Test Locations

There are seven different testing locations throughout the State with availability throughout the month. You can even choose night or weekend options, depending on your current schedule. For a list of sites and contact information, visit this website.

How Will My Test Scores Impact My Job Search?

As always, your goal should be to score as high as possible on whichever tests you take. This way, it shows your employer you are competent in the necessary skills to do the job.

For any Pennsylvania State Civil Service Tests, applicants are only placed into the job pool if they achieve a passing score. However, you won’t be considered if you don’t score high enough or “pass” the test.

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Conclusion

Overall, applying to work with the Pennsylvania Civil Service department can be confusing and challenging. However, by utilizing the Job Test Prep study materials, you will outshine other applicants. Being as prepared as possible is key to ensuring success during the test-taking process. You should also strive to score high enough to be placed into the top pool of applicants.

We wish you the best of luck on your job search and test experience!

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Written by Bailee Boggess McCoy

Bailee, MSW, is a freelance writer and editor. She specializes in career, social work, tech, B2B, marketing, and medical, health, and wellness content. She has experience as a job coach, DEI consultant for companies, community-project manager, and clinical researcher. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Georgetown College in 2018, and studied neurolinguistics and developmental psychology at the University of Oxford. She earned her Master’s in Social Work at the University of Kentucky in 2021. Her scientific research has been presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference and published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Associated Disorders.

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