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Public Employee Press

Fact Sheet: Civil Service Examinations

1. What is a civil service examination? The City of New York fills many (not all) of its positions through the civil service process. The city uses civil service exams to measure a candidate’s “merit” and “fitness” for a particular position. Taking an exam is the start of a hiring process that may lead to getting a job with New York City.

2. Who may take a civil service examination? Generally, there are two types of exams: open-competitive and promotional. Anyone can take an open-competitive exam, if they meet the basic qualifications of the position. Promotional exams are restricted to individuals already ­employed in specific New York City job titles.

3. What should I expect when taking a civil service examination? Civil service tests may be given in one of several forms. Written tests may be given in either a multiple-choice or essay format. Oral exams usually take the form of a panel interview. Education and Experience exams are often given to rate a candidate’s qualifications for a professional position, such as Electrical Engineer. Practical/Physical tests measure a candidate’s skill or competence in performing specific tasks.

4. How do I find out about scheduled civil service exams? You can do this in several ways: access the Web site (http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcas/html/home/home.shtml) of the Dept. of Citywide Administrative Services; visit the DCAS Applications Center at 2 Lafayette Street in lower Manhattan (9 a.m. - 5 p.m.); call DCAS’s automated phone system at 212-669-1357; or write the DCAS Applications Section, 1 Centre St., 14th Floor, New York, NY 10007. Also, check the Chief-Leader, a weekly newspaper available at many city newsstands.

5. How do I apply for a civil service examination? Once you decide you are interested in a particular civil service examination, obtain and review the application packet for that position. The application packet will contain a ­Notice of Examination, which outlines the salary, general job responsibilities, and minimum qualifications for the position, as well as the date of the examination. If you qualify, you must then file (register) to take that examination.

Filing for an exam means completing required application forms, paying a filing fee (which is waived under certain conditions) by money order or credit card, and submitting these items to DCAS during the filing period for the test. The filing period is usually a 20-day period during which DCAS accepts applications for a specific exam.

6. How much does it cost to file for the examination? Filing fees vary. You should expect to pay anywhere from $30 to $60 to take a civil service examination.

7. When will the civil service examination I applied for be held?
Most civil service tests are held three months after their filing period occurs. The exam schedule advises you of the date for the examination.

8. Where will the civil service examination I applied for be held? The City of New York usually holds exams on Saturdays in area public schools. You should expect to receive an admissions card 4-10 days before the exam.

Individuals who claim special circumstances (for religious observances, for special accommodations for disabilities, etc.) should complete and submit a Special ­Circumstances Form when they apply for an exam.

9. Why do I need an admission card to take a civil service examination?
An admission card allows you to be seated for an examination. It also lets you know when and where an exam will be held, how long the exam will be, and what you are allowed to bring with you.

10. What if I do not receive my admission card? If you do not receive your admission card five business days before an exam, contact the DCAS Examining Service Section at 1 Centre St., 14th Floor, New York, NY 10007.

11. What is a civil service list?
Once an examination has been scored, an Eligible List is created, in rank order by passing score. Examination candidates are notified of their test score and rank on the list. This Eligible List is used by New York City agencies to hire employees. Generally, an Eligible List will last for about four years.

12. What is the difference between a provisional and a permanent employee?
A provisional employee is an employee who has been hired by New York City and who has not taken a civil service test for that position. A permanent competitive class employee has taken and passed a civil service exam for a specific job title and has been certified with civil service status for that job title.

13. Does DC 37 offer assistance to those taking civil service examinations? Yes, the DC 37 Education Fund offers test preparation classes for many (not all) civil service examinations. This is a benefit extended to eligible employees covered by the DC 37 Education Fund. (SSEU Local 371 members should contact their local, since they are covered by a separate benefits agreement.)

Contact the DC 37 Education Fund during the filing ­period of the exam you want to take to find out if test preparation classes are being offered.

14. Does DC 37 provide materials for those who will take civil service examinations?
Yes, the DC 37 Education Fund provides materials for those who register for the Education Fund’s test preparation classes.

15. Is there a charge for these test prep classes? The classes are held at no charge to eligible employees covered by the DC 37 Education Fund.

16. Where are the test prep classes held? Test prep classes are held in various locations throughout the metropolitan area. You may contact the DC 37 Education Fund at 212-815-1681 for specific class information.

For additional information, contact the District Council 37 Education Fund, 125 Barclay St., Room 814, New York, NY 10007 (212-815-1700).

Source: District Council 37 Education Fund



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