2016 Open and Interdepartmental competitions for
in the Civil Serviceand
Stage 2 Pre-Test Information
This is an important document so please set some time aside to read it in advance of the test session
Based on your results at Stage 1 of the selection process for Assistant Principal2016competition you are being invited to participate at Stage 2. This requires you to undergo an etray exercise, two aptitude tests and a job simulation exercise in a supervised environment in our test suitesat the Public Appointments Services Offices, 26-30 Abbey Street Upper, Dublin 1.You must reach the required standard in all exercises/tests.Please note that your etray exercise will only be scored if you reach the qualifying standard in the Verbal, Numerical and Job Simulation exercises.
The purpose of this document is to provide you with an overview of Stage 2 of the selection process. Please read this material carefully, as it is your opportunity to prepare.You can also expect the actual exercises/tests to be more difficult than the practice ones.
The e-tray Exercise
The e-tray is a computer based job simulation exercise designed for assessment to Assistant Principallevel.
During the e-tray exercise a realistic scenario is created in which candidates receive emails, documents and phone calls which they must respond to.
Candidates have 20 minutes to read the background materials and then have 75 minutes to complete the exercise.
For the exercise you will join a group of others to take your assessment in a supervised environment. All necessary materials and equipment will be provided by PAS i.e. computer, paper, pens, highlighters and calculator.
In advance, you will be sent familiarisation material with login details to complete a sample e-tray exercise.
During the actual e-tray exercise…
- The e-tray exercise will be preceded by a set of brief instructions.
- Listen carefully to the instructions, especially noting the time limit.
- Read through the instructions carefully, paying attention to detail.
- Any difficulties must be brought to the attention of the Administrator at the time.
The content of the exercise is totally fictitious. No resemblance to a real situation is intended. If a candidate has content knowledge of any real situation that resembles the exercise scenario they should disregard this as the exercise will be scored only on the basis of the information presented. No prior experience of the Civil Service is required to complete this task.
The supervised aptitude tests which you will take at Stage 2 will be of similar nature to the test which you took online at Stage 1 i.e. Verbal Analysis(19 minutes) and Numerical Analysis (25 minutes). As you will recall, practice material is available online at
You must reach the required standard in your Verbal and Numerical Analysis aptitude tests at Stage 2. You should note that if a candidate’s performance at a supervised test is outside the expected scoring range from their unsupervised test, they may be excluded from subsequent stages of the selection process.
The Job Simulation Exercise
In this exercise, candidates are asked to review a series of 10 scenarios, each of which are followed by five possible actions. The task is to rate each of the actions in terms of their appropriateness based on the information presented in the scenario only. You will have 30 minutes to complete this exercise.
The following scale will be used when reviewing each action:Highly Inappropriate / Inappropriate / Slightly Inappropriate / Slightly Appropriate / Appropriate / Highly Appropriate
Each action should be rated in isolation to the other actions, i.e. you may feel all of the actions for one scenario are ‘Highly Inappropriate’ or all the actions are ‘Appropriate’ etc and therefore you should rate accordingly. Do not spend too long rating any one action; make your best choice as to the appropriateness of the actions. A sample scenario is set out below:
You have been leading a large-scale project for the last fifteen months and all the milestones and deadlines have been met. The project is finally coming to fruition. Your contribution is coming to an end and you are preparing to move on to your next piece of work, which your manager tells you is high profile and interesting. You are keen to take up this opportunity. However, you get a phone call from a colleague who informs you that the project team, of which you are both members, needs to carry out an additional piece of work that was documented in early meetings, but has not been followed up on and included in the project plan. Completing this last piece of work would mean having to pass up on the high profile project.
Rate each of the following actions using the scale.1 / Accept this extra task in order to finish the project yourself before seeking new work. /
2 / Arrange for others in the project team to cover the extra task, whilst you move on. /
3 / Agree to take responsibility for completion of the extra task whilst allocating the work to other project team members to free you up. /
4 / Leave the extra task until a later date so that you can do it when there is a space in your new work commitments. /
5 / Ask your colleague for the background to the omission and suggestions for a solution. Tell them you are about to take charge of another project and will have limited time to implement any additional work. /
If in this scenario you feel that Action 1 is ‘Slightly Appropriate’, you should select that option. If you feel that Action 2 is ‘Highly Appropriate’, you should select that option. If you feel that Action 3 is ‘Inappropriate’, you should select that option etc.
The answers above are not suggested answers. They are to help you understand how to complete the test on the day.
During the examples and explanations you will have the opportunity to ask any questions before starting the tests.If the Public Appointments Service is not notified of any issues or problems on the day of the tests, we will not be in a position to address these after the fact.
Please note that your etray exercise will only be scored if you reach the qualifying standard in the Verbal, Numerical and Job Simulation exercises.
As outlined earlier, if your performance at a supervised test is outside the expected scoring range from your unsupervised test, you may be excluded from subsequent stages of the selection process.
Following this element of the selection process, ranking on the order of merit will be determined by performance at the etray exercise and the Job Simulation Exercise. In addition, you must also reach the required standard in the Verbal and Numerical Analysis tests at Stage 2.
Those to be invited to Stage 3 will be determined by the Public Appointments Service from time to time. Reaching the qualifying standard at Stage 2 is no guarantee that you will be invited to Stage 3.
Irrespective of which of the specific Assistant Principal competition streams you applied for (i.e. Open, Interdepartmental), you may only sit Stage 2 tests once. The scores you achieve will carry across all streams for which you applied and for which come under consideration.
If you come under consideration to proceed to subsequent selection stages, information will be forwarded to you at the appropriate time.
Make sure that you know where the test venue is and that you can locate it.
Public Appointments Services Offices,
26-30 Abbey Street Upper,
Allow yourself sufficient time to reach the PAS venue 15 minutes before your session is scheduled to commence.
The test session will last approximately 3.5 hours (including registration, instruction, tests, etc). You should be aware of this when making your travel arrangements and allow yourself sufficient time as you will not be permitted to leave during the test sessions, as you may cause disruption to others. Dress comfortably and appropriately. Remember that you will be sitting for a long period and during that time you may cool-down or warm-up as the test session progresses.
If you wear glasses or contact lenses remember to wear them or bring them with you.
When you get there
No bags, belongings, mobile phones or other electronic devices are permitted into the test suite. Candidates who do not comply with this requirement will not be permitted to enter. Any of the above items found will be removed and may result in the candidate being disqualified from the competition.
The Public Appointments Service will provide a room in which items such as those listed may be stored. However, the Public Appointments Service accepts no responsibility for the security or safety of these items.
To prevent disruption to other candidates in attendance, the use of devises with audible alarms e.g. watches, stopwatches, etc., is not permitted in the test venue. However, during each test you will have access to a timer which will inform you of how much time you have remaining to complete the test.
Requests for a change to a candidate’s allocated test session will only be considered in exceptional circumstances.
During the test session
You will be provided with the materials you will need to take the tests e.g. pens, rough work paper, calculator, etc.
Each exercise/test will be preceded by a set of brief instructions. Listen carefully to these instructions. You will have an opportunity to ask questions before the actual tests commence.
Test day Checklist
Before you arrive at your test centre, please ensure that you have the following items with you:
- A print out of your invitation to attend Stage 2test session.
- A passport photograph. You will be required to sign the back of the photo on registration at the test centre.
- Identification documents.Please bring one of the following as Photo ID:
- Drivers Licence
- Public Services Card
- National Identity Card
If your Identification document was issued more than five years ago, you must also bring additional photo identification with a more recent photograph.
Integrity and honesty are key values within the Civil and Public Service. As potential employees you are expected to honour these values, both in how you approach this competition and by agreeing to follow the rules and procedures laid down. By taking part in the selection process, you are confirming that you are the person named on the application and you agree to complete the tests honestly and without assistance. A third party must not personate a candidate at any stage of the process. Your attention is drawn to the important information set out on page 6. By accessing or attempting any assessment/test materials you are agreeing to be bound by the terms set out.
Terms and Conditions
Your attention is drawn to this important information. By accessing or attempting any assessment/test materials you are agreeing to be bound by the terms set out below.
- All test and assessment materials are subject to copyright and all rights are reserved. No part of the tests/ assessment materials (including any text, questions and/or potential answer options) or associated materials (including practice and/ or familiarisation materials) may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means including electronic, mechanical, photocopying, printing, photographing, recording, written or otherwise, at any stage. To do so is an offence and may result in you being excluded from the selection process. Any person(s) who contravenes this provision, whether an applicant or other, or who assists another person(s) in contravening this provision, is liable to prosecution and/ or civil suit for loss of copyright and intellectual property.
- Your attention is drawn the Commission for Public Service Appointment’s Code of Practice for Appointment to Positions in the Civil Service and Public Service. In particular please note Section 5 - Responsibility of Candidates (see below).
Candidates should note that canvassing will disqualify them and will result in their exclusion from the appointments process.
Candidates in the recruitment process must not:
- Knowingly or recklessly provide false information
- Canvass any person, with or without inducements
- Interfere with or compromise the process in any way.
A third party must not personate a candidate at any stage of the process.
Penalties for failure to comply
Any person who contravenes the above provisions, or who assists another person in contravening the above provisions is guilty of an offence. A person who is found guilty of an offence is liable to a fine and/or imprisonment.
If a person found guilty of such an offence was or is a candidate in a recruitment process, then:
- Where he/she has not been appointed to a post, he/she will be disqualified as a candidate
- Where he/she has been appointed subsequent to the recruitment process in question, he/she
shall forfeit that appointment.
- The admission of a person to the competition, or invitation to undertake any element of the selection process is not to be taken as implying that the Public Appointments Service is satisfied that such a person fulfils the essential requirements.