Participation of federal employees in the development a new Public Service Entrance Exam (11-06)


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Letter to heads of human resources are available via an RSS Feed .

March 24, 2011

The Public Service Commission (PSC) is developing an innovative new Public Service Entrance Exam (PSEE) for federal public service entry-level officer positions. It will measure three important components for entry-level officer positions: problem-solving and reasoning, judgement and written communication skills.

The new exam will have an unsupervised Internet testing component, which represents an efficient assessment strategy to assist organizations with identifying quality candidates early on in the selection process, volume management and reducing the time and cost of external staffing. The PSC plans to implement the new exam in phases, starting with the assessment of reasoning ability in the 2011-2012 Post Secondary Recruitment Campaign. Judgement, writing skills and the capacity for departments and agencies to use the new unsupervised instrument will be introduced in subsequent phases, beginning in 2012-2013.

Situational judgement is a key component of the test, and questions will assess ability to exercise sound judgement in various contexts required for public service jobs. To ensure that test questions are relevant across jobs and organizations, the PSC is soliciting input from public service officers and managers who can provide examples of challenging situations that have taken place at work. Please note that we are interested in a whole range of challenging situations, not just those with successful and clear-cut outcomes. We recognize that sometimes complicated outcomes lend themselves to excellent critical incidents.

We will be organizing 2- to 3-hour focus group sessions in the spring of 2011 and will be asking participants to attend one of these sessions. If you know officers and managers who have a track record of good job performance and would like to give them an opportunity to participate in the development of the PSEE, I kindly ask that you share this letter with them and also consider participating personally in the process. Your collaboration and support will be greatly appreciated. Note that there may also be opportunities to contribute to the development of this test through e-mail and/or Web-based approaches.

Your early involvement will help support the development of a test that will meet your needs. I thank you in advance for any contributions your organization might make to the development of this important pre-employment screening tool.

If you or others from your organization are interested in participating in this initiative, please contact Aoife Brennan, Project Manager, Research and Development, Personnel Psychology Centre, PSC, at

With best regards,

Gerry Thom
Vice President, Staffing and Assessment Services Branch
Public Service Commission