Office Skills Test (OST-200)

Use

The purpose of the Office Skills Test (OST) is to assess an individual's ability to perform essential clerical tasks quickly and accurately. The skills assessed are filing, performing arithmetic calculations, checking, understanding words (vocabulary) and following directions. The OST can be used to assist managers in making selection decisions, identifying training and development needs, and counselling for career transitions.

When the test is used for screening purposes, the minimum pass mark is 35/75. Managers can use a higher cut-off score depending on the level of skill required for the position.

Description

The Office Skills Test (OST) consists of five separately-timed sub-tests of varying duration, each with 15 multiple-choice questions. It takes 47 minutes of actual test time and a total of approximately 1 1/2 hours including time for administrative purposes.

The Personnel Psychology Centre's 48-hour scoring service sends results to the test centre, which in turn has the responsibility to inform the candidates of their scores.

Sub-Tests

Filing (Sub-Test 1) is designed to measure speed and accuracy in filing items in alphabetical, numerical, or chronological order. Each question consists of a set of five names, five numbers or five dates numbered successively from (1) to (5). You are asked to select the correct order by arranging the names in alphabetical order, the numbers in ascending order from lowest to highest, and the dates in chronological order from earliest to most recent. Time allotted: 4 minutes

Arithmetic (Sub-Test 2) is designed to measure speed and accuracy in solving arithmetic problems of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Note that calculators are not permitted for this sub-test. Time allotted: 13 minutes

Checking (Sub-test 3) is designed to measure your ability to check the accuracy of information on one list persons against information on a correct list.

The information on the List to be checked is presented in four columns. Each column may or may not contain errors for any individual. For each question, compare the information in the columns with the error-free list, the Original List and determine the number of columns that are incorrect. Time allotted: 3 minutes

Vocabulary (Sub-Test 4) is designed to measure your understanding of vocabulary. Each question consists of a sentence or a part of a sentence in which a word or phrase is in bold type. You are asked to select the one that has the closest meaning to the word or phrase in bold type. Time allotted: 5 minutes

Following Directions (Sub-Test 5) is designed to assess the ability to understand and follow written directions. Each question relates to a 12-month Calendar and an Information List. Time allotted: 22 minutes

There is a 180 day waiting period before you can rewrite the test. You may not retake it until the retest period has elapsed. If you rewrite the test before the retest period has elapsed, your result will not be valid and a new retest period will be imposed from the most recent test date.

Test-Taking Tips and Information

The information provided in this section will help you get ready for the test day. To become familiar with the OST, and to help you work at an appropriate pace, complete the sample questions and the practice test. Knowing what to expect will help you put forth your best effort.

  • Budget your time, work as quickly as possible, and use all the time available. Since each question is worth one point, try to do as many of the questions of the test as you can. Don't spend unnecessary time on a question that you find too difficult. Leave it and return to it if you have time at the end of the sub-test. If you finish a sub-test early, you can go back and review your answers for that sub-test and make sure that all your answers are entered correctly on the answer sheet. Your score will be the total number of correct answers you have chosen.
  • Answer all questions. Read the whole question and look at all five answer choices before choosing an answer, (it is often a mistake to think that because the first or second answer choice looks good to you, you do not need to read the remaining choices). Eliminate answers that you know are wrong. By reducing the number of choices, you increase your chance of selecting the correct answer. Guess if you are not sure of the correct answer. There is no penalty and no points are deducted for incorrect answers.
  • For additional practice, try employment tests and school tests as well as tests and puzzles in magazines, newspapers and books. If there are no time limits, set them yourself. The more comfortable you are with test-taking, with the types of questions which are asked and with how to answer them, the better prepared you will be. You may also wish to consult the reference sections in a local public library, or in bookstores, for preparation books on standardized tests.