Below you will find the complete recording of the webcast held on 13, February 2014 about the 2014 EPSO AST secretary competitions.
- 2014 EPSO secretary competition tips & tricks
- Qualification, diplomas needed for the exam
- EU language and citizenship requirements
- Test types
- Test-taking strategies, timeline and best practices
Hello everyone and welcome to this Online EU Training webcast. Tonight’s topic is a long awaited competition that was announced by EPSO today - a competition for selecting Secretaries to work in the European institutions. The reason that I’m saying it is long awaited is because it’s been more than two years since the last time such a selection procedure was announced. So, this is a good opportunity for everyone who is interested in this field.
My name is Gabor Mikes. I’m the Managing Director of Online EU Training and I will be your host tonight.
At the very beginning, I’d like to apologise if my sound is a little harsh, I have a bit of a cold that’s why my voice may sound strange but I’ll try to stay comprehensible.
If you or one of your friends missed the webcast but you are interested in everything that has to be known about the EPSO Secretary exams, then there will be a recording of this event so we will publish the recording and you can consult that later or send it to anyone you like and we’ll also publish the transcript of what is going to be said here.
A couple of words about EU Training – the website that organises this free webcast. We are a community of over 75,000 users. All of our users share one common goal which is to get a job in one of the EU institutions. We have a very lively community on Facebook as well with over 30, 000 people so if you ran to any problems in your preparation, you want to ask a question to someone who has already participated, that’s a good place to start, that’s a good place to discuss such things.
And we helped in two ways basically by offering practice tests, simulation tests for the EPSO exams in packages. We have a question database of over 24,000 test questions and these questions have been used by our users over 16 million times.
And the other main service we offer is methodology webinars where we really go into the details and discuss how to succeed and how to improve at the tests that EPSO uses to select candidates for various positions.
So let’s talk about today’s agenda - what we are going to cover.
We’re going to talk just very briefly about what a Secretary position in the EU are like - a day in the life of an EU Secretary. And our main source of official information for this is the so-called Notice of Competition that is published by EPSO. And in the Notice of Competition, there’s always a section called “Duties”. And the “Duties” section in very much detail lists all the things that are expected of a Secretary working in an EU institution.
And when we consult this section, we can see that the typical tasks include working with different kind of paperwork: meeting, memos, reports, emails, letters, research documents, financial documents, request forms and so on and so on. It is also a Secretary’s responsibility to organise meetings, to follow up and gather information from other stakeholders, to organise the work and the schedule of one person or a whole unit or department. These are all secretarial tasks and I guess the point is that an EU Secretary’s duties are not very different from the duties of a Secretary in a private sector or in a company.
It’s quite similar so if you have experience there or if your qualifications are similar then this terrain will not be different. One big difference that you will see and you will face is the multilingual nature of European institutions. The fact that you might very well be working with an Estonian, an Italian, a Bulgarian and the German in very close proximity which is not typical in other workplaces.
On to more practical grounds, we are going to talk about how many positions are available that’s a crucial thing and a short preview this is a big, big competition, many, many people will be selected which is a good thing.
Then we are going to talk about eligibility criteria. What are the criteria you need to fulfill to be able to participate in the competition? We’ll talk a little bit about why is this a great opportunity to be an EU Secretary in general and to participate in this particular competition more specifically.
And the first step in seizing this opportunity in succeeding is passing the Pre-selection Test. We’ll see what this Pre-selection Tests are and we’ll talk very briefly about the nature of these tests. We’ll not go into much detail because that’s an area for the webinars that we offer that I already mentioned.
The second phase in this process is the assessment centre. If you were successful in the Pre-Selection phase then you get down to the assessment centre. We’ll talk a little bit about what that entails and what kind of exercises and tests you have to complete there.
Just like for any other subject or test or exam, there’s a good way to prepare for it and there’s a bad way to prepare for it and we’ll say a few words about what we believe is the ideal way to prepare for this test and for those of you who stick with us to the end of this webinar, we have a special offer that will be valid for 48 hours and that’s only for you, the participants of the webcast.
A day in the life of a EU Secretary
Alright so what we need to quickly summarise is how does this exactly work to you, do you apply for a concrete position or you just simply apply to be a EU Secretary and the answer is that you apply to be a EU Secretary, you don’t know at the moment of recruitment where you’ll end up working. The place of work can be in any of the major administrative centres of the EU namely Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg.
In many other competitions, what we say is that the vast majority of jobs will be in Brussels. This particular Secretary exam is a little bit different because it is offered in two different grades. SC1 Secretaries are more junior. We’ll see that they require less professional experience and SC2 Secretaries who are more senior secretaries with a lot more work experience.
Now the reason I’m mentioning this here is because the EPSO Notice of Competition specifically states that most of the SC2 Senior Assistant positions offered in this particular exam will be at the Court of Justice and the administrative hurl of the Court of Justice is in Luxembourg. So that means if you’re applying for an SC2 grade in this competition and you’re successful, you will most likely end up in Luxembourg.
But if you’re applying for the SC1 Junior Secretary position, then you can end up in any of the many, many EU institutions: the Commission, the Parliament, Council of Ministers, the Court of Justice, Court of Auditors, Economic and Social Committee, Committee of the Regions and many others.
And once again very important, you don’t apply for one particular institution, you actually don’t really have much influence on which institution you’ll end up in, this is decided at the moment one of the EU institutions will seek you out and offer you a job.
As I already indicated, this particular competition that we’re talking about tonight is divided into two main grades. SC1 where no professional experience is required and if you have the necessary qualifications and SC2 where professional experience is required even if you have the necessary professional qualifications. SC1 is more junior, SC2 is more senior. We don’t know for sure the exact proportions but this is reflected in pay, in salaries as well.
When we talk about eligibility, how to be eligible to apply for this competition either for SC1 or for SC2, the first thing you need to check is language requirements. This particular competition requires knowledge of two languages. One that EPSO refers to as 1st language – this is usually your mother tongue but EPSO uses a less loaded term – it says that you must have thorough knowledge of your first language. That means that if you’re bilingual or your command of your second language is very, very good then you could consider marking that as your first language.
You also need to have a satisfactory knowledge of a second language and it’s in both cases – both for the first language and for the second language, EPSO limits the choices. So this competition is not for all speakers of all EU languages. We’ll see what the limitations are.
The citizenship however is open. You can apply for any of the EUs now 28 member states.
Let’s see the number of positions and the languages. The four languages that EPSO seeks as first language are English, French, German and Croatian. So you can see that EPSO is really looking for people whose first language is one of the three working languages of the EU plus Croatian. What is the reason for Croatian? It’s because it’s a newly joined member state and they need to fill up positions, well not assigned to Croatians because there is no quota in the EU, but the EU tries to achieve a good balance of nationalities in the institutions and for this reason, a new member states always are offered more positions in the first few years.
In SC1 Junior Secretary Grade, we have 70 positions for English, 56 for French, 40 for Croatian and 21 for German. That’s already almost 200 positions. In SC2, we have 32 for English, 33 for French, 13 for Croatian and 10 for German and if you add these all up, I don’t remember the exact number but it’s roughly 270 positions. And just to put that in perspective the largest competition organised by the EU every year is the competition for administrators. Administrators are the main building blocks of the EU Civil Service and Administrator Competitions which are for people with university educations, they are the largest and they usually select between 300 and 400 people every year. Now, compare that to 270 in this competition, it’s almost as big as an AD competition. This is very good news because this means that you have much higher chance of success unusually.
I see you have a question here about language requirement. Somebody asked, “What level does satisfactory knowledge represent?” That’s a good question. I don’t think that there is a formal definition but when you think of satisfactory knowledge as a level of knowledge, of a language that means that you can communicate with colleagues and perform your daily tasks in that language. So that means in any given day in the EU, you end up not being able to use your first language for a whole day or for whole week, for a whole month because everybody you need to talk to and all the emails you need to read are from your selected second language, you should be able to comfortably perform the duties. That’s what satisfactory knowledge means.
Let’s see there are more questions. I see somebody remarks that the EPSO website still doesn’t allow you to apply for this competition. Sorry, the typical EPSO they always are at least half a day, sometimes a day late in opening applications. The information that I am telling you is from the Official Journal of the European Union that’s published every day at midnight and this one that covers this particular competition was published at midnight this morning 19 hours ago. So what we did at Online EU Training is we rushed into the office, loaded the Notice of Competition and updated our presentation so we can give you the latest information. EPSO seems to be a little bit slower. But don’t worry, it’ll be there tomorrow.
Alright, so what is the application deadline? The applications will probably open tomorrow or latest on Monday and you’ll need to apply before noon, Brussels time on the 18th of March 2014. Don’t leave it to the last minute, the last second because another typical EPSO thing is that sometimes their servers crashed under the pressure and burden of all the people applying at the last minute so do it as soon as possible.
According to the forward planning document that EPSO also publishes, the booking period, the period of time when they’ll send you email, allowing you to book your date for the first phase of the exam the Pre-Selection will be sometime in March – April and the actual test, the Pre-Selection test will be sometime in April or May. So that’s the timeline you should prepare for. This means that you’ll have plenty of time to prepare. That’s the good news.
Alright, once again quick summary of the languages. First language can be either English, French, German or Croatian and the second language has to be one of the three working languages of the EU: English, French or German. And one important rule is that your second language can’t be the same as your first language so if you select English as your first language, then you can only select French or German as your second language.
One important thing to note here is you can only apply for either SC1 or SC2 and you can only select one first language and one second language so you can’t apply twice once with English as the first language and once with Croatian as the first language.
So let’s see the qualifications and work experience that is required to apply. We need handle this separately for SC1 and SC2 because they are slightly different. SC1 which is remember the more junior position, you have two routes of being eligible. Let’s see the simpler one. If you have a relevant post-secondary education for example a professional course, post-secondary course in Secretarial skills or in Administrative Assistant course then you don’t need any work experience, you’re eligible. That’s it.
If you don’t have that, if you don’t have such qualifications but you do have secondary education completed you still have way to be eligible and that is if after school you have work as a Secretary performing duties similar to what is listed in the Notice of Competition for three years prior to the date when they’ll check your application, that’s very important. If you have that, then you are eligible. It’s important that they’ll check eligibility after you have successfully passed the pre-selection phase. So they’ll check eligibility in July this year then that means that you only need to have completed the three years experience by July. So that gives you a little bit of a leeway in getting that work experience.
Let’s look at the SC2, with the SC2, you cannot get away without work experience, you need some work experience either way. The simpler way, the way in which you can apply with fewer years of work experience is once again if you have relevant post-secondary education. It’s once again the Administrative Assistant course or the Secretarial course, if you have that completed, then you need four years of relevant work experience once again working as a Secretary and performing duties similar to what is described in the Notice of Competition. If you have that, then you are eligible. Once again you can also become eligible if you don’t have a relevant post-secondary education, if you only have a secondary education, then you need to add three years to the already necessary four years so that’s a total of seven years in its seven years of a relevant work experience plus the secondary school diploma and then you’re eligible to apply for SC2.
Now I know that these requirements always cause a lot of confusion. Unfortunately, nobody is going to give you a 100% guarantee the answer for this because that’s just the nature of the game but a good news is that if you’re in doubt but you think you might be eligible for SC2, the more senior position, then go ahead and apply for that because if you passed the Pre-Selection phase successfully and they checked your eligibility and they decide that you are not eligible for SC2 then the Selection Board will put your name over to the SC1 list and you’ll get a second chance to be among the top candidates there. So you can’t really lose much by applying for SC2 so it’s worth taking that risk.
Let’s see a couple of questions here. Alright, I see there are multiple questions for kind of substituting work experience and relevant studies with the university degree and that’s not possible unfortunately. Because your post-secondary education namely let’s say University diploma in Law or Languages or Biology or whatever, it’s not relevant post-secondary education in Secretarial duties. And to be honest it wouldn’t really be fair to other candidates if EPSO prioritise people with university studies even if it’s not a requirement so if you don’t have a relevant post-secondary education then you must have a relevant work experience. It’s either this or that.
Why it’s a great opportunity?
Alright, let’s continue. On more practical terms why it’s a great opportunity, I already mentioned that we don’t know the exact pay but EU pay is generally quite generous compared to average pay in most member states not all of them but compared to most and also there are very good benefits which are universal and they don’t depend on which level of position you are filling. There’s good Health Insurance, European schools for kids and there are additional benefits if you are married and you have children. They help you move there. You can purchase furniture and cars without paying VAT and some other perks as well.
And why it’s a good opportunity to apply for this particular competition? Well, I already mentioned that there are a lot of positions announced which is not every year so your chances will be higher also who knows when the next competition will be. Two years have passed since the last one and who knows how many years will pass before the next one and the third thing is that compared to earlier years the pre-selection phase has become significantly easier. I already hinted at this in the announcement of this webcast but let’s see how exactly did the exam become easier.
Steps Toward Getting A Job
Let’s show you the process. We’ve talked about eligibility. This was the first thing we’ve talked about even though when you’re submitting your application whatever you write there, they’ll take it at face value and they’ll only check if you passed the Pre-Selection phase. Why is that? That’s because there could be thousands of people applying for these exams and EPSO simply saves themselves some time and effort and they only check the eligibility of those who have passed the Pre-Selection phase. This is good business practice for them. It’s a little inconvenient for you because you might be putting in a lot of effort and practice and work only to find out that you are not eligible. So make sure you checked everything.
The second thing is the Pre-Selection phase. This is a selection of different multiple choice tests. You’ll sit this on a computer and you can do this at home, not at home but in your home country in I think over 65 countries all over the world. So you don’t have to travel to Brussels for this.
If you’ve successfully passed the Pre-Selection and we’ll talk about passing means, then the last challenge is the Assessment Centre. We’ll see what the components of these are and if you’re successful there, then you’re placed on the reserve list and we’ll see what that is and how to get a job interview from there.
So the Pre-Selection phase, this screen is the screen that contains the best news that I can give you tonight namely the fact that two test types that have been part of every single EPSO competition since 2010, Abstract Reasoning and Numerical Reasoning will not be part of the Secretary competition this year. Abstract Reasoning if you haven’t seen one then good for you. You don’t have to bother with it this time. It’s basically a logic test that relies on different shapes and figures and you need to find logical relationships between these figures.
Numerical Reasoning once again if you haven’t seen one, then you’re in luck because you’re not going to have to take this exam but it’s basically, it relies on Mathematical logic, you need to look at the table or a chart, extract some information from it and then calculate some numerical result based on that but the important information is that EPSO dropped Abstract and Numerical Reasoning from Secretary competitions. What you do have is good old Verbal Reasoning. The Verbal Reasoning is a test where you need to read a passage of text and then decide which statement that follows this text passage is the correct one. We’ll see how that works in a minute. This test you need to take in your first language that means English, French, German or Croatian.
There are two tests which EPSO referred to as Professional Skills Test. These are the most practical tests, the most closely related to actual Secretarial, Administrative Tests. One is an Accuracy and Precision Test which we can also call a checking test. We’ll see a little bit later why and an Organising and Prioritising Test. I’ll show you an example in a minute and these two tests you need to take in your selected second language: English, French or German which is different from your selected first language.
The last one is a Language Comprehension Test. Now this is a very interesting item. The Language Comprehension Test is used for example in Translator competitions and they used it to check Translator’s command of their selected second and third languages. So Translators take this test not in their mother tongue, not in their first language, but in their selected second and third languages. In this particular exam, you’ll take the Language Comprehension Test in your selected first language which in many cases happen to be your mother tongue.
Now you might ask why it must be very easy to take this test in your mother tongue. There are two reasons for this aspect. One is to check that the language you marked as your first language is really your first language, is really the language that you have a very good command of, thorough knowledge of. And the other reason is because this is not simply language test, it’s also a little bit of a reading comprehension test quite important in a Secretarial role as well to be able to read effectively and deduce from different formats of information.
Alright so Verbal Reasoning. I already mentioned that this is based on a text passage usually 300 to 500, under a 150 words long or 200 words long passage then it’s followed by a usually standard question: Which of the following statements is correct? And then you get four statements. Some of these statements will be in direct contradiction with the information in the passage, some of them might feel like they are correct but in fact you wouldn’t be able to prove them to be correct based on text passage and there would be one which will be the correct answer which is probably correct based on the information on the passage and you have to select that.
And of course, there are a lot of dangers for outside information, the statement containing generalisations or a fact using similar words in statements that actually mean different things. We talked a lot more about this typical Verbal Reasoning symptoms and how to avoid the traps and how to select the correct answer in the webinars that I mentioned.
In the Verbal Reasoning Test you have 20 questions and 35 minutes to answer them. The next test type is Accuracy and Precision and remember when I said that this is also called the checking test. Well the reason for this is you have a big table of data at the top, you have a legend that tells you what these icons mean: Glass, Tins, Cardboard, Paper, Plastic and so on. Then you have a table with five rows and a couple of columns. You should think of this bigger table as the original data and then here in the lower table you get some of the data duplicated. What you need to do basically is to check whether the data duplicated in this lower matches the data in this upper table.
You might think that this is very easy but you only have nine seconds for each table so it’s really about speed and being fast at pinpointing errors and checking them.
Again in the webinar, we always talk about ways to speed up your progress in this test, the typical types of errors that you will face so it’s useful to look at that. The Accuracy and Precision Test contains 40 questions and you have six minutes to answer those. This is a so-called Speed Test so you’re not really expected to finish the entire test, what EPSO wants to know is how many you can attempt to answer and how many of those will be correct.
The next test type is Organising and Prioritising Test. Organising and Prioritising Test are once again based usually on charts and tables and in these tables, there are different types of typical problems that they’ll show you. Either you will have to compare products and services like in this case the car hire prices or you get a bus timetable or a set of timetables and you need to figure out what is the fastest way to get from point A to point B. you might also get the availability schedule of four or five different people and you need to figure out what is the earliest time you can schedule a conference call for them.
You might get a list of inventory of office supplies and you need to check which ones you need to reorder first or which of the supplies you ran out first given an average weekly usage of supplies. So these are quite practical down to earth questions and you need to reason your way through them. There will be completing requirements for example when it’s a product or service comparison type test then you need to decide what is more important price or quality and there will be hints at this in the question text. If it’s a timetable, you might be asked to find the fastest way that doesn’t rely on trains and so on and so on.
And in the Organising and Prioritising Test, you have 24 questions and 30 minutes to answer those. Once again the typology of these test types of charts and tables and problem you’ll face and how to effectively them, we talk a lot more about this in methodology webinars.
Alright before we continue to the last test type, let me see if there are more questions here. Alright, just a couple of questions. Is there a list of officially accredited post-secondary qualifications? Unfortunately there is no official list this is always the jurisdiction of the Selection Board to decide.
Can experience at the army be counted? That depends on what you did in the army. If you had administrative tasks then that could very well be relevant. If you were a combat soldier, that’s less relevant for this particular position.
Alright. Let’s continue. The last test type that you need to take is the Language Comprehension Test and this is based on a long, long passage of text. It is usually 10 to 12 paragraphs. It’s five to six times longer than a Verbal Reasoning text passage and this is remember to check your command of your first language. And the text passage is usually followed by 10 to 12 questions and these questions will relate to grammar, vocabulary, interpretation of expressions or an entire paragraph and deduction as well. What do I mean by deduction? For example a question might ask you what is the main issue presented in paragraphs 5 and 6? And you need to make sense of those two paragraphs and deduce what the main point or the main issue discussed there.
We have examples of this and actually all of the tests we have covered so far on www.eutraining.eu. Alright, so once again to summarise the four test types are Verbal Reasoning, Accuracy and Precision, Organising and Prioritising and Language Comprehension.
Alright so what does it mean to pass the pre-selection test? Because that’s the main question here. How do you pass? How do you ensure that you proceed to the assessment centre? There are two things to bear in mind. The pass mark and to be among the best X candidates.
What is the pass mark? The pass mark is the minimum score you need to achieve to be even considered for being invited to the assessment centre. If you don’t reached the pass mark then you will automatically be disqualified.
Unfortunately it is not enough to reach the pass mark, if you have reached the pass mark then the rank order all the candidates according to their scores they’ll select the best X number of candidates to be invited to the assessment centre.
What does X represent here? Well, I mentioned that there are approximately 270 positions offered in this competition. Well, they’ll invite two to three times as many people to the assessment centre so that means that in our case, it would be the top 6 to 900 candidates that will be invited to the assessment centre.
Let’s check the pass marks. The Accuracy and Precision and Organising and Prioritising tests can get you a maximum of 40 points each so that’s a total of 80 and the pass mark is an aggregate pass mark for these two test types and it’s 40 so it’s 50% of the total score.
The Verbal Reasoning can get you a total of 20 points and Language Comprehension a total of 10 points and the pass mark for all of these is once again the 50% - 10 for Verbal Reasoning and 5 for Language Comprehension. These two are scored separately.
From these you can see that the two professional skills tests: Accuracy and Precision and Organising and Prioritising will represent the bulk of your total score. The total score is 40+40=80+20=100+10=110 points and out of 110, 80 points is contributed by Accuracy and Precision and Organising and Prioritising. I’m not advocating that you ignore any of these tests. All of them are important and all of them can get you important points but I’m just highlighting that these two carry the most weight.
Alright so the next and last challenge on being put on the reserve list is to perform well at the assessment centre. What does the assessment centre entail? You have two practical tests. One will be based on formatting and working with a Word and an Excel document and the other one will be drafting exercise. You need to draft a letter or a memo or some document of another format based on some input that you are given - a scenario.
These two tests will be in your first language. And these two tests are the tests measure your specific competencies, professional competencies that mean that these are the two tests in which EPSO will measure your Secretarial skills basically. The other two exercises in the assessment centre are the E-tray or In-Tray exercise. This is an exercise where you try to simulate a work day. You get a series of emails or different kinds of documents in your table or in your virtual mailbox, that’s the In-Tray and then you’ll get a task based on these incoming documents. You either have to write let’s say a memo or a report to your manager or reply to someone or write a summary or something like that.
Alternatively you can just simply be asked a series of questions based on the documents and you need to decide let’s say about statements whether you agree with them that that’s the best option to do in that case or you disagree on a scale of 1 to 5. That’s another format that EPSO uses.
The Structured Interview is very much like any other interview you might have participated at. People will ask you questions, it’s usually a panel of people not just one person. The difference between a normal interview and a structured interview is that these structured interviews, all the candidates are asked the same question in a structured way and they’ll ask about competencies, general competencies that EPSO measures. For example, resilience, stress management skills, ability to work with others, Organising and Prioritising skills and so on and so on. They’ll ask you about previous experience in these competencies. To give you a sample question, they might ask you: “Tell us about a time when you have to prioritise or juggle different priorities in your job?” And you have to be able to give a good response that highlights how you handle that situation.
According to the Notice of Competition there would also be an IT Literacy test. It’s basically a test how well you are with computers and software but this is only for statistical purposes. It will not be scored. So our suspicion is that EPSO is considering introducing such a test in the future. And what they’ll do is they have you the candidates fill out this test so they can see how it performs. But they won’t score it and it won’t contribute to your success or failure at the assessment centre.
Scoring is very important at the assessment centre as well. You get the two different scores. One for your specific competencies which is your Secretarial skills and one score for your general competencies which is I already mentioned are things like stress management, Organising and Prioritising and so on and so on.
Specific competencies represent 30% of the total score because they represent 30 points and general competencies represent 70% of the total score because you can get 10 points for each of the 7 competencies that are measured.
And the pass mark is 3 out of 10 for each general competency and 35 out of 70 for total for the general competencies and 12 out of 20 points for the Word-Excel exercise and 6 out of 10 for the drafting exercise for a total of 35+18=53 out of 100 for the entire assessment centre.
And the scoring is very similar to how it works in the Pre-Selection phase. You first have to reach the pass mark if you haven’t done, you cannot be successful. And among those who have reached the pass mark they’ll rank order the candidates according to the scores and they will pick the best 270 and they’ll be offered positions on the reserve list.
What is the reserve list? The reserve list is basically a list of people who are certified by EPSO to be eligible, to be selected as employees in the EU Civil Service as Secretaries. And the significance of the reserve list is that this is the list to which EPSO institutions turn when they need to recruit a new Secretary or a new assistant.
And as such each reserve list has a validity. This means that you need to be selected for a job from that reserve within one or two years, if you are not, then you have to start over the whole process. But EPSO in recent years has become quite good at estimating the number of people that will be needed in a given year by the institutions so according to our information 90 to 95% of the people on the reserve list do find a job eventually.
And when you are sought out by an institution based on your position on the reserve list then you’re invited to a job interview which is just like any other classical job interview and if you are both satisfied, then you will be offered a job and you can either accept or refuse that position.
A couple of words about preparing for these tests. First of all, it’s very important to be consistent and tenacious. You have to prepare, according to our surveys of successful candidates, the best thing to do is to prepare for 8 to 12 weeks and to prepare just 30 minutes every day. It’s much better than to prepare, practice 10 hours every Sunday or 24 hours the day before the exam. Because these tests are really about routine and the only way to gain routine is to be familiar with and to be exposed to these tests for an extended period of time.
A lot of simulation is very useful and by simulation we mean trying to practice with tests that are designed to be similar to the real EPSO test and under conditions very similar to the real exam. This is what we try to excel at www.eutraing.eu. To offer you practice tests that are very closely modeled on EPSO tests and to offer you a test interface which is similarly laid out as the real EPSO test interface.
And you have to be persistent and patient because this is a relatively long process compared to other recruitment procedures and you have to keep up your spirits and your motivation to be successful.
The reason methodology to these tests and it’s worth being familiar with them because it will make your preparation and your practice that much more effective.
Alright, let’s see a couple of questions:
If you refuse a position do you go back on the reserve list?
Absolutely! You have the right to refuse an offer. Obviously it’s worth considering it very carefully because it’s much better to seek other opportunities once you are already inside or rather than refusing less than ideal offer straight away but it is certainly a possibility and it won’t be reflected in your status and it can’t be negatively affecting your chances in being offered another position.
I thought I’d show you a couple of screenshots from our test interface. This is what a Verbal Reasoning Test looks like. This is an example of a Accuracy Test. To give you an example on how we try to model our tests closely on the EPSO test, last year we noticed that EPSO shows you the table for the Accuracy Test on the left side and the answer options on the right side so we switched that off as well so now when you practice Accuracy Test, it will be just like the EPSO test.
This is an example of an Organising and Prioritising test. If you see the image here, this is a timetable type test where you have to pick the most effective way of getting from point A to point B.
And the Language Test I haven’t shown it to you but it looks exactly like the Verbal Reasoning Test with the exception that you get very long text and the answer options are not always statements and that sometimes just words, sometimes full sentences, sometimes it’s just the number of the paragraph is the correct answer.
If you wish to practice on Online EU Training which I would highly encourage you to do. We just created a package specifically tailored to the Secretary exam. It’s called EPSO Secretary SC1/SC2 and we offer it in different sizes: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Diamond and it includes everything you need for the exam – Verbal Reasoning, Organising and Prioritising, Accuracy and Precision and Language Tests as well.
And if you’re interested in the methodology of these tests, then we will offer a webinar on the EPSO Secretary Test but since the exam has just been announced today and the actual test will not take place before April or May, we have yet to announced the exact date and time of this webinar but check our website: www.eutraining.eu on the top level Menu go to Live Webinars and we’ll announce it there as soon as we have the date.
Alright. We also have a lot of free E-books. Check out the Tips and Tricks menu on the website. We have E-books, videos, tips and tricks, article that cover let’s say small helpful tips on succeeding at a Accuracy Test or tackling a specific problem on the Organising and Prioritising test so they are quite useful.
I wanted to show you what our main interface for composing practice test looks like. This is actually new. We’ve renewed this in early 2014. It’s very easy. You can start a Secretary test by one click or you can select the exact test types that you wish to add to your test then you click on Start and you can start your simulation right away.
We also have a statistics page where you can look at your previous performance, compare results of your previous test, look at the trend line where you’ve improved and how much you’ve improved. So everything is there for you to concentrate on practicing and improving your skills at these tests.
If you want to practice the traditional way as well offline, we recommend the AST Assistant edition of The Ultimate EU Test Book which is written by my colleague and some other contributors and it does contain some other test types as well because it is tailored for the AST 3 Assistant competitions as well but it does cover most of the tests that you need to perform. It includes a lot of practice tests and they don’t overlap with the website so you can feel free to use that well.
Let me check if there are any outstanding questions and that will be the last point for today. Let me just delete the questions that I’ve already handled.
Do you get more than one job interview for having been put on the reserve list?
Sure you have set right way. I think I just covered that, sorry for that.
And what is the salary scale that can be expected to be applied to successful candidate?
Well, back when the Secretary position was still code AST 1 Assistant positions the typical starting salary was roughly €2,500 after taxes. I don’t know if it’s still the same but that’s a good reference point. That was the situation two years ago when the last such exam was announced.
I think I have run out of questions so once again thank you for your active participation. Thanks for the questions and have a pleasant evening and we’ll publish the recording tomorrow.