7 Tips On How To Prepare For Your EPSO Exam | EU Training

7 Tips On How To Prepare For Your EPSO Exam

IMPORTANT: this article refers to the previous EPSO exam system before March 2010 and may only be partially relevant for the new one

We have received dozens of questions from you about how to best prepare for the EPSO competitions? Here are a few:

- Which part of EU studies should I concentrate on? What in the world does "TAC" mean?
- Is methodology important? Or I should focus on content only?
- How about the Lisbon Treaty? Will they ask me about the Cassis de Dijon case?
- Do I need to spend 1 year or 1 month on studying? And how to structure my time?

Our experts examined all the above doubts, fears and questions, and gave you several excellent ideas.

1. Create a study plan: EPSO recently made the schedule of various exam phases public for each competition. This can greatly add to your preparation planning as you will know exactly when the pre-selection, the written and the oral exam phase will take place. We advise to start studying for the pre-selection exam 8-10 weeks before the due date, start revising the material 2 weeks before the big day, and try to take a few days off from work for maximum focus 1 week ahead of the exam. Be optimistic and plan your summer vacation according to the written exam and oral exam dates - you don't want to be sunbathing on the beach when the EPSO board is waiting for you in Brussels!

2. Only study for the upcoming phase: many people make the mistake of covering topics that will be important for the oral exam or the essay even before passing the pre-selection phase. And it's not only the topics, but the type of preparation as well: for the pre-selection part, you need a focus on facts, dates, names, lists and figures because you'll be asked in a multiple-choice format, along with verbal-numerical reasoning skills. However, for the written exam, a broad overview with drafting and analytical approach is needed: here, it is more advisable to study background reports, policy analyses and news instead of memorizing figures. Also, it's very useful to draft an essay on 3-4 likely topics so you will be prepared when one of them shows up at the exam!

3. Focus on methodology: it's not only vital to know the content, but equally important to be strong on the procedure and be up to speed even under time pressure. Therefore we advise you to continuously practice online tests while studying for the exam. When it comes to verbal and numerical reasoning, check this link on speed reading [http://www.wikihow.com/Learn-Speed-Reading] and start practicing quick mental calculations without a calculator [http://mathforum.org/k12/mathtips/beatcalc.html] while reading as many articles in the exam's language as possible. For the essay part, check our study material on How to draft essays. In any case, try to create the same tense atmosphere of the exam center with a countdown clock so you can prepare under simulated time pressure.

4. Core knowledge is essential: many candidates hesitate where to begin or what to study in the vast field of EU issues. Apart from our first Tips & tricks post, our advice is to cover the following topics (the % shows what proportion of your time to spend on each - this is of course subjective and not official by any means): i) EU history (15%) ii) EU institutions (25%) iii) EU Treaties and decision-making procedures (15%) iv) EU abbreviations, programmes, Member State data, "trivia" (15%) v) EU policies (20%) vi) Repetition, other smaller issues (10%).

5. What to exclude: there are several topics in EU studies you will most likely not be asked about at any EU competition. These include the following: i) Lisbon Treaty "content" part (until the Treaty enters into force, you should only know its background, adoption, political context and the ten core novelties but no detailed information or provision will be asked in the exams) ii) EU case law in detail (unless you sit a competition for lawyers, you will not be asked on any in-depth jurisprudence except for the most important ones like the Van Gend and Loos case or the Cassis de Dijon one) iii) non-essential EU policies (detailed rules of the research, budget, social or economic policies will most likely not be asked unless you sit a specialized exam in these fields, however, you can always expect questions on the Maastricht Convergence Criteria, main sources of the EU budget, energy policy and climate change initiatives, and make sure you know what the abbreviations TAC or OPOCE stand for).

6. Understand the rules: it is vital to be fully informed about the detailed rules of the EPSO recruitment procedure by reading the notice of competition carefully. Make sure you are familiar with all the deadlines and understand the meaning of "first language" and "second language" because choosing the wrong exam language can cost you dearly. Also, by knowing the allocated time for each exercise you can practice accordingly, and the notice of competition will also help you assess your chances of success by listing the number of available places on the reserve list.

7. Do your homework: understanding what is at stake is crucial - there are thousands of applicants who dream about an EU job but do very little to achieve their goal. By being conscious of your target, keeping your motivation high throughout the whole process and focusing on learning the right stuff with the right timing can easily land you a Brussels job. We know Irina, Sven, Juan and hundreds of others who studied two hours every evening, took the exam preparation extremely seriously, memorized facts, prepared sample essays, browsed the right websites and discussed their questions with a small group of likeminded friends - and succeeded. Don't count on miracles - just do your homework!