8 Steps to Ace the EPSO Written Test

EU Training

UPDATE 2024 - This article has been updated to reflect changes in EPSO's and other EU institutions' selection processes.

Written Test | EPSO or Non-EPSO

EPSO introduced the Written Test in February 2024 to replace the Case Study exam formerly used in the selection process. There will be 3 types of Written Tests:

  • Written test (WT) related to the field(s) of the competition, assessing only written communication skills.
  • Field-related written test (FRWT), assessing written communication skills and knowledge in the relevant field of the competition.
  • Free-text Essay on EU matters (EUFTE), assessing only written communication skills. 

Many ongoing internal competitions, namely the European Commission ones, and some open competitions released by other EU institutions, also require a Written Test as part of the selection process.

We have split the Written Tests available on our site into two categories: EPSO-Style and Non-EPSO.

For many candidates this is the scariest part of the whole selection process, but fear not: the EU Training team has created this step-by-step guide to help you plan and schedule your preparation to become a Written Test pro by the time your exam day rolls around.

Here's how to ace your Written Test in 8 steps:


  1. Re-read the Notice of Competition

Along with any communication you receive directly, the Notice of Competition is your number one official source of information. Read it again, and again! It tells you all the basic information you need to know about which tests you will have to sit under what conditions and how they will be scored.

EPSO-Style: The EPSO Written Test is designed to assess one competency, and for some specialists field-related competencies will be assessed as well (but this will be mentioned clearly in the Notice of Competition):

  • The subject of the written test will always be related to the field of your competition,
  • But field-related competencies will only be assessed if explicitly mentioned in the NoC.
  • According to the latest information we have, the written test documents will be released 2-3 weeks before the exam date. 

Non-EPSO: The European Commission Written Test is the most common and most recent Written Test we know about:

  • It is always an EU-related subject
  • Candidates receive the documents at the exam
  • Generally, 120 minutes is the time limit given to read through and write a response to the assignment based on those documents
  • The competencies assessed are not explicitly mentioned, but may closely align with these old EPSO competencies: Communication (drafting skills), Delivering Quality & Results, and Prioritising and Organising, Analysis and Problem-Solving
  • The competencies assessed may also align with the duties required and listed in the NoC, and will vary a bit from grade to grade.


  1. Consult a more comprehensive summary material

This is going to be repeated a couple of more times: the notice of competition is a good starting point: this is where the important details are listed and scoring is detailed. However, not much more info is given in this initial document.

EPSO has sample case studies available according to competition type but no written tests have been added yet. These are still a great resource to familiarise yourself with the format and the platform.

Go to this page to find your type of competition and then choose 'Case Study' from the list. We recommend you download them, and maybe scan through them quickly, but do not plunge into reading them in detail yet. They will be much more beneficial at a later stage as practice materials, once you are familiar with the exam setup and the details of what is expected from you to obtain a good score.

Case Study Exam Insights Webinars

2023 version

  • relevant for the current EPSO Written Test which only assesses written communication skills

2019 version

  • relevant for internal competition written tests because more competencies are covered

Both webinars are a wealth of useful methodology:

  • Get practical advice on how to analyse the documents
  • Learn how to draft a response effectively
  • Master time management techniques
  • Find out what assessors are looking for
  • Become competent in best practices for preparation and exam-day strategies.

A big bonus when you purchase these webinars is all the additional documents you receive, like a sample case study with a sample solution, and much more!

The information provided in these webinars will help you improve your skills to create a stand-out written response that appeals to assessors.


  1. Catch up with EU affairs and know the EU institutions

Written tests simulate real life in the EU institutions and EU-related scenarios. Although you will have the key background materials provided, to quickly grasp the context of the assignment it is important to be familiar with current EU affairs and to know how EU institutions work.

More precisely, you should be well-acquainted with what is happening in your specific field.

You might be asking yourself: what could the possible subjects be? It is hard to guess. It can be a hot EU topic such as Migration reform or Big Tech legislation. Or it can always be an EU evergreen, such as unemployment, climate change or diversity policies. The best thing you can do is refresh your knowledge and be up to date with EU-related news. Here are a few websites you can start with:

For EU institutions and legislation:

For latest European Union news:

Pick your favourite from these news sites, or find the sites related to your field in the EU specifically, bookmark 1 or 2 of them, and read them on a daily basis.


  1. Try a mock written test in the preparation process

No amount of reading can replace practice. You should practice by simulation as much as you can. Trying a written test simulation at the beginning of your preparation process can help you in more ways than one:

  • You will get to know the test situation and the test interface.
    • You can experience for yourself how difficult it is for you personally to get through all the materials and write your essay within the strict time limit.
  •  You will become familiar with the test software and its functionalities won’t surprise you.
  • You can get detailed feedback on your written response from experts who have assessed many written tests and know what assessors look for.
  • You will find out where you are in your preparation process and what you should focus on to improve.
    • If you get an evaluation for your written response, the assessor's comments will help with this.
    • Create a list of your strengths and weaknesses, this will help in creating your prep plan (see below).


  • Evaluation of a completed Written Test simulation is available in ENGLISH and FRENCH ONLY
  • Turnaround is 5 business days, EXCEPT in peak exam periods, then it may take longer.
  • PLEASE submit your Written Test responses well in advance of your exam date!


  1. Create a preparation roadmap

Once you know where you stand in your preparation journey and know where you want to be by exam time, it’s time to think about how you are going to get there. Consider the areas you need to improve and plan how you are going to do it.

Do you run out of time because you cannot read through the background documents fast enough?

  • Practice speed-reading.
  • Watch one of the webinars mentioned above to master time management

Do you get lost in long, wordy sentences?

These are just a few basic examples, but the point is, if you see what needs to be done:  

  • you will know what material to look for, how to analyse the documents
  • you will know how much time and effort the tasks will need.

Taking into account the time you will have, you can structure and schedule your steps to make the most of your EPSO exam preparation. It’s good to write all this down, so it becomes clearer for yourself as well.


  1. Practice, practice, practice

While improving specific skills, do not lose sight of the big picture. It is important to practice speed-reading because it will add to your overall performance, but keep in mind what your ultimate goal is: it is to master EPSO-Style Written Test drafting skills, and the best way to do this is by practicing under realistic exam conditions.

Pull out the EPSO sample studies mentioned in Step 2 and complete the assignment. Also, attached to the EPSO Case Study Insights webinar products on EU Training are sample case studies and sample solutions. Even if you do not complete it, read the task and the corrected solution. This will give you a deeper insight into the common mistakes you should avoid, and general advice like ‘Be specific!’ is demonstrated in practice, and is much easier to grasp.

Currently, EU Training has the following Written Test products available, (English only):

COMING SOON: EPSO-Style Written Test Simulations related to the field of the competition!


  1. Personal coaching

EU Training's coaches are the best around. They have much experience with EPSO and non-EPSO case studies and written tests. You will receive focused, personalised guidance to help improve your drafting skills and ultimately, your chances of success!

Get in touch with one of our experts here: Case Study (Written Test) Coaching on EU Training.


  1. Rest and relax

Take it easy the day before the exam.


  • Start some last-minute studying frenzy.
  • Panic
  • Binge-watch Netflix all night long


  • Scroll through some EU news, but keep it to a minimum.
  • Scan through your list of focus points one more time.
  • Exercise or go for a walk.
  • Eat light and healthy 'brain food', and drink plenty of water.
  • Relax your mind and do some self-care
  • Go to bed early, get enough sleep

If you put in the comprehensive preparation work leading up to exam day, rest assured it will show in your score.

Read more about how to deal with EU exams stress in this free eBook.


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