Recently EPSO notified candidates of the AD5 and AD7 competitions of their pre-selection test results. As the cut-off scores were not yet communicated, we though you would like an expert analysis of how to interpret the information. So here it goes.
First, it is very important to look at the average scores attached to the notification letters because you can gain valuable insights into how to proceed – either in the Assessment Centre or when retrying the exam next time it is announced!
Blue bars: minimum score for top 20% of candidates
Red bars: mimum score for midrande 50% of candidates
1. Select the Right Profile
When first looking at the chart above (showing the AD5 results), you might conclude that there wasn’t much of a difference between the profiles – maximum two or three points in the minimum score of the top 20% of candidates in each field. As an example, you could get into the top 20% with 61.5 in the Public Administration (EPA) profile and 63 in the Statistics profile. This conclusion, however, would be wrong.
There is a huge difference between what the top 20% of candidates represent in EPA and Statistics. In EPA, it might mean that 3000 people achieved this score, while in Statistics, the same 20% may account for only 60 people.
Conclusion for unsuccessful candidates: do no select the profile you are best at – select the one with the least intense competition. You can always prepare for the Assessment Centre (AC) later.
2. Know Who You Are Up Against
Were you successful in the AD pre-selection? Were you invited to the Assessment Centre? It is time to better understand your position among those who also succeeded. Find the top 20% minimum score for your profile and compare it with your own – if your score is much higher than that, it means that you are considered a top-tier candidate. There is a catch, though, which you should always keep in mind: once you’ve been invited to the AC, your pre-selection scores no longer matter – you will no longer have an advantage over other candidates with a lower pre-selection score.
Conclusion for successful candidates: While it might be a nice ego-booster if your score is much higher than the minimum of the top 20%, you may still face tough competition in the AC – even others with lower pre-selection scores might be much better at the exercises you will face there.
3. SJT is the X Factor
It is not yet known what score is needed to actually be invited to the Assessment Centre in 2011, but it is worth looking at the minimum scores of the top 20% of candidates. Let’s do this by using the data for the Finance Profile in the AD5 exam.
62.5 points were needed to be among the top 20% of candidates in this profile out of a maximum of 80 points – this represents a success rate of approximately 78% (62.5/80*100). This is markedly lower than that witnessed last year – this was the good news. On the other hand, this is most likely due to the fact that the Situational Judgement Test (SJT) was not scored in 2010 but it was scored in 2011.
Many candidates felt that the SJT was much more subjective than the others, and it seems this is apparent from the scores achieved by the best candidates as well.
Conclusion: if you feel that the SJT is basically guess-work, do not worry – a lot of other candidates (including the best ones) feel the same way. More importantly, you can prepare for and get better at this type as well – just like in verbal, numerical or abstract reasoning (see some tips here).
4. AD5 versus AD7
In 2011, candidates in the AD7 competition had the option to be considered for the AD5 exam, should their professional experience or other eligibility criteria be insufficient for AD7 but sufficient for AD5 (along with a sufficiently high score).
Although the chart above is cleverly designed to magnify the difference (the red segments of the bars), upon closer examination, you will notice that there was minimal difference in the minimum scores of the top 20% of AD5 candidates and those of the AD7% candidates. It is, of course, not revealed by EPSO whether the test itself for AD7 was harder than that for AD5 (in which case the even such small differences could be significant), yet this information tells us that there probably wasn’t any major difference in the reasoning skills of these two groups of candidates.
Conclusion for unsuccessful candidates: if you have the necessary work experience, do not hesitate next time to apply for the AD7 exam – the tests are not expected to be much more difficult and you might face less competition.
5. Small Improvement, Big Gains
Many EU career candidates, when preparing for an EPSO exam, start practicing and then look at their improvements using Online EU Training’s statistics features. When they do, they see some small gains but may be discouraged by seeing only small improvements. Despair not! The good news is: you don’t need huge gains to radically improve your position.
In the chart above, you can see the percentage difference between the maximum score achieved by the bottom 30% of candidates and the minimum score achieved by the top 20% of candidates in the AD5 exam.
Now let’s assume that you start practicing for the exam 3 months before it is scheduled, and in your first few tests, you score near the maximum score of the bottom 30%. What’s your reaction? You might get discouraged, when in fact you only need to improve your score modestly to get into the top 20%.
Let’s take the EPA profile as an example. Let’s assume that you score the equivalent of 55 points at the beginning of your preparation. You only need to boost your score by a bit more than 13% (that's a simple 7 points!) to get into the top 20% of candidates – certainly not an impossible task.
Conclusion for Everyone: Practice, Practice, Practice – Small improvements mean a BIG gain!