As many of you already know and as discussed in last month’s Tips & Tricks article, EPSO is completely revamping its selection procedures, starting from 2010.
We have been getting a growing number of questions from the Online EU Tests community regarding our plans to offer Europe’s best services for your EPSO exam preparation needs.
Good news: our team has been working hard for months to get ready for the new system: from early 2010, we will gradually introduce new services and packages to help you prepare for those “strange” new components of the EU career exams.
Please find below an interview with an aspiring AD5 exam candidate, Katie, and a member of our product development team.
Katie: I saw an example of those abstract reasoning tests in your last Tips & Tricks article. They seem awfully hard. How will I prepare for this test?
EUTests: Although abstract reasoning tests are designed to measure your so-called fluid intelligence, that is, your intuition and abstract problem-solving skills, just like with anything else, only practice will give you the necessary comfort to perform well in a stressful exam setting. We are preparing for this with a starting batch of at least 200 new online abstract reasoning tests. They will cover almost every possible abstract test type, from questions where you need to find the odd-one-out through tests where you have to identify the next shape in a series. Better yet, each test will come with detailed explanations on why a given answer is correct, and how one arrives at this conclusion so you can learn certain patterns to improve your future performance.
Katie: That’s great news, thanks. I also read in your article about these Situational Judgment Tests (SJT). Is that something we can and should prepare for?
EUTests: Great question, Katie. Situational Judgment Tests are designed to measure a candidate’s skills in a certain work-related competency, for example “Analysing & Interpreting Data”, or “Working in a Team”. EPSO identified seven such competencies. It is important to know that the SJT component will not be eliminatory (no traditional scoring, no pass mark), but the results of the test will be reused in the Assessment Centre. How do you prepare for such a test? First of all, it is not worth trying to cheat by selecting the answers you think EPSO is looking for – the truth would eventually come out anyways. Besides, it doesn’t make sense portraying yourself to be someone you are not. It is, however, important to explore yourself and find out in advance what impression you will make by completing this test during pre-selection. For this reason, as the only provider in Europe, Online EU Tests will offer its users professional Situational Judgment Tests with automated scoring and a dynamically generated Competency Report to help you indentify and then work on your potential weaknesses and strengths. An SJT test will contain up to 30 questions and they will be offered as separate packages – you will be able to purchase just one test to see how your perform, or you can get a package with two or three tests which you can complete over a longer period.
Katie: Great, can’t wait. But why would it be useful to complete a test multiple times?
EUTests: Let’s see an example. Say you complete an SJT test, and the detailed Competency Report we generate for you will let you know that you have room for improvement regarding your “Ability to Prioritise”. You can then concentrate on improving in these fields and then complete a second SJT test. If that tells you that you have much improved in planning and scheduling work tasks but still face challenges in some other competency, this will help you further focus your attention much better.
Katie: I see, that makes sense. Still on pre-selection, let’s say I decide against registering in an AD competition and instead go for a Linguist job, for example to become an EU translator or interpreter. I read that EPSO will introduce new linguistic tests. Will EUTests be able to help me with that?
EUTests: Ok. The first thing to emphasise here is the schedule. According to the latest info from EPSO, the first competition in 2010 will be the one for Administrators (AD 5), with registration in March and pre-selection in June. This is why we at Online EU Tests will first concentrate on introducing the new AD5-related preparation materials, with special regard to the announced sub-profiles (public administration, law, economics, audit, information and communication technology). The exams for translators and interpreters is planned to be announced in July, with pre-selection expected in October 2010. We are already exploring how and what to offer for linguists in the future, and I will be able to give you more definite answers later in 2010.
Katie: Can you also tell me something about how your packages will help me prepare in 2010? I would love a concrete example!
EUTests: Sure. Let’s say you recently graduated and your dream is to work for the European Commission. You know there is an exam announced, maybe you already registered for it, but you don’t know what to do next, or how to prepare. You will notice a new feature on our brand new the website – ‘Recommend a Package’. You click, you select the exam you wish to prepare for, you select your profile (e.g. Audit), select which phase you are in, let’s say pre-selection, and just like that, you will see a list of packages that will cover 100% of what you can expect at the real EPSO exam. Suppose you select a new “Diamond” package: this will give you access to all the verbal, numerical and abstract reasoning questions in our extensive database; it will give you access to all the Audit test questions we have, and, as a free bonus, we will also give you access to our entire EU question database. Optionally, you can also choose to get a Situational Judgment Test package as well. Moreover, we will soon offer live online coaching – more details to follow.
Katie: Very comprehensive, indeed. But wait, so far we have been talking about the pre-selection phase. What about the Assessment Centre?
EUTests: The first Assessment Centre in 2010 will be organised for AD5 candidates sometime in the autumn, possibly in September or October. This is a very challenging testing event. It takes half a day or a whole day for a candidate to go through all the exercises. Many of these are based on interactions with other people (“group exercise”) or require oral communication (“oral presentation exercise”, “structured interview”). For these tasks, we will offer study materials with examples and background information, and later even videos.
AD5 Assessment Centres will include a written case study exercise. This usually consists of a dossier with many kinds of background materials. Let’s see an example topic – climate change. You could receive the following: an excerpt from a white paper, a position paper from a Council working group, tables and graphs with temperature and economic data from the UN, and a few emails and letters from stakeholders, your boss, or a colleague. You will be given a certain amount of time to digest all this information. After this, you will answer questions in various formats. You could be asked to write a short memo, fill in multiple-choice questions, list major challenges, and so on. Online EU Tests will offer online, web-based and email-based simulation courses with scoring guides, explanations, example answers and real-time feedback.
AST Assessment Centres will include what is called an e-tray exercise. In this computer-based test, you will be shown a virtual Outlook inbox (or something similar), with incoming emails, appointments, tasks, attachments, and so on, all related to your future job. The simulation could even be so realistic that the emails will not actually be all in your inbox at the beginning of the exercise but will keep arriving throughout. You will then be asked to sort out appointment conflicts, answer multiple-choice questions based on the information in the emails and attachments, set up priorities by creating schedules and setting deadlines, and so on. We will offer compatible online, web-based simulation of these e-tray exercises, complete with a simulated Outlook inbox, configurable topics (such as Finance, Project Management, Statistics, and so on), and, again, real-time feedback and scoring.
Katie: Thanks, I a bit more relieved now. One last thing: I always felt that for the tests practice is useful but methodology can help even more. I know you have study materials, but do you plan to offer training? And regarding EU knowledge, how will they measure it if MCQs are out?
EUTests: I am glad you asked, Katie. I don’t want to reveal everything,
but we already mentioned introducing a completely new range of services – E-Learning Courses. These are interactive multimedia courses that you can watch and learn from anywhere, anytime – all you need is a computer with internet connection. Another innovative way of getting real-life training without having to pay fortunes to travel to Brussels and participate in overpriced workshops is to subscribe to a web-based seminar (or “webinar”). You also mentioned that just because EU tests will no longer be part of the EPSO exam, that doesn’t mean that EU knowledge won’t be measured in indirect ways.
I would like to leave room for surprises as well, but we will soon offer interactive e-learning courses in various EU topics – these are an excellent way of boosting your EU knowledge for the interview or for the case study. In case you feel challenged by verbal, numerical and abstract reasoning tests, our soon-to-be launched web-based seminars with experienced trainers will offer you real-time training, tips, tricks, methods and the possibility to ask questions live, online, in an interactive manner. Just to show how serious we are about this aspect, our new website will be renamed Online EU Training to underline our expanded range of services.
Katie: Well, it seems like you guys must be very busy with all this.
EUTests: We indeed are, Katie – our goal is to provide all tools for you to get an EU job!