Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tips on Writing Government Exams (especially the electronic kind)

While not all government exams related to selection processes are the same, many are similar. So we have put together a number of tips for those of you who may be writing them. Some of these may seem obvious but based on our experience at Y2CP...

  1. Read the exam instructions first — from beginning to end.
  2. Follow the instructions. If there is a page limit, don't exceed it. Chances are that, if you produce a two page text and the maximum length in the instructions is 'one page', your second page will not be scored.
  3. Be as comprehensive as possible (in the allotted time and space).
  4. Do only what is asked in the instructions. If the question asks for five examples, providing a sixth is unnecessary.
  5. Manage your time. If you have three tasks, try to allot a certain amount of time to each depending on the level of difficulty/complexity. Often candidates run out of time answering their last question.
  6. Save your document(s) at regular intervals.
  7. Use plain language. Write clearly. Check your spelling, grammar, punctuation and syntax.
  8. Use Internet sources to quickly research relevant background information for your responses — if the exam is sent electronically. But watch your time.
  9. Use your own words or quote your sources. Copying and pasting text from Web documents (on 'electronic exams') is normally a 'no, no'.
  10. Remember that content is more important than format.

And finally (or perhaps first thing), prep. Check out the Web site for the department/agency running the selection process, which usually contains the current Report on Plans and Priorities (RPP), the Departmental Progress Report (DPR), and other relevant documents on mandate, priorities, etc.

Leaman Long, B.A., B.Ed.
HRM Consultant
Y2 Consulting Psychologists

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