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HOW do you pass the Civil Service Fast Stream online tests?

(25 Posts)
RangeTesKopeks Sat 04-Nov-17 16:54:48

Just did the e-tray exercise, and just found out I'd failed.

I'd passed the previous online test round (situational judgement and competencies questionnaires), and then did this one.

Oh my god. The e-tray was an absolute bastard of an exercise.

You get 80 minutes where they basically chuck information at you. You have to use the info to decide how to respond to several email questions, giving a 'most effective' and 'least effective' response for each one (you have around 24 questions in 80 minutes).

I tried to prepare for it by doing a practice e-tray, but it was nowhere near as hard as I found the real thing. I found it really difficult to complete all of the questions but also think about how to respond to each one correctly. I didn't actually finish the questions either.

Any tips please?

bruffin Sat 04-Nov-17 16:59:31

My ds passed and got to interview. I will ask him later when he gets in.

RangeTesKopeks Sat 04-Nov-17 17:02:15

Thanks bruffin smile

Wh1stles Sat 04-Nov-17 17:03:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TinklyLittleLaugh Sat 04-Nov-17 17:07:15

My DS passed the in tray this week. He said it was very, very hard; much harder than last year. He passed last year too but failed at the interview stage. Hoping he goes further this year.

CycleHire Sat 04-Nov-17 17:13:47

I’m afraid my answer is that they will have carefully designed the online screening tests to select out people who don’t meet the minimum level and if you don’t need reasonable adjustments and you’ve done the practice tests maybe Civil Service Fastream is not for you, or you’re not for it. I know that might sound harsh but it’s highly competive to get onto and they expect a lot of people on the scheme.

RangeTesKopeks Sat 04-Nov-17 17:14:35

bruffin and Tinkly congratulations to both of your DSs. I found it really, really difficult this year.

RangeTesKopeks Sat 04-Nov-17 17:16:23

Thanks Cycle. From what I understand, you're suggesting that applicants need natural ability and intelligence rather than preparation to pass the tests. Is that what you mean?

reynoldsnumber Sat 04-Nov-17 17:20:45

Have you tried applying for EO types roles (civil service grade the fast streamers start on). There are so many opportunities in the civil service at the moment I would say just find a way to get in and then work hard and move up. Fast stream is only one entry point.

TinklyLittleLaugh Sat 04-Nov-17 17:35:50

Yes my DS joined the Civil Service at entry level in the summer because he failed to get on the fast stream last year. He has an interview for an EO job next week and this Fast Track application on the go. So yes, there do seem to be lots of opportunities available.

modzy78 Sat 04-Nov-17 17:36:15

My husband has applied for the past few years. The first or second time, he made it to the interview stage and failed there. Every other time, he's failed on the competencies or e-tray. This year, he finally made it past the e-tray again. I think it's because his current job fits more with the type of exercises done in the e-tray. Now we're waiting to see if he passed the video interview or not.
All I can recommend is to keep trying (doesn't help for this year, I know). Look around online, and you will find different practice tests for competencies and e-trays. They might not be exactly the same, but they will make you more comfortable with the skills and time limits. Also, look into work or volunteering that is in line with the stream you'd like to get into. Experience makes a huge difference in your confidence and comfort levels. Good luck!

jobergamot Sat 04-Nov-17 17:53:20

I'd have loved to have done this; diplomatic service was always my ambition but I failed miserably several times sad

OMGtwins Sat 04-Nov-17 18:21:14

Fast stream is designed to get you to SCS very very quickly, amd the thing about everyone I've ever met at that level is that they're whip smart, cool as cucumbers and they are used to making decisions like the one you describe quickly (ie trading one risk for another).

If you struggle to do that in the online tests then Fast Stream may very well not be for you because the in person bits will be harder. You may very well have the potential to reach the level that FS people get to over a slower time frame though. If you're certain the Civil Service is the way you want to go then I suggest applying to a specific department through their normal intake and see how you go there. You can always apply to Fast Stream as an internal candidate once you have a job in the Civil Service.

OMGtwins Sat 04-Nov-17 18:26:33

Also, in answer to one of your other questions, the ability to get to SCS is there in loads of people, but you need to be a certain sort of person from the off (super resilient, confident, happy to be thrown in at the deep end) to cope with the Fast Stream program of accelerated promotion etc.

Getting in the usual way will allow you space to develop at your own speed and in your own way. I know plenty of people sho have risen up the ranks who arent Fast Stream, just as as I know a few who are.

RangeTesKopeks Sat 04-Nov-17 18:51:51

Thanks very much for your advice, everyone.

reynolds yes, I've applied for a few EO roles in the past couple of years, but haven't got further than the initial application form stage with them. I'm going to keep on applying though. I think I've got a much better understanding now of how to structure my answers in the STAR framework for the application forms for EO roles.

Takeoutyourhen Sat 04-Nov-17 19:50:56

Well done for trying.
It is hard. My husband went through all tests and video test at home before the assessment centre and found that they want people as described aptly above, who can answer questions correctly without hesitation and make the best snap decisions.
Whilst there he also decided it wasn't his scene so there we are.
Good luck, keep trying if you want to.

reynoldsnumber Sat 04-Nov-17 20:35:06

The brexit affected departments will be doing big recruitment drives I would guess in the next few months - I think this is a really good opportunity to get into the civil service if your heart is set on it. Look out for defra, HMRC, BEIS, DIT, DCMS and DCLG - I think there will be opportunities.

Good luck! Fast stream is a really small part of the CS.

sailorcherries Sat 04-Nov-17 20:43:43

I failed the e-tray this year too, however tried to do it with little sleep and an unsettled baby (I put it off as long as possible and circumstances never improved).

Next year I'll be 25 and I'm not sure if that's too old.

I also failed the Aldi Area Manager video interview. It was the first time I have ever completed a video interview and it threw me.

I feel completely hopeless just now.

CycleHire Sun 05-Nov-17 07:36:27

“Thanks Cycle. From what I understand, you're suggesting that applicants need natural ability and intelligence rather than preparation to pass the tests. Is that what you mean?”

RangeTesKopeks - I think preparation and practice will absolutely help and that’s why they offer practice tests. I think it may even be possible to do so much preparation that someone who wouldn’t in normal circumstances meet the benchmark can do so. But if the test is trying to measure an innate ability that supports performance in the role then that won’t really have changed and it’s likely to make the actual job harder for that person. It’s a bit like coaching a child relentlessly to pass the 11 plus but condemning them to find grammar school a struggle because they don’t in the end have the academic potential.

These tests are not perfect. They are far from perfect. They may select in the wrong people and very likely will select out some people who could be very successful on the scheme. It’s all about odds. But if you find the tests particularly hard and you don’t get through then it’s probably time to try something different. There are lots of routes to success and the Civil Service Fast Stream is looking for a very particular type of person (as described above). If that’s not you there’s no shame in that. It wouldn’t be me either. Don’t miss out on other opportunities by focussing only on this one.

Good luck.

CycleHire Sun 05-Nov-17 07:38:35

Sailorcherries - you aren’t too old. Please don’t feel hopeless. Give the e-tray another try in better circumstances. And now you’ve done one video interview you’ll be better prepared for another one.

sailorcherries Sun 05-Nov-17 12:16:21

Thanks Cycle I'm still applying to other schemes but can't even apply for civil service jobs until after Easter.

JadziaSnax Sun 05-Nov-17 12:59:39

Definitely not too old. I'm in my 40s and in my final year at uni. I really enjoyed the etray exercise - am waiting for the results from the video interview.

Good luck to everyone who's going through the process.

TinklyLittleLaugh Sun 05-Nov-17 13:07:00

DS1 is upstairs doing the video interview even as we speak.

DS2 listened outside the door and reported that he was sounding a bit hesitant with some of his answers. sad Hopefully he will warm up a bit.

On the plus side at least he has tidied his room to do it. grin

LadyinCement Mon 06-Nov-17 11:24:53

I did the competency test (for much lower level cs job!) and it flashed up that I had failed and not to apply again! I must admit I was shock because a) I hadn't been expecting a competency test - it just suddenly appeared before me, and b) I answered as carefully as I could.

The questions were eg "A coworker is having trouble with the computer system. Do you a) tell line manager b) do their work for them c) help them access training. Well, I put down what I thought was obvious right answer, ie "c" for that question and others like it, but it produced a spectacular fail.

I can't help thinking these tests are a bit odd and should be part of the recruitment process, not a cull. They must be shedding excellent applicants along the way.

Furthermore, if there is a "type" they are looking for, surely this flies in the face of recruitment practice which dictates you should not just go for "someone like me". Someone doesn't have to be a great team player to be talented employee.

DuvetCaterpillar Mon 06-Nov-17 11:40:06

@sailorcherries, please don't be disheartened, you aren't too old. I know someone who joined the Fast Stream when he was 40.

Also, there are lots of roles being advertised at the moment, especially in departments dealing with EU exit - the Fast Stream is by no means the only way in.

Besides, non FS roles can be a better match for many people - you swing in and out of short term FS placements really quickly, sometimes before you can feel yourself adding very much to projects, so it can be better to be in one place a bit longer and make some real progress on a topic. Good luck everyone!

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