If there is one word in the English language that sends chills down my spine, it’s “examination.” Why? Well…Do you recall getting scolded by your parents in high school for failing your exam? Or, has your heart ever skipped a beat from feeling like you flunked your college finals?

Exactly. Exams don’t leave a trail of colorful rainbows for many people— myself included. Unfortunately, this self-same dreadful fear comes right around to haunt people even after school.

Enter: the Civil Service Examination. *cue in thunderbolt sounds*

For many professionals, the civil service exam in the Philippines is the Bar Mitzvah that decides your fate as a government worker. Passing this gives you an advantage over non-passers in bagging “plantilla” or permanent positions in government institutions.

So, how exactly does one pass the civil service examination in the Philippines? Stay tuned and we’ll explore firsthand tips from someone who passed the exam itself.

  • What is the Civil Service Exam Philippines?
  • Civil Service Exam Coverage Philippines
  • 8 Tips for Passing the Civil Service Examination
  • Jobs For Civil Service Exam Passers in the Philippines
  • My Personal Experience During the CSE-PPT

What is the Civil Service Exam Philippines?

First, let’s address the elephant in the room. The Career Service Examination, colloquially known as the Civil Service Exam, is an exam administered by the Civil Service Commission twice a year. In a way, it is how a government screens qualified candidates to work in public service. With Civil Service Eligibility, you may apply for permanent government positions and the lucrative benefits that come with it. Of course, it includes receiving more competitive salaries and better career growth opportunities.

Who Must Take the Civil Service Exam?

Believe it or not, not everyone is required to take it. For example, if your desired position does not demand Civil Service eligibility, you may choose to skip it. But this limits you from pursuing positions in the future that may have it as a requirement. Moreover, a lack of CSE also eligibility puts you at a disadvantage against more qualified, eligible candidates for certain government positions.

Luckily, some people are exempted by law from taking the civil service exam. People belonging to the following categories receive automatic eligibility thanks to special laws:

  • Bar and Board exam passers
  • College graduates with Latin honors
  • Barangay officials
  • Barangay health workers
  • Barangay nutrition scholars
  • Conferred individuals with a Bachelor’s degree in applied, biological, biophysical, physical, and engineering science per the PD 997.

If you identify with any of the above, then I congratulate you already. Otherwise, keep reading.

Options for Taking the Civil Service Exam

The Career Service Examination comes in two test levels and two test options.

Two test levels

Sub-professional CSE is intended for high school graduates or those who finished college courses that take less than 4 years to complete. Eligibility of this level is appropriate for jobs related to clerical, trades, crafts, or custodial positions.

On the other hand, 2nd Level or Professional CSE qualifies candidates for professional, scientific, managerial, technical, and high-post-clerical government positions.

Two test options

You may also choose to take the Career Service Exam in two ways:

One is the Pen-and-paper test (PPT), which, as the name suggests, is done manually using a test booklet and answer sheet. This exam costs ₱500. Meanwhile, a Computerized Examination or COMEX is also available. With this one, examinees will use a computer to complete the test, and this method costs ₱680. 

Civil Service Exam Coverage Philippines

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of this article, we thought you should know what to expect during the exam itself. For those that don’t know, the exam coverage between the Professional and Sub-professional level is slightly different. Both levels are required to take the following subjects:

  • Numerical Ability
    • Basic operations
    • Word problems
  • Verbal Ability
    • Grammar and correct usage
    • Vocabulary
    • Paragraph organization
    • Reading comprehension

However, at the Professional level, they also test the following: 

  • Analytical Ability
    • Word association 
    • Identifying assumptions and conclusions
    • Logic 
    • Data interpretation

The Sub-professional gets the benefit to skip the analytical ability section. However, they will be required to take the following, instead:

  • Clerical Ability
    • Filing
    • Spelling

On top of all of these, the exam will also cover general information that aspiring public servants must know. This includes the Philippine constitution, Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards of Public Officials and Employees, and recent events concerning the government.

Here’s the kicker: the passing score for the civil service examination is 80%, for both levels.

Wait! Don’t fret yet! That’s why we’re here. In the following texts, we will cover tips and tricks on how to pass the Civil Service Exam in the Philippines on your first take. Ready? 

Civil Service Exam Tips

The Career Service Examination is just like every other war. In other words, knowing what you’re up against means you already won half the battle. However, in this case, “knowing” is more than just “learning the coverage.” It’s about understanding the battle-tested strategies that can give you more edge during the exam.

As someone who has taken and passed the Civil Service Exam in the Philippines, I believe I know what I’m talking about in the following tips:

  1. Never rely on stock knowledge

It’s been over four years since I finished college when I took the civil service exam. As a proud graduate from one of the country’s premiere universities, I had this false, ego-induced preconception that I needed no preparation… or so I thought.

However, after answering several publicly available questionnaires, I knew that those dormant years had made my cognitive gears rusty. Stock knowledge, or “stuck knowledge” as I like to call it, does not apply to everyone. Perhaps recent college graduate have better odds relying on their stock knowledge. But if you’ve been out of the educational circulation for quite some time, do yourself a favor and start studying like you’re back in school. Trust me, you’ll need the review!

  1. Choose a good reviewer

While exams are always about the examinee, having a good reviewer can make a huge difference. One Google search reveals a plethora of online CSE reviewers for your consumption. In addition to what you can find online, buying a reviewer may also be helpful. Personally, I bought the Civil Service Exam Reviewer from BrainBox to augment my studies. 

Feel free to explore other options or products to support your review sesh.

  1. Understand— never memorize!

This is perhaps one of my biggest pitfalls during my time. Given that I only studied for weeks before the exam, I thought memorizing concepts was more reasonable considering the time left. (Imagine my disappointment when none of my reviewers appeared during the test.)

And that is fine. It is bound to happen. The CSC creates a fresh set of questions every year. That means the content of your reviewer might not show up entirely during the exam. Understanding concepts (versus memorizing answers) enables you to answer questions no matter how much CSC tries to complicate them.

  1. Identify your strengths and weaknesses

Efficiency is key when studying. That is precisely why taking a diagnostic exam before you start reviewing is useful. Diagnostic tests are mock exams used to determine your strengths and weaknesses across the coverage. Naturally, subjects you perform weaker on should receive greater attention than the rest.

For instance, if you struggle with verbal ability but excel in numerical problems, dedicate more time to the former than the latter. Aside from expanding your pool of knowledge, it makes your review process more efficient and fruitful.

  1. Eat healthy

It goes without saying that a person who eats well, thinks well. You cannot focus on studying with a grumbling stomach. Still, you can’t just eat anything. Food that feeds your tummy and nourishes your brain will help you process more information and keep you laser-focused. Steer clear of junk food that offers nothing more than MSG! According to a study about brain foods, certain foods can improve your cognition, thus, helping you study better. 

Here’s a quick list to help you:

  • Cocoa, green tea, citrus fruits, and chocolate — high in flavonoids that enhance cognitive function
  • Fish, meat, and poultry food — rich in vitamins B6 and B12 which improves memory performance
  • Tuna, salmon, chia seeds and walnuts — abundant in omega-3 fatty acids that prevent cognitive decline 

Pro tip: Include the abovementioned food in your diet for better odds when taking the exam.

  1. Ensure you’re getting enough sleep

Food does its job, but if you won’t support it with enough sleep then everything is a big waste. Sleep deprivation can singlehandedly impair every effort you might make to succeed in the civil service exam.

A research study on sleep deprivation reveals that it can affect a person’s attention and working memory. In other words, studying with a sleep-deprived brain can make you lose focus and forget everything you read. Worse, it messes up a person’s decision-making, which is crucial when selecting answers during the civil service exam.

I always described myself as a night owl, which meant I function better at night. If you and I are the same, here’s a word of advice: stop studying until the wee hours because you won’t recall any in the morning.

  1. Practice time management

Believe it or not, 3 hours and 10 minutes for 170 items is NOT ENOUGH, at least in my experience. I remember being the last person in the exam room and I wasn’t nearly finished. While I managed to complete the exam before the time limit, it wasn’t until days after that I learned the proper technique.

During your review, practice answering mock exams under time pressure. This will condition your mind to answer quickly and efficiently for each item.

The key is not to spend more than 1 minute answering every question. If you don’t know the answer, skip it and move to the next one. You can always go back to unanswered items when there is time left. Without proper time management, you might be left with more than 30 unanswered items with 10 minutes left. That’s a no-no.

  1. Pray

Yes, it may sound cliché, but prayer does work. Praying means recognizing there’s a higher power at work and acknowledging that you will fail without your God. I’m not here to give a crash course on religion. Whatever your faith is, always remember to pray and ask for prayers from friends and family.

Jobs For Civil Service Exam Passers in the Philippines

The quick answer is it depends. For 1st Level or Sub-professional eligibility, you may apply for plantilla positions that have to do with clerical, trades, crafts, or custodial work. Meanwhile, 2nd Level or Professional eligibility qualifies you for scientific, managerial, or technical plantilla positions.

Regardless of the two, you will receive a permanent position and access benefits that Job Orders or Contract of Service workers normally don’t.

My Personal Experience During the CSE-PPT

I took the Career Service Examination – Professional on a whim. Truth be told, I had no clue what I wanted yet at the time. But deep down, I thought, if I ever pursued public service, I’d have a fallback and an eligibility to land on. 

After merely weeks of studying, I took the exam confidently, that is, until I read the first 10 questions. At that point, embraced by a crippling fear of failure, I thought those weeks of preparation were for naught. Still, I powered through the exam, finishing last in my classroom. I can vividly remember telling my parents that I failed, months before the results were even revealed. It was not at all easy, to say the least. 

That is precisely the reason why I am writing this article, to give you tips I acquired first-hand from my experience. Luckily, by God’s grace, I passed my first take with a decent margin from the passing score. 

How to Pass the Civil Service Exam in the Philippines

*The above screen capture is taken from https://erpo.csc.gov.ph/ocsergs/ocsergs/ 

If you’re still reading up to this point, know that I am not bragging about this. This is meant to inspire you, letting you know that I am rooting for you as you take the Civil Service Examination.

Good luck and Godspeed!

Related Posts

How to Pass the Civil Service Exam in the Philippines

By Joel John Cariño

Hello The Thrifty Pinay readers! Look, managing a business can be a pain in the ass. Even if you have the most revolutionary product or world-class service in your artillery, you need effective marketing to get the word out. Hey, my name is Joel John Carino, your friendly neighborhood SEO content writer and copywriter. So, if you want persuasive, conversion-driven, and killer content, I’m your assassin.