March 14, 2014 7:56 PM Subscribe

I am currently scheduled to take an application test a week from tomorrow. This test is for an entry-level county government job. I REALLY want this job, but I haven't taken a test that meant anything in almost 15 years. I need help knocking off the rust!

The email I received about the test includes this information:

"The Written Exam is a multiple-choice test and consists of: Filing, English Usage, Spelling and Word Usage, Proof Reading and Arithmetic. There are no study guides for the written exam."

Please help me find a way to study, or otherwise prepare! Arithmetic is probably going to be my weakest area thanks to a calculator crutch.
posted by Brocktoon to Work & Money (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

The email I received about the test includes this information:

"The Written Exam is a multiple-choice test and consists of: Filing, English Usage, Spelling and Word Usage, Proof Reading and Arithmetic. There are no study guides for the written exam."

Please help me find a way to study, or otherwise prepare! Arithmetic is probably going to be my weakest area thanks to a calculator crutch.

Is the test one that you are taking privately, a short initial test? Or a scheduled 90 minute or 2 hour test at another location?

posted by jennstra at 8:47 PM on March 14

posted by jennstra at 8:47 PM on March 14

Is there any mention in the job description of mathematical skills required? Some job descriptions list these.

posted by SkylitDrawl at 8:58 PM on March 14

posted by SkylitDrawl at 8:58 PM on March 14

more than anything else, your attitude going into the exam will determine your outcome. you need to be cool, calm, collected and confident. you've met county workers before. you're at least as smart as the guy in building permits or the gal in water/sewer, aren't you?

arithmetic is trivial, just add/subtract/multiply/divide as lobstermitten said, also percentages and converting acreage to square feet/yards/miles and back.

posted by bruce at 9:02 PM on March 14 [2 favorites]

arithmetic is trivial, just add/subtract/multiply/divide as lobstermitten said, also percentages and converting acreage to square feet/yards/miles and back.

posted by bruce at 9:02 PM on March 14 [2 favorites]

If it's the shorter test on your own, check out wonderlic tests. That is what we used for initial screening and testing. If it's the longer testing, you typically get to choose what section you take first. I always did a strong subject first and worked toward the others. Pay attention to the proofreading section, the differences are subtle. Eliminate obviously wrong answers with multiple choice. You should be given scratch paper, work through the questions on paper, then look at the answer options. Try to stay relaxed. Good luck!

posted by jennstra at 9:09 PM on March 14

posted by jennstra at 9:09 PM on March 14

This test will literally be at a 5th grade level. If you can add, subtract, multiply and divide, you will be fine. There may be fractions involved.

posted by sanka at 9:11 PM on March 14 [2 favorites]

posted by sanka at 9:11 PM on March 14 [2 favorites]

Oh, man, I cannot say enough good things about Khan Academy. When aliens come come to Earth and ask for one good reason they shouldn't obliterate us, I'm pointing at Sal Khan.

His completely free, no charge, gratis website is a treasure trove of education. It's mostly math and science but more is being added all the time. You watch short, easily-digestible videos and then answer questions and move on to the next in the series. The math videos start at 3rd grade and go on up (to calculus, statistics, differential equations, linear algebra and applied math). I think it will be a great resource for you.

Good luck with the application process!

posted by Beti at 9:30 PM on March 14 [4 favorites]

His completely free, no charge, gratis website is a treasure trove of education. It's mostly math and science but more is being added all the time. You watch short, easily-digestible videos and then answer questions and move on to the next in the series. The math videos start at 3rd grade and go on up (to calculus, statistics, differential equations, linear algebra and applied math). I think it will be a great resource for you.

Good luck with the application process!

posted by Beti at 9:30 PM on March 14 [4 favorites]

A good part of doing well on these sorts of tests has to do with how comfortable you are taking these sorts of tests, and not with your level of knowledge of what's being tested.

So I would try to locate online or at your local library sample tests of a similar content and take as many as you can in the week you have. Something like Master the Civil Service Exam.

With the time you have, I would not worry about the guidance such a book would offer about the subjects being tested. Just get one fast, and use it to simulate timed test taking. (The timing part is important. Simulate timed test conditions when you practice using the times given for the sample test.)

The random book I linked to has it looks like 3 practice tests that would resemble yours.

posted by bertran at 10:56 PM on March 14

So I would try to locate online or at your local library sample tests of a similar content and take as many as you can in the week you have. Something like Master the Civil Service Exam.

With the time you have, I would not worry about the guidance such a book would offer about the subjects being tested. Just get one fast, and use it to simulate timed test taking. (The timing part is important. Simulate timed test conditions when you practice using the times given for the sample test.)

The random book I linked to has it looks like 3 practice tests that would resemble yours.

posted by bertran at 10:56 PM on March 14

Go to your neighborhood public library and borrow an SAT prep book, or, if they happen to have one, a civil service test prep book. Do some practice tests. You'll be impressed with yourself, really. If you talk to the reference librarian she/he might even point you to some subscription database for such practice tests that you can access free with your public library card.

posted by mareli at 5:23 AM on March 15

posted by mareli at 5:23 AM on March 15

I've seen some of these tests and they're grade school level questions. They really want to know that you have reading comprehension, basic grammar and math skills. I'm not kidding you when I say that the state employees people who can't even write a proper sentence or use punctuation correctly.

Things you can expect:

Fractions - essentially being able to add up fractions or find percentages of simple sums,

Alphabetize (sort) by last name,

Read a short paragraph and answer questions about it,

Identify mispellings,

Correct punctuation or grammar

It's stuff we all supposedly learned in grade school but for some reason, not all adults are able to perform. The most difficult math stuff for the entry level state jobs are what you'd have to be able to do working at a grocery store without a register to do the calculations. If you can make change, figure out what 20% off of an item would be, etc, you'll be just fine.

I speak as someone who has worked state jobs for about 20 years.

Good luck to. You will do good ! <- This is the kind of stuff they want to weed out with the exams.

posted by loquat at 11:59 AM on March 15 [1 favorite]

Things you can expect:

Fractions - essentially being able to add up fractions or find percentages of simple sums,

Alphabetize (sort) by last name,

Read a short paragraph and answer questions about it,

Identify mispellings,

Correct punctuation or grammar

It's stuff we all supposedly learned in grade school but for some reason, not all adults are able to perform. The most difficult math stuff for the entry level state jobs are what you'd have to be able to do working at a grocery store without a register to do the calculations. If you can make change, figure out what 20% off of an item would be, etc, you'll be just fine.

I speak as someone who has worked state jobs for about 20 years.

Good luck to. You will do good ! <- This is the kind of stuff they want to weed out with the exams.

posted by loquat at 11:59 AM on March 15 [1 favorite]

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fractions and exponents. Maybe also converting fractions to decimals and vice versa. I would just sit down and do a bunch of practice problems longhand and then check them on the calculator.posted by LobsterMitten at 8:03 PM on March 14 [3 favorites]