Before 2010 the European competitions followed a knowledge-based testing structure. Today, careful attention is placed on what the candidate can do as opposed to what the candidate says s/he can do.


We’ve been asked many times, “Is it really possible to succeed the EU competitions?   For us the answer is found in the candidate’s assertiveness, attitude (in the broadest sense of the term) and, of course, acquisition of the general competences framework.


There are traditionally two phases: the computer based tests (CBT) and the assessment centre (AC).  Let’s take a look at these shall we?



The computer based tests evaluate the candidate’s logical reasoning abilities.  This phase is composed of 3 reasoning skills tests: verbal, abstract and numerical.  Here’s a brief description of each:


  • Verbal reasoning – requires critical thinking skills. It is important to “stay inside the box” which means using only the information provided in the text.  The level, Assistant or Administrative, is determined by the length of the passage, the complexity of the sentence structure and the level of difficulty of the vocabulary, for example.
  • Abstract reasoning – its ultimate objective is to gage the candidate’s ability to make connections between data in large complex documents usually about unfamiliar subjects. The candidate has to identify the transformations in a sequence of evolving diagrams, and complete it by selecting the most logical option.
  • Numerical reasoning – reading and interpreting graphic data is essential; as is the ability to accurately use the four mathematical operations. The level of complexity is determined in part by the number of calculations the candidate must perform in order to answer the question.


Situational Judgment test (SJT) is also part of phase I, though not all competitions include it.


Figuratively, we refer to SJT as the bridge that connects phase one with phase two.  Why is this?  SJT introduces the EPSO general competences framework which is evaluated throughout the AC phase.  In 2010 the score attained in this test had no influence on the final results.  A few years later, it was a stand-alone test worth 50% of the aggregate value of the CBT.  Today SJT is worth about 65%.


How do we describe this psychometric test? We use a bottle of water. No joking!

The physical bottle represents the candidate’s measureable cognitive abilities, while its content symbolises the candidate’s attitude and attributes. These are assessed through behavioral indicators.  It is therefore important that the candidate knows how to demonstrate to the EPSO selection board the knowledge, skills and abilities (KSA) for each competence being tested.


Are you thinking about sitting the EU competitions? Then send us your questions and comments. We’d love to hear from you.


Visit us again to learn more about the AC phase.


Now, it’s your turn!


What is your interpretation of Abraham Maslow’s quotation cited above in relation to the CBT?  


We look forward to reading your response.  Until the next time, we send you


…our very best!


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