Glossary of Terms

Examination bulletins contain extensive information about the examination that is helpful in helping you to prepare for the test. Before filing for any examination, you should read and understand the requirements found in the bulletin.

Bulletins include a number of terms that may not be familiar to you. The following list includes the most important of those terms, but may not include every term used on a bulletin.

  1. Competition in examinations may be limited whether or not you already work for State Service. Some terms you will encounter include:

    1. Continuous File/Testing--Applications and/or interest cards will be accepted at any time with the Department of Justice. Exams will be scheduled periodically during the year as needed.
    2. Open Examinations--These examinations are open to anyone who meets the minimum qualifications, regardless of their current place of employment.
    3. Promotional Examinations--These examinations are limited to state employees with permanent status, and include classes up to designated supervisory positions. Additionally, some examinations are administered for a single department. In those cases, the examination may be limited to employees who have permanent civil service appointments with a specific agency, which is named in the bulletin.
    4. Managerial Examinations--These examinations are also limited to state employees.
    5. Open Non-Promotional--These examinations are ones for which there are not enough state employees to meet the hiring needs of the department, so it is expected that the candidate group will consist of both open and promotional candidates.
  2. Final File Date. For most examinations, applications are accepted only for a period of 3 weeks for promotional examinations and 4 weeks for open examinations. Applications submitted prior to the bulletin release date will be destroyed, and no notice will be sent to the employee or applicant. Each bulletin also includes a Final File Date. Applications must be received or postmarked no later than the Final File Date. Applications postmarked, personally delivered or received via interoffice mail after the final file date will not be accepted.
  3. Minimum Qualifications. For each classification, a legal document called a Class Specification is prepared by the State Personnel Board (SPB) which describes many facets of the class. Minimum Qualifications are a part of that legal document. Similar to prerequisites in course work, the Minimum Qualifications outline the minimum amount of specific education and experience that a candidate must possess to be admitted to the examination. If you do not possess the minimum amount of education and/or experience, your application will be rejected and you will not be allowed to compete in the examination.
  4. Examination Information. Examinations are not always written. The Examination Information section of the bulletin describes the type of test to be administered. In some cases, two or more types of examination will be combined to determine the final score (for example, it is very common to combine a written test with a Qualification Appraisal Panel Interview), in which case, the bulletin will show the weighting of each part of the examination. The most common types are:

    1. Written. This consists of multiple choice questions; but may also include essay questions.
    2. Qualification Appraisal Panel. This is a scored interview conducted by a panel including a Chairperson representing the State Personnel Board who assures State requirements are maintained during the interview, and subject matter experts who evaluate the answers provided by the candidate.
    3. Education and Experience Evaluation. This compares the candidates' applications as reflected on the application against a pre-set rating standard. No other test is required.
  5. The Position. This describes typical duties performed by the class for which the examination is being given.
  6. Scope. The class specification also includes the Knowledge's, Skills and Abilities required for success in the class. The Scope identifies which of the Knowledge's, Skills and Abilities will be examined in the test. This is most important, as it will give you areas of questioning for which you can develop your own study plan to help you prepare for the test.
  7. Eligible List Information. This section includes information on how long the list is expected to be used (generally from 1 to 4 years).
  8. General Information. This includes a variety of information that applies to all examinations such as, where to call if you have questions or don't receive a response to your application, where to find applications, general qualifications, etc. It is to your benefit to read and understand this general information, as well as the majority of the bulletin which is tailored to the specific class.

If you have additional questions regarding terms and conditions of examinations described in the bulletins you find on our website, you may contact the:

Examination Unit (916) 227-7858.