The CSFTAS is a popular apprenticeship program, offering a great opportunity to start your career in the Civil Service. Competition is high for places, with more than 15 applicants per position so far. In order to claim your place you need to first go through a challenging Civil Service selection process with many tests and assessments. Learn about these Civil Service online tests and how to prepare yourself with our range of practice resources.
In 2015, the Operational Delivery Apprenticeship Scheme joined the CSFTAS. The recruitment process for this scheme is similar to that of the Fast Track Apprenticeship, but there are differences throughout. These differences will be noted on this page.
The Civil Service Fast Track Apprenticeship Scheme application process is as follows:
The Civil Service Fast Track Apprenticeship Scheme is an entry route for school leavers aged between 18 and 21 without a university degree to get a job directly in the Civil Service. The scheme is offered in business administration, finance, and IT roles across the different departments of the government. Entrants start out as Executive Officers and then progress to the Civil Service Fast Stream graduate programme.
Started in 2013, the programme has gained much popularity, with 2,252 applicants for 100 places in 2013, and 2,947 applicants for 200 places in 2014.
The core behavioural competencies are a set of skills that each worker with the Civil Service is expected to have and use on a day to day basis. You are assessed against this Civil Service competency framework at each stage of the recruitment process, and it is vital that you demonstrate these skills throughout the selection process. Below is a summary of the core behavioural competencies for apprentices.
The first step towards securing your place on the scheme is the Civil Service Fast Track Apprenticeship Scheme application form. This application form asks for your personal information and education, as well as a series of competency-based questions. These questions are designed to gather information about your skills against the Civil Service competency framework. Think carefully about your answers and plan them ahead before you write them on your form. Use examples from your past experience to back up your answers, and organise them using the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result). Make sure you answer every question on the form.
Once you have submitted your application form, all applicants are sent an invitation to take two online reasoning tests, a numerical and a verbal reasoning test. All applicants take these tests and you must do well in them to move on to the next stage. Applicants to the Operational Delivery Apprenticeship may be invited to take their online tests at a job centre. We will discuss each of the two tests below. Applicants to the Fast Track will also be sent an invitation to take a situational judgement test once they have completed the first two tests.
This test is designed to assess your ability to use information that is presented to you in a numerical format, such as a graph, a table, or a chart. In this test you are given 16 questions based on two sets of data (eight questions on each one). This test is a multiple choice test—you are asked to make a calculation and choose the correct answer from four choices. In order to be able to identify the correct answer you need to be able to make calculations such as percentages, ratios and currencies as well as be acquainted with the four basic functions. You need to be able to pass GCSE level maths, but the question formats are different to the ones you are used to. The test is timed, which creates pressure to answer the questions quickly. Taking practice tests can help you become more effective, improve your confidence and increase your chances of scoring high on numerical tests of this sort.
The verbal reasoning test assesses your ability to understand and use information provided to you in the format of a passage. In this test you are given a paragraph of information to read and then asked questions on what you have read. Questions can either be multiple choice, where you have to choose the correct answer from a series of options, or you may be asked to identify whether a statement is true, false, or you cannot say based only on the information provided. This test is timed, and you need to be able to read the text, process the information contained, and answer the question all under a strict time allowance. Mock tests will enable you to improve your speed reading as well as learn tricks to help you identify the correct answer.
Candidates to the Fast Track Apprenticeship who score high on the online tests are invited to take a situational judgement test. This test is looking for your responses to situations within the context of the Civil Service competencies. This is your chance to show that you have the required skills. You are given the details of a fictitious work related scenario and a range of possible options, some considered desirable, some not. Your task is to identify the most appropriate response. You must pass this test to move on to the next stage. Prepare for this test by reviewing the Civil Service competency framework, and then by taking practice tests to get a greater understanding of how these tests works.
If you are successful in the online tests, the final stage of the recruitment process is the Civil Service apprenticeships assessment centre. The assessment centre is a half day event with three exercises, each described below. Applicants to an IT related scheme will also be asked to take an IT related test at the assessment centre. The assessment centre is your final chance to impress the recruiters so prepare carefully for each exercise ahead of time.
The assessment centre exercises are:
The Civil Service interview is competency based and should take between 45 minutes to an hour. You are asked questions about your skills and how you have demonstrated the Civil Service competencies in your past experience. Ahead of the interview, review your application form and the examples you provided there. Try and think of new examples to give in your interview. Prepare them all using the STAR technique. Practice reciting your answers out loud.
In this exercise your task is to analyse a set of information and produce a written report on it. You have 45 minutes to complete the task, which is not long given the usual amount of information. Time management is key in this exercise to ensure you complete the whole task. Brush up on your writing skills and take a practice exercise ahead of the assessment day.
You are split into several groups and are given a brief for a group discussion on a topic relevant to the area you are applying to. You are assessed throughout the task by the recruitment team who are looking at the quality of your contribution, as well as how well you work with the other members of your team. It is crucial that you get the balance between speaking and listening to others right. Get tips on how to approach your group exercise here.
The Civil Service Fast Track Apprenticeships Scheme is considered to be a great way to start your career in policy making. Competition is fierce for each place, so you will need to ensure that you plan well to succeed in each test. This page has set out the assessments you may expect and resources available to help you prepare to succeed. Good luck!