Government Statistical Service (GSS) Test Preparation

Are you applying as a Statistical Officer with the Government Statistical Service (GSS)? The recruitment process is designed for you to repeatedly demonstrate your statistical analysis skills throughout. Our guide is optimized to prepare you to ace the recruitment process and get the position you want. 
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The Government Statistical Service, or GSS, runs two forms of graduate recruitment: an Assistant Statistician route, for people who want to take part in the Civil Service Fast Stream, and the Statistical Officer (StO), which is their main recruit. 

GSS StO Competencies

The general civil service competencies that you are expected to demonstrate throughout your application are:

  • Seeing the big picture
  • Changing and improving
  • Making effective decisions
  • Leading and communicating
  • Collaborating and partnering
  • Building capability for all
  • Managing a quality service
  • Delivery at pace
  • Delivering value for money
  • Achieving commercial outcomes

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GSS Application Form

The application form asks for all the usual information about you, your education and work experience. However, it also has a very strong emphasis on statistical knowledge, which begins with questions asking about the statistical content in your degree course, and the proportion of your degree it constituted.

The form then moves on to ask you to indicate your level of knowledge and experience in using a number of statistical skills. There is an 800 character limit for each skill. The skills covered on the application form are: analysis of variance; regression, multivariate techniques; time series analysis; index numbers; generalised linear model; hypothesis testing; data collection; and sampling. This section is what is used to determine whether or not to take you forward to the next stage.

You are also asked to write 250 words against four more general competencies:

  • Dissemination - express statistical or complex technical ideas effectively, either orally, in writing or both, with sensitivity and respect for others.
  • Collaborating and partnering - working within a team to achieve an end goal.
  • Making effective decisions - being able to make a decision and understanding the wider impact of your decision.
  • Managing a quality service - meeting deadlines to ensure you meet the need(s) of the customer/ supervisor.

Throughout the application form you should bear in mind the competencies required of a Statistical Officer with the GSS:

  • An understanding of data collection
  • An understanding of data analysis
  • Ability to communicate, particularly statistical or technical ideas
  • Collaborating and partnering
  • Making effective decisions
  • Managing a quality service

Use examples from your experience as often as you can, and use the STAR method as a way of organising your answers (Situation, Task, Action, Result). Learn more about the STAR method with JobTestPrep.

Once all the application forms have been received, they will be graded and assessed (or sifted) against the required competencies.

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The StO Board (Assessment Day)

Candidates whose application forms pass the application sift will be invited to the StO Board, the assessment day. The assessment day contains two activities, an interview, and a written test.


The purpose of the interview is to measure your compatibility to the role and responsibility of a Statistical Officer. The interview is approximately 45 minutes long. You will be asked questions about your knowledge and skills throughout the interview.

Preparation for the interview is vital as this is your opportunity to impress the recruitment team. 

Research the department you are applying to within the GSS, and find out what kind of responsibilities each position requires and what the job entails. Review the answers and examples you provided on your application form, but also prepare some alternative examples in case you are asked to expand on or give more details. Finally, the best way to prepare for an interview, to ensure that you have everything you need, is with a mock interview. JobTestPrep’s Skype based interviews provide you with a mock interview, from the comfort of your own home, and additionally, gives you feedback that you can use on your next interview.

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Written Test

This exercise is a statistical written exercise, lasting 90 minutes. There are three parts to this test, each assessing a different way of transferring statistical and numerical information into another format.

Part one: Multiple choice questions on statistical concepts and techniques - this section tests your numeracy and knowledge of basic statistical concepts and techniques.

Part two: Question on the design and conduct of a sample survey - here you are asked to make a practical application of survey methodology to a hypothetical situation which will be used to inform government policy making. Here GSS are testing your knowledge of the main requirements for a sample survey.

Part three: Drafting a short article based on some statistical material - you are given some statistical source material and asked to write a short article explaining the main statistical features to a non-technical audience. This section tests your ability to identify the key features of the material, and describe them clearly and logically to an audience with no statistical background.

It is important that you answer all three sections, so make sure to time yourself properly on each part. As well as the technical aspects of the exercise, you have to be prepared to communicate complicated ideas into language that is suitable for non-experts. Brushing up on your writing skills and learning about how to write for different audiences can increase your confidence for the big day. Prepare for this exercise with our written exercises preparation pack.

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