DCAS Exams for civil service jobs in NYC don’t require any industry knowledge. They test your natural cognitive abilities. Before we get into how to improve these abilities, you might wonder why you’d want to do that in the first place. To understand why, let’s look at how your written test leads to recruitment.
What it Takes to Pass Civil Service Exams
Civil service exams have criteria that determine whether you pass the exam or not. There’s a minimum grade that is needed and if you fail to get that grade, you immediately are disqualified as a candidate. For example, the NYC Sanitation Exam has a minimum grade requirement of 70%.
Recruitment exams fall into the exam category called “Open Competitive.” These exams are open for anyone who meets the eligibility criteria to apply. Since federal departments can only hire a limited number of people, the high number of candidates essentially have to compete with each other even after scoring the required grade.
To summarize, to pass the civil service exams, you need to:
- Obtain the minimum required score
- Do competitively better than the other candidates in the exam
Getting the minimum required score may not be too hard but in highly competitive exams, such as the anticipated sanitation exam 2060 DCAS, getting a minimum required score won’t cut it.
Developing your cognitive skills is essential to land a civil service position. Here are six cognitive skills you’ll need and how to prepare for them.
Developing Cognitive Abilities for Civil Service Exam
1. Improving Attention Span
This is vital for solving complex reasoning problems in exams such as the Suffolk Police Exam. Some problems require you to read a passage and answer multiple-choice questions about the passage. The passage gives you some facts but the questions require you to combine different facts to deduce new facts. You need a good attention span to read the passage carefully and answer the questions without getting distracted.
Social media is a big threat to our attention span, and giving up scrolling these social media apps can increase your ability to focus for longer. If you have a severely short attention span, medication may help you.
2. Recognizing Patterns
Pattern recognition is one of the best ways to test a candidate’s ability to think and come up with ideas quickly. The NYC Firefighter Exam particularly uses pattern recognition questions to test the candidate’s ability to solve problems quickly. However, pattern recognition questions are common in other DCAS exams as well.
You can train for this ability by solving pattern recognition questions online. However, the best way to improve your pattern recognition is by joining civil service exam prep classes and working with a professional who can tell you about the kind of problems expected in your exam.
3. Processing Large Amounts of Information
The questions mentioned in the attention span section—those where you have to read a paragraph and answer questions after—also need the ability to process large amounts of information simultaneously. This is because the exam asks you indirect questions about the passage. You usually have to combine two or more facts to know the answer to the asked questions.
Your prefrontal cortex holds information for temporary processing as “working memory.” High working memory allows you to understand complex problems—and with low working memory, you can’t even follow long sentences.
One way to improve your working memory is to get proper sleep daily. Sleep deprivation has strong short-term and long-term effects on working memory. You can also train your brain to process large amounts of information by taking IQ tests online. The best way to prepare for exactly the kind of problems that you’re going to see on the exam is by taking preparation classes.
4. Information Processing Speed
In DCAS exams, you’re not just competing with other competitors, you’re also racing against time. If you take too long on a problem, you’ll end up failing to attempt many problems that were easier than the problem you were stuck on. However, you also can’t afford to spend time reading the entire exam and guessing the difficulty of each problem before you start solving it. The amount of time you need to process information is a huge factor.
Improving your attention span and your working memory can also help you solve problems faster. If you’re paying attention when reading a problem, you’ll note everything and won’t have to go back over and over again. If you also have a good working memory, you’ll be able to recall all the information you noted from the problem instead of having to read the problem again and again.
5. Observation Skills
Observation skills include your ability to extract information in a situation. These skills are particularly useful for the FDNY Exam—firefighters need excellent observation skills to assess a situation and come up with a plan. However, questions that test your observation skills are also common in the Suffolk Police Exam and the NYC Sanitation Exam.
The best way to improve your observation skills is by attempting sample problems. This way, you learn what information is important, and what you need to ignore.
6. Logical Reasoning
Logical reasoning is the key cognitive skill that allows you to obtain information from given and general facts. Logical reasoning skills are particularly important for police officers. If you’re filing the Suffolk Police Application and want to be promoted to a higher rank such as a detective, you’re going to need logical reasoning skills to succeed.
The best way to train your logical reasoning skills is by working with a professional instructor and solving sample logical reasoning problems.
At Civil Service Success, we’ve been hosting civil service exam prep classes in NYC for over 45 years. We’re currently enrolling candidates in our prep classes for the upcoming sanitation exam 2060 DCAS. We also host Nassau and Suffolk Police Exam Prep Classes and NYC Firefighter Exam Prep Classes.
Want to develop your cognitive skills to stand out in your civil service exam? Get in touch with us today.