Making Your Civil Service Exam Preparation Schedule: A Guide

Making Your Civil Service Exam Preparation Schedule: A Guide

Most civil service exams come only once in four to six years. Civil service entrance exams are also very competitive, and the only way to ensure your recruitment is by preparing better than the average applicant.

In this guide, we talk about what you should include in your schedule. We also list the general skills that you need to prepare for civil service exams.

But first, let’s quickly discuss what civil service exams are and how they’re different from standard academic or recruitment exams.

What Are Civil Service Exams?

Civil service exams are aptitude exams that test your fundamental abilities such as logical reasoning, written comprehension, observation, and working memory. These exams don’t require you to have any specific knowledge about the job, but they evaluate the basic abilities you’ll need for it.

Civil service entrance exams fall into the DCAS exam category called “open competitive” exams. The exams are open for anyone who meets the eligibility criteria. However, since the vacancies are limited, candidates who pass the exams are ranked according to their performance, and the best candidates are chosen while the rest are rejected.

What to Include in Your Schedule


You don’t have to learn any technical details of fighting fires to pass the FDNY Exam. Similarly, you don’t need Jake Peralta-level detective skills to pass the Suffolk Police Exam. These technical skills are taught to you during your training after you get recruited. The DCAS exams only test natural abilities. How do you prepare for the exam then? You practice.

You can practice problem-solving and pattern recognition skills by attempting sample problems online. However, the best way to prepare for the kind of questions you’ll attempt in your exam is by joining preparation classes. If you’re taking preparation classes, you don’t necessarily have to also practice at home yourself.

Person deep asleepSleep

Sleep plays an essential role in maintaining your brain’s functions. When you learn something during the day, it’s stored in your short-term memory, which is limited and relatively inefficient. When you go to sleep, your brain shifts all the information in your short-term memory to long-term memory. This frees up the limited short-term memory and prepares you to make new memories the next day.

Sleep also helps you learn and understand complex concepts. When you go to sleep, your brain replays your memories of the day to recognize patterns and gain new insight. We experience this as dreams. This is why you’re often told to sleep on a problem; your subconscious can often find solutions to problems when you’re asleep that you can’t when awake.

Most adults need eight hours of sleep every day. Design your schedule to allow for at least eight hours of sleep. Getting less sleep than you need hurts your ability to prepare for the exam and can even cause long-term brain damage.

Person meditatingMeditation

Thanks to social media and on-demand streaming services, most people today find it hard to maintain focus. A short attention span can limit your ability to prepare for your civil service exam. Many types of questions in the exam require your complete attention if you want to get them right. If you’re someone who can’t focus and gets easily distracted, including just 20 minutes of meditation in your schedule can help.

According to one theory, the brain is composed of many modules that specialize in different tasks. These modules function subconsciously and are capable of generating thoughts independently from your conscious self. This is where those random thoughts come from when you’re trying to focus. Meditation trains your conscious brain to ignore these thoughts, allowing you to focus better for longer.


Civil service exams evaluate your brain’s fundamental abilities. How well you can prepare for the exam is limited by these abilities. One of the ways to boost brain health is by getting regular exercise.

Person doing aerobic exerciseYour brain needs about 20% of your oxygen supply to function optimally. Exercise can improve the amount of oxygen your brain gets and improve cognition, memory, and motor function. Exercise improves your cardiovascular system. This allows more blood flow to the brain, increasing the amount of oxygen available to the brain. Aerobic exercise also improves your respiration, allowing you to inhale more oxygen and enhancing your brain function.

You don’t need to spend hours in the gym just to prepare for the NYC Sanitation exam. Just 30 minutes of exercise is enough to get the benefits. Any type of exercise that increases your heart rate will help, whether it’s walking or jogging. If you don’t have 30 minutes, you can try high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to enjoy the same benefits in less time.

General Skills Required To Pass Civil Service Exams

The general skills you need to pass the civil service exams include;

  1. Maintaining attention
  2. Observation
  3. Deductive reasoning
  4. Logical reasoning
  5. Pattern recognition
  6. Spatial ability
  7. Language skills
  8. Comprehension skills

Depending on what department you’re applying for, some of these skills might make a bigger part of your exam than others. Different departments can also require additional skills.

For example, Suffolk and Nassau Police Exams often have math problems. The upcoming Sanitation Exam 2060 DCAS will have a physical exam in addition to the written exam that tests your strength and stamina. The FDNY Exam also includes a physical exam called the Candidate Physical Ability Test, which tests strength and agility.

The best way to train all the skills required to pass your civil service exam is by taking preparation classes. This is where we come in.

Civil Service Success has been preparing candidates for civil service exams in NYC for over 45 years, which makes us the oldest institute in the city of its kind. If you’re applying for the sanitation exam 2060 DCAS, we strongly encourage you to enroll in our prep classes and ensure your success. We also host Nassau and Suffolk Police Exam Prep Classes and NYC Firefighter Exam Prep Classes.

Want to pass your civil service exam with flying colors? Get in touch now!

By |2022-05-24T11:23:46+00:00May 21st, 2022|Blog|0 Comments

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