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Thread: Mail-in civil service exam = open book & internet research?

  1. #1
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    Mail-in civil service exam = open book & internet research?

    Hi everyone,

    This was the question that I am facing that prompted me to register and login, given that I have spent years as a content lurker at the Cyburbia Forums.

    Anyway, because this is my first major round of job applications, I want to make sure I am being completely ethical. A recent job to which I applied last month replied by sending me a civil service exam, to which I am supposed to answer multiple-choice questions and send in the answer sheet. The instructions make no mention of whether this is open book or not, but say that the pass rate is only 70%. I've glanced at the questions and think I could get comfortably above 70% without researching answers. However, there seem to be quite a few specific questions about legal cases and exact definitions, and those certainly would be easy to find the answers to. I would feel bad about that, but is it to be expected and will everyone else be doing that? (in which case it makes no sense to be put at a competitive disadvantage)

    What does the Cyburbia community think about what is normal and ethical here? Would it be weird for a municipal planning agency to see a near 100% (which would be easily attainable through basic searches), and throw that one out? I'm not sure what to do in this situation, and would thank you all for any advice you could provide.

    (By the way, this was an entry-level Planner I position. Apparently, there were 150+ applications.)
    Last edited by Beacon; 29 Aug 2011 at 1:06 PM.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    I would use every resource available to me in order to get the best score possible.

  3. #3
    That's a very odd situation. I would make an anonymous call to HR to find out if it is indeed "open book" and simply stress that you wanted to double check because you are ethical. Although it is tempting since no one could find out, I would answer the questions to the best of my ability without internet research. Can't go wrong with that option. If the city hires someone else that did get 100% because they googled all the answers, would that really be the type of organization you want to join?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally posted by CubbieBlue View post
    I would use every resource available to me in order to get the best score possible.
    Agreed. 70% pass probably because 30% are either not serious about the job, do not respond in time, or don't have enough time to perform research.

    This is the first round, so you figure the 100 that do go on will get weeded out eventually. (Civil service = many, many rounds and many, many months)

  5. #5
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    I ended up nearly calling the city's HR department, and then stared at the phone for a couple of minutes, thinking. I kind of split the difference here. I did not end up calling.

    What I ended up doing was researching the answers for the types of questions where clearly you would use standard guidelines during your planning work, like parking ratios. However, I answered all the conceptual questions to the best of my knowledge based on my background. I feel generally fine with this approach, and the exam was postmarked and sent away today.

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