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Thread: Outdated civil service exams

  1. #1
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Outdated civil service exams

    So, I have to take a civil service exam for the job I have now. New York state, of course.

    I'm looking at the study guide. Apparently, to pass, you have to be a planner in New York City in 1970. All kinds of questions on Great Society-era programs, urban renewal, Model Cities, STOLports, NYC-centric housing programs, and the like. If you're a New Urbanist-leaning planner, some answers you think are correct will actually be wrong.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    This is for Director, I assume? I took the NYS civil service test for Assistant Planner and Planner when they were last offered around here, in 2009. I have the materials for those, but I'm not sure how much good they'll do you. And yes, the material is largely nonsensical. There are a number of engineering-ish questions on there, though - stuff like 'which of the following three options represents the most likely direction of stormwater flow for the drainage ditch pictured below?', etc.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    hehe. I think it was my AICP exam - but it might've been some other one, that had a question about calculating minimum parking ratios, that required you to select an answer other than the choice that said suggested the parking requirement could be zero. Yet, most of my projects in real life have a zero or fractional parking requirement, being in downtown areas.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by MacheteJames View post
    'which of the following three options represents the most likely direction of stormwater flow for the drainage ditch pictured below?', etc.
    Interestingly, almost that exact question was covered during my chapter's AICP test review... for what it's worth.

  5. #5
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Machete, did they ask anything about SEQR? I'm going to give the SEQR FAQ a quick readover, along with NYS city and town planning law
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    Honestly, I don't recall any mention of SEQR on either test. It's been four years, though, so I could be wrong. Let me do some digging in the closet at home and see if I can find those old study guides.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    Sorry this isn't related to NY civil service exams, just a fun bit of trivia about old civil service exams.

    In my parents' generation and country of residence, the civil service exam that all civil servants had to pass was a language exam. The language is considered the 'national language' and is only spoken by about 15% of the population. They don't require that exam nowadays.

  8. #8
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    That was a ... strange exam.

    105 questions.

    30 planning (basic old-school zoning, transportation, administration)
    30 reading comprehension (15 - arranging sentences to form a paragraph, 15 - "what reworded sentence best reflects the original sentence.")
    15 GIS
    15 management
    15 statistics

    Nothing on environment/SEQR, planning history, or contemporary planning practice. Fortunately, nothing NYC-centric. I had to put myself in the mind of a 1980s planner to answer several questions (recommended parking requirements, the benefits of converting two-way streets to one-way, etc), to give the answer they wanted.

    In my exam, I only had to answer some of the questions in the exam book. I checked, re-checked, re-re-checked, and checked again to make sure I answered all the question sets for my title. I'm still feeling anxious, afraid I missed a set.

    I'm gong to have to write an article about the study book questions, because so many of the "correct" answers would be wrong by today's standards.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    I had a similar reaction to my NY state test a couple years ago.

    http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showthread.php?t=42911

  10. #10
    Cyburbian RandomPlanner's avatar
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    Director exam

    I know this is an old thread but I'm preparing for my Director exam and the write-up tells me that it will include building code questions, which I will definitely have to study up on. I guess my question is -- How worried should I be?
    How do I know you are who you think you are?

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    What state are you in? In NY building code training is free if you can make the time for it.

    Three 3-day sessions will even get you a fire inspector certification.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian RandomPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DrGrant View post
    What state are you in? In NY building code training is free if you can make the time for it.

    Three 3-day sessions will even get you a fire inspector certification.
    Oooh, I'm in NY. So I should look for a training class this spring then. That's a great idea; thanks!
    How do I know you are who you think you are?

  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure the classes are sequential, so you might have to wait until July to start... looks like the last intro course was on February 25th.

    http://www.dos.ny.gov/dcea/edu_course_9A.html

  14. #14
    Cyburbian RandomPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DrGrant View post
    Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure the classes are sequential, so you might have to wait until July to start... looks like the last intro course was on February 25th.

    http://www.dos.ny.gov/dcea/edu_course_9A.html
    Back to the drawing board, I guess...
    How do I know you are who you think you are?

  15. #15
    Cyburbian RandomPlanner's avatar
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    Anyone have a 'Planning Director' and/or 'Senior Code Enforcement Officer' passbook that they'd want to sell or lend me? (Just thought I'd ask before I drop the $100 that amazon wants to charge me.)
    How do I know you are who you think you are?

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