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Career & Money

What is the Civil Service Exam in the Philippines? Here’s All You Need to Know

Plus, all the necessary preparations you need to make before taking the civil service exam

Preparing for employment can get tedious. Whether you’re a first-time job seeker or an existing employee looking to expand your career opportunities, getting ready for this crucial next step as an adult can feel like a job in and of itself. 

Apart from the usual checklist of pre-employment requirements, those interested in working in the public sector should know that they have one additional, crucial step they need to go through: the Civil Service Exam. 

Ahead, get to know the Civil Service Exam process from start to finish.

What is the Civil Service Exam?

The Civil Service Exam (CSE), also known as the Career Service Examination, is conducted twice a year by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) to figure out whether or not an applicant is eligible to work in the government. 

There are two types of CSEs: 

1. Sub-Professional Level

This level is aimed toward applicants eyeing first-level government positions, which includes clerical and administrative work. The test has a time limit of two hours and 40 minutes and features 165 items that cover the following topics:

  • General Information

  • Clerical Operations

  • English

  • Mathematics

2. Professional Level

This exam type, on the other hand, is designed to allow passers to apply for both first- and second-level government positions. This includes job opportunities for both clerical and managerial posts.

Unlike the sub-professional level, an examinee taking up the professional exam must be a graduate of a four-year course. In terms of the actual test, the time limit is longer (three hours and 10 minutes), with 170 items that cover the following topics:

  • General Information

  • Analogies 

  • Logic Reasoning

  • English

  • Mathematics

Additionally, the Civil Service Commission (CSC) has also implemented a special job placement program called the Brightest for the Bureaucracy Program (BBP), which aims to invite young people with exceptional qualifications to join various public services. These individuals are those who have received high ratings in the CSC and Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) exams or are honor graduates, among others.

Who is Qualified to take the Civil Service Exam?

An interested applicant must meet the following Civil Service requirements in order to qualify:

  • Is a Filipino citizen 

  • Is at least 18 years old 

  • Has no criminal record

  • Has no dismissal record from military or government service

  • Has not taken the same-level exam within the last three months before the exam date

Under special laws, some individuals are exempt from taking the exam, including honor graduates and barangay officials. View the complete list of exemptions on the CSC website.

Modes in the Civil Service Exam

There are two options for taking the CSE:

  1. Pen-And-Paper Test (PPT) is the traditional way of taking the test, in which you have to shade circles using a black ballpoint pen. This test costs ₱500, and the results come out 60 days after the exam.

  2. Computerized Examination (COMEX) lets you take the exam on a computer at your registered CSC testing center. While this option is on the pricier side compared to the PPT (requiring a ₱680 fee), the exam results can be expected a week after taking the examination.

Requirements for the Civil Service Exam

  • Application form: To get started, fill out the CSE form that’s available for download via the CSC website or at any CSC Regional or Field Office.

  • Recent ID photos: Prepare four colored, passport-sized ID photos with a white background. These photos should be taken within three months before submitting your application and should include a handwritten tag with your name and signature at the bottom.

  • Valid ID: Ready an original copy and photocopy of any of your valid IDs like driver's license, NBI clearance and Philippine passport. You may view the complete list of valid IDs here

For examinees going for the COMEX mode, you must bring your reservation receipt on your exam day. 

Applying for the Civil Service Exam

  • For PPT

Submit your completed application form to the CSC office of your choice. (You may check this directory to find the one closest to you.) Once at the office, you will be asked to sign and stamp your thumbprint on the form. Once your application is accepted, pay the test fee at the cashier, where they will also give you your examination slip. 

  • For COMEX

Sign up via the CSC COMEX website. Once done filling out the online form, click the verification link sent to your email to activate your COMEX account. Then, log in to your account and click "Reserve a Slot Now" to select where, when and what type of CSE you intend to take.

Shortly, you will receive a Slot Reservation receipt via your email, which you will have to print and bring with you on your exam date. 

CSC COMEX website

Want the CSE online application process to be seamless? Consider switching to a speedy and reliable prepaid WiFi for a hassle-free application.

Tips Before, During and After the Civil Service Exam

  1. Read up on the listed coverage

Take the time to review the topics included in the CSE. As this is a test that will gauge your eligibility for public service, brush up on the following topics:

  • Philippine Constitution

  • Environment Management and Protection

  • Peace and Human Rights Issues and Concepts

  • Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees

    2. Prepare the requirements

Remember to bring your exam receipts and confirmation slip on the exam day. Be sure to have with you aa valid ID, preferably the one you presented during the application filing, as the CSC has a strict No ID, No Exam policy.

As of 2022, you will also need to bring proof of vaccination, whether original or digital. If you happen to be unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, you must present a negative RT-PCR, saliva or antigen test result. 

            3. Arrive at the venue early 

Testing venues open at 6:00 AM and close by 7:30 AM, so be there early. You may visit the site beforehand to familiarize yourself with how to get there without rushing or getting lost.

            4. Bring extra writing materials

The CSC only allows black ballpoint pens for PPT, so gel, sign, fountain, friction or colored pens are prohibited. Avoid any issues and pack an extra set of black ball pens just in case.

            5. Wear the proper attire 

The CSC requires all examinees to dress appropriately for the exam. Slippers, shorts or short pants or sleeveless tops are not allowed. Of course, don't forget your face mask.

            6. Be patient while waiting for the results

With the hard part over, all you have to do next is wait. Should you pass the CSE, the CSC will issue a Certification of Eligibility a month after announcing the exam results. Simply bring your application receipt and a valid ID upon claiming.

Time to Get Studying 

Studying for the CSE will not be a walk in the park, but it’s definitely worth it if you hope to work in the public sector. Now that you know what you’re in for, time to hit the books and review!

There are countless resources online that can help you prepare for and ace the CSE. For uninterrupted studying, Globe At Home makes the perfect fast and affordable home internet option with its bigger broadband data and faster speed with GFiber.

Art Matthew Fetalver

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