Epso Case Study Test

Everything you need to know about our tests

As part of the selection procedure for each open competition published on the EPSO website, candidates will be expected to take a series of tests to assess both their general and professional skills and competencies. The first round of tests that most candidates will be asked to take are computer-based multiple-choice tests, unless they are applying for specialist roles in which case the initial selection procedure may be judged on qualifications only.

Candidates who succeed at the computer-based multiple-choice tests and/or the selection based on qualifications, and whose online application forms show that they meet all general and specific eligibility conditions of their competition, are invited to an assessment centre.

The assessment centre is normally held in Brussels or Luxembourg, and may take place over one or more days. In the assessment centre, candidates’ general competencies and their specific competencies related to the duties in question are tested.

Sample tests for these two rounds of tests are given in the following pages. They are designed to give candidates an idea of the type of questions they may face. Please note that the number and type of tests candidates take vary according to the competition type and level for which they apply. For details on the tests included in a specific selection procedure, please check the Notice of Competition (or Call for Expression of Interest).

EPSO does not provide any preparatory courses or material apart from these sample tests, neither does it endorse any other organisations' publications or training courses.

Some EU member states offer training and support for EU nationals, through the following contacts or via their Permanent Representation to the EU.

Assistants (AST-SC)

  • Online tests: Reasoning skills tests (verbal, numerical and abstract) and Professional skills tests ('Prioritising and organising' and 'Basic IT literacy')
  • E-tray exercise: sample E-tray question: English, French, German
  • Language comprehension tests: English, French, German
  • Finance skills test: English, French, German
  • Microsoft Office skills test
  • Accuracy and precision: English, French, German
  • Drafting skills test:
    This practical test is designed to assess the candidates' drafting skills (particularly spelling, lexical and grammar) in their language 2, not their knowledge of the topic dealt with in their composition.
    Candidates will be provided with a list of different topics, from which they will need to choose only one. They will be asked to draft a composition on the chosen topic.
    The test will be performed on computer and last for 30 minutes.
  • Role Play:
    The candidate receives a written briefing right before the play. In the briefing (around 5-10 minutes of preparation), the candidate is invited to prepare a meeting with a "customer". The candidate must take the role of the job he/she is applying to. The role of the "customer" is also explained, and a problem is described.
    The role play itself lasts around 15 minutes and allows testing several general competencies. It consists in a meeting with the "customer" about the problem. The "customer", a trained member of staff, provides additional information during the meeting, according to a semi-structured script. The meeting is done in presence of two members of the Selection Board. The Selection Board members do not intervene and just take notes. At the end of the exercise, the scoring is made by the Selection Board members. 

Assistants (AST)

  • Reasoning skills tests: verbal, numerical and abstract interactive tests
  • Professional skills tests:  
  • E-tray exercise: sample E-tray question: English, French, German
  • Sample situational judgment questions: English, French, German and scoring example
  • Editing test:
    The editing test is about correcting linguistic errors and formatting mistakes in a translation.
    The source text in Language 2 is provided on screen. A translation of this text into Language 1, provided as an editable MSWord file, contains mistakes in the language and the format in comparison to the source text. The candidate is asked to detect and correct these mistakes, in order to match the source text.
    The test lasts approximately one hour.
  • Drafting of a note relating to duties:
    The test is designed to test some of the competences inherent to the duties required for a particular profile. A specific situation is provided in the form of a short written briefing, and candidates are asked to draft a note including the ways to address this situation. The test is on computer and must be taken in the candidates' second language. The pass mark is indicated in the Notice of competition.
  • Specific competency-based interview:
    The test is designed to evaluate some or all (see the Notice of competition) of the competences inherent to the duties required for a specific profile. It is a structured interview by two members of the Selection Board. The interview is in the candidates' second language. The pass mark is indicated in the Notice of competition. The specific competency-based interview should not be confused with the general competency-based interview, which is also structured but which focuses on general competencies rather than specific duties. 

Administrators (AD-Generalists)

  • Reasoning skills tests: verbal, numerical, abstract and situational judgement interactive tests
  • Sample situational judgment questions: English, French, German and scoring example
  • E-tray
  • Group exercise: English, French, German
  • Oral presentation: English, French, German
  • Case study: English, French, German
  • Motivational interview:
    The motivation to join the EU Institutions is multifaceted, involving several elements: the origin of the interest to work for the EU, the awareness about and commitment to EU values, the understanding of present and future challenges of the EU, the expectations regarding an EU career, knowledge of the EU and its origins, of the EU institutions and of the main EU policies.
    On this basis, a motivational interview has been developed and consists of a 20 minute structured interview by two members of the Selection Board.
    The EU motivational interview will test each of the above elements.

Administrators (AD – Specialists)

  • Reasoning skills tests: verbal, numerical, abstract and situational judgement interactive tests
  • Sample situational judgment questions: English, French, German and scoring example
  • E-tray
  • Group exercise: English, French, German
  • Oral presentation: English, French, German
  • Case study: English, French, German
  • Drafting of a note relating to duties: 
    The test is designed to test some of the competences inherent to the duties required for a particular profile. A specific situation is provided in the form of a short written briefing, and candidates are asked to draft a note including the ways to address this situation. The test is on computer and must be taken in the candidates' second language. The pass mark is indicated in the Notice of competition.
  • Specific competency-based interview: 
    The test is designed to evaluate some or all (see the Notice of competition) of the competences inherent to the duties required for a specific profile. It is a structured interview by two members of the Selection Board. The interview is in the candidates' second language. The pass mark is indicated in the Notice of competition. The specific competency-based interview should not be confused with the general competency-based interview, which is also structured but which focuses on general competencies rather than specific duties. 

Lawyer-linguist (AD)

  • Reasoning skills tests: verbal, numerical, abstract and situational judgement interactive tests
  • Language comprehension tests: English, French, German
  • Translation tests: German, English, Spanish, French, Italian
  • Summary test
  • Group exercise: English, French, German

Translators (AD)

  • Reasoning skills tests: verbal, numerical and abstract interactive tests
  • Translation tests
  • Language comprehension tests:  English, French, German
  • Group exercise: English, French, German
  • Oral presentation: English, French, German
  • Main language skills test: sample
    The main language skills test is a pilot test. In 2017 it is not eliminatory and the marks scored by candidates will not be taken into account in the course of this competition. The results will be processed on an anonymous basis solely for analytical purposes with a view to the organisation of future competitions.
    The main language skills test is a multiple-choice test made up of 25 independent questions. Each question comprises 4 options, out of which only one (A, B, C or D) is the correct answer. Candidates have 25 minutes to finish the test. The questions may target any of the following competencies: grammar, vocabulary, idiomatic usage, spelling and punctuation.

Interpreters (AD)

Contract Agents

  • Reasoning skills tests:
    For FG I, please refer to Assistants (AST-SC) section.
    For FG II, please refer to Assistants (AST-SC) section.
    For FG III, please refer to Assistants (AST) section.
    For FG IV, please refer to Administrators (AD - Generalist) section.
  • Competency-based test: This is a multiple-choice question (MCQ) test that evaluates your knowledge in the field of a specific profile. See the call for expression of interest for details.

    CAST Permanent (EPSO/CAST/P1-P17/2017): The competency test for contract agents includes a series of 25 multiple-choice questions which are designed to test the inherent competence to the duties required for the specific profile. The questions in the competency tests are related to the duties described in the Call for Expression of Interest. They are not in the field of a specific institution/agency/service. Each question is based on a scenario linked to four different answer options, only one of which is correct.  Each question yields one point and wrong answers are not penalised. Candidates have 50 minutes in total at their disposal to answer to the 25 multiple-choice questions.  While the time factor is part of the assessment as well, the tests are designed in a way to allow candidates to possibly answer all questions within the allocated timeframe. The competency tests will be taken in the candidates' second language. The pass mark is 13 out of 25 points for both function groups II and III whereas for function group IV candidates need to score 16 out of 25 points to pass.

See our sample test for Finance profile: questions on financial procedures, accounting management, analysis and advice (audits and controls), which may also cover economic theories and tools to monitor and analyse economic and financial trends, developments and data.
See our sample test for Project / Programme Management profile: questions on knowledge of project/programme management (planning, monitoring, evaluation, etc.) which also cover relevant financial aspects, communication and quality assurance.
See our sample test for Secretaries/Clerks profile: questions on a range of secretarial tasks/clerical duties such as organising meetings, preparing missions, filing documents and mail, sorting post, maintaining appointment diaries, etc. Basic knowledge of MS Office software products is also tested.
See our sample test for Administration / Human Resources profile: questions mostly related to personnel management and professional training.
See our sample test for Communication profile: questions on practical tools such as, but not limited to, briefings, factsheets, online communication, social media as well as on pertinent project management aspects related to e.g. definition/implementation/execution of communication strategies.
See our sample test for Political Affairs / EU Policies profile: questions are on knowledge in political areas, both on general and EU level, but can also cover legal and economical subjects.
See our sample test for Law profile: questions on knowledge of EU, national and international law which may also cover political and economic subjects.
See our sample test for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) profile: questions on a variety of ICT related topics such as, but not limited to, the use of programming languages such as JAVA, Visual Basic, Visual C#, etc., user environment administration (e.g. Windows and Unix) and network and telecommunications management.

CAST Permanent (EPSO/CAST/P18/2017 - FG I): There is no competency test for this function group.

All these tests will be computer-based and you will take them at the same time in a test centre of your choice (to be selected from those available). The list of available test centres will be accessible to candidates in their invitation letter.

The admission results are out and the pre-selection phase is finally over. Congratulations to everyone who has been invited to the Assessment Centre!

Today is a day to celebrate the good news, but from tomorrow you will have to look ahead again as the hardest part is yet to come.

The next step in landing an EU job is the Assessment Centre (or AC), and the first exam to sit is the Case Study. For many people this is the scariest part of the whole EPSO competition process, but fear not: you have a month left to prepare and we have created this step-by-step guide to help you plan and schedule your preparation to become a Case Study pro by the time you enter the exam room.

Step #1: Re-read the notice of competition

Along with the communications you receive to your EPSO account, the notice of competition is your #1 official source of information from EPSO. Read it again! It tells you all the basic information about the structure of the AC and the competencies tested by each exercise.

The case study is designed to assess general competencies, and for specialists, their competence in their field as well. Your notice of competition will state explicitly which are the competencies measured by the case study in your case, as this can vary slightly depending on your field and the grade of the position.

For AD generalists the 4 competencies are:  Analysing and Problem Solving, Communication, Delivering Quality and Results and Prioritizing and Organizing.

Step #2: Consult a more comprehensive summary material

The notice of competition is a good starting point, but it does not give you any guidance on the details. The competencies are listed, but they are not explained and there is no information on the possible scenarios, the test procedure, or the scoring system.

EPSO has two sample case studies on their website, which are great sources to familiarize yourself with the task you will be facing. I would recommend you to download them, maybe scan through them quickly, but do not plunge into reading them in details yet. They will be much more beneficial at a later stage as practice materials, once you are familiar with the exam setup and the details of what is expected from you to obtain a good score.

The Perfect Case Study Guidebook is a free resource written by a former EPSO selection board president. This booklet gives you a comprehensive summary of the EPSO case study exam and advices on preparation strategy. One of its most valuable assets is the detailed explanation of the assessed competencies and the list of positive and negative indicators for each one of them. These are the things EPSO markers will be looking for in your essay and your score will be based on how well these come through from your work.

It is good to keep something in mind: Having the competencies is one thing, showing it in your essay that you have them is another. Practically, the preparation is learning how to master the latter.

Case Study Insights Webinar are useful tools for this. They not only introduce you to the case study exam system, but also give practical advice on best practice exam strategies, from time management to writing tips, to make your essay both professional and appealing to the markers.

Step #3: Catch up with EU affairs and know the EU institutions 

EPSO case studies simulate real life, EU-related scenarios.  Although you will have the key background materials provided, to quickly grasp the context of the assignment it is important to be familiar with current EU affairs and to know how EU institutions work.

You might be asking yourself: What could the possible subjects be this year? It is hard to guess. It can be a hot EU topic as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Maybe one of its sub-sections is of special interest, like GMOs. Or it can always be an EU evergreen, such as unemployment, climate change or gender equality policies. The best thing you can do is refresh your knowledge and be up to date with EU related news.    Here are a few websites you can start with:

For EU institutions and legislation:

EU news:

Pick your favourite from these news sites, bookmark 1 or 2 of them, and read them on a daily basis.

Step #4: Try a mock case study early in the preparation process

No reading can replace practice, so you should try practicing as much as you can. Trying an EPSO-style case study simulation test (remember to select Assessment Centre to view this service offering) at the beginning of your preparation process can help you in two ways.

First: You will get to know the test situation and the test interface. You can experience for yourself how difficult it is for you personally to read all the materials and write your essay within the 60-minute time limit. Plus, you will become familiar with the test software and its functionalities won’t surprise you, so on the day of the exam you won’t be wasting precious time by things like finding out how to copy and paste text in the EPSO editor. (No, ctrl+c / ctrl+v won’t work.)

Second: You can get detailed feedback from someone who has marked case studies in real EPSO exam situations. Taking into account the comments you receive and your own experience, you can find out where you are at in the preparation process. Make a list of your biggest mistakes and the focus points you need to improve on.

Step: #5 Create a preparation roadmap

Once you know where you are, and know where you want to be, it’s time to think about how you are going to get there. Consider the areas you need to improve and plan how you are going to do it. Do you run out of time because you cannot read through the background documents fast enough? Practice speed-reading. You get lost in long, wordy sentences? See what the European Commission recommends on how to write clearly, also view Claire’s Clear Writing Tips and practice your drafting skills by writing some more texts.

These are just a few basic examples, but the point is:  if you see what needs to be done you will know what material to look for, and how much time and effort the tasks will need. Taking into account the time you will actually have, you can structure and schedule your steps to make the most of your preparation. It’s good to write all this down, so it becomes clearer for yourself too.

Step #6: Practice, practice, practice

While improving specific skills, do not lose the big picture. It is important to practice speed-reading, because it will add to your overall performance, but keep in mind what your ultimate goal is. It is to master EPSO-style case study writing in its entirety, and the best way to do it is by practicing it like that.

Pull out the EPSO sample studies and complete the assignment. Also, attached to the case study webinar on EU Training is a sample case study and sample solution. Even if you do not complete it, read the task and the corrected solution. This will give you a deeper insight into the common mistakes you should avoid, and general advices like ‘Be specific!’ are demonstrated in practice, and are much easier to grasp.

You can review the webinar and the guidebook from time to time, focusing on the sections which are more relevant to you personally. The more you practice, the better you will understand the task and its difficulties and the tips will find their context.

Step #7: Take a second simulation test

If you feel the need for reinforcement, take a second trial test about 10 days before the exam. This can serve as your dress rehearsal.

Before you start, look at the list of the mistakes and focus points you made earlier and, needless to say, try to avoid them. Receiving your feedback and seeing your progress should comfort your confidence, and it will let you double-check whether you keep repeating any errors.

Step #8: The day before the exam, rest and relax

Take it easy the day before the exam. Do a bit of news reading, and scan through your list of focus points one more time. Don’t panic, or start some last-minute learning frenzy. Get an early sleep, and rest assured: if you prepared, it will show in your score.

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