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Our recommendations to succeed the pre-selection of the AD5 Administrators (Competition 2015)

Discover the changes done by EPSO for the competition 2015.

EPSO has just announced the new competition 2015 for AD5 Administrators (EPSO/AD/301/15). There will be 149 positions on the reserve list. You can find the notice of competition here.

The application period is from 19/03/2015 till 21/04/2015. You have one month to fill your application.

To help you to prepare that competition, we have decided to write this post. You will find our main recommendations, regarding your application and preparation for the pre-selection (computer-based tests) for that AD5 competition.

What are the changes in the AD5 competition for 2015?

In the 2015 AD5 competition, there will be 3 stages:

  1. Stage 1 “computer-based tests” : which is the computer selection based on 4 tests : Situational Judgement, Abstract Reasoning, Numerical Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning. EPSO will select around 1500-1650 candidates for the stage 2 (around 3% of the total number of applications (estimation of 45.000 applications))
  2. Stage 2 “e-tray exercise”: which is a new stage in the AD5 competition. This exam will assess the general competencies, which is similar to the Situational Judgement Test, but in a simulation exercise. EPSO will select around 300-350 candidates for the stage 3.
  3. Stage 3 “Assessment Centre”: which is an assessment of 1 day in Brussels based on 4 exams : Case Study, Oral Presentation, competency-based interview and Group Exercise)

As you can see the number of open positions is very limited in 2015 : maximum 149 candidates will be selected. The most prepared candidates will strongly increase their chances to succeed.

It is time for the candidates to start preparing the computer-based stage as from today. Below, you can find our tips and recommendations to help you.

What are the changes in the computer-based tests?

The tests remains the same (Verbal Reasoning, Numerical Reasoning, Abstract Reasoning and Situational Judgement), but the calculations of your results have changed!

As you can see in the notice of competition, the results of the verbal and numerical reasoning tests will not be taken into account in the calculation of your total pre-selection mark! However, you still need to reach the minimum pass marks of these two tests to qualify for the next stage of the competition. You still require to reach a pass mark of 5/10 for the Verbal Reasoning and Numerical Reasoning tests!

The two tests that will be taken into account in the calculation of your total pre-selection mark will be the Abstract Reasoning and Situational Judgement. The minimum pass mark is 24/40 for the Situational Judgement Test and 10/20 for the Abstract Reasoning.

How to succeed the computer-based stage for this AD5 competition?

As you can see above, the Situational Judgement Test (SJT) is the most important test to succeed. It will count for 66% of your total score. The other 34% is for the Abstract Reasoning.

It is an important change in the EPSO concours compared to last year. In 2014 the Verbal Reasoning was also included in the total pre-selection mark. This change is in line with the direction of EPSO to focus more on the evaluation of the skills and real performance of the candidates. In a stage 2, EPSO will also use an e-tray exam to measure your skills and competencies based on the 8 core competencies defined.

Why EPSO is using SJT? The reason is that the Situational Judgement Test (SJT) is the most predictive test (amongst these 4 tests) to measure the future performance of candidates in their work.

To maximize your chances of succeeding the pre-selection test for the AD5 competition, our recommendations are.

1.  Start to fill your EPSO application for the AD5 competition right now

You should already start to fill your application right now. Do not wait the last moment to do it. You need time to prepare it correctly. Then, if you wait the last days, the EPSO system is much slower (or even blocked). You can follow the 12 steps to successfully apply for the AD5 application.

2.  Start your preparation as from today

The most prepared candidates are succeeding the EPSO concours. To be selected amongst the best candidates, you need to prepare the competition: study the tips and methods to succeed the all computer-based tests (SJT, Verbal, Numerical and Abstract), practice aptitude tests on regular basis.

Preparation is key as you will increase your knowledge on how to solve them effectively and more quickly. We strongly recommend you to make a planning of the next weeks till the computer-based tests. You should have clear objectives and timing for your preparation.

To help you in your preparation, your planning should consider:

  • Identify the number of weeks you have till the computer-based tests
  • Understand your strengths and weaknesses between the tests, to focus on the most important one (Situational Judgement Test and Abstract)
  • For each week, you should decide some time to prepare the cbp. For example, you should have the objectives to do 3 situational judgement tests per week, 2 abstract reasoning, 1 verbal reasoning and 1 numerical reasoning
  • Keep track of your planning. You should have the auto-discipline, and also measure your progression over that period.

Our experience is showing that the ideal preparation period to succeed the computer-based stage is around 2 months. You will get enough time to prepare each test without stress. It will increase your confidence to succeed the competition. Do not forget to include one relaxation day per week where you don’t prepare the EPSO competition. It will relax your mind.

3.  The main test to focus is the Situational Judgement Test

The Situation Judgement Test is the most important in the total pass mark of the stage 1 of the AD5 competition. It is counting for 66% of your total score!

Our experience is showing that you need to get a score higher than 90% (higher than 36/40) to be selected for the stage 2 of the AD5 competition. You should prepare Situational Judgement (SJT) till you are reaching that score of 90%.

The mistake number of candidates which are failing the EPSO competition at the stage 1 is because they are not focusing their preparation on the Situational Judgement Test. With this test, it is not hard to get a score of 70%-75% (it is the average), but it is very complex to get a score higher than 90%.

You need to invest time to understand what are the most and least effective behaviours behind each competency: Analysis & Problem Solving, Working with Others, Learning & Development, Quality & Results, Priority & Organising, Resilience, Communication and Leadership).

The candidates which are studying in details these competencies are strongly increasing their chances to succeed the Situational Judgement Tests (SJT), but also the other stages of the competition: e-tray, Case Study, Oral Presentation and Group Exercise.

You should prepare the Situational Judgement Test in the following way:

  • Understand the methodology of Situational Judgement Tests (SJT)
  • Identify the right and wrong behaviours for each competencies
  • Master a method to solve the SJT in an optimal by asking the right questions to identify the answers
  • Practice, practice and practice. The more you practice, the most prepared you will be to succeed the EPSO competition.

We have conducted some researches and the candidates which are doing at least 10 practice tests in their preparation are showing much higher results. The more you prepare, the better it is.

Our recommendation is to prepare 3-4 Situational Judgement practice tests per week.

To help you to prepare SJT, you can access a free SJT practice test with 20 questions here. You can also access more SJT practice tests here.

4.  Prepare the Abstract Reasoning

As the Abstract Reasoning is also counting in your final pass mark of the stage 1, you should also prepare that test. This test is counting for the 34% of final pass mark.

In the AD5 competition of 2015, the number of questions for the Abstract Reasoning has changed. While last year, there were 10 questions in the Abstract tests, EPSO has increased it to 20 questions this year.

These tests are much easier to prepare. By practicing them, you will identify the most common patterns used in Abstract. You can also find some books on abstract which will help you to easily prepare for these tests.

Our recommendation s to do 2-3 Abstract practice tests per week.

5.  Less preparation for Verbal and Numerical Reasoning tests

The Verbal and Numerical Reasoning tests are still including in the stage 1 of the AD5 competition. However, your scores will not be included in the final score of the computer-based tests. Even if these tests are not directly counting, you need to reach the minimum pass mark of 5/10 for each test.

In your preparation, you should then also dedicate some time, but less significant compared to Situational Judgement Test and Abstract. You should not focus more than 20% of your preparation time on these tests.

Our recommendation is to do 1 or 2 Numerical and Verbal practice tests per week. If you are facing difficulties to reach a mark of 5/10, then you should dedicate more time on it.

Last but not least

We are helping EPSO candidates since 4 years. By following the recommendations above, it will help you to prepare the AD5 competition of 2015 in a much effective way.

If you have any remarks or questions, you can contact our team. We are looking to support you to succeed the competition.

We wish you all the best for the competition.


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