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Similarities and differences between SJT and e-tray exam (EPSO competition)

Discover how to prepare SJT and e-tray together to succeed a competition

With the new EPSO AD5 competition (Generalists and Auditors), we got several questions from EPSO candidates on the introduction of the e-tray exam. For the 2015 competition, EPSO has introduced a new stage to conduct that test.

EPSO’s strategy is to better measure the skills, competencies and aptitudes of the candidates to identify the best candidates to become EU civil servants.

While in the past, EPSO was more focusing on knowledge and aptitude on verbal, abstract and reasoning, EPSO is increasing the importance of competencies tests:

  1. In the AD5 competition, around 67% of the final score of the stage 1 (computer-based test) is based on the result of the Situational Judgement Test
  2. In the AD5 competition of 2015, there is a new stage 2 with the e-tray exam to measure some of the core competencies.

In this article, you will discover:
- the specificities of the e-tray exam for AD competitions
- the similarities and differences between the e-tray and Situational Judgement
- the tips to prepare the e-tray exam

The specificities of the e-tray exam for AD competitions

The e-tray exam is a competency test to measure your competencies. In this exam, you have to complete a variety of tasks based on an email inbox. You are given instructions on how to deal with the various emails and you have to respond to them in the correct manner.

You will have between 15 and 20 questions. For each question, you will have 3 options available. Based on the information provided in the emails, you have to indicate the relevance of each option with the following scape :
-- totally disagree
- disagree
-+ neutral
+ agree
++ totally agree

Each symbol can only be selected once per question. Your answer will be recorded if you have ranked all 3 options.

The competencies measured in the e-tray exam are: Analysis & Problem Solving, Delivering Quality & Results, Prioritising & Organising and Working with Others.

You can find here the sample test provided by EPSO.

Let’s have a look on the similarities and differences of the e-tray exam with the Situational Judgement Test.

Situational Judgement Test (SJT) and e-tray are competencies tests.

As indicated above, the SJT and the e-tray exam are competencies tests. Both tests are classified in the same type of aptitude tests.

These tests are indicating the profile of the candidates and his behaviours in work-related situations.

The work-related situations used in the SJT and e-tray exams are very similar. The difference is on how the competencies are being measured:

  1. In SJT, the work-related situations are explained in a theoretical way. For each situation, you have 4 possible answers that you need to access. You have to identify the best/worst answers only based on the situation provided in the situation.
  2. In the e-tray exam, the work-related situations are more in a practice way. Through the email inbox, you need to find the information to access the relevance of the 3 possible actions. The e-tray is assessing your ability to find the right information in various sources.

To summarize, the e-tray question is a concrete example of a Situational Judgement situation.

EPSO (and other public institutions) are using Situational Judgement situation to build the e-tray exam. The objective is to duplicate a real-life situation.

SJT and e-tray exam are assessing the 8 core competencies

While EPSO is indicating in the notices of competition which skills are being measured in each test, in reality the 8 core competencies are being used.

To answer effectively a SJT or e-tray question, you need to understand well the 8 core competences used in EPSO’s system: Analysis & Problem Solving, Quality & Results, Priority & Organising, Leadership, Learning & Development, Resilience, Working with Others and Communication.

The EPSO candidates which are taking the time to understand what are the right and wrong behaviours for each competency are strongly increasing its chances to get a higher score for the SJT and e-tray exams.

E-tray exam is assessing your ability to understand documents

When solving an SJT question, you should only use the information provided in the situation. For an e-tray exam, you need to find the information by yourself before answering the question.

You have to read several emails (between 15 and 25 emails). You need to identify and understand the information provided in the emails, and also make the links between the mails.

You will have to measure the relevance of the 3 actions based on your understanding of the documents.

Therefore, your preparation was to be on two levels:

  1. Identify the elements to measure the situation: Develop an ability to read quickly email, identify critical information and identify the links between the mails.
  2. Master what are the right and wrong behaviours for each competency: When assessing the relevance of each answer, you should be able to identify the consequence of each action to rank the answer correctly.

For the point 2, your preparation should be the same as for the Situational Judgement Test.

Tips to prepare the e-tray exam and SJT:

Even if SJT a theoretical test, and the e-tray is a practical test, both tests are measuring your competencies and behaviours in work-related situations.

The EPSO candidates who are taking time to prepare these two tests are strongly increasing their chances to get a high score and be invited for the Assessment Centre.

Our advices to prepare the SJT and e-tray are:

  1. In-depth understanding of the 8 core competencies used by EPSO. The candidates which are taking the time to understand the right and wrong behaviours of each competency are increasing their chances to get a higher score. By taking time on this point, it will help you to solve SJT and e-tray quickly and in an effective way.
  1. Practice, practice and practice SJT. Simulations will help you to develop your ability to solve SJT and e-tray. You should practice at least 3-4 weeks before the competition to be prepared. When you do simulation, you will be used to identify the key elements that will help you to solve the SJT or e-tray question.
  1. Preparation SJT will help you for the e-tray exam. As both tests are assessing the competencies, if you take the time to prepare SJT in detail, you will be already 90% prepared for the e-tray exam. In addition to the SJT preparation, we recommend you to do an e-tray simulation.
  1. Focusing your time on understanding the competencies will help you to succeed an EPSO competition. By investing time and energy on the competencies, it will help you to solve the SJT, the e-tray exam but also the Assessment Centre. In the Assessment Centre, EPSO is also assessing the competencies. If you understand them, you know what EPSO is looking for and you will increase your chance to succeed the competition.

Last but not least

Since 3 years, ABILITUS is helping EPSO candidates to succeed the competition. Each year, we are conducting researches to understand the keys to succeed a competition.

Our researches are showing that:

  1. 87% of the candidates who miss an EPSO competition did not prepare the Situational Judgement Test.
  2. EPSO candidates who have done SJT practice tests are strongly increasing their chances to succeed the computer-based test of the AST/AD competition. In average, 71% of the candidates preparing with our test have succeeded the SJT with a score higher than 90%.
  3. EPSO candidates who have done SJT practice tests AND training on how to master the competency used by EPSO are showing the best results in the EPSO competition. 89% of the candidates that have done this preparation have succeeded an EPSO AST/AD competition!

Today, the key to succeed an EPSO competition is to focus on understand the competencies used in EPSO’s system.

If you have any questions or remarks, you can contact our team.

Your Abilitus Team.

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