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Agency Civil Service Testing Requirements

Civil Service Exams / Required Entrance Exams / Mandatory Testing

Page updated 1/28/2015

Some occupations require specialized civil service tests and assessments. The tests are used to validate physical and mental ability and skills required for the position. The exams vary in length from several hours to half a day or more. You will find required exams in law enforcement, the Foreign Service, postal workers, air traffic control specialists, and other related occupations. See the chapters on law enforcement and the Postal Service for more information. The information listed below provides a brief summary of the major occupations that require written exams and a list of their web sites where you can go for additional information.


Careers With Mandatory Testing



Air Traffic Control Specialist


Applicants for the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Air Traffic Control positions must graduate from an accredited Air Traffic Certified Training Institution (AT-CTI). AT-CTI schools send names of students enrolled in their program to the FAA. There is an AT-CTI database of names for tracking purposes until graduation and recommendation. After enrollment in an AT-CTI program, students take FAA's authorized pre-employment test. This test determines an individual's aptitude to become an air traffic control specialist.

Border Patrol

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employs thousands of Border Patrol agents. Applicants must pass The U.S. Border Patrol Logical Reasoning Test to be considered for positions. The test evaluates how well applicants can read, understand, and apply critical thinking skills to factual situations. Agents must read and study laws, legal commentary, and regulations. Applicants who successfully pass the entrance screening exam and are hired will receive extensive training at their Border Patrol Academy. A free 60-page study guide is available on their Web site.

Central Intelligence Agency

All applicants must successfully complete a thorough medical and psychological exam, a polygraph interview and an extensive background investigation. U.S. citizenship is required. Other proficiency tests may be required to verify language skills, etc. Visit our CIA Jobs page listed below for an introduction to available CIA occupations and to required civil service exams.

Federal Bureau of Investigation

In order to apply for a job, you must first register online. After registering, you can apply to any vacancy currently posted. When applying to a vacancy, carefully read and respond to the application questions. The application process can take up to one year to complete depending upon an applicant's qualifications and the current hiring needs of the FBI. It includes passing a written civil service test, interview, polygraph examination, physical fitness test, physical, and a thorough background investigation.

Foreign Service Written Exam

Application procedures for employment with the Department of State vary according to your career choice. Foreign Service Officers, for example, must pass the Foreign Service Officer Selection Process. Students must also meet certain criteria and deadlines for the program they choose to enter.

Internal Revenue Service

Various positions with the IRS require assessment tests. IRS agents must complete an accounting assessment process that takes approximately four to five hours. It is composed of an accounting assessment and an interview with a panel of experienced Revenue Agent managers.

Mail Handlers USPS

The Postal Service has developed a new entrance exam titled Test 473 for Major Entry-Level Jobs. The new exam is also referred to as the 473 Battery Exam. All mail carriers must pass this exam with a score of 70 or higher. Check for exam dates in your area on the USPS employment Web site.

Secret Service

The Secret Service is a federal law enforcement agency with headquarters in Washington, D.C. and more than 150 offices throughout the United States. The agency is mandated by Congress to carry out dual missions: protection of the nation's leaders and extensive criminal investigations. Special Agent applicants must pass the Treasury Enforcement Agents (TEA) written examination.

Transportation Security Agency 


TSA jobs require U.S. citizenship and successful completion of a full back-ground investigation. In addition, persons interested in security officer positions must pass a medical examination, be able to read, speak, and write English, and pass a physical ability test, a drug and alcohol screening, and an aptitude test.

U.S. Customs

Some Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) entry-level law enforcement occupations require applicants to pass a written test as part of the application process. Two of these tests include the ICE Immigration Enforcement Agent Test and the ICE Special Agent Test. Test preparation manuals are provided on the Web site to assist prospective applicants with sample questions, test-taking tips and other guidance.

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