Examination FAQs

What is the purpose of examinations?

The Civil Service Law mandates that applicants for positions in classified titles be examined on the basis of "merit and fitness." The examinations are intended to ensure fairness and equal opportunity for gaining employment at CUNY.

Must I take this examination in order to be considered for the position?

Yes, all permanent appointments to competitively classified positions must be filled by an unbiased examination of each applicant applying for such positions. In accordance with New York State Civil Service Law, permanent appointments to positions in competitive class titles can only be filled through the use of eligibility lists, which are generated as a result of an unbiased examination of all applicants.

What does it mean when a position is "classified?"

Classified means that the position has been assigned to an appropriate title based on the duties and/or the qualifications of the position. Classified titles have formal written statements that define the general character and scope of the duties and responsibilities of positions within that class.

What does "competitive" mean?

Competitive simply means that it is possible to administer an examination where applicants can compete with one another, on the basis of merit and fitness, for a given job opening.

How does the examination process fit into the overall hiring process?

Examinations are the second step in the overall hiring process, after the recruitment of applicants and before the selection process. In order to recruit the largest pool of applicants, positions are announced on the CUNY website, on job boards, and in newspapers. Next, interested persons must obtain a Notice of Exam (NOE), which includes an application for employment and a job description. The employment application must be completed before you are allowed to participate in an examination.

You will receive notification of when and where the exam will be given, after your filing fee and application have been processed. If you pass the exam and meet the minimum qualifications of the position, you will be placed on an eligibility list. Once a list has been established, then the selection phase of the hiring process begins. Depending upon your score and the needs of The University, you may be invited to a hiring pool, where candidates are interviewed and appointed to positions.

How can I find out about upcoming examinations?

Information about upcoming exams is posted on the CUNY website. Also, CUNY examinations are frequently advertised in The Chief, America's Job Bank, various community service organizations, and at CUNY Colleges.

What are the different types of examinations?

There are three types of examinations:

  1. Open-competitive exams are exams any person meeting all the minimum requirements can apply to take;
  2. Promotional examinations are open only to employees already in permanent lower level eligible positions;
  3. Continuous recruitment examinations are examinations for which applications are accepted on an on-going basis and are used for job titles where there is a lot of hiring activity or for job titles that are very specialized and there may be a limited number of applicants.

What does continuous recruitment mean?

Continuous recruitment means that applications are accepted on a continuous basis. Continuous recruitments tend to be restricted to examinations of education and experience. If an applicant passes the examination he or she becomes eligible for a possible appointment for a period of up to two years.

Do I need to pay two separate filing fees, if I apply for a position both promotionally and open-competitively?

Civil Service Law states that separate eligibility lists are to be generated for promotional and open-competitive opportunities; thus it is necessary to pay two separate filing fees. Also, the filing fees must be in the form of separate U.S. Postal Money Orders, one for each exam you wish to take.

Why are only money orders without an expiration date accepted?

This standard practice to require certified funds at the time of filing for an examination in order to ensure that your application is not eliminated due to nonpayment of the filing fee, as there can often be unanticipated problems with the processing of both personal checks and credit card payments. However, for examinations for which Internet registration is mandatory, only credit or debt card payments are accepted.

Can the filing fee ever be waived?

No, the examination of applicants is a fee-for-service operation. The fees charged are to cover the expense of exam materials and other administrative examination costs.

What if I want a refund of my examination fee?

An applicant who was unable to take or complete an examination may apply for refund of the filing fee by submitting a written request to the CUNY Civil Service Examinations Unit within sixty (60) days from the date the exam was held. Only applicants who were unable to appear may apply for a refund and must provide verification that such absence was due to: (a) compulsory attendance before a court or other public body or official having power to compel attendance (b) hospitalization, or (c) manifest error or mistakes for which the University is responsible. An applicant who was unable to take an open-competitive examination because of active military service with the Armed Forces of the United States of America may apply for refund of the filing fee by submitting a written request with verification of such service to the University Human Resource Director no later than sixty (60) days from the termination of military duty. There are no refunds for failing scores.

How do I know if I am approved to take the written test?

If you have paid your filing fee, then you will be allowed to take the examination. However, if the review of your application shows that you were not minimally qualified to take the exam, you will not be given an exam score and your filing fee will NOT be returned to you. It is important for you to carefully read the minimum qualifications before you apply.

When and how will I be notified about taking the exam?

You will receive your Admission Card Notice Letter by mail no later than ten (10) business days before the scheduled date of the exam. The Admission Card Notice Letter will advise you of the date, time, and location of the exam.

What happens if I move to a new residence after applying for or taking an examination?

Once CUNY puts a letter in the U.S. Mail, it is deemed to be "delivered" and we hold no responsibility for your failing to receive the information contained in that letter. Therefore, if you move, it is your responsibility to provide written notice of your change of address. You must include your name, SSN, the exam number, your old address and your new address, along with a telephone number where you can be reached, should there be a need to contact you. Failure to update CUNY with changes in your contact information could lead to you not being considered for employment.

How can I study for the exam?

When an exam contains questions designed to assess you knowledge of facts or information in your field, then you can contact your union, trade, or other professional organization for guidebooks, reports, or other materials that will help you prepare for the exam. Moreover, bookstores and libraries have trade books and study guides for all kinds of jobs. Anyone who stays up to date with the changes in their chosen field of work should already be adequately prepared for an exam.

What is the standard examination administration procedure?

There is no standard examination procedure. The procedure followed depends upon the type of exam given (i.e., Education & Experience vs. Knowledge-based tests) and if CUNY has elected to participate in an exam to be given by New York State or by New York City. The University Civil Service Examinations Unit makes every effort to let applicants know all of the relevant examination procedures before the date of the exam.

What do I need to bring with me to the exam?

In order to be admitted to the exam, you will be required to present your registration confirmation letter and to show an item of state-issued photo identification, either in the form of a state ID or valid driver's license from any of the 50 States. Additionally, you need to have several sharpened No. 2 pencils, and, it is a good idea to bring your own pencil sharpener. Unless it is expressly stated, you may NOT bring any study aids, calculators, or other similar items into the examination room.

What if I need special accommodations to take an exam?

CUNY seeks to have a diverse workforce, so any reasonable request for accommodation will be carefully reviewed and considered. Accommodations for disabilities and Sabbath observers may be requested. If your request is granted, you will need to contact our office to set up a time for an alternate examination date. You can request a special accommodation by filling out the Special Accommodations Request Form, which is available from any CUNY campus Human Resources office. All supporting documents must be included at the time you submit your completed request form.

What happens after I take an exam?

After you take the exam, the exam will be scored, which can take as long as three months. After exams are scored, those applicants who meet the minimum qualifications and have passing scores will be placed on an eligibility list. Persons placed on an eligibility list may be invited for an interview at a hiring pool; this is dependent upon your rank on the list, CUNY's hiring needs, and the life of the list. [Note: Eligibility lists expire.]

What happens if I miss the exam?

If you miss the exam due to an illness, a death of someone close to you, or a religious observance, you may be permitted to make up the exam on an alternate test date. In order to request a makeup exam, you must contact the University Civil Service Examinations Unit and be prepared to provide written proof in support of your stated reason for missing the exam's originally scheduled date. See the relevant Notice of Examination for details.

After I take an exam, how soon will I find out my score?

On average, you can expect to receive a letter containing your exam score within approximately three months. If you take an exam via the Internet and pay the filing fee online, then you will receive your exam score as soon as your payment is processed

How will I be notified about my examination score?

You will be notified via U.S. Mail or online.

What are selection bands?

Selection bands are merely a way to group scores, so it is easier for an applicant to understand his or her score and its relationship to the scores of other applicants who took the same exam. People within a given band are treated equally and have the same opportunity for employment as the others in that same band.

Is there Veteran's preference?

Yes, honorably discharged veterans who served during a time of war are eligible to have veteran's points credited to their final exam score. For open-competitive exams, veterans could possibly receive 5 additional points, while disabled veterans could receive 10 extra points. For promotional exams, veterans are eligible for an additional 2.5 points, while disabled veterans could possibly receive an additional 5 points. You will be required to submit documentation of your veteran's status before any additional points will be added to your score. [Note: Veteran's credits are only added to passing scores. Anyone who did not receive a passing score will not be given the credits; failing scores cannot become passing scores due to an applicant's qualifying for the application of veteran's credits. Credits may only be used one time to gain an appointment or promotion from an eligibility list.]

Can I appeal my exam score?

Yes, you have the right to appeal your exam score. The instructions on how to appeal and the date by which you must initiate your appeal are provided to you in your examination results letter.

What about my privacy?

The City University of New York (CUNY) is committed to respecting your privacy and protecting your personal information. In particular, CUNY views Social Security Numbers as confidential information and treats them with the utmost concern. CUNY does not share your personal information with any outside entities and said information is only used for the purposes for which it was given.


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