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Frequently Asked Questions


What is a Civil Service Examination?

There are a number of positions within the classified branch of service within the State of Rhode Island which require job candidates to complete an examination in order to demonstrate that they are qualified for the position. The Division of Human Resources Office of Classification & Examination is responsible for creating and administering Civil Service Examinations. The examinations are created individually for each job classification with a focus on determining the most qualified applicants for each position and creating a ranked employment list.  The structure and content of each examination varies depending on the requirements for the classification.

What Types of Positions Require Completion of a Civil Service Examination?

Civil service examinations are administered to employees and/or prospective employees for competitive service positions in the classified branch of State service.
Classified competitive positions are governed by such competitive civil service examinations which are open to those who satisfy the minimum requirement of education and experience as specified in the examination announcement. Classified competitive positions consist of all positions in the classified service except those assigned as classified noncompetitive positions and those specifically exempted by legislative act.

Classified noncompetitive positions include positions that require the performance of routine, laboring, custodial, or domestic tasks, or those positions that are subject to continuing supervision. Also included are those positions that require licenses, certificates, or registrations. Individuals may be appointed to these positions upon the recommendation of the appointing authority and the approval of the Personnel Administrator, subject to established requirements for character, registration, certification, and/or licensure or physical condition as set forth in Title 36-4-6 of the Rhode Island General Laws of 1956, as amended.

Where Can I Find Information on Upcoming Civil Service Examinations?

A list of Civil Service Examination Announcements is available through the State Jobs Website. When a vacancy is anticipated, the Division of Human Resources Office of Classification & Examination will develop an examination for that particular classification and post an announcement on the State Jobs Website. Each announcement provides information regarding the job requirements and duties and the testing procedure.

How Can I Study for a Civil Service Examination?

You may obtain a job specification (i.e. a job description) to assist you in researching the job, from this website (see Job Specifications). This specification will provide a description of the duties, responsibilities, knowledge, skills, capacities and related tasks from which the examination content is based.

While there is no test preparation guide provided by the Division of Human Resources, there are civil service test preparation guides that are available in major bookstores and libraries.

How is the Civil Service Examination typically structured?

The structure of the examination and how it will be used to create an employment list will be described in the examination announcement. All examinations include a traditional written test component. Generally, this section includes multiple choice questions which directly relate to the job classification. Some examinations include an Experience & Education component as well. In this instance, points are awarded to each applicant based upon their related education and experience. If an Experience & Education component is being used, the weights for the different components will be included in the announcement. In some instances an oral component, which is scored by a panel, is also included in the examination.

How do I Apply for a Civil Service Examination?

Applicants must complete an Examination Application (CS-9 form). Examination Applications are available online or may be obtained in person at the Office of Personnel Administration, One Capitol Hill, 3rd. Floor, Providence, RI.

When will I receive my Examination Results?

As soon as all elements of the examination have been scored for each applicant, your results will be mailed to you. The time frame varies greatly depending on the components of the exam. Your Examination Results card will be mailed to the address you listed on your application. Should your address change at any point during the Civil Service Examination process, you must notify the Office of Personnel Administration in writing to ensure that your results will be sent to the correct location.

Your Examination Results card will contain your raw written score, your weighted written score and any Education and Experience or oral panel scores, if applicable. The card will also include your ranking and indicate where on the list your score falls as compared to other candidates who passed the test.

Can I review my test results after I have taken the exam?

Candidates have the right to review their civil service test scores and materials after they receive their results. Candidates must request such review within a five (5) day period from the date indicated on the Examination Results card. The OPA will arrange the examination review session.

If you participate in a review session and would like to request an appeal, you may do so. Applicants have 10 calendar days from the mailing of their results to appeal to the Administrator of Adjudication. Requests for appeal must be submitted in writing and should include a detailed statement of the items in the examination which the applicant is questioning. This process is outlined in further detail in the State of Rhode Island Personnel Rules & Regulations, Rule 3.061.

What is the Difference Between the Promotional List and the Open Competitive List?

The Promotional List is a list of State employees who have been found qualified through the civil service examination process for promotion to positions in higher job classifications. Only current State employees are eligible and can appear on the Promotional List.

The Open Competitive List is a list of all test takers and is not restricted to persons currently employed by the State.

How will my Examination Results be used in the Hiring Process?

R.I.G.L. § 36-4-26 allows the Office of Personnel Administration to “certify” the top six scores on the active civil service list as available for appointment. These individuals will be invited, by mail, to participate in the interview and selection process for that vacancy. If you participate and are not selected, your name returns to the list in rank order based upon your score.

Each employment list is valid for a specified period of time. If at any point within that period, another vacancy in the same job classification opens up, the same list can be used to fill the new position. As long as the list is active, it is not necessary for you to retake the exam for that job classification.