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Civil Service Exam FAQs

Applying For A Civil Service Exam

Many City of Rochester jobs require that a candidate be appointed from a Civil Service list. This means the candidate must take, pass, and be reachable on the eligible list to be hired. Anyone can apply, but only those who meet the Minimum Qualifications stated on exam announcements will be approved to take an exam. Applicants need not be City employees to participate in open-competitive exams.

Exam Announcements are available at Current Job Opportunities or at City Hall, 30 Church Street, Room 103A. After reading the exam announcements and finding one or more which match your interests and qualifications, completion and timely submission of an application for each exam is required.

You can apply online, by mail or in person. Use our Online Employment System to apply online. To apply by mail or in person, Employment Applications are available at City Hall, Room 103A, or online. As you complete the application, make sure that you pay close attention to the Minimum Qualifications and the Application Deadline date on the Exam Announcement. You must demonstrate on your application the areas of your experience and education that show you meet the Minimum Qualifications. Application reviewers will match the experience and education/training on your application with the Minimum Qualifications stated on the announcement to determine if you qualify.

If you require special testing accommodations for a Civil Service Examination because of a documented disability you must check the box on the first page of the online or paper application and forward a request, with supporting documentation pertaining to the disability, to the Department of Human Resource Management.  This request can either be e-mailed to the Department of Human Resource Management or mailed to 30 Church Street, Room 103A, Rochester, NY 14614.

You must complete a separate application for each exam you are considering. (Please note: the City uses the same application for both current Job Openings and Examinations.) Remember that every position will have different training and experience requirements. Include information about your educational background, experience and the relevant licenses you hold that show that you meet the Minimum Qualifications stated on each announcement.

No. For some jobs, all candidates who meet the Minimum Qualifications are eligible for consideration by the hiring department, without examination. For a small number of jobs there is no experience or education requirements. But for most jobs, candidates who meet the Minimum Qualifications are ranked by means of an examination. The department then makes its choice from the people at the top of the eligible list.

Exam Announcements offer a description of job duties and the requirements to apply for the exam. The Minimum Qualifications describe the experience and/or education needed to be approved for the exam. In addition, the Exam Announcement includes the exam's scope, a description of the topics to be tested, if there are one or more parts to the exam, and the weight given to each part.

If the reviewer determines that the education and/or experience you described on your application do not meet the Minimum Qualifications, you will receive the reason for disqualification in writing. You will be given one opportunity to submit more information, or clarify the information you initially submitted.

In order to avoid disqualification, apply only for exams for which you qualify. It is your responsibility to state your qualifications which address the requirements as stated in the Minimum Qualifications.

Except for continuous recruitment exams, applications submitted after the application deadline date are not accepted. It is important to be aware of all the dates on the Exam Announcement. For other than continuous recruitment exams,  exams must be submitted by the deadline or the candidate will not be able to participate in the exam.

Exam Admission Letters are sent out one to two weeks before the exam date. If you have not received your admission letter by the Wednesday before the exam date, please call Exam Administration at (585) 428-7240.

No, with the exception of the Firefighter exam. There is no residency requirement to participate in examinations, except for Firefighter.  The City of Rochester does have a residency policy for employment; for more information see the Residency Requirement policy.  Residency preference will not be applied for some titles.

Click here to download the Civil Service Exam Prep Guide.

Civil Service Exams

The City of Rochester's exams are based on the description of the job and entry level job requirements. They are not general tests of intelligence or ability.

In order to prepare for the exam, read the Exam Announcement carefully. The scope of the exam will provide the information needed: the form of the exam (written, oral, evaluation of training and experience, typing); the weight given to each part; and the subjects to be tested. Once you know the description of the content of the exam (or scope), use a review book or textbook written about the area to be tested. For example, if Writing Skills is part of the scope, a book which reviews grammar may be useful. Another possibility is to look at the civil service review books (e.g., CSEA or Arco series) in the library for sample questions and answers. Even if there is no review book for the exact test you are taking, there may be other reference materials which include the same topics. Rundel Library's Job Information Center is an invaluable source of information, and staff is familiar with the resources they have available. General test-taking strategies such as how to stay calm, how to study, etc., can provide useful information to help you prepare for your exam.

For promotional exams, applicants must be current City of Rochester employees who meet certain criteria. When an exam is announced as open-competitive, applications will be accepted from anyone, either members of the public or current employees.

The City tests for a wide range of competencies needed to do specific jobs, and the type is chosen to match the ability to be tested. These are some of the terms that appear on announcements to describe different types of exams:

  • A written exam tests for knowledge of one or more subjects. The format may be multiple-choice, short answer, or essay.
  • An oral performance exam asks the candidate to respond orally to a job-related situation: in a role-play situation or making a presentation after studying written materials. Oral performance exams are used to test for interpersonal and communication skills, and for content knowledge.
  • An evaluation of Training and Experience exam ("T&E") is used when specific education or experience is a good predictor of success at a job. The candidate is sent a job-related questionnaire which asks about education and work or volunteer experience in areas related to the demands of the job.
  • In a computer-based simulation the candidate responds on a computer to a series of job-related situations, which are presented either in writing, on a computer, or audiotape.
  • A physical agility exam tests for the physical demands of a job. Physical exercises or sample tasks from the job demonstrate a candidate's physical ability.
  • In a clerical skills performance test, the candidate types sample passages in a timed setting at rates that are typical for the job in question.

These are the most frequently used kinds of tests. Others may be used and are described on the Exam Announcement.

Testing Results

The amount of time between taking a test and getting results varies, but in general, candidates receive exam results in three to four months from the date of examination. Many examinations come from New York State Civil Service in Albany and they process, rate and analyze exams from across the State at the same time. After an eligible list has been established by our municipal commission, test scores are sent either to the home or e-mail address which we have on file for you. Please be sure we have accurate information by notifying us, in writing, if you have changed your home/e-mail address.

New York State Civil Service Law provides that veterans who are New York State residents, who have served during time of war, and who meet certain other conditions, may be eligible to have "veteran's credits" added to their score on a civil service exam. Veteran's credits are added only to the scores of passing candidates and they may be used only once for appointment. Non-disabled veterans may receive 5 additional credits on open-competitive exams and 2.5 credits on promotional exams. Disabled veterans may receive 10 additional credits on open-competitive exams and 5 credits on promotional exams. Applications for veteran's credits and copies of the section of NYS Civil Service Law dealing with veteran's credits may be obtained in City Hall, Room 103A, or at the exam site.

Every candidate who passes a civil service exam is placed on a list of people eligible to be hired. It is called a list of eligibles or eligible list. Candidates are listed in the order of their rank, which is determined by their final score. Final scores reflect scores on the exam, plus any points added for veteran's credits (plus seniority points on promotional exams.)

Civil service eligible lists are initially established for one year in accordance with State Civil Service law. Except for continuous recruitment exams, lists may be extended yearly, to a total length of four years.

Eligible lists are public documents. A copy of any eligible list established by the City can be viewed during working hours (9 5 p.m.) at City Hall, Room 103A by asking the receptionist.

If you want a copy of an eligible list, you may request it under the Freedom of Information Law from the Law Department on the fourth floor of City Hall. You should be prepared to supply the title and number of the eligible list. There is a charge of 25 cents per page for all copies.

Except for continuous recruitment lists, Civil Service eligible lists are valid for at least one year, and up to four years, in accordance with State law. When the list expires, candidates must re-apply and take the exam again. A new list will be established as a result of the new test.