Friday, December 4, 2009

I'm Too Old For This

I hate taking exams with a passion that is only matched with dealing with dolts and rejects who make up a small percentage of the general public as it pertains to my job.

For those of you who are unfamiliar as to how the promotional system works in the state/federal government, let me clue you in a little secret: It doesn't work like the private sector.

In the private sector, you get promoted based on merit, i.e. you know what you're doing, you've proven that you can do the job and you're better than all the rest.

In the public sector, merit is a dirty word.

In the public sector, you get ahead by taking a test. If you test well, and get a high enough grade, chances are you're gonna get a lot of job notices if an opening pops up for the particular position you tested for. F'r instance, I scored well for Head Clerk and Processing Technician, which are clerical supervisory positions.

I also took an exam for Financial/Administrative Asst, of which I passed with the equivalent of D+ (Peppermint Patty land). The reason I passed with such a low score was ridiculously simple: I was sick as a dog. The week leading up to the exam, I came down with with a wicked case of the flu. By the time Saturday rolled around (which is when 98% of the exams are given), I was death warmed over. Unfortunately, being that sick is not an acceptable excuse for requesting that you take your exam at a later date. So I went in, struggled to stay awake and alive for 1 1/2 hours to take the exam, then drove home and spent the rest of the day traveling back and forth between the bed and the bathroom.

One unusual thing about these exams is that you never, ever, ever study for them. Why? The study guides that you can get for them are 1} hopelessly out-dated and 2} designed for the private sector, not the public sector. Another thing you have to remember is that you have to shut your brain off and give answers to the exam what you think the State believes is right.

That's right boys and girls, just like politics, if you give the answer which is actually correct (which would be based on your experience working within the government), you'll get it marked wrong on the exam. Therefore, you have give a wrong answer, in order to get marked correct on the exam. For those who still can't quite understand what I'm saying, here's an example:


If your answer is 9, you would be incorrect.

Oh and the reason why this post came about? Two days ago (December 2nd) I took the exam for Payroll Officer. This bad boy is offered once every two years and because it's offered on such an infrequent basis, I now qualify for it due to being in my current position for 5 years.

I was just so thrilled about taking this exam that I could hardly contain myself from wanting to run to the hills, dig a hole and hide until someone said "BOO!!!"

This concludes yet another lesson in the dysfunctionality that is your state government, hard at work spending your money so that you don't have to.


  1. i am reel sorree you had the flew and the test was not fun.

    butt my jannie alweys says there muste be a sliver linning in the bad tiems. and a lerning experence.

    i hops yoo will be smilling agin soon??

    and sorree i bin away, i was sleepings.

  2. Exams suck. If I never have to take another exam in my whole life, I will die happy. Can I retroactively wish you good luck?

  3. So if the answer isn't 9, what is it?

  4. It's the legendary Blue Bunny!!!

    Welcome back my friend!

    I hope your sleepings was refreshing for yous!

    Sometimes yes, there can be a silver lining in the cloud, but lately, it doesn't seem to be one.

    S.R.: Absolutely you can retroactively wish me good luck.

    The unfortunate thing is that sometimes people who test well make the absolute worst employees.

    Lynn: The answer is whatever fits at the current time, would in this case would be 11.

    How? Simple really.

    Person writes 11, is told that is wrong as correct answer is 9. Person files a greivance and it is later determined that 11 is correct and 9 is incorrect.

  5. Wow that sucks. Personally, I have never done well on standardized tests and hate them with a passion as well. How can you take the measure of a person with a standardized anything, for that matter? It sounds unreasonable that they won't let you reschedule the tests for illness, either.

    Incidentally, I've never even made it to the interview process with govt. jobs - even ones I have been highly qualified for.

    PS In the private sector, you forgot to mention that you can also get promoted for shagging the boss :)

  6. You can't even remotely measure a person who does tests extremely well. There are people who test extremly well, yet don't really have the practical smarts to do the job in the first place.

    In all seriousness though, even though I was beefing about not being able to reschedule a test due to illness, they do make exceptions, but I do believe you really have to be 1) hospitalized or 2) have some kind serious illness/death in the family.

    I am fortunate enough that for all of my jobs in the state that I got promoted in (Office Assistant and Payroll Clerk) I achieved them just like one would in the public sector: merit.

    I proved myself beyond a shadow of a doubt that I could do the job and was able to have supervisors go to bat for me and thus got reclassed without taking a test.

    As for shagging, yes, you can get ahead like that as well in the public sector.

  7. Merit has become a dirty word in a lot of places. Because many folks don't want to be judged on merit, seeing as how they don't have much.

  8. You ain't kidding. Out here, you should have seen the fireworks when they tried to introduce the concept of tying a teacher's pay to their classroom performance a couple of years ago.

    I would love to see the merit system implemented in some type of a small way where I work.

  9. Good for you, making the effort to test on a day off!
    I myself, took the Post Office Exam 2 years back with thousands of folks n got a decent rating. After a few interviews I learned of only being guaranteed 4 hours every two-week pay-period, n they only hire part-time, no benefits years on end.
    Since a hiring freeze has been imposed. A friend working there 13 years now has been denied Full-time Bene status, yet covers a retiree's FT route now- Apparently, Postal makes you Postal! Think I have enough stress already, thanks!

    oh yeah-
    ALERT! You have won yet another blog Award over on ExitStageRight for your fine work! go check it out-

  10. I understand the post office is incredibly tough to break into, and seniority rules the roost with an iron glove, so I can sympathize with the aggravation in taking a cattle call exam (did one for motor vehicle examiner. about two hundred people showed up for that exam).

    And thanks for the award, I will have to check it out.

  11. Oh my, I remember taking the state tests to work my way up to Admin, Assit. level three. My palms sweat when I have to take a test. I don't think like the person who designed the test thinks. I am so glad I am old and don't have to take tests anymore. Good luck on your last test and your next one. :)Bea

  12. Bea: thanks.

    Testing is an adventure to say the least, although with some of the tests I've taken, there are some similarities with all of them. I think about 75% of the content for the clerical ones here are basically the same, with the remaining 25% tweaked depending on what the actual position entails.


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