PSC Language Tests

If you are looking to pass the PSC Language tests (reading, writing or oral test) there are few things that you should know:

For the written test:

  1. There are 65 multiple choice questions. There are two types of question
    1. Fill in the blank
    2. Error identification
  2. You have 90 minutes to finish the test
  3. There are 10 pilot questions, so you test is out of 55 not 65.  Pilots questions are used to determine if they are useable in later tests.
  4. The scores for each level are
    1. Exemption = 52-55
    2. Level C = 43-51
    3. Level B = 31-42
    4. Level A = 20-30
    5. Level x ( below A) = 0-19
  5.  You will get your results from the test in two to three weeks
  6. Sample fill in the blank question
    1. Here is the new draft of the budget. Please make ten copies and ____  the original to me.
      1. returns
      2. returning
      3. returned
      4. return
  7. Sample error identification question
    1. For your information(1), there will be construction outside the side entrance to the parking garage(2) beginning Wednesday and lasting three days. Please use the main entrance on Laurier until construction is completed(3).
      1. 1 is incorrect
      2. 2 is incorrect
      3. 3 is incorrect
      4. none of the above
  8. Tips
    1. They often use fixed expressions  in the written test.
      1. e.g. in light of
    2. You need to know preposition combinations.
      1. e.g. responsible for
    3. You need to know verb + gerund combinations.
      1. e.g. I enjoy listening to Justin Bieber 
    4. You need to know verb + infinitive combinations.
      1. e.g. He seems to enjoy books.
    5. They use the passive voiceto make you think that answer is in the past.
      1. e.g. It is done. ( actually simple present using the passive)
For the oral test:
  1. The test can take from 20-40 minutes to finish.
  2. There are four parts to the oral test
    1. Part 1: simple questions about your work.
      1. e.g. Where do you work?
      2. 2-6 minutes
    2. Part 2: Listening to two voice mail messages and two short conversations.
      1. Sample audio
      2. You will hear each recording twice
    3. Part 3: Question and answer
      1. The evaluator will read your three questions. you will choose one to answer.
      2. After you choose a topic you will get 90 seconds to prepare your answer.
      3. Your should answer the question in two to three minutes.
      4. The evaluator will ask you follow-up questions that may not relate to the question you answered.
      5. It will take 10-12 minutes.
    4. Part 4: Longer audio conversation
      1. Audio is roughly two minutes long.
  3. Please note that the evaluators will be cold, and not very welcoming.
  4. The evaluator will be in front of a computer. They will not engage with you very much. Their attention will be on the computer most likely and not you.
  5. When you do the oral test you need to answer three main questions. What? Why? and How?
    1. Sample part 3 question: What are three characteristics of a a great manager? Is a question you could be asked in the oral exam.
      1. Outline your three main points here in your introduction, for example, communication, judgement, and honesty. This would answer the “what?” question.
      2. Transition into your body of the argument using a transition phrase like, “let me explain my explain my three points further”. Here is where you would explain your “why” and “How”
      3. e.g. Why is communication important for  a great manager? 
      4. Communication is important because it allows a manager to clearly outline a tasks.
      5. e.g. How does communication make you a great manager?
      6. A manager who is able to clearly outline tasks helps employees work more efficiently.
      7. Conclude your argument with a clear statement. Your conclusion should not introduce any new arguments.
  6. Be sure to listen to how the evaluator is asking the question, and make sure you respond the same way.
    1. Q: What have you been working on?  
      1. (present perfect continuous)
    2. A: I have been working on a project. 
      1. (present perfect continuous)
  7. In the oral exam you are showcasing yourself. It is like a job interview. Make sure that you prepare accordingly.
  8. Use connectors and transition words to show your mastery of the English language. e.g. However, therefore, and thus.
For the Reading test:
  1. There are 60 multiple choice questions, but ten questions are pilot questions. That means your score it out of 50.
  2. You have 90 minutes to finish the test plus 20-30 minutes for other administrative tasks.
  3. There are two types of questions
    1. Choose the best word or words to complete a sentence.
    2. Choose the option that represents the answer the best.
  4. The scores for each level are
    1. Exemption = 45-50
    2. Level C = 38-44
    3. Level B = 28-37
    4. Level A =18-27
    5. Level x ( below A) = 0-17
  5. Sample choose the best word question.
    1. I have a  ____1___ computer for you to replace your old computer.
      1. new
      2. quicker
      3. slower
      4. fancier
  6. Sample choose the option that represents the answer the best.
    1. We meet every Monday at 13:00 for our weekly budget meeting.
    2. Question: How often do they meet?
      1. monthly
      2. weekly
      3. daily
      4. yearly
  7. Make sure you know synonyms ( other words that mean the same thing). e.g. big = large
  8. Make sure you can summarize large paragraphs into one sentence.

For more information about the Language tests check out Public Service Commission’s website.  Also, check out their new Office of Literacy and Essential Skills workbook.

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