category / Default, Tips and Tricks, Uncategorized EPSO E-Tray Exam Guide 2015-08-11 23:17:20 Alex Blog post Default Tips and Tricks Uncategorized

A guide to the EPSO E-Tray Exam

Are you interested to work in one of the European Union institutions? The EPSO is the perfect way to start! The European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) handles endorsement to any European Union institution. With about 60,000 – 70,000 applications per year, how does one succeed?

He or she must definitely be able to pass the EPSO exams. For the Administrators and Assistants cycle, one of the exams that you will need to pass to succeed is the EPSO E-tray examination.

What is an EPSO E-tray exam?

An EPSO E-tray exam is a business inbox simulation activity that allows an applicant to experience the usual tasks and challenges in a position within the EU Institutions. The applicant has to take the test in his second language – English, French, or German – via a computer in which he has to answer a set of questions. The type of test, as well as the number of questions, will be dependent on the information released by the Notice of Competition published in the official Journal of the European Union, as well as the EPSO website.

This notice includes details on the criteria for selection, the job profile as well as the description, the slots for the reserve list, qualification and experience requirements, and the test format for each of the stages in the selection process.

Usually, the EPSO E-tray exam focuses on 4 out of 8 EPSO key competencies – analysis and problem solving, delivering quality and results, prioritising and organising and working with others.

Before you begin the test, you will be given a specific time to read the instructions as you can see below. Make sure to read everything carefully.The documentation that you will need to find relevant background information will be in a mailbox. You have to click on a box for your answer of choice using the mouse. You can click on another box if you decided to change your answer any time.

Administrators competition 2016, Administrators competition 2016 in the field of audit launched, Epsotraining - EPSO Tests for EU Competitions

You need to rank the 3 options available for each question on the scale indicated in the question:

  • – – totally agree
  • – disagree
  • -+ neutral
  • + agree
  • ++ totally agree

Each ranking symbol can only be selected once per question, which means that every complete answer must have the combination of the 3 different symbols.  Your answers show not only what ranking you assign to each individual option, but also your order of preference among the 3 options. In short, answers will only be recorded if you are able to rank all 3 options.

There are between 15 to 20 questions with 3 options each to be accomplished in 50 minutes. You will be guided with your remaining time on top of the screen during the whole period. Treat each question independent from the rest. Do not take into account one question with another. The navigation through the mailbox and navigation between the questions should be treated separately. The question in front of you is not necessarily linked to the email that is visible on the screen at that time.  A question can be related either to several emails or just one.

There could be from 10 to 15 emails for you to process. To be able to navigate through the mailbox displayed at the top half of the screen, click on the email titles at the left. Remember to only use the ‘Previous’ and ‘Next’ buttons at the bottom of the screen to navigate between the questions at the bottom half of the screen.

What does an EPSO E-tray exam measure?

The EPSO E-tray exam is the best tool to determine how the selected candidates work – their style and approach. It also enables the assessor to determine if they are able to show their skills in analytics, communication, written, and delegation as well as their business acumen.

The exam also defines their competencies (only 4 out of the 8 competencies will be tested but you will also have to be familiar with the ones remaining):

(1) Analysis and problem solving,

(2) Communicating,
(3) Delivering quality and results,

(4) Learning and development,

(5) Prioritizing and organizing,

(6) Resilience,

(7) Working with others,

(8) Leadership.

The EPSO AST/SC competitions for secretaries will not test “Working with Other” competency and will only test 3 competencies.

What happens in an EPSO E-tray exam?

Candidates competing for a permanent position need to undergo three stages –admission, intermediate test and Assessment Centre.  In the admission stage (a.k.a. epso pre-selection) candidates are tested in the skills in verbal, numerical and abstract reasoning through computer-based testing (CBT).  From there, they move to the assessment of their skills in situational judgment using their secondary language with scenario-based activities. The top scorers go to the second stage – the EPSO E-tray – with the prerequisite that their profile meet the requirements.

The assessment stage consists of four tests. In the first test, candidates will need to respond to a case study in relevant fields. In the second test,  the candidates will take group exercise test, third test is the epso oral presentation, and the last is the epso comptency based interview. This test has to be taken in Brussels or Luxembourg.  The highest performers will be included in the reserved list from where the EU institutions recruit.

How is Epso E-Tray exam scored?

Epso E-tray answers are scored based on the competencies and measured through specific tasks.  For each competency a maximum of 10 points can be obtained.


How to prepare for EPSO E-Tray?

Every year, only 1,500-2,000 applicants are chosen and recruited to be part of the different EU institutions.  What should an aspiring candidate do to be part of the fortunate ones?  Here are a few tips to help you ace the E-tray test.

  • Preparation. Prepare yourself – mind, heart, and body. The exam requires a particular mindset to continuously open your mind to learning. You may have to sacrifice a bit of time for you to focus and learn as much as you can ahead of time. You also need to keep your body healthy in order to be awake and alert during your reviews and practice tests.
  • Research. Know which key skills you need to prioritize and which are of less priority. This will allow you to focus on significant tasks and identify situations that you need to be familiar with. The roles presented during Epso E-Tray are generic. You could be a Policy Officer for Nuclear science so you do not need in-depth knowledge is the field, but the better you understand the key skills tested and recognize them during the exam, the better prepared you are to answer all the e-tray questions.


  • Learn. Every day is a new opportunity to learn. Grasp the methodologies to identify the patterns, know the basics, and apply the shortcuts. You should not miss any relevant material and information. Gather strategies on how to successfully solve the required tasks of each competency. These will help you to answer the tests easier and perform better.


  • Intensive training is necessary for you to apply all the preparations and learning you gathered prior to your actual exam. Epsotraining offers several materials accessible for you to simulate what happens in an Epso E-tray exam. This will allow you to be more comfortable in the exam environment especially with the clicking of your answers on the screen. As you practice in answering simulation exams, you also need to practice to use your time wisely. Time management is a major factor in this exam.
  • Persistence. Your eyes should always be on the goal. Never let it slip. Don’t allow yourself to be tempted. No excuses. Be determined. Focus on what you want to achieve.  If you are focused enough, you’ll be able to handle the pressure with calmness and grace to follow instructions and to answer at your best.

Every candidate who wants to succeed and be an official of any EU institution should always look for an opportunity to learn and improve himself. Now is the time, and all we need to do is to take the first step. Practicing our EPSO E-tray tests is a good way to start!

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