Second Language Evaluation ─ Test of Written Expression


Evaluates all general proficiency levels required for bilingual positions in the federal public service, based on the Treasury Board Secretariat’s Qualification Standards in Relation to Official Languages.

Level A

Level B

Level C

Ability to write very limited units of information

Ability to write short descriptive or factual texts

Ability to write explanations or descriptions in a variety of informal and formal work-related situations

A person writing at this level can:

  • write isolated words, phrases, simple statements or questions on very familiar topics using words of time, place or person

A person writing at this level can:

  • write with sufficient mastery of grammar and vocabulary to deal with explicit information on work-related topics

A person writing at this level can:

  • write texts in which the ideas are developed and presented in a coherent manner in which vocabulary, grammar and spelling are generally appropriate and require few corrections

Score: 20 to 30

Score: 31 to 42

Score: 43 to 51

Note: An exemption (“E”) from further second language written expression testing will be granted to persons who obtain a score of 52 to 55.

Note: An “X” is the result for those below level “A” who obtain a score of 0 to 19.

Protecting test integrity

The content of the Second Language Evaluation – Test of Written Expression is protected. Candidates are not permitted to disclose test content to other people (e.g., other test-takers, employees, superiors or language teachers). Any disclosure of test content is in contravention of the Policy on Government Security and the use of such improperly obtained or transmitted information could be found to contravene section 69 of the Public Service Employment Act.

Any notes written during the test must be shredded. Also, if there is any suspicion of test fraud, such as the candidate bringing pre-written notes into the testing room or copying test materials, the Human Resources (HR) advisor or the on-site officer in charge has a duty to intervene if possible or report this to the Public Service Commission (Personnel Psychology Centre) in order to maintain the integrity of the Second Language Evaluation – Test of Written Expression.

Parties involved in the disclosure or improper use of protected test content may be the subject of an investigation (under section 69 of the Act), where a finding of fraud may be punishable on summary conviction or may be referred to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (under section 133 of the Act).

Scheduling the test

You have two options when scheduling candidates for the test:

Option 1: Test administered by your organization

Online administration of this test is mandatory and federal organizations will need to use the Public Service Commission’s (PSC) Online Testing Facility system to assess candidates’ written expression.

For employees to become Test Administrators (TA), their supervisor’s authorization is necessary in order for them to:

  • register as a TA
  • receive the training and
  • obtain the TA certification

Resource: Guide for Assessing Persons with Disabilities

Contact information regarding the Online Testing Facility platform and the TA certification program:

Option 2: Test administered by the Public Service Commission

The PSC tests candidates only when a request is made by a federal organization through the Second Language Evaluation – Scheduling System (SLE-SS). The system allows Human Resources (HR) officers to submit requests for candidates who need to have their second language abilities evaluated (any combination of Reading Comprehension, Written Expression and Oral Proficiency).


These resources outline the steps to sign up, create an account and, once activated, schedule candidates to be tested at PSC offices.

Contact information regarding SLE-SS:

Assessment accommodation

Candidates who have a disability or any other condition that could affect their performance on the test have the right to request that adapted measures be put in place.

Only the Public Service Commission (Personnel Psychology Centre) can establish assessment accommodation when a standardized PSC test is administered.

Notify the PSC well in advance of the test date so that appropriate arrangements can be made. Scheduling of the test can only take place once the accommodation recommendations are prepared.

For additional information about assessment accommodation:

Rescheduling or cancelling
  • only the organization that scheduled the test for the candidate can cancel or make changes to the date and time of the appointment. Direct requests to the PSC by candidates to have their test date and time modified will not be accepted
  • advise candidates that if they are unable to attend a testing session, they must notify your organization in order for you to determine if other arrangements can be made


The retest period of 30 days does not entitle candidates to retake the test at the end of the waiting period. It is the requesting organization that must decide whether it can or will have a candidate tested again.

Administering the test

All written expression tests are administered online except in exceptional circumstances when a paper version is required (prior approval from the PSC is mandatory in this case).

Administering a test online

Administering a paper version of the test

Information technology

Administration support available for Online Testing Facility:

  • access
  • training
  • test administration
  • locked or unscored tests
  • incident to report during the test session

Contact information:

Contact information:

Test day

  • ask candidates to bring two pieces of photo identification with signature, and their Personal Record Identifier (PRI) if they are federal public servants
  • ask candidates to arrive 15 minutes before the scheduled test time in order to complete administrative forms
  • ensure to have pens, pencils and paper available for candidates to take notes during the test
  • the test administrator or the officer in charge will collect and shred the notes after the test
  • if the candidate feels unwell before or during the test, they must tell the test administrator or the officer in charge. If they continue to the end, despite their physical or psychological indisposition, the candidate must accept the test result and the retest restrictions
Cost of test

Federal organizations administer the test through the Online Testing Facility. They can also request that the PSC administer the test for them. See below for costs associated with administering tests for core jurisdiction clients and extended jurisdiction clients.

Test administered by your organization

Test administered by the PSC

  • for core jurisdiction clients:
    • there is no fee for core jurisdiction clients (organizations that are governed under the Public Service Employment Act for their appointments)
  • for extended jurisdiction clients:
    • there is a $25 fee per test for extended jurisdiction clients (organizations not subject to the Act that have their own appointment authority). This includes separate employers such as the Canada Revenue Agency, Parks Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, among others
    • under exceptional circumstances, when a paper version is required, the fee increases from $25 to $37
  • the test administration service fee is $34 per candidate for each test administered. It applies to both core and extended jurisdiction clients
  • for extended jurisdiction clients:
    • an additional $25 fee is added to the $34 test administration fee, for a total of $59, to have the test administered online by the PSC
    • under exceptional circumstances, when a paper version is required, an additional fee of $37 is added to the $34 test administration fee, for a total of $71 to have a paper version of the test administered by the PSC
  • cancellation, rescheduling and candidate no-show fee:
    • for both core and extended jurisdiction clients, if the PSC is not notified at least two working days before the test, you will be charged with a $34 test administration fee

Note: Fees are per test and per candidate.

Billing and invoice information

Invoice not received

Error on invoice


Test results

Providing test results

The HR advisor who ordered the Second Language Evaluation is responsible for providing candidates with a copy of their results via email or letter and to remind candidates to keep a copy, as they may be required to provide them in the future.

Test administered by the organization

Online test

Online test results are available within 24 hours in the Online Testing Facility system. Provide candidates with a copy of the Second Language Evaluation Test Result report (a PDF version can be downloaded from the Online Testing Facility account that generated the Test-taker ID). For any information regarding online tests:

Paper version of the test

Within 48 hours of receiving the answer sheets, the PSC will email results to the HR advisor, who must provide candidates with a copy of their results and keep a copy of the Second Language Evaluation Results Report (sorted by name) on file. For any information regarding results for the paper version of the test, send an email to

Test administered by the Public Service Commission

When candidates are tested at a PSC office, the results are emailed, within five business days, to the HR advisor who ordered the test via the Second Language Evaluation – Scheduling System (SLE-SS). For more information, please contact the PSC office that administered the test: Directory of PSC offices.

Validity of test results

  • Valid for 5 years or
  • Valid for an indefinite period of time, for people with valid results as of April 1, 1993, who remain in the same position in the federal public service, provided that the linguistic profile of the position is not raised above the persons’ skill level while they are in the position

Note: The valid score is always the most recent score where the test conditions have been met, regardless of the format (online or paper) and administration method (in person or remote).

Hiring managers may reassess a candidate at any time before or after making an appointment if there are concerns about their proficiency level, or to respect departmental policies on updating expired test results.

Retest waiting period

There is a 30-day waiting period before a candidate can retake the test of written expression, regardless of the format (online or paper) and administration method (in person or remote).

If a person retakes the test before the retest period has elapsed, the result will not be valid, and a new retest period will be set from the most recent test date.


Online test

When scoring the written expression test, the Online Testing Facility system is set to automatically apply the scoring key for that test. As a result, the PSC does not offer rescores of tests that are administered online.  

Paper version of the test

The HR specialist is required to:

  1. Fill in the form Rescore request for tests of the Public Service Commission (PSC 2724).
  2. Send the form to

The rescore will be completed within 10 business days after the PSC has received the request. Note that after a rescore, the score that the candidate received (whether it is higher, lower or identical) becomes the valid and official score entered in the test results system.

For more information:


A request for rescore submitted directly by a candidate will not be accepted. Only an HR specialist can request a rescore for a candidate.


The written expression test is used to assess candidates’ knowledge in their second official language. It is not used to provide information on strengths and weaknesses or as a diagnostic instrument. Consequently, the information available with respect to performance is limited to the score achieved on the ability assessed (written expression) and more detailed feedback cannot be provided.

Confirmation of test results

The Test Results Search Tool (TRST) allows HR specialists to retrieve official Second Language Evaluation results electronically for candidates who have a Personal Record Identifier (PRI).

In order for organizations to access the TRST, they must have a signed Service Agreement with the PSC.

TRST is also used by HR specialists who want to have a candidate’s file updated by:

  • adding or modifying a PRI
  • updating a test result
  • updating other information

For information regarding the update of a candidate’s file or to register a new account, contact the system administrator at

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