Unsupervised Test of Written Expression

This online test assesses your knowledge of grammar, vocabulary and other aspects of written expression needed to perform work-related writing tasks.

You’ll take this test using the Candidate Assessment Tool testing platform. Refer to the Candidate Assessment Tool for more information, including how to set up your account.


This is an unsupervised Internet test. You don’t need to be tested in person in a federal government office, but you must have access to a computer and an Internet connection.

The 45-minute test has 30 questions.

All questions are in a common workplace format, such as an email, and are about workplace-related topics, such as an upcoming meeting. For each question, you will be provided a text in which a word is missing and below you will see several options to fill in the blank. Select the best option to complete the sentence or short paragraph by clicking the button next to the answer of your choice.

Levels assessed and pass marks

This test evaluates the general proficiency levels required for bilingual positions in the federal public service, based on the Qualification Standards in Relation to Official Languages.

You can get result X, A, B or C. You cannot get an exemption (E) on an unsupervised test.

Departments and agencies choose the proficiency level required for each position. The scores that correspond to each proficiency level can be found in the table below.

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 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 at this level can:

  • deal with information on work-related topics since they have sufficient vocabulary and grammar proficiency

A person at this level can:

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

Score: 11 to 16

Score: 17 to 23

Score: 24 to 30

Note: An “X” is the result for those below level “A” who obtain a score of 0 to 10.

Candidate responsibilities

Before starting the test, you are responsible for:

  • checking that you can access the Candidate Assessment Tool online platform
  • familiarizing yourself with the test environment and instructions
  • having access to:
    • a reliable Internet connection; use a device that is not connected to a Virtual Private Network (VPN), as security settings on some networks may block the testing platform
    • a suitable device for taking the test; use a desktop or laptop computer, as the testing platform may not be compatible with handheld devices such as tablets and smartphones
    • a modern browser like Chrome, Edge, Safari, or Firefox; the testing platform will not work for older browsers such as Internet Explorer
  • ensuring that you have enough uninterrupted time to complete the test
  • arranging to be alone in a quiet environment free from interruptions or distractions during the test
  • agreeing to abide by the terms of use, which will appear onscreen before the test is launched

If you can’t start, continue or finish your test to the best of your abilities, immediately notify your contact person using the email address in your test invitation.

Invitation to a test

If you are not a federal public servant:

  • you can only be invited to a second language test by the human resources (HR) team of a federal organization, after you’ve applied to a bilingual position
  • you cannot arrange to take your own test or be tested in anticipation of future employment, or for any other reason

If you’re a federal public servant participating in a selection process for a bilingual position, the hiring organization will make the arrangements to have you tested, if necessary .

If you’re a federal public servant who wants or needs to be tested for reasons unrelated to a selection process, contact your manager, who will make arrangements with your HR team.

Public servants, including members of the Canadian Armed Forces, cannot schedule their own test directly with the Public Service Commission of Canada.

Candidates cannot pay to be tested.

Rescheduling or cancelling the test

Only the organization that scheduled your test can cancel it or make changes.

If you can’t take the test during the scheduled time, notify the organization that set up the test so that they can determine if other arrangements can be made.

Retest waiting period

There is a 30-day waiting period before you can retake the test of written expression, regardless of the format (online or paper). If you retake this test before the waiting period has elapsed, your result will not be valid, and a new retest period will be set from the most recent test date.

Validity of test results

If you took this test on or after September 1, 2022, in the Candidate Assessment Tool:

  • your result is valid for 5 years, provided you’ve respected the 30-day retest period
    • after 5 years, your result is valid indefinitely if you stay in the same position and provided that the linguistic profile of the position is not raised above your skill level while you are in the position.
  • your result is portable: you can reuse it when applying to bilingual jobs across the federal public service

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

Results from this test are stored and managed centrally by the Public Service Commission of Canada.

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. 

How to obtain your test results

You can access your test results under the My Tests section in the Candidate Assessment Tool, 48 hours after the test expiry date (the “deadline date” in your test invitation email). For more information, refer to the Candidate Assessment Tool.

If you need an official copy of your result for another recruitment process, fill out all required fields and submit the form for confirming test results.

Recourse mechanism

  • If you believe that the test was administered under unfavourable conditions, you may request a retest
  • Address your concerns to the organization that scheduled you to be tested immediately following the test session; the situation will be assessed and, if a retest is warranted, it will be granted
  • The system automatically applies the scoring key for each test; as a result, rescoring of tests administered online is not available
  • Second language tests assess your knowledge in your second official language; they are not used as diagnostic instruments
    • as a result, information about performance is limited to the score on the ability assessed in your second official language; more detailed feedback cannot be provided

Protecting test integrity

All test content is copyrighted material of the Public Service Commission of Canada, and is designated “Protected.” It may not be copied, reproduced, translated, or distributed, in whole or in part, in any form or by any means, for commercial or non-commercial purposes. Any unauthorized reproduction, recording or disclosure of test content violates the Policy on Government Security, and the use of such improperly obtained or transmitted information could be found to contravene the Public Service Employment Act.

Parties involved in disclosing or improperly using protected test content may be investigated under the Public Service Employment Act, where a finding of fraud may be punishable on summary conviction, or may be referred to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The Public Service Commission of Canada monitors the Internet for inappropriate or fraudulent duplication, in whole or in part, of its assessment tools. Contact the Personnel Psychology Centre at cfp.cpp-ppc.psc@canada.ca if you think you have seen protected second language test questions posted or shared online (on a website or a private chat room) or shared in another manner (for example, a practice test).

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