General Competency Test Level 1 – Practice Test – Instructions and Sample Questions


This guide is intended to help you prepare for the General Competency Test: Level 1 (GCT1). It describes the test and provides advice as well as test-taking strategies. At the end of these instructions, you will find a link to the practice test.

Reading this booklet carefully and following the directions will help you get ready for the test day. Knowing what to expect will help you to feel more comfortable and confident and thus able to give your best effort.

Why are Tests Used?

The federal Public Service is looking for the best-qualified persons to fill the jobs available. As a candidate, you want a chance to compete for a job on an equal footing with other candidates. Employment tests like the GCT1 help to satisfy both of these aims by providing a fair, objective and reliable measure of an important qualification.

A test is not a way of tricking you or of measuring something unimportant. Tests give you an opportunity to demonstrate what you know, the skills you can apply, the problems you can solve, the accuracy of your work and so on. The way you perform on an employment test gives a prospective employer an indication of how well you can do on the job.

Test-Taking Tips Before the Test

Read the instructions carefully

The instructions contain information that will help you to become more familiar with the GCT1.

Take the Practice Test

Taking the practice test under conditions which are as close as possible to the conditions of the actual test day is a good way to prepare and to ensure that there will be no surprises. So give yourself the right amount of time and don't look ahead to the answers.

Become "Test Wise"

One of the best strategies for becoming "test wise", or an experienced test-taker, is to take advantage of every opportunity to try tests. Any test you take helps you to learn how to take other tests. Try employment tests and school tests (whether or not they count for something) as well as tests, quizzes and puzzles in magazines, newspapers and quiz books. If there are no time limits, set them yourself. The more comfortable and familiar you are with tests, with the types of questions which are asked and with how to answer them, the better prepared you will be.

Don't wait until the night before to prepare for the test.

Instead, spend the evening relaxing and briefly reviewing this booklet.

Find out what the cut-off score is.

Before taking the GCT1, you should know the score you will have to achieve in order to pass the test. The cut-off score can be obtained from your nearest Regional/District Office of the Public Service Commission or the Staffing Officer responsible for the test session.

A little anxiety is a good thing.

It's natural to feel nervous before a test. When something important happens to you, it is not unusual to get a little nervous. Like an athlete warming up before a game, your mind and body are warming up for the test by getting nervous. If you are prepared to take the test, you will feel like a well-trained athlete. Your nervousness will get you warmed up but not tired out before you take a test.

Instructions and Sample Questions

The GCT1 measures general cognitive ability, which is the ability to use reasoning and knowledge to solve new problems. General cognitive ability relates to success in administrative support jobs.

The GCT1 has 50 multiple-choice questions. Each question is worth 1 point, and no points are deducted for wrong answers. The test itself takes 85 minutes. Including administration time, the entire testing session requires about 100 minutes.

The GCT1 has three types of questions:

Example questions follow.

The Human Resources Officer responsible for the test session will inform you of your results as soon as possible. You should be provided with a written statement of your test result. If successful, this constitutes the proof that you have attained a passing mark. Keep this statement in your personal file and present it if you are participating in another selection process requiring you to write the GCT1 again, otherwise you will have to rewrite.

You may retake the GCT1, if you wish, after a minimum waiting period of 180 days. If you retake the test, only your most recent score will be used. If you are happy with your results and you decide not to rewrite, your score on the GCT1 is valid indefinitely.

Understanding Written Material

The Understanding Written Material questions require knowledge of words and reading comprehension. Your skills in these areas can be improved by reading books, magazines, newspapers and government publications. You should read material on subjects that are new to you in addition to subjects which usually interest you.

In this type of question you read a short passage, usually in memorandum format. Your understanding of the passage is assessed by whether or not you are able to choose the correct answer to a question about the passage. Use of rough paper is permitted.

Example 1

Government of Canada Gouvernement du Canada

TO: All employees

FROM: Manager

We are pleased to announce that our Ministry's budget has been increased and consequently we will experience an increase in staff size. Because new positions will become available, we will be holding interviews within the next few weeks.

The main focus of this memo is to indicate a change concerning:

  1. better ministerial policy
  2. better budget publicity
  3. more human resources
  4. more office space

Example 2

Government of Canada Gouvernement du Canada

TO: All employees

FROM: Manager

Please note that the answer sheets currently being used will be replaced with new ones next year. The existing supply of answer sheets should be used from now until the end of the year. It is important that the new sheets are used next year because they will enable the collection of additional information that will be required at this time.

The main purpose of this memorandum is to:

  1. Indicate the need for new answer sheets.
  2. Notify employees that new answer sheets will replace the existing ones.
  3. Notify employees that the current answer sheets are inadequate.
  4. Indicate the need for additional information.

Solving Numerical Questions

Because it is easy to forget basic mathematical skills if you do not use them regularly, you should be sure to prepare for numerical problems. You should be familiar with addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, percentages, averages, fractions and financial calculations.

A review of first-year high school mathematics, including fractions and algebra, may be helpful preparation for these questions. Keep in mind that a calculator is allowed on the test. Therefore, you should focus on understanding the type of operations (addition, subtraction, etc.) required and the order in which the operations should be performed.

Remember to read each question carefully. Before answering a question, determine what is being asked.

In this type of question, you must choose the correct answer to a practical numerical problem. Use of rough paper is permitted. Use of a calculator is permitted, but not essential. If you wish to use a calculator, you must bring your own.

Example 3

You are in charge of financial services and must calculate overtime pay for employees in your division. Due to a heavy workload, an employee had to do 35 hours of overtime in two weeks. Seven of these hours are at "double time" (i.e. twice usual pay), the rest are at "time-and-a-half". The employee's usual pay is $375 a week at $10 an hour. How much overtime money should the employee be paid for the two week period?

  1. $320
  2. $420
  3. $560
  4. $760

Drawing Logical Conclusions

Various question formats are used in the Drawing Logical Conclusions questions. Therefore, there is no single method that applies in all cases. As always, you should read the question carefully to ensure that you understand it before choosing your answer. Also, in many of these questions it is important to pay close attention to all of the "rules and regulations" that are provided so that you can apply them correctly in solving the problem.

In this type of question, you must use logical thinking in order to choose the correct answer to a practical problem.

Example 4

One of your duties is the selection and disposal of boxes of obsolete files. According to regulations, ordinary files become obsolete after 24 months, confidential files after 36 months and classified files after 48 months. Which of the following boxes of files can be disposed of:

  • A box containing ordinary files dated 26 months ago and classified files dated 34 months ago.
  • A box containing ordinary files dated 38 months ago and confidential files dated 28 months ago.
  1. A only
  2. B only
  3. Both A and B
  4. Neither A nor B

Correct Answers

  • Example 1: 3
  • Example 2: 2
  • Example 3: 3
  • Example 4: 4

NOTE: Performance is not affected by whether or not a candidate takes the Practice Test in preparation for the General Competency Test: Level 1.

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