Test Security

PSC Tests used by departments and agencies are protected assessment instruments, with Crown copyright held by the Publice Service Commission (PSC). Any disclosure or dissemination of actual test items to any person is considered a copyright violation. Such disclosure or dissemination may also severely undermine the value of the test and adversely affect the validity of test results. The integrity and validity of the test depends on the test contents remaining confidential

Test security has always been a priority for the PPC, from double wrapping test material, to providing clients with self adhesive return address stickers, to ensuring that returned material is received promptly. PPC attempts to address every possible security issue in its administration manuals in order to facilitate the task of test administrators.

Over the years, PPC has updated its test administration instructions in order to keep test administrators informed about new test security practices. Reading and following the instructions contained in the test administration manual ensures test sessions are run efficiently and that security surrounding the tests and answer sheets is a priority from the day the test material arrives at the test centre, to the day it is returned to PPC.

A breach in security, such as loss of or theft of test material,,represents a threat to the future use of any assessment tool. It affects many clients, who may be put in the position of having to terminate an appointment process. It also affects the PPC, which may have to withdraw the affected test from use until the matter is resolved.

Both in the case of a lost test or theft of a test, an investigation may be required to determine the facts surrounding the loss or theft of the test material, and in the case of a finding of theft, Criminal Charges May Result.

Impact of breach of test security on merit

Appointment to a position is made on the basis of merit when the person appointed meets the essential qualifications for the work. Any breach of test security leading to loss or theft of protected test material could result in the fraudulent use of PSC tests. As a result, any assessment process affected would be invalidated, thus jeopardizing the whole appointment process.

Any appointment based on compromised test results, fraudulent practices or behaviours, whether by managers, HR personnel or candidates, contravenes the merit principle.

Sections 69 of the PSEA gives the PSC the authority to investigate allegations of fraudulent behaviour and section 133 allows the PSC to act upon any findings of fraud. The subsequent investigation may result in the revocation of the particular appointment or prevent an appointment altogether. The PSC can also take any corrective action that it considers appropriate, and may refer cases to appropriate authorities for criminal investigation and possible prosecution.


  • Managers with staff administering PSC tests
    • ensure any new test administrator has read and understood the information provided in the administration manual before permitting him/her to administer a PSC test
    • verify that the material is locked up in a secure environment before and after the test session, before the material is returned to PPC
    • verify that test administrators follow the instructions stated in the administration manual
  • HR staff/test administrators
    • read the entire administration manual and understand the role of a test administrator
    • protect the security of test materials at all times
    • discuss questions and concerns about test administration with Consultation Services of the Personnel Psychology Centre prior to the test session
    • ensure consistent test administration from one session to the next
    • return test material by registered mail or courier. Never use regular mail!

Loss of a test

The loss of a test has serious consequences both for the client and the PPC. By having one less assessment tool at its disposal, PPC may not be in a position to provide its clients with as many choices and may be unable to fill future orders for the assessment of specific competencies. The loss of a test may also result in having to take a test off the shelf for an extended period of time or having to have it removed from further use.

Replacing a test by developing another that assesses similar competencies is a very costly, resource-intensive and time-consuming process.

Security Breach

Activities which can lead to test material being compromised:

  • making photocopies, electronic copies or any other type of copies
  • leaving tests unattended
  • not having inventory controls (not knowing how many tests are in your possession and where they are, at all times)
  • storing tests in a non-secure location
  • leaving candidate(s) unsupervised during testing
  • keeping tests on site and using them for other appointment processes
  • loaning tests to other test administrators
  • returning material by regular mail

Examples of specific unacceptable behaviours

  • providing hints, clues or any other manner of assistance to candidates
  • providing candidates with answers
  • providing copies of the tests to friends, co-workers or family members prior to the test session
  • letting a candidate write the test and purposely avoiding sending the answer sheet for scoring
  • keeping copies of tests for own personal use
  • taking the test home to share content with family or friends
  • using one's privileges and access as an HR staff person or manager to order a test to study for an upcoming appointment process
  • being aware of copies of tests being in circulation unlawfully and not reporting it

We encourage you, as a member of the HR community, to fill the Questionnaire on Test Security and Administration Errors. Any test security breach must be reported to the PPC Information Centre at 819-420-8671 .

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