Candidate Handbook

Description of the test

The Competency-Based Organizational Questionnaire(CBOQ) is designed to assess Canada Revenue Agency's (CRA) behavioural competencies up to level 2. In this multiple-choice questionnaire, you will be asked to report on your work-related experiences. The questions have been carefully developed to represent typical situations that an employee encounters while on the job. There are 7 questions for each competency. You will have 15 minutes to respond to all the questions for each competency. Each question is followed by 4 response options. You must select the response that best represents your actual past experiences.

This questionnaire is the first step in an assessment that may include a second part. If you score a level 1 followed by an asterisk (*) on any of the competencies assessed, you will be eligible to write a Competency Overview (CO) which assesses CRA behavioural competencies to a maximum of level 2. An authorized person (i.e., a competency consultant) will then evaluate the CO. If you do not complete the CO or if you do not submit it by the targeted date, your level 1* will remain however your official result in your employee competency profile will show a level 1.

Your score is valid for an indefinite period of time provided that the test standards do not change.

The retest period for the multiple-choice part of the test is 180 days. The retest period for the CO is 180 days and is separate from the retest period of the multiple-choice part.

To calculate the retest periods for the first part, you must use the date you wrote the multiple-choice portion and for the second part, you must use the date the CO was due. Should you rewrite the test before the retest period has elapsed, your result will not be valid and a new retest period will be imposed from the new test date.

Candidate information

Before the test

  • Ensure you are aware of the exact location, date, and time of your test session.
  • Review the sample question(s), if applicable, to familiarize yourself with the test structure.
  • If you have a disability that could affect your test performance, you must inform the responsible resourcing advisor, as soon as possible, so that appropriate accommodations can be made.

On the day of the test

  • If you do not feel well on the day of the test and you think that this will impact on your test results, you must inform the contact on your letter of invitation as soon as possible.
  • Arrive in advance so that you do not feel rushed or overly stressed. You will not be admitted to the room once the test has begun.
  • Bring at least one photo identification card and your Personal Record Identifier (PRI) if you are a public servant.
  • Do not bring smart phones, cell phones, USB keys, PDAs, digital cameras or any other electronic device into the testing room, they are not permitted. This will save you the trouble of checking them in with the test administrator.

When taking tests in general

  • Read the instructions thoroughly and completely before you begin.
  • Organize your time, work quickly, and use all the time available.
  • If you finish the test before time is up, review your answers.
  • For handwritten tests, write neatly so you don't lose points for answers which the scorer cannot read.

When taking multiple-choice tests

  • Read the whole question before answering it. Eliminate answers that you know are wrong. By reducing the number of choices, you increase your chance of selecting the correct answer.
  • Don't spend too much time on a question that you find too difficult. Leave it and return to it if you have time at the end.
  • If completing answer sheets, use only HB pencils that have been provided. Any answers recorded in ink will be scored as incorrect.
  • Ensure that the question number on your answer sheet matches the question number you are answering

After the test

"The head of a government institution may refuse to disclose any record requested under this Act that contains information relating to testing or auditing procedures or techniques or details of specific tests to be given or audits to be conducted if the disclosure would prejudice the use or results of particular tests or audits."

Failure to comply with this regulation and/or engaging in a fraudulent practice will result in disciplinary action.
  • Do not discuss or share the content of a standardized test. Also, you cannot view or obtain a copy of any standardized test material because they are protected by the Access to Information Act. Section 22 of this act stipulates that:

Additional information for candidates writing online tests

As a test-taker, you may be required to write a test on a computer instead of the traditional paper and pencil format.

Computer skills

Only two computer skills are necessary to write an online test. First, you will need to point your mouse's cursor in specific areas of your screen and click with your index finger. During your online testing session, you will need to use your mouse to mark your answers and, when necessary, to move "back" to a previous question and "next" to the following question. Second, you will use your mouse to point on the scroll bar to the right of the screen in order to move up or down on a page.


As with paper and pencil formats of tests, online tests are proctored, which means that test administrators (TA) are present to ensure that the session follows the CRA's administrative and security procedures. For example, the TA will begin with the general test session instructions and then the specific instructions for the test you are taking. TAs will follow all current procedures concerning late candidates, temporary absences from the testing room, withdrawal of candidates from a testing session, candidates requiring accommodations, cheating, disruptive candidates, disputes regarding test questions, emergencies and other situations.

Security and Privacy

Your name is assigned to an electronic version of a specific test. Your session will start with a login screen. You will receive two identification (ID) numbers at the testing session: the first number is your unique Test Taker ID and the other number, the Test Administrator ID. These measures are to ensure test security. The TA will take you through this simple process. Please note: for each online test that you are scheduled to take, you will be issued a unique Test Taker ID.

Timed tests

All CRA online tests are timed; the computer ensures fairness by controlling the duration of the session, from the exact moment each test-taker clicks "Start Your Test". A timer in the upper right corner of the screen will show exactly how much time is left. After the allocated time the computer will close your test. If you finish early, you can use the remaining time to review your answers.

How to respond to questions

Although this will vary from test to test, Figure 1 shows an example of a screen presenting a multiple-choice question. The main elements of this screen are the name of the test (in this case "Practice Test (D01A1E)"), the question number you are responding to, and the total number of questions in the test (in this case "Question 1 / 6"), the actual question and, in the case of a multiple-choice question, the options from which you can choose. Of course, more text can appear, depending upon the amount of text in the question and in the answer choices. Point your mouse's cursor and click the circle next to your answer choice. The upper left corner of the screen shows a "Mark for Review" box you can check to remind yourself to revisit any question later if you have time. Finally, in the bottom portion of the screen, "Back" and "Next" buttons will allow you to move back to the previous question or forward to the next question.

This information will be repeated immediately before the testing session and your test administrator will answer any questions.

How to review your answers

Two strategies are available. During the test, you can use the "Back" and "Next" buttons to navigate within your test. If, after answering all the questions, you have time left, you will see a screen that looks like the one shown in Figure 2. This is the review screen. In this hypothetical example, the upper right corner shows that you still have 3 minutes left to complete the test. The screen shows the answers you provided for all the questions. In this case, the PSC Practice test has 6 questions. For example, at question 1 you answered "4", at question 2 you answered "3", and so on. When "Marked" appears, like as with question 1, it means you checked the "Mark for Review" box for that question. Click on the circle next to the question number, then click on the "Edit" button. This will take you directly to the question. You can change your answer or leave it as is. Marking questions does not influence your score. If you are satisfied, you can click on "Submit". You will then be asked to confirm that you want to end your test. If you click on "Yes" your results will be uploaded and your session will be complete.


Rescore requests are not accepted for online tests. Managers are encouraged however to respond to candidates' concerns.

Figure 1
Example of a test screen showing a multiple-choice question
Firgure 2
Example of a Test review screen showing a list of marked questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Can I see the test booklet and my answer sheet to verify where I made mistakes?

A1. You cannot see or obtain a copy of the test booklet because this standardized assessment tool is protected by the Access to Information Act. Section 22 of this act stipulates that:

"The head of a government institution may refuse to disclose any record requested under this Act that contains information relating to testing or auditing procedures or techniques or details of specific tests to be given or audits to be conducted if the disclosure would prejudice the use or results of particular tests or audits."

Q2. I think I made a mistake when filling out my answer sheet. Can you verify this for me?

A2. No. The RSAS Section can only assess the answers as they are provided on the answer sheet. The RSAS Section will not verify the test booklets to see whether answers were recorded in them as it is forbidden to write in the booklets.

Q3. Is it possible that an error occurred during the correction of my answer sheet?

A3. It is highly unlikely that an error occurred, given the stringent correction process in place. Only 0.1% of the multiple-choice test results have to be adjusted after being re-read manually. When a score does change, it is usually because 1) the candidate did not completely darken the circle as instructed and/or 2) the candidate changed an answer but neglected to completely erase the original answer.

Sample Questions

The following are two sample questions. For each question, carefully read all of the response options and choose ONLY ONE response that best reflects your experience in the situation outlined.

Developing Others

Developing Others is fostering the learning or development of others with an appropriate level of needs identification to meet individual and organizational development needs, in a continuous learning environment.

1. When delivering presentations,

  1. I have tried to ensure that a respectful environment was created to allow for the expression of differing viewpoints.
  2. As a standard procedure, I have prepared a feedback form to give to audience members following my presentation.
  3. I have ensured that I have left enough time for audience members to ask questions.
  4. I have taken the diverse needs of the audience into consideration and have modified my presentation methods/styles accordingly.

If response option (a) corresponds to your current level of experience, you would darken circle number on your answer sheet.

Q.1 (a) (b) (c) (d)

Teamwork and Cooperation

Teamwork and Cooperation is working cooperatively with co-workers or others involved in a common goal, being part of a team and working together, as opposed to working competitively or on a separate agenda.

2. While working on a project, my co-worker took some shortcuts in order to save time and energy, but compromised the quality of the product. In this situation,

  1. I accepted my co-worker's judgement because he/she saved us time and energy.
  2. I took steps to ensure that my own behaviour was in line with organizational standards.
  3. I discussed my disapproval of the shortcuts explaining that such shortcuts compromise the organization's expected level of quality.
  4. I went along with the shortcuts but I informed my manager of the situation as a way to document these shortcuts for later discussion.

If you have experienced the actions outlined in response options (b) and (c), you would select the one response option that is most representative of what you have typically done in this situation. If response option (c) matches this criterion, you would darken circle number (c) on your answer sheet.

Q.2 (a) (b) (c) (d)

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