Guidance

Reasonable adjustments for online tests - a candidate guide

This guide is for people with disabilities who are asked to complete an online test and may be unsure if they need help to access it.

The Civil Service is committed to increase the recruitment of under-represented groups at all levels and to make sure our selection methods are fair.

The Civil Service recruitment process includes various stages and activities - for example application forms, online tests and interviews. These assess whether you meet the requirements of a job or job level.

Most people who have a disability are able to complete online tests without needing any help. This is not the case for everyone, though.

In the following sections we show you how to ask for help and give examples of the types of adjustments that are available.

Our tests are:

  • the Civil Service Verbal Test (CSVT),
  • the Civil Service Numerical Test (CSNT), and
  • the Civil Service Judgement Test (CSJT).

A disability

To be considered for a reasonable adjustment, you must be disabled according to the definitions of the Equality Act 2010. The Act considers you disabled if you have a physical or mental impairment with a substantial, long term negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.

There are a wide range of conditions where adjustments may be necessary regarding access to our recruitment process. Adjustments will be offered based on your needs, and considered on a case-by-case basis.

We have a legal duty to provide reasonable adjustments, so please don’t be afraid to ask for help if you think you need it.

Requesting an online test adjustment

When applying for a job using Civil Service Jobs, you will be asked if you need an adjustment to our online tests. This is the main way we identify those needing an adjustment during the recruitment process.

If you request an adjustment, you should provide:

  • the reason you need an adjustment,
  • possible adjustments which could help, and
  • previous adjustments you have had (if any).

After you have applied, a recruiter should contact you to confirm the type of adjustment you need.

Usually, hiring managers will only see your request if it is regarding part of the selection process they are directly involved in, such as an interview. If your requested online test adjustment is complicated, recruiters may need to seek a hiring manager’s approval.

If your adjustment is not obvious from discussion with you, you may be asked to provide supporting documentation. This could include diagnostic reports, medical certificates or similar, and will enable us to identify the most suitable adjustment. We know not everyone can provide such documentation, so please don’t let this deter you from requesting help.

You may realise later in the selection process that you should have requested an adjustment when submitting your initial application. If this happens, please request help from the named contact in the job advert.

If you are successful and offered a job, you can discuss ongoing adjustments before starting work.

Accessible by design

We have worked hard to make the tests fully accessible to as many people as possible.

To check if you need an adjustment, you could take one of our Civil Service practice tests. These work exactly like the actual tests, so you can use them to identify any difficulties you could have while completing the actual test.

Our practice tests are:

The table below details some ways our tests are accessible.

Display adjustments

Test text is fully adjustable via your screen settings - you can change this before starting the test.

Depending on your browser, you could adjust:

  • text/zoom size
  • background/text colour
  • font type.

Screen contrast should be modifiable, or a filter could be used to reduce glare.

Paper alternatives

Where an online test is not possible, there are paper-based alternatives to the CSVT and CSNT. These must be taken in a supervised session, which the recruiter will organise.

Possible adjustments might include:

  • paper size (depending on text size),
  • text/paper colour.

Video adjustments

Some CSJT questions are presented as videos. If you cannot access these, alternative written transcripts are available within the test.

There are subtitles within the videos, and audio description which describes the video setting.

Transcripts and subtitles are available to all test takers, and don’t require prior arrangements.

All videos also come with BSL translations.

Time adjustments

Time adjustments are not needed as none of our tests have a time limit.

There is no time limit for any particular question either. After 25 minutes of inactivity the CSJT will timeout and close. You can continue from where you left off, but only two further times (three sessions in total). After this, the test must be reset. Speak with your recruiter, who can do this within Civil Service Jobs.

Neither the CSVT nor CSNT will timeout.

Content adjustments

The CSNT presents a range of tables and graphs to show numerical information. There are alternative table versions available by default, which can be read by screen readers.

Instructions adjustments

Test instructions have been written to be succinct, clear and unambiguous, to enable easier reading and understanding.

Assistive technology

Some candidates use assistive technology to help them see, navigate or understand screen content.

Civil Service Judgement Test

The CSJT is currently being audited to make sure it meets web accessibility standards (WCAG 2.1 level AA). There is one potential issue for users of Talkback, SpeakEasy and VoiceOver for video questions. If you are affected by this, you could use transcripts, which are available alongside each video. BSL is also available for each video.

Civil Service Verbal Test

The CSVT is currently being audited to make sure it meets web accessibility standards (WCAG 2.1 level AA). All questions are provided in text format so there are no issues with most speech recognition and screenreader users. However, if you still struggle we can arrange for an in-person reader to support you.

Civil Service Numerical Test

The CSNT is currently being audited to make sure it meets web accessibility standards (WCAG 2.1 level AA). This test contains charts and graphs, but questions do not rely on users viewing visual content as this content will always be provided in a table format. This means if you are visually impaired or blind, or if you use assistive technology, you will still be able to access the test. However, if you still struggle with the test we can provide an in-person reader or a paper-based alternative.

A list of tested assistive technologies and used browsers and operating systems is available here.

Example conditions and possible adjustments

Adjustments are considered on a case by case basis - there is no single adjustment that suits everyone. It’s not possible to show all possible conditions and adjustments, but this list gives some adjustment examples for a range of conditions.

Condition Possible adjustments
Specific learning needs, ie Dyslexia change font style/size
  use assistive technology, such as a screen reader
  request to complete a paper test
Visual impairments change the text colour/background
  adapt the screen size
  someone to read questions on your behalf
Hand/wrist conditions use an ergonomic keyboard/ specialist mouse
  voice recognition software
Autistic spectrum conditions one-to-one session with a support worker, to aid understanding
  provide a narrative or spoken response to questions instead of using the standard multi-choice response format
Mental health conditions take the test at home rather than a place of work
  take the test with emotional or personal support provided by a friend or colleague (but not providing help with answering questions)
  take the test when you know you will feel most alert, confident or relaxed
Hearing impairments signing support for the narrative content of the tests
  read the text alternatives to video content
Epilepsy schedule breaks during the test
  request a reset of the test invite if your condition fluctuates during the test session
  take the test when you know you will feel most alert, confident or relaxed

Adjustments Case Studies

These case studies are fictional, but based on real adjustment requests made previously by candidates. They do not provide case studies of all disabilities, but are intended to show you how the request process typically operates, using examples of some common disabilities.

Tariq applied for a case worker role based in Newcastle. He was asked to take the Civil Service Judgement Test (CSJT) as part of his application.

Tariq:

I tried the CSJT practice test and found it difficult to understand the nuances in the question responses, because I have Asperger’s. I got in touch with my recruiter and explained my difficulties, and they arranged for me to have a one-to-one supported session with a trained support worker. The support worker sat with me, read the questions aloud, then asked me what I would do in each scenario. She helped me interpret the context so I could understand the scenario properly, and choose the answer that was the best fit for my approach. It was very helpful because I was still able to do the test, and show I could perform in the job. I passed the test and got through to interview stage which went well. I was very pleased when I heard I had got the job!

Simi applied for a Human Resources role based in London. She was asked to take the Civil Service Judgement Test (CSJT) and Civil Service Verbal Test (CSVT).

Simi:

I have Carpal tunnel syndrome - a fairly common condition causing pain, numbness, and tingling in my right hand and arm. It means using a computer is physically difficult for me. I explained that I needed some advice about what to do, and a recruiter rang me. They said that tests can be accessed anywhere with an internet connection, so I completed them at home. This was great, as I have my own wrist rest and mousepad. I didn’t get the job but I had a positive experience and I wouldn’t hesitate to apply for other Civil Service jobs now I know how much support there is.

Reuben applied for an administrative role based in Telford. He was asked to take the Civil Service Verbal Test (CSVT).

Reuben:

I was asked to do the CSVT when I applied for a job, and was concerned about whether I could access it with my assistive technology. I was also worried about completing the test within a set time - I usually have extra time on tests because I have Dyslexia. I contacted my recruiter and they were very helpful. They advised me that the CSVT test isn’t timed, so I didn’t need to worry. They also advised me that my software was compatible with Civil Service tests, and suggested I tried the practise tests. I was able to check my software worked correctly with them, and was able to complete the real test with confidence.

Katya applied for a communications role based in Liverpool. She was asked to take the Civil Service Judgement Test (CSJT).

Katya:

As part of the recruitment process, when I applied to the Civil Service I was asked to do the CSJT. I have anxiety and epilepsy - I started to feel anxious and unwell during the test, and needed to have a break. This happened a couple of times and unfortunately I wasn’t well enough to go back to the test. The webpage then shut down because it was inactive for too long. I nearly gave up at this point, but decided to contact my recruiter who was so supportive they reset the test for me. Luckily, I attempted the test with plenty of time before the deadline, so there was lots of time to get the extra support I needed. They couldn’t have been more helpful, and I’m so glad I didn’t give up because I was offered the job!

Etienne applied for a finance role in Birmingham. He was asked to take the Civil Service Numerical Test (CSNT).

Etienne:

I have severe sight loss, and when I’ve encountered these sorts of numerical tests in the past, I’ve had to bypass them because they weren’t compatible with my text-to-speech software. The problem was that my software was unable to interpret graphs, so it was very frustrating especially because I enjoy numerical work. I contacted my recruiter and was surprised to learn that Civil Service tests have graphical information also presented as tables, so there’s no need to attempt to see a graph. I passed the CSNT and was really pleased that I could demonstrate my abilities. I’m delighted to say I was offered the job.

Samantha applied for an advisor role based in Manchester. She was asked to take the Civil Service Judgement Test (CSJT).

Samantha:

I needed to take the CSJT when I applied for a role, and discovered that the test included watching online videos. Straight away I thought that would be a problem because I’m profoundly deaf, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the videos have transcripts to read instead, as well as a British Sign Language interpreter. I had no difficulties at all, and really appreciated all the Civil Service did to support me.

Published 7 November 2019
Last updated 8 November 2019 + show all updates
  1. Updated styling on case studies Updates accessibility statement for CSJT
  2. First published.