One of the most important and visible functions of the Civil Service Commission is the conduct of examinations – the first step in the process of selecting prospective civil servants.
Examinations are conducted based on the Constitutional mandate that appointments in the civil service, except to certain positions defined by law, shall be made according to merit and fitness, to be determined as far as practicable by competitive examinations.
The examination system is as old as Philippine Civil Service System. Every year since 1900, the CSC has been administering examinations for entrance to the government.
The milestones of examination include the following:
Called the massive examination, the CSC used to administer the Career Service Examination once a year to some 300,000 to 400,000 examinees in both the Professional and SubProfessional levels.
The answer sheets of examinees were manually checked twice to ensure accuracy of results. With this procedure, results of massive examinations were usually released after six months, minimum, to one year, maximum.
In 1967, the examination system began to use computer technology in the processing of test results by contracting government agencies with computer facilities.
In 1990, the CSC acquired mid-ranged computers to beef up its capability to handle more test data and process them at a much faster rate such that results were released in only six months. This development gave birth to CSC’s vision of computer-based examination system.
By end of 1990, the concept of “walk-in” examinations hit the market. This was envisioned as an instant test – instant result” scheme where one can simply walk-in to our office, take the test, and in a few minutes, get the result.
The “walk-in” scheme was implemented in phases. First implemented was the “dispersed” examination in 1991. That is from massive once a year examination to as frequent as three times a year examination.
The next phase was the “modified walk-in examination” or MOWE. In this scheme, small batches of examinees are assembled on particular dates to take the Career Service Examinations. The tests are administered and the results are processed and released by the CSC Regional Offices.
By 1994, the Career Service Examinations are being administered six times a year in 14 regions throughout the Philippines.
With the MOWE scheme, test results are released in one to two weeks time. This was made possible with the software programs developed in-house and provided to CSC Regional Offices.
These programs are the Examination Application Processing System or the EAPS and the Modified Walk-in Examination Processing System or the MOWEPS.
The EAPS is used for data entry of the applicants’ personal information extracted from their application for examination. It is also used to randomly assign examinees to schools and rooms and to generate Examinee Attendance Sheet.
The MOWEPS, on the other hand, is used to score and rate answer data files and to generate master list of passed and failed examinees, register of eligibles, certificate of eligibility and report of rating.
One important support system that made possible the innovations in the examination system is the computer-based test bank.
Developed in-house in 1991, the Examination Generation System or EGNS facilitates the systematic storage, updating and retrieval of test items. With several key strokes, it can generate equivalent test forms within minutes in contrast to manual assembly of test which takes up several weeks or months.
With the advent of computerization in the Commission, the administration of the Career Service Examination has metamorphosed from paper-and-pencil testing alone to include computer-assisted testing as another mode in 1994.
The Computer-Assisted Test or CAT is a Commission-developed DOS-based software program designed to administer the Career Service Professional and SubProfessional examinations. It facilitates the storage, updating and retrieval of pertinent examinee data as well as the scoring of examinee answers to test questions.
The earliest version of the CAT administered in July 1994 was of humble beginning where examinees read the test questions from a test booklet but recorded their answers on the computer.
In December 1994, the CAT version 1.0 was developed that enabled examinees to read questions on the computer screen and record their answers through the computer keyboard.
The CAT version 1.0 has the following features:
The technology transfer of the CAT version 1.0 to CSC Regional Offices started in 1995. By mid-1996, all 14 Regional Offices are administering the Career Service Examinations via the CAT. The CAT was also implemented to newly established Caraga Region in December 1998 and to CSC-ARMM in February 2002. By 2002, all sixteen (16) CSCROs are administering the CAT.
The vision of a “walk-in” examination was finally realized. In 1997, examinees simply walk-in at the Central Office and take the examination under “CAT - Walk-in Now” or CAT-WIN scheme. Examinees are given their test results within one hour after the test.
In September 1999, the Commission launched the Databank of Individuals Barred from Taking Civil Service Examinations and Entering Government Service or DIBAR.
The DIBAR supports the examination system because individuals prohibited from taking civil service examination due to involvement in examination anomaly can easily be verified from this system.
The DIBAR also contains information of individuals barred from re-entering government service as a result of the imposition of the penalty of dismissal.
Other support software programs for the examination system were developed. These are Online Eligibility Verification System or OEVS, the Eligibility Database Query Information System or EDQIS, and the Frequency of Examinees Taking The Career Service Examination or eRetaker.
The OEVS maintains the data of Career Service eligibles and is used primary to ensure that no individual will be able to retake a Career Service Examination he/she has already passed. The EDQIS is an improved version of the OEVS. But unlike the OEVS, EDQIS can be accessed online.
The eRetaker, on the other hand, holds the data of examinees such as the date and level of examination taken, whether passed or failed. The eRetaker system is used to compel compliance of applicants to the policy of limitation on frequency of taking a Career Service Examination.
Exactly 9 years after the CAT version 1.0 was introduced, the enhanced version or the CAT version 2.0 was pilot-tested at the CSC Central Office in July 2003.
In CAT version 1.0, test data are loaded in individual computers using a diskette. While in CAT version 2.0, test data are loaded in a server which are then accessed by the CAT computers; thus, making test administration more efficient.
The CAT version 2.0 has the following features:
With the new procedures introduced in test from development, the need to enhance the DOS-based EGNS is imperative.
In February 2009, an in-house developed computer program called the Test Bank Information System or TBIS was introduced. Aside from facilitating the systematic storage, updating and retrieval of test items, the TBIS has a facility that stores the psychometric properties of test items. This facility allows for a more systematic selection of test items according to difficulty level and reliability.
The TBIS stores historical data of test items usage, thus preventing over-exposure of test items. It also generates test forms in layout ready for review after minimal editing.
In March 2009, the Online CAT Application Reservation System or OCARS was launched. A web-based system, the OCARS facilitates the online reservation slot for filing of CAT application on specified dates and time.
Applicants who successfully reserved a slot are notified through email of their date and time of filing of application, thus ensuring a more systematic acceptance and processing of application for examination.
The CSC places premium on working steadily toward competent and efficient administration of civil service examinations.
Anchored on its role under the CSC Road Map’s Strategic Priority I of the Developing Competent and Credible Civil Servants, scaling greater heights in examination administration, and keeping upbeat with its continuing thrust of upholding the principle of merit and fitness, the CSC resolutely moves on from the conventional paper-and-pencil test and the alternative Computer-Assisted Test to a challenging venture that is -- the development of the contemporary Civil Service Commission Computerized Examination System or CSC COMEX.
Undertaken in collaboration with the DOST-Advanced Science and Technology Institute, the CSC COMEX is a new system designed to unite all existing stand-alone examination processes on acceptance and processing of applications, preparation of examination documents, conduct of examination, processing of results, and generation of examination reports… into a single examination system. CSC COMEX will run through Wide Area Network environment where the regional testing centers shall be connected to the central server located at the CSC Central Office.
A salient feature of the new system is the integration of modern facilities that would make the entire examination administration process – from application all the way to processing of test results – faster, easier, and more efficient.
CSC COMEX comes further with a package of gains that includes:
provision of a secured, tamper-proof examination system, ensuring a more reliable verification process of applicants and examinees,
linkage to CSC existing systems such as the DIBAR, EDQIS, and eRetakers, provision of online copies of application forms and applicants’ profiles, thereby eliminating manual filling up of application form,
EAR is an internet-based system through which all interested individuals could register online anytime via the CSC COMEX website.
To register, an individual must create a user account that contains information on user account name and password, personal circumstances, education, employment, examinations passed, civil service eligibilities, and other pertinent information.
Just like the EAR, ESR is also an internet-based system that allows a registered user to reserve a slot for a particular examination, including the preferred date and time of personal appearance at the CSC, date and time of examination, and the examination venue.
ESC entails the examination day. This is the stage during which an examination applicant appears personally before the CSC to attend to preliminaries that include verification of identify based on EAR, capturing of examinee’s photo and biometrics, and generation, printing and signing by the examinee’s of the application form and the examinee’s CS Identification (CSID).
ATP pertains to the conduct of the test proper, and shall involve, among others, the authentication of examinees’ biometrics, and the examinees taking the actual test.
Characterized by automatic examination scoring, this module involves processing of test results, generation of examination reports, and releasing of test results.
Without a doubt, the dawn of CSC COMEX is a fervent testimony of the Civil Service Commission’s enduring quest for Responsive, Accessible, Courteous and Effective service --