The EPSO E-tray test: a question of organisation


The e-tray test was first introduced in 2011 in the AST Generalist competitions. It was then gradually extended to the AD competitions. The candidates for the AD Generalist competition first faced it in 2015. For them, it represents the intermediate phase between the admission tests and the assessment centre.

What is this test about?

The EPSO e-tray test consists of an email inbox containing a number of emails. The candidate must use these to answer a series of multiple-choice questions. For each question, he has to rank three options ranging them from ‘Totally disagree (- -)’, ‘Disagree (-)’, ‘Neutral (-/+)’, ‘Agree (+)’ or ‘Totally agree (++)’.

This test focuses on EPSO competencies, four of which are assessed here:

analysis and problem solving;
delivering quality and results;
prioritising and organising;
working with others.

First challenge: the scattered information

To answer a question, the candidate has to gather and analyse information sourced from a number of emails. However, the inbox contains around twenty emails randomly ordered. The candidate has to be able to quickly identify the relevant emails and extract the key information from them. So an organised mind is essential.

Second challenge: the ranking of options

The candidate may hesitate between two similar values, for example between ‘Totally disagree’ and ‘Disagree’. Analysing EPSO competencies is not necessarily enough to make the correct choice. Therefore, combining a few criteria and demonstrating a fine level of discrimination is required.

Third challenge: timing

The candidate has 50 minutes to read the emails and rank the options. It is very short. Each minute counts. There is no time to lose in getting buried in information or wondering what the test is about.

As with all EPSO tests, the e-tray is a technical exercise. It is impossible to be successful unless you acquire a good methodology. ORSEU explains this in its latest book published in June 2017, E-tray for European institutions competitions. It includes a detailed methodology illustrated with an example, a comprehensive e-tray exercise with detailed correction. It is a must-have tool to proceed to the assessment centre.