Department of State Hospitals (DSH) - Definition of Terms

Definition of Terms

Examination bulletins contain important information that will help you prepare for the examination. Before filing for any examination, you should read and understand the requirements found in the bulletin.

Bulletins include a number of terms that may not be familiar to you; therefore, we have defined the most important and commonly used terms found in most examination bulletins.

  • Type of Examination (Exam Base) - Examinations may be administered in the following ways:
    • Open - These examinations are open to anyone who meets the minimum qualifications, regardless of whether or not they currently work for the California State government.  Examinations may be administered statewide or for specific locations (e.g., San Luis Obispo County or Department of State Hospitals - Napa, etc.)
    • Promotional Examinations - These examinations are limited to State employees with permanent appointments.  These examinations may be administered for one department, a subdivision within a department (e.g., Metropolitan State Hospital), or a group of departments.  In these cases, competition is limited to employees who have permanent civil service appointments with the agency(ies) identified on the bulletins.
    • Open-Non Promotional - These examinations are administered when there are insufficient numbers of State employees to meet departmental hiring needs and it is anticipated that there are qualified open candidates.  These exams may be administered statewide or for specific locations.
    • Continuous Testing - These examinations are administered on an open basis and application acceptance is continuous.  Candidates meeting the minimum qualifications may apply at any time and are tested as often as necessary to meet the manpower needs of hard-to-recruit for classifications or classifications having large employment needs.
  • Bulletin Release Date - This is the date the bulletin is released to announce an examination.
  • Final Filing Date - This is the deadline by which applications must be filed.  For most exams, applications must be received or postmarked by the final filing date.  Applications postmarked, personally delivered, or sent through inter-office mail after the final filing date are not accepted.  In addition, applications submitted before the bulletin release date will be returned to the sender.
  • File-In-Person Exams - Some exams require applicants to file applications in person.  The file-in-person date is specified on the exam bulletin.  Applications received by mail or a person other than the applicant are not accepted.
  • Minimum Qualifications - For each classification, a legal document called a class specification, which describes many facets of the classification, is prepared.  Minimum Qualifications are a part of this legal document.  The Minimum Qualifications outline the specific education, experience, licensing and/or certificate requirements necessary in order to compete in the examination.  A candidate who does not meet the minimum qualifications will not be allowed to compete in the examination.
  • Exam Components (Exam Plan) - An examination may consist of a variety of components, such as a written test, oral interview, written or structured exercise, performance test, or supplemental application process.  An exam may consist of a single component or a combination of components and may have different weights (e.g., written test weighted 40%, oral interview weighted 60%).  The most common exam components are:
  • Written Test - Typically, consists of multiple-choice questions, but may include essay questions.
    • Qualifications Appraisal Panel (QAP) - A scored oral interview conducted by a panel consisting of a Chairperson (who represents CalHR and ensures laws and rules are maintained in the process), a State Service Representative (a subject matter expert, such as a supervisor over the testing class) and, for some classifications which have extensive contact with the public, may include an Outside Public Member (who represents the public).
    • Structured Exam - Exam consists of a problem(s) or exercise typically encountered on the job.  Candidates must prepare responses to the problem.  This may include in-basket exercises, essay problems, or hypothetical situations.  This is typically used in conjunction with the oral interview, but may be used as the sole exam process.
    • Performance Test - The test consists of actual samples of duties performed on the job.  For example, applicants for a Heavy Equipment Operator may be required to operate a piece of heavy equipment as part of the exam process.
    • Training and Experience evaluation - Candidates are rated on responses to specific questions related to the testing class.  This process may consist of a supplemental application, which may be administered on-line (Internet testing) or manually.
    • Education and Experience evaluation - The candidate's education and experience, as reflected on the application, is evaluated against pre-set rating standards.
  • The Position - Describes the typical duties of the classification for which the examination is being given.
  • Scope - Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSAs) are identified on the examination bulletin.  These KSAs, which are developed from the class specification, identify the areas to be covered in the examination.  You may use this area to develop your own study plan to help you prepare for the examination.
  • Eligible List Information - This portion of the examination bulletin identifies the life of the eligible list (usually 1-4 years).
  • General Information - Information, such as where to file applications for the examination, who to call for questions, what to do if you have not received a response after filing for an exam, etc., is identified on the exam bulletin.

For more information about the State of California's exam process, click here to access the California Department of Human Resources General Information on All State Examinations website.