Psychological Assessment: An Ultimate Guide for CSS Candidates

psychological assessment

There are numerous articles available on the internet providing guidelines to the CSS candidates appearing for the psychological assessment of their personality domains. However, the instant article contains requisite guidelines and best strategy to get through this crucial phase of your journey to success.

 To begin with, the good news is that you have passed the difficult part of CSS exam and now you will be preparing for an equally important exam: psychological assessment which comprises written tests and group tasks. Such tests are designed to assess abilities, attitude and personality characteristics of the candidates with special regard to their aptitude for the Civil Services.  

The first day of psychological test is all about writing. The second day consists of participating in group activities that involves group discussion and command task followed by an informal interview with the psychologists’ panel.


A series of Ability and Personality tests would be administered. The results drawn from psychological tests will further be validated and supported from different resources such as background information, behavioural observation and one-to-one interview with the psychologists.

 The following is a brief description of the tests that you are expected to undergo:


These tests reflect the candidate’s intellectual potential such as reasoning, comprehension, judgement, concentration of thinking, and cognitive-skills.

Intelligence tests measure different abilities in a person and these are administered in multiple choice questions (MCQs) or True or False (Dichotomous) format. There are several types of ability tests, but the most commonly used in recruitment process are categorized as follows:

a. Abstract Ability: Also known as Conceptual Reasoning Test, it aims to determine your ability to quickly identify the relationship between the patterns, logical rules and integrate this information to find the solution.

You will be presented with sets of shapes having a logical relationship. Your task is to identify the most suitable shape that comes next in the sequence from the options provided.

The test is designed to assess your capability in quickly analyzing new information and thinking strategically to solve problems.

b. Verbal Ability: The verbal aptitude test tends to measure your ability to understand and communicate information by asking you to identify word analogies or synonyms/antonyms, etc.

c. Numerical Ability: The numerical ability / reasoning test measures your ability to use and understand information or scenario that is presented to you in basic numerical form for making best decisions.   

psychological assessmentAll the tasks are to be performed within the allotted time. Hence, you have to work as quickly as possible, since, most questions and tasks start out easy and gradually get more difficult.


Personality Tests are usually of different types and are meant to evaluate and predict your basic personality characteristics such as Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion/Introversion, Agreeability, Neuroticism along with your confidence, maturity level, optimism, ability to cope with stress and solve different problems, your administrative and leadership qualities.

Remember!  Just be yourself, and don’t try to be a superhuman and completely infallible.

a. Personality Trait Questionnaire

There would be two types of personality questionnaires:

i. In which you have to give your answer in “yes or no” format (dichotomous/ closed-ended questions).

ii. The other will consist of open-ended questions whereby you will be required to mention your preferences, likes, dislikes, interests, etc.

b. Story Writing

In this part, you will be given a vague black-and-white picture of human life and will be instructed to invent and write a story extempore.

It is important to understand that you are to tell a story and not merely describe the picture. Story should contain these four elements:

i. Current situation (What’s going on in the picture?)

ii. Thoughts and feelings of the characters. (What are they thinking/feeling?)

iii. Preceding events (What happened before? What led to the current situation?)

iv. Outcome (How does the story end?)

Story writing is considered a method of revealing unconscious needs, motives, dominant drives, emotions, sentiments, complexes and conflicts of personality.

c. Sentence Completion:

You will be asked to complete a sentence for which first word or words are provided. For example:

I like……
The happiest time…………
I want to know………
Back home…………
I regret………

It is assumed that the individuals would reflect their own desires, wishes, fears & attitudes in sentence completion


Autobiography is a written account of the life of a person. In other words, it’s a brief story about the history of a person written by himself.

I call it as how you introduce yourself to me on a written piece of paper. Your writing should be so organized and systematic that I should be eager to meet you in one-to-one interview.

In autobiography, you are expected to write details of your life history, which may include:

  • Birthplace to Elementary School Years
  • Family – Immediate (Parents, Siblings, Children); Extended (Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, etc.)
  • Culture
  • College/University/Education Years
  • Special Occasions
  • Courtship/Marriage
  • Career/Work Years
  • Hobbies/Vocational Activities
  • Sports/Recreation Activities
  • Places Lived
  • Accomplishments — Awards / Honours Received
  • Spiritual Journey
  • Military Service/Volunteer Activities
  • Lessons from Life, etc.


The basic aim of command task is to assess leadership qualities, management skills and decision-making power along with level of confidence and maturity that you possess.

You shall be given a scenario in writing and you will be required to analyze the situation/problem and come up with a suitable solution within 15 minutes.

You will be asked to conduct a meeting while acting in certain capacity (e.g. DCO, IGP, SSP, etc.) with reference to the situation that has been provided to you and in order the complete the objective of the activity.

You start the meeting by introducing yourself along with the agenda under discussion. Ask every candidate one by one about their opinions over the situation and then conclude the meeting within the stipulated time (usually 8 minutes) by declaring the best plan of action that you have chalked out in a very systematic and organized manner followed by thanking every individual for their consideration and cooperation.


  • As a DCO, how would to deal with a protest of nurses?
  • How would you react as a Foreign Minister to the terrorist attack on the British Embassy?
  • A person died in police custody and the local people are angry and want SHO dismissed. Being SSP, what would you do?


The purpose of group discussion is to evaluate personality — confidence, assertiveness, articulation, knowledge and your ability and skills required to work with others — within a given time.

This includes two group discussions — one in Urdu and one in English — on general topics over which you would be required to make suggestions and give your opinion while giving equal opportunity to your fellow candidates to speak and express their views. You can second your colleagues or differ with them. It is of little significance whether you favour or oppose any issue as long as your reasoning is logical, convincing and your arguments are sound.


Avoid religious statements and personal comments.

Be relevant and to the point, don’t get off the track during discussion.

Don’t use English words in Urdu discussion and vice versa.

Let the other person finish the statement and then speak. Never interrupt the other person while (s)he is giving his/her point of view.

Avoid being the last person to talk on issues under discussion and if you do, be very observant and logical


The same day, after the group session is over, you will meet a panel of psychologists for a brief interview who at the end will prepare a collaborated report on the information you have provided about your personality, ability and aptitude in the 2-day activity.

You may be asked a series of questions for providing additional information about yourself, justifications for the preferences that you have mentioned in your written personality tests and to clear any ambiguity if encountered in your writing. You may also be asked about your opinion on various social and political scenarios happening both in Pakistan and on international level.

Important Guidelines

1. Dress properly and appropriately according to the weather. Don’t be casual or very excited by wearing a shiny suit. The way you carry yourself gives first-hand information about your personality, confidence, attitude and motivation.

2. Never pretend to be what you are not. There should be consistency and harmony in what you write. If any contradiction is observed in part of the test, especially personality test, the results will definitely not go in your favour.

3. Have an opinion of your own. Be assertive but also show flexibility in accepting and regarding other person’s ideology on a certain topic.

4. Be to the point, relevant and accurate in your writing as well as in communication by giving valid, rational and unbiased justification of your argument.

5. Your body language and eye contact will be observed throughout the recruitment process, especially during group discussion, command task and interview with the psychologist.

6. Never indulge in discussion over which you do not have full command.

7. Be humble and logical. Never use very negative, socially inappropriate or casual language.    

8. Don’t get puzzled. During the interview, the psychologists may contradict or puzzle you on the information you have provided. It is considered an important tool to determine assertiveness, persistence, openness to criticism, aggressiveness and level of maturity of an individual.

9. Practice not to commit grammatical mistakes both in your writing as well as in your verbal communication.

Tip: Do read and listen to both English and Urdu newspapers and news channels. This will not only enhance your vocabulary and articulation but will also equip you with information on current economic, political and social scenarios of the world thereby leaving an excellent impression of your knowledge.

10. Give proper justifications for your strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes and have full knowledge with facts and figures especially about the books and personalities that you mention.

11. Remain calm and composed throughout the process.

12. Make sure you complete every test and task within the allocated time. Don’t forget to wear a wrist watch. Don’t be over-efficient at the same time.

How to Handle Stress and Anxiety?

  • Take care of your diet, concentrate on fresh fruit and eat light (non-oily) food. Eat at least three balanced meals everyday to keep your strength up to the mark.v Good breakfast shall definitely help you remain active the whole day.
  • Learn to practice relaxation techniques; deep breathing, meditation, prayer are the most effective and less time-consuming ways.
  • Half an hour early morning or evening walk boosts endorphins, which can reduce stress hormones and fatigue and alleviate mild depression thereby promoting feelings of wellbeing.
  • Try to manage your time wisely.
  • Don’t take too much caffeine as it exaggerates your experience of stress and anxiety.
  • Avoid negative people or those who put you under more stress.
  • Express your feelings of fear and worry rather than bottling them up. Catharsis reduces stress level.
  • Good sleep a night before the exam is essential to perform on optimal level,
  • In 24 hours, take out at least half an hour for the thing that you love to do i.e. listening to music, watching your favourite TV show, spending time with your loved ones, etc.
  • Lower your expectations of perfectionism by looking at the big picture of the current situation. Reframe your thought patterns by replacing illogical thoughts with logical ones through positive self-statements.

“I will definitely fail exam,” replace it with, “I’ve been studying and preparing all week, I know the procedure and material, and it’s within my power to do well on this test.”
Positive self-statements break down your fear that is based on nothing, and replace it with a new thought that is rooted in reality.

Remember, your performance in psychological assessment will predict whether you possess adequate potential and qualities that are required to be a part of the Civil Service of Pakistan.

Best wishes!

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