Would-be government workers are again taking part in a ritual that had virtually disappeared for 43 years: taking a civil service exam to qualify for jobs with federal agencies.
Uncle Sam scrapped most standardized tests during the Nixon administration, when a 1972 lawsuit alleged that they were racially biased.
Today’s version is not your dad’s civil service exam—which used paper forms and a No. 2 pencil—and it’s not a universal hiring requirement. Just 36 federal agencies have begun using online exams to screen applicants for about 10% of the positions they need to fill. Most test-takers are applying for entry-level budgeting, IT and contract-jobs.