It is the policy of the Department of General Services (DGS) to administer examinations in accordance with the California Department of Human Resources (CalHR) and statutory authority for all civil service examinations. DGS will not test or allow certification or appointment of employees who have already transferred into the classification on a list appointment, and who have permanent status (passed probation) for which an examination is being administered.

An examination is the act of giving students or candidates a test (as by questions) to determine what they know or have learned.

In accordance with Government Code (GC) section 18930, examinations for the establishment of eligible lists shall be competitive and of such character as fairly to test and determine the qualifications, fitness, and ability of competitors actually to perform the duties of the class or position for which they seek appointment.

Examinations for managerial positions, except for career executive assignments as defined in GC section 18547, shall be held on an open basis unless the appointing authority determines otherwise. “Managerial position” means those positions having the duties which are defined under “managerial employees” in subdivision (e) of GC section 3513. When an open examination is administered for a non-career executive assignment managerial position, the names of the applicants who pass the examination with a passing score shall be placed on one list and ranked in the relative order of the examination score received.

Examinations may be assembled or unassembled, written or oral, or in the form of a demonstration of skill, or any combination of these; and any investigation of character, personality, education, and experience and any tests of intelligence, capacity, technical knowledge, manual skill, or physical fitness which CalHR deems are appropriate, may be employed.

GC section 18935 authorizes CalHR “to refuse to examine, or after examination, refuse to declare as an eligible or withhold or withdraw from certification, prior to appointment,” in some cases as defined under subsections (a) through (b). If this situation occurs, the Exams Unit will notify the applicant in writing of his/her disqualification from the examination.

Time off for examination/interview

Pursuant to GC section 19991 and upon the employee giving his/her immediate supervisor/manager two working days notice, shall be allowed a reasonable amount of time to participate in an interview (examination or hiring) without deduction of pay or leave credits, if the interview is scheduled during working hours.

The table below depicts the allowances/restrictions applicable to various situations; however, refer to the appropriate Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for specific language.

  • Employee is granted State time to take exam with proof of length of exam.
  • Leave credits must be used for travel time with supervisor/manager approval.
  • Up to 2 hours State time including travel time; if more time is required, employee must use leave credits with manager/supervisor approval unless employee can show evidence of length of interview.
  • Up to 2 hours State time including travel time; if more time is required, employee must use leave credits with manager/supervisor approval unless employee can show evidence of length of interview.
  • Out-of-class stipulation placement is at discretion of supervisor/manager to use State time (up to 2 hours including travel time).
  • Leave credits must be used for travel time and/or interview time if no supervisor/manager approved.

*Lists include: open, promotional, State Restrictions of Appointment (SROA)/surplus, re-employment, Department Restrictions of Appointment (DROA).

Roles and Responsibilities

CalHR has delegated the administration of examinations to DGS’ Exams Unit.

Exams Unit
Exams unit staff are responsible for:

  • Yearly examination plan (including online exams)
  • Job analyses
  • Examination construction
  • Examination announcements
  • Application review and Minimum Qualifications (MQ) Analysis
  • Examination administration
  • Examination scoring and ranking
  • Releasing examination result letters and employment lists
  • Establishment of certification lists

Note: CEA examinations require prior approval from the Director.

Classification and Pay (C&P) Analyst
The C&P Analyst may be asked by the Exams Unit to: 

  • Provide an essential functions duty statement.
  • Provide any other background information regarding a specific classification.
  • Notify the Exams Analyst of pending Temporary Authorization Utilization (TAU) appointments, which require an examination to be given within nine months of appointment.
  • Verify out-of-class experience for examination purposes only.


Responsible Control Agency

  • California Department of Human Resources

Laws and Regulations

  • Government Code section 18930-18993, 19991
  • SPB Rule 250, 212, 211, 435 432.3

Other Resource Materials