For those who are new to my blog or have not realized it, I am a civil servant for a state agency and have been for the last 24 years. I began working for my current agency in 1998, and have worked in 5 different units, in 11 different titles, as I have worked my way up the ladder to my current management position.
In New York, in order to advance in title and salary (i.e., get promoted) you must continually take exams, pass, and score well enough to be eligible/reachable (score one of the top three grades) at the time new positions open up. If you get hired from one of those positions, your name gets inactivated on the list, allowing people with lower scores to move up the list.
I have always taken every exam I was eligible for, and I’ve always passed/generally done well. I don’t like taking exams, nor do I like giving up time on my weekends to take them (they are always given on Saturday or Sunday mornings), but I always took advantage of every opportunity to do better and go farther.
Exams produce lists of eligible candidates, and those lists expire after a few years, so if you want to stay on them, you have to take them when they come up again. (With one exception, you cannot get promoted if you are not on a list.) Four months ago, I took two promotional exams (one for my next level of promotion, one for the level after that), both of which I have taken before, but the lists recently expired.
I struggled with whether to take these exams again for several reasons. I am relatively close to retirement (3 years, 10 months, and 3 days…but who’s counting?) and unlikely to see another promotion before I go, let alone two. Also, that one exception I mentioned above allows a two-level jump one time in your state career without taking an exam, so I could technically get to the next level (if anyone wanted to higher me) without taking an exam and being on that list(s). In addition, I had Roger at the time, and was extremely worried that he would act up in the middle of the exam and I would be humiliated
But, the practical side of me guilted me into taking the exams again, worried I would somehow regret not taking them. So, my stress levels were high that day as I drove to the exam sight and waited in line to get in. Once seated, I rushed through the exam, more worried about Roger misbehaving than doing well on the exam, and was the first person to finish and leave the exam room. While I was relieved it was over, I was sure I had bombed.
I finally received my scores this week and, to my surprise, I passed both exams, scoring a 90 on both. I got the same grade last time for one of the exams, but scored 5 points higher (a 95) on the other, the first time I took it. Bummer! However, my standing remains the same on both lists, because only 15 people passed the one exam, 13 the other, and only two people scored higher than me on each list, keeping me in the top 3 and eligible to interview for any positions that open up in the future.
I am very relieved I did so well, for my own sense of satisfaction. I doubt either will result in a promotion, but you never know. I’m not sure I even want more responsibilities at this point, but at least now it will be my choice, if I want to go interview for jobs and, if offered one, accept it. Had I not taken the exams, I would more likely be stuck where I am, even if an opportunity opened up that I was interested in.
And the best part:
The exams lists I’m on expire in July 2026, 2 months after I plan to retire, so…
…no more exams! Ever!