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authorising them to give certificates of qualification before such young men entered on their duties. After due consultation with the heads of the several Departments of the Civil Service, a scheme of examinations was prepared, and the first examination took place on the 30th June, 1855, since which time examinations have been held nearly every week.
The principle of examination has not only been twice affirmed by resolutions of the House of Commons, but has been more formally sanctioned by two Acts of Parliament. The Act for the better government of India" (1859), by its thirty-second section, recognises the system of open competition which had previously been established for appointments in the Indian Civil Service, and provides for the conduct of the examinations by the Civil Service Commissioners, enacting that without their certificate no candidate shall be admitted to the service in India. The Superannuation Act, passed in the same year, provides that, with certain exceptions, no person appointed after its date shall, for its purposes, be considered as serving in the permanent Civil Service of the State, unless admitted with a certificate from the Civil Service Commissioners. In February, 1860, a Select Committee was appointed by the House of Commons, “to inquire into the present mode of nominating and examining candidates for junior appointments in the Civil Service, with a view to ascertaining whether greater facility may not be afforded for the admission of properly-qualified persons.” In the Report of this Committee, dated 9th July following, the competitive principle is very strongly affirmed, and private patronage condemned. The Committee do not, however, propose any sweeping change, but think that “an important step in advance will have been taken, if, for the system now generally prevailing of simple nomination, there be substituted one of limited but of real competition;" and they recommend accordingly, “that, from henceforth, every vacancy occurring among clerks in the Civil Service be competed for by not less than three candidates, to be nominated as at present, each of whom, in the first instance, shall have passed the preliminary test examination, except
in the case of a single vacancy, which shall not be competed for by less than five. The Committee also recommend that several vacancies should be competed for at once, and that the present objectionable course of the Commissioners, who inquire into the moral and physical qualifications of the candidates after examination, should be immediately altered. They further observe, that “success in obtaining qualified candidates for the Civil Service must depend quite as much on the prospects and opportunities of promotion subsequently held out to the clerk in his official career, as on the immediate pecuniary advantages offered, or the judicious selection of young men in the first instance."
Nine Reports have been presented by the Commissioners ; from the latest of which, dated 8th April, 1864, it appears that the total number of nominations to which the Order in Council of 1854 has been applied is 25,612. The competitors have been 5,246, for 1,513 appointments, between three and four to one. The certificates in non-competitive examinations have been 12,381, and the rejections 3,179. There have been rejected, up to the end of last year, on the score of age, 563 ; of health, 189 ; of character, 219.
2.—MODE OF EXAMINATION.
The mode in which the examinations are conducted in London is usually as follows :- The candidates meet at the office of the Civil Service Commission, Dean's Yard, or else at Great George Street, Westminster. The Arithmetic paper is given on the first morning, and the time allowed is about three hours ; the afternoon is generally occupied with six or more long sums in compound addition (to be cast up without an error), with Dictation, exercises in Orthography, and Composition.
From many classes of candidates, as will be seen further on, no other test of proficiency is required. Others, whose examinations include a greater variety of subjects, are engaged for two or three days, according to circumstances. On Wednesday morning the History paper is given, and in the afternoon, the Précis; on Thursday, Geography and Composition ; and on Friday, Languages and Mathematics. This order depends, however, entirely upon the pleasure of the Examiners, and may be changed at any time. The examination in voluntary subjects for honorary certificates does not usually take place until after the candidates have received notice that they have passed in the required subjects.
To ensure uniformity of standard, the provincial examinations are all under the control of the Central Commission. The necessary papers are issued from the Metropolitan Office—to which the candidates' answers, with specimens of handwriting, and certificates, are returned for inspection, the Commissioners deciding absolutely upon the documents then laid before them.
There is in “Pass” examinations no fixed minimum, nor are marks assigned. The candidates are reported upon by epithets applied to the work they have done, the use of which is so far constant as 'to supply a fixed test. The Commissioners, not the Examiners, decide in all cases whether the candidate has passed or not. In Competitive examinations marks are employed ; and there are no vivâ voce questions, except in the case of modern languages.
Candidates to be examined in London are generally required to attend at Dean's Yard on some day preceding that fixed for their examination, when they fill up a form containing particulars as to age, education, former employment, &c., and also give references as to character. Each then receives instruction as to the evidence of age and health required in his particular case; and, from the information thus given, the secretary writes to his referees, and also to any recent employer ; to the Education Department, if he has been a pupil teacher ; or to any of the Government offices in which he has been employed. If he has served in the army, or navy, or mercantile marine, he is required to produce his discharge.' In all cases the Commissioners refer to his former situation as to his general character; but, whatever the inquiries may be, they do not delay the examination, though no certificate is granted unless the result of the inquiries is satisfactory.
As a general rule, every paper is looked over twice, each of the two permanent Examiners going over the other's work. In some cases, where it is perfectly clear to one of them, this is not necessary; both, however, make themselves jointly responsible for all that they do. They next report to the Commissioners, who revise the papers and marks, and pronounce their decision; the successful candidates being selected as the result of such revision. Their decision is then announced to the Treasury or other department, when the successful candidates are written to and requested to attend at the Treasury or other office (as the case may be) on a day named, to choose their place, if there is a choice. The Commissioners also write to the candidates within about ten days after the close of the examination, sending them a list of marks, informing them of the place they cach obtained in the competition; and, of course, whether successful or the contrary. The form of proceeding is pretty much the same in the case of"pass” examinations. The practice of re-nominating unsuccessful candidates within a short time after their failure having led to abuses, the Lords of the Treasury have fixed three months as the shortest period after which they will grant a second nomination, and in the Admiralty and War Office an interval of six months is required. A third chance is rarely offered to the unsuccessful candidate.
In a competitive examination, each candidate is required to pass in all the prescribed subjects. Therefore, if he should fail in Arithmetic (for instance) he would not pass, although, by being very strong in other subjects, he might have attained to the top of the list.
Shortly after the publication of the Report of the House of Commons' Committee of 1860, the whole character of the examinations was changed by the establishment of a preliminary or test examination, which all candidates are required to pass before going up for any competition. The subjects in this "little go” are generally limited to Handwriting, Orthography, Arithmetic and English Composition, with Latin and Book-keeping, where the departmental regulations require a knowledge of these subjects. The names of the successful candidates are returned to the Treasury, where they are entered in the "qualified" list, from which all competitors for vacancies are chosen. In the year 1863, out of 551 examined, 267 were rejected.
In the Preliminary Examination, Handwriting and Arithmetic are the most important subjects.
(a) Handwriting.–Good writing consists in the “clear formation of the letters of the alphabet;" it should be “rapid, neat, and of that even stroke which allows of legible copies to be taken by pressing.” With a moderate degree of perseverance and industry, this kind of handwriting is attainable by almost every educated person, and yet a slight acquaintance with official life shows that this most useful accomplishment is somewhat exceptional. The Commissioners still complain (Ninth Report) that “the quantity of bad handwriting which comes before them is very great,” and that they were “unable to enforce such a high standard as they should desire," without inconveniencing the Public Departments by delay in supplying vacancies. They do not demand or desire that the writing should be of any particular style, provided it possesses the main characteristic of legibility.
It was stated in the First Report, that 44 candidates had been rejected for their incompetence in this branch alone; and from the Second Report it would appear that, out of 880 rejections, 106 were for Handwriting, either alone or with other subjects. In 1863 169 were "plucked” for deficiency in this respect.
(6) Spelling.—The ability of the candidates in this most necessary branch of education is tested by their writing to dictation a passage of average difficulty. One of the Examiners first reads aloud some passage from a book or extract from a newspaper, that the