PH Civil Service Exam: A Definitive Guide for Pinoys

This is the complete guide to the Civil Service Exam (CSE) in the Philippines. Learn about the exam coverage and more.

If you want to get hired—on professional merit rather than appointed or elected— and work as a civil servant in the public sector (or a government department), you’ll be asked to take a Civil Service Exam.

Recommended reading:
[UPDATE!] Civil Service Exam (CSE) Schedule
Over 500 CSE Questions (FREE Reviewer)

CSE is utilized at every level of government—local or national. The objective of the exam is to establish a Register of Eligibles (RoE) which will make successful examinees civil service eligibles.

Note: Eligibility is just one of the qualifications for an appointment. Appointees to career service positions must meet the education, training, experience, eligibility, and competency requirements prescribed by the hiring department.

It can also be used as a reference for employment in the private sector.

It’s an important test that requires preparation. Those who are interested to work as a civil service worker must pass the exam, and check the other qualifications and requirements set by the Civil Service Commission.

Modes of examination

You can choose what mode of examination you’ll take. In any case, it has pros and cons and is largely dependent on how comfortable you are with the other.

Paper-and-paper test (PPT)

Formally known as Career Service Examination, Pen and Paper Test (CSE-PPT).

If you’re more comfortable shading circles on paper and having a chance to change your answers, then this traditional model is for you.

Computerized examination (COMEX)

If you’re more comfortable taking this computer-based exam, then this is a better choice.

The CSC-COMEX is a recent innovation that offers a faster, easier, and more efficient way to take the civil service exam.

Note: Both the CSC-PPT and CSC-COMEX are taken at the Civil Service Commission Regional Offices.

Recommended reading:
→ 5 Researched-Based Techniques to Pass CSE in One Take
→ How to Remember Better: A Study Tip

Exam eligibility

Your eligibility to apply for a position in the government will depend on the level of exam that you pass.

Sub-Professional level

The CSE Sub-Professional eligibility qualifies you for first-level positions such as clerical, trade, and custodial service positions. These positions require less than four years of a college education.

The Sub-Professional exam covers Math, English, General Information, and Clerical Ability for a total of 165 items and with a time limit of 2 hours, 40 minutes.

Professional level

CSE professional eligibility, on the other hand, qualifies you not only for the first-level positions but also for second-level positions. These include technical and scientific positions. It’s also required that you graduated with a four-year college degree.

The Professional exam covers Math, English, General Information, Analogy, and Logic for a total of 170 items and with a time limit of 3 hours, 10 minutes.

Note: As long as you’re at least 18 years old, you can take any type of exam you want.

If you want to play it safe, then take the Sub-Professional Level first. Passing it will give you the confidence you need to hurdle the more challenging professional exam.

If you want to play it smart, take the Professional Level so you will not have to study the same things again.

CSE qualifications

Those who are interested to take the exam should take note of the qualifications and requirements set by the Civil Service Commission.

  1. Filipino citizen (at least 18 years old on the date of filing of application).
  2. Good moral character (has not been convicted by final judgment of an offense or crime).
  3. Has not been dishonorably discharged from military service, or dismissed caused from any civilian position in the government; and
  4. Has not taken the same level of Civil Service Examination within three (3) months from the last examination taken.


Under special laws, the Civil Service Commission grants 10 different eligibility categories to qualified individuals, automatically exempting them from taking the exam

  1. College graduates who passed the bar and licensure board examinations administered by the Supreme Court and the Professional Regulation Commission.
  2. Barangay health workers with college degrees (completed at least 2 years of college education), accredited by the Local Health Board, and have voluntarily rendered service to the community for at least 5 years.
  3. Barangay nutrition scholars or volunteer workers who have rendered at least 2 years of continuous nutrition services and other related activities like family planning, mental feeding, backyard food production, sanitation, and community health.
  4. Barangay officials who have completed their terms of office. These include elected officials such as the Barangay Captain, Sangguniang Kabataan Chairman, Sangguniang Barangay regular members as well as the Barangay Treasurers and Secretaries appointed by the Barangay Captain.
  5.  Individuals who have passed the training courses or proficiency tests on Systems Analysis and Design and/or Computer Programming courses (Visual Basic, Java, or MS Access) conducted by the Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO).
  6. Those who graduated with Latin honors from a reputable foreign school verified by the DFA.
  7. Those who graduated with Latin honors from a reputable private educational institution or state/local college or university in the Philippines.
  8. Those who served as vice mayor and vice governor as well as regular Sanggunian Members of the Sangguniang Bayan, Sangguniang Panlungsod, and Sangguniang Panlalawigan. The level of government position you’ll be eligible to depends on the number of years you served as a Sanggunian Member and the number of units you completed to earn a bachelor’s degree.
  9. Science and Technology Specialists who earned a bachelor’s degree in any of the accepted fields of specialization and who furthered their intellectual pursuits either by earning a master’s/doctorate degree or by getting at least 3 years of continuous research/teaching experience.
  10. Skilled workers who completed at least 1 year of very satisfactory work performance and whose qualifications aren’t measurable by written tests. These include laboratory technicians, plumbers, draftsmen, carpenters, shrine curators, plant electricians, automotive mechanics, and heavy equipment operators.

Civil Service Exam schedule


For the Paper and Pencil test (CSC-PPT), the Civil Service Commission conducts examinations twice a year, usually in March and  August.

The Civil Service Commission Regional and Field Offices start accepting and processing applications a few months before the examination.

For example, applications for the March exam are accepted from November of the previous year up to the last day of January. Meanwhile, those who prefer to take the August civil service exam must file their applications any time between May and June.

There’s a limit to how many applicants can take the exam. Applications are processed on a first-come, first-served basis, proving the importance of filing your applications early.

Take note that these schedules may change without prior notice. To be aware of the latest civil service exam schedules, you can follow CSC either through its website or official Facebook page.


The computerized examination (CSC-COMEX), is administered by CSC through its Central Office or any of its several Regional Offices.

In its Central Office, the COMEX-professional level exam is conducted several days throughout February, April, May, and June. The schedule of the sub-professional exam is only limited to two days. 

The CSC Regional Offices use almost the same schedules for the professional-level exam. The Sub-professional exam, in contrast, is only scheduled for one day.

CSE requirements

  1. Fully accomplished Application form (appropriate CS Form No. 100).
  2. Four (4) pieces of I.D. pictures. Passport size, white background, and is taken within 3 months before the filing of the application.

  3. Original and photocopy of any of your valid IDs (Please see the lists of valid IDs).
  4. Certificate of Consent
  5. Exam fee Php 500 (Paper and Pencil Test); Php 680 (Computerized Examination).

Additional requirements, if needed

  • Original and photocopy of Birth Certificate issued by the Philippine Statistics Authority, or the Local Civil Registry (only for applicants without date of birth in their I.D.)
  • Applicants who are holding dual citizenship under R.A. 9225 should submit an original and photocopy of the Identification Certificate (IC) issued by the Bureau of Immigration.

CSE coverage

Both the Professional and Sub-Professional exams have questions in English and Filipino.

Professional level coverage

The professional level of the civil service exam has 170 multiple-choice questions that need to be completed within 3 hours and 10 minutes.

  • Vocabulary
  • Grammar and correct word usage
  • Organization of ideas
  • Analysis/Synthesis
  • Reading comprehension
  • Word Analogy
  • Data interpretation
  • Logic and abstract reasoning
  • Numerical reasoning
  • General information on the Philippine Constitution, code of conduct, peace and human rights issues, and environmental management

Sub-professional level exam coverage

The sub-professional level of the civil service exam has 165 multiple-choice items that need to be completed within 2 hours and 40 minutes.

  • Vocabulary
  • Grammar and correct word usage
  • Organization of ideas
  • Analysis/Synthesis
  • Clerical Ability
  • Spelling
  • Numeral reasoning
  • General information on the Philippine Constitution, code of conduct, peace and human rights issues, and environmental management

You need to get at least 80% of the perfect score to pass the civil service exam.

Other info

The test proper starts at 8:00 am but examinees are required to be at the exam center one hour before that since there will be pre-examination activities. Examinees who will arrive later than 7:30 am will also not be admitted.

Final thoughts

Passing the Civil Service Exam is just one of the qualifications and requirements if you want to work in a government department. You also need to meet the education, training, experience, and competency requirements prescribed by the hiring department.

Nonetheless, passing the exam is a good starting point.