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Tips for PMF Applicants

22 Oct Posted by in Uncategorized | Comments

The PMF application and online assessment test will open November 5, and remain open for two weeks until November 19, 2013.

The Federal Government’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM) posted the 2013 PMF Assessment Preparation Guide late last week.  This is an important resource that prospective applicants are urged to read carefully.

What else can you do to prepare?

  • Get familiar with the Federal Government — Attend Mason Career Services’ “Government Week” offerings!  The PMF process may have changed a lot since last year, but this year’s Mason applicants are lucky in one sense:  The timing of this year’s assessment will allow them to prepare by attending Mason Career Services government week activities, including info sessions and workshops on everything from the Pathways Program to federalizing your resume.  One of your greatest assets going into the PMF process is a basic understanding of what Federal Government work is like and what qualities Federal Government employers look for when hiring.  Government Week also offers opportunities to make connections with representatives of government agencies.  If you make it to the PMF Finalist stage, this kind of connection can be what lands you an appointment as a Fellow.
  • Practice taking a standardized test.  If it’s been a little while since you took a standardized test, you may want to brush up.  This is especially important for the “situational logic” portion of the online assessment test, which can take some getting used to.  The LSAT test features logic questions that are structured similarly to those you may find on the PMF assessment test, and past applicants have reported that the logic sections of LSAT practice tests were helpful in preparing them for this type of question.  This year the situational logic portion of the test will present situations in a video format, so in practicing think about how to process information presented in that format as well.
  • Practice some “on the spot” writing samples.  Remember that the assessment test includes some short writing samples.  While you won’t know the topic of these short essays in advance, you can practice by assigning yourself imaginative questions based on the key competencies listed in the 2013 PMF Assessment Preparation Guide.  This will help you gather your thoughts and practice formulating language around these ideas.  Remember, you can’t cut and paste text into the online assessment test, so don’t plan to pre-compose material for your answers.  This exercise is just to get practice with answering this kind of question.
  • Don’t overthink it.  Many applicants worry a lot about the “personality” portions of the PMF assessment.  They wonder, “What kind of person is the test looking for, and how can I answer the questions in a way that meets that expectation?”  This is a flawed approach.  The Federal Government needs all kinds of people, but most of all it needs genuine, honest people who don’t try to game the system.  Your best bet is to answer this kind of question honestly.  Remember, the test will ask the same question in many different forms, so if you aren’t being totally sincere, your answers will show inconsistency.  You will get the best results if you answer in a way that is true to yourself and confident in your abilities.

Finally, but perhaps most importantly:

  • Make sure you block off enough time to complete the assessment in one sitting.  OPM recommends 3 hours.
  • Have your up-to-date graduate transcript and resume ready to upload and/or attach to the application if you haven’t done so already.
  • Make sure you have a reliable Internet connection and power supply.
  • Make sure you are using a browser that works with the PMF application system.  OPM recommends Internet Explorer.  Safari and Chrome are NOT recommended.

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