Exams - General Information & FAQs
Most employees in the court system start their careers by taking a civil service exam. Civil service exams are merit-based tools designed to measure applicants’ skills and abilities to successfully perform the job duties for a particular job title. Typically, the format of these exams is multiple-choice questions. Some exams may include components such as an oral exam to measure language skills and/or a simulated exam that measures proﬁciency in a speciﬁc skill.
Exam Preparation Guides & Sample Exams
Information is available for title-specific civil service exams including exam content, sample questions and sample exams. Also included are general exam preparation guides.
1. What exams are currently open for application?
2. What types of exams does the NYS Courts administer?
Civil service exams are offered in 27 competitive titles including court security titles, court operations titles such as Court Assistant, Spanish Court Interpreter and Court Reporter and clerical titles such as Clerical Assistant. Employees in these titles work in courtrooms and support ofﬁces performing a variety of functions associated with processing criminal, civil, family and probate matters.
3. How often are exams administered?
Exams are usually administered every four years but may be accelerated or deferred based on the operational needs of the court system. Exams are offered statewide.
4. Which NYS Courts exams am I eligible to take?
Exams are categorized as open-competitive, promotional or both (open-competitive and promotional).
Open-Competitive Exams: Open to all qualiﬁed applicants, including members of the public and court system employees.
Qualifications: Qualifications for each exam vary. Refer to Exam Announcement for information about minimum qualifications to take the exam.
Promotional Exams: Limited to court system employees as a path to advance through a job series.
Seniority Credit: Promotional exam candidates will have seniority credits added to their score based upon their length of continuous permanent competitive service in the New York State Unified Court System. Seniority credits may not be used to achieve a passing score. Credits are computed from the date of the exam and will be added to candidates' score.
Some exams are open to the public and court system employees. Separate eligibility lists are created for current competitive employees and the public. Hiring preference is given to court employees from competitive titles who took the exam.
Applying to Take an Exam
1. How do I apply for an exam?
Exam schedules and information on the application process and minimum qualifications are available on the Exams page. Exam applications must be submitted via the website within the period stated on the exam announcement. An email address and credit or debit card are required for successful submission. Separate applications must be submitted for each exam if an applicant is applying to more than one exam. For example, if you are applying to take both the Court Clerk and Senior Court Clerk Exams you must file two applications.
Exams are typically announced three to six months prior to the scheduled exam dates. To take an exam, applicants must submit an application during the stated open filing period. The filing period is typically four weeks long.
2. How do I request reasonable accommodations?
During the exam application process, test-takers will be able to request reasonable accommodations. Applicants must submit documentation supporting the request for reasonable accommodations.
3. What are the fees to take an exam?
A non-refundable $30 filing fee plus a non-refundable credit/debit card service fee of 2.99% (90 cents) is charged for all open-competitive exams. The fee requirement is waived for current employees of the New York State Unified Court System and for those who fall into specific categories provided on the exam announcement. Payment is by credit card or pre-paid credit/debit card.
4. What are the minimum qualifications to take an exam?
Qualifications for each exam vary. Refer to exam announcement for information about minimum qualifications to take the exam.
5. Where can I take an exam?
Exams are administered statewide at computerized test centers. When scheduling exams, applicants are able to select local test centers.
6. How long are the exams?
Exams are typically between 2 to 4 hours long. Refer to details in the exam announcements for more information.
7. What is the starting salary?
Comprehensive benefits and 1st year staring salaries for 2023 for the entry-level open-competitive positions are:
- JG-12 Pay Scale: $43,617 (Clerical Assistant)
- JG-14 Pay Scale: $48,943 (Court Revenue Assistant, Law Library Clerk)
- JG-16 Pay Scale: $54,768 (NYS Court Officer - Trainee; Court Assistant, Law Library Assistant)
- JG-18 Pay Scale: $61,249 (Spanish Court Interpreter)
- JG-20 Pay Scale $68,052 (Law Librarian)
- JG-24 Pay Scale: $84,216 (Court Reporter, Senior Law Librarian)
- JG-27 Pay Scale: $99,093 (Senior Court Reporter)
Location pay is $4,635 for NYC, Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland and Westchester counties. Location pay is $2,318 for Orange, Dutchess and Putnam counties.
2023 Per Diem Court Interpreter daily rates:
- $220 half day (up to 4 hours)
- $385 full day
1. How do I receive exam results?
Applicants are emailed Results Notices generally seven to nine months after the exam date. Please add UnifiedCourtSystemExam@nycourts.gov to your address book to ensure receipt of all email correspondence regarding exams and results.
2. When will I receive exam results?
Depending on the exam, at a minimum, it takes approximately seven to nine months after the written competitive exam to get your test results and rank number. Once the eligible list is established, exam results with test score and rank number will be sent to all test-takers via email.
3. How long does it take to get hired?
Time frame to hire from the eligible lists varies based on location, the number of positions approved to fill and title requirements (e.g., additional title-specific screening). Eligible candidates will be interviewed as part of the selection process.
Interview selection processes follows Section 61 of the Civil Service Law ‘One-in-Three Rule’ allowing a panel of court managers to appoint one of the top three scoring candidates from the Eligible List (exception: Court Officer-Trainee is a multi-phase selection process).
4. What are the steps in the competitive hiring process?
Step 1: Candidates who pass a competitive exam and meet the minimum qualifications of the position are placed on an eligible list based on their final test performance score in rank order. Final test performance scores are adjusted by applicable veterans and/or seniority credits (promotional exams only).
Step 2: Eligible candidates are contacted for an interview (or further processing for the Court Officer-Trainee title) in rank order when their preferred work locations become available.
Step 3: Interview selection process for competitive examinations follows Rules of the Chief Judge Part 25 allowing a panel of court managers to appoint one of the top three scoring candidates of those willing to accept the appointment to a position in a specific work location from the Eligible List.
5. What is a rank score?
After a competitive exam is administered, the exam results are analyzed and a passing score is established. Test-takers who pass a competitive exam and meet the minimum qualifications for the position are placed on an eligible list based on final test performance score (final test scores are adjusted by applicable veterans and/or seniority credits) in rank order. Test-takers with identical exam scores are assigned unique rank numbers but are considered equivalent for canvassing and selection purposes.
6. What is an eligibility list?
Test-takers who pass a competitive exam and meet the minimum qualifications for the position are placed on an eligible list based on the final test performance score (final test scores are adjusted by applicable veterans and/or seniority credits) in rank order.
An eligible list is used to hire candidates based on court staffing needs and candidates' rank order and location preferences. To fill vacancies, the eligible list is canvassed to determine candidates' interest in working for specific courts or locations. Hiring is conducted from the canvassed list in rank order.
7. How long are eligible lists used for hiring?
Eligible lists are generally active for four years and may be extended for one additional year. Consistent with civil service rules, passing candidates will be canvassed in rank order when there is a vacancy to be filled.
8. What is location preference?
Applicants select a location preference electronically to identify locations where they would be willing to work.
Candidates are contacted in rank order when positions in their preferred locations become available. Candidates will be sent an Availability Inquiry form when reachable on the eligible list.
The court system does not pay relocation costs.
9. How do I change my location preference?
Once an eligible list is established, Appointments and Systems Management Office is responsible for the list. Candidates may direct inquiries regarding rank number, score, or add or change their location preferences or provide an updated email address, phone number or other contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org
10. My name, address or email has changed: How do I updated personal information after applying or taking an exam?
Once an eligible list is established, Appointments and Systems Management is responsible for the list. Candidates may direct inquiries regarding rank number, score, or add or change their location preferences or provide an updated email address, phone number or other contact information to email@example.com
Exam Administration Office Contact Information
Questions regarding the exam schedule and application process should be directed to: ExamUnit@nycourts.gov