The Government Statistical Service (GSS)

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Government Statistical Service (GSS) Aptitude Tests

Careers at The Government Statistical Service (GSS)

The Government Statistical Service is a public sector organisation focusing on helping businesses and the government make better, educated, and reasoned decisions.

The GSS does this by analysing statistical evidence and data and sharing this through a network of statisticians based in each government department.

Types Of GSS Jobs

There are a variety of GSS jobs based across many government departments. Examples of GSS jobs include:

  • Statisticians
  • Data Scientists
  • Data Engineers
  • Policy experts
  • Methodologists

Roles at the GSS are available at varying levels; some have specific qualifications and experience requirements. For example, positions at the GSS such as specialist statistician roles require applicants to have studied a relevant statistical undergraduate and higher degree such as an MSc or PhD. Previous experience working in the field of statistics or data science is also required.

How To Get Hired At The Government Statistical Service

All roles in the GSS are assessed against the GSG (Government Statistics Group) framework. In addition to this, new entrants to the civil service are also evaluated against the Civil Service Success Profiles.

To get hired at the GSS, it is essential to:

  • Understand these frameworks
  • Know which level of the framework applies to the role applied for
  • Be clear on how you demonstrate the competencies in the framework

Taking note of the specific candidate requirements also means that you apply for roles that are applicable to your academic level, skill, and previous experience.

GSS Application Process Stages

Applicants can join the GSS through three routes depending on their background

  • New entrant to the civil service
  • Existing civil servant
  • Currently on the fast stream programme

The application process for roles within the GSS can vary slightly according to the role but generally includes

  • Online application
  • Online skills tests (the number and types of online tests candidates are required to sit may vary according to the role and whether a candidate is applying via the fast stream route or directly to the GSS
  • Interview

The behaviours assessed as part of the civil service success profiles and the technical competencies detailed on the GSG framework are also described in the job description. These are generally relevant to candidates who reach the interview stage.


The first stage of the application process for the GSS is an online application. Some roles may also require you to submit a CV and personal statement in addition to completing the online application.

The application form requests basic application information, including a candidate's entire academic history. It is vital to ensure that this section of the application form is completed accurately and details all qualifications and grades attained.

Competency-based questions may also be asked as part of the application process as aligned to the civil service success criteria and GSG framework competencies.

Skills Tests

As part of the GSS application process, candidates are required to sit skills tests.

The online tests are timed tests designed to assess a candidate's understanding of statistical and numerical concepts and theories and whether they can apply these in practice.

The format of these tests varies according to whether a candidate is applying via fast stream or as a direct recruit to the GSS.

The timed test takes 45 minutes to complete. At the start of the test, there are instructions on how to complete the test and practice questions and answers. It is recommended that candidates thoroughly read the instructions to be clear on what to do and how to complete the test.

The online tests are similar to a numerical reasoning testthat assesses a candidate's ability to understand numerical information and solve problems based on this.

Candidates applying to the GSS via the fast stream route must complete a verbal reasoning test. This test assesses a candidate's ability to read and understand information passages and then answer questions based on what they have read. These tests can come before the application stage as part of the GSS fast stream process.

For candidates applying directly to the GSS, additional skills tests are also included as part of an assessment day, should candidates be successful at the previous selection stage.

These skills tests last around 90 minutes and again focus on a candidate's understanding and practical application of statistical and numerical information.

The exact content of the test can vary; for example, for officer level statistician roles, tests can include:

  • Sampling surveys
  • Multiple choice questions testing numerical and statistical knowledge
  • Dissemination exercises require candidates to write short articles based on statistical information provided, with the audience being those who don't have a statistical background.

Calculators may be used in some instances when completing online tests. Full details of the types of tests and equipment needed will be provided before the test itself.


Interviews are included as part of the process for roles at the GSS. Interviews assess candidate's competencies and behaviours against the civil service success criteria and the GSG framework.

Full details of which competencies and behaviours will be assessed and at what level are always provided before the interview. However, it is worth noting that this information can also be found as part of the vacancy information for each role.

Tips To Get Hired

The GSS recruitment and selection process is comprehensive. As a candidate, there are many things that you can do to ensure that you perform at your best through each stage of the selection process.

Practice tests

Know what tests form part of the selection process of the role you have applied for. Ensure that you practice these tests, so you become familiar with the way the questions are worded. Understanding the format and the style of questioning means that when you sit the test itself, you are aware of how the questions are worded. You can then focus on calculating the correct answer.

Use Exam Conditions

Tests as part of the GSS are timed tests. This can bring extra pressure when sitting the test as you are focused on answering the questions and on time running out. When practicing tests, make sure you do so under exam conditions. This means simulating the time pressure you will be under in the test—using only the equipment permitted during the test and completing practice tests in the same environment as you would the actual test.

Attention To Detail

The GSS application is a comprehensive application that requires candidates to provide full details of their academic history, including all grades and levels of qualifications attained. Ensure that you pay attention to this section and complete the section accurately. Take the time to source the correct information on grades, credits, and results while knowing the application deadline.

Build Confidence

Build confidence through practicing tests. Practice taking statistical information and writing about this for different audiences to increase your confidence in the skills tests.

Ensure you have reviewed the civil service success profiles and GSG frameworks and have prepared some examples of demonstrating the competencies and behaviours required for the role.

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]

Why Do You Want To Join The Government Statistical Service?

The government statistical service is competitive to get into. Knowing why you want to join the GSS and the skills, behaviours, and competencies you have as relevant to the role applied will show your commitment to a career in the GSS.

What Is The Difference Between ONS And GSS?

The GSS is a network of professionals that work with and produce statistics and data. GSS professionals can be part of many government departments. The Office of National Statistics (ONS) is a separate organisation that creates and publishes these statistics.

What Does A Government Statistician Do?

A government statistician can work in any government department. Statisticians collect and analyse statistical data and information. Then take this information and translate it into workable formats to help government and businesses solve problems or inform policy.

What Is A Dissemination Test?

A dissemination test is usually included in the latter stages of the selection process for the GSS. The test assesses a candidate's ability to take statistical information and write articles or short reports for audiences who don't have a background in statistics.


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