Written Exercises Overview

  • Employers use Written Exercises in Assessment Centres for roles where you are required to undertake much writing
  • In Written Exercises, the neatness of your writing is not being assessed, although it should be needless to say, if you’re handwriting is not clear, the assessor will not be able to score you fairly
  • Written Exercises are timed and you will most likely be required to read a brief, following which you will prepare a written document which could be a letter, or an article, etc.
  • Competencies typically assessed in written exercises include Communicating (written), Gathering relevant information, Decision Making and, Planning and Organising. Be sure to read the useful tips below for details.

What are Written Exercises

Written Exercises in an Assessment Centre use the same principles as other assessments and look at competencies that may be deemed relevant for the job that an individual is applying for. The use of these exercises for assessment is justified in jobs where the employee is likely to write documents or reports.

In an assessment context, the candidate will be seated in a room with other candidates. This number is unlikely to exceed 6 individuals. An administrator will present the task and each candidate will be given a ‘Candidate Brief’ which will outline the task at hand along with timescales.

The task will be timed and completed under ‘exam’ conditions so no talking or discussion will be allowed. The difficulty of the task could vary, however in the context of graduate and professional jobs the task is likely to prove somewhat challenging.

Individuals are provided with numerous pieces of information that the candidate is required to read and dissect, identifying key points that are relevant to the task which may help them make a reasoned argument in what they write subsequently. Within the timeframe, candidates will have to write a report or a similar document on a particular topic, using information that was presented in the ‘Candidate Brief’.

For example, the written document may provide a fully reasoned argument about a particular course of action given a number of facts that you identified in the ‘Candidate Brief’. You may also find it important to make alternative recommendations if appropriate (consider what the actual task is).

The written exercise may look at competencies which include ‘Communicating’ (written), ‘Gathering Information’ (for reasoning), ‘Decision Making’ (for a particular course of action), and ‘Planning and Organising’ (laying out your argument in a report).

Written Exercises Preparation and Practice – Top Tips

Whilst assessors are trained to remain objective and only penalise somebody if there response is actually incorrect, assessors are still human and unconsciously biased to some extent. Therefore writing clearly is vital as there is no guarantee of an assessors objectivity if they having to spend a significant part of their time trying to dissect what you have written. The other downside is that an assessor may not be able to read your writing, and therefore give up, not being able to allocate a rating to the competencies that the written exercise assesses.
Make sure you get an overall understanding of what the task requires you to do and gather all the facts that are available in the ‘Candidate Brief’ to help with any arguments or recommendations that you present in your report.
Keep a check on the time and spread your time appropriately across the tasks. There is nothing worse than running out of time and having no or little time to write the report.

Did you know our Assessment Exercises are written by ex-SHL consultants. Our Assessment Centre practice bundle includes Case Study, In-tray, Presentation, Group Discussion and Role Play Exercises along with Marking Guides to tell you what Assessors will look at when rating you. Practise Assessment Centre Exercises prepared by experts.