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Yes, OPM approval is required when using tests to determine basic eligibility or as the sole basis for ranking applicants for inservice placement (reference Part E.9[d] of the Operating Manual on Qualification Standards for General Schedule Positions (http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/classification-qualifications/general-schedule-qualification-policies/#url=app). For occupations not requiring an OPM test, agencies may develop and implement their own tests for inservice placement without OPM approval as long as such tests are used as part of a comprehensive set of assessment procedures.
However, for delegated competitive examining, OPM approval is not required as long as the assessment procedure is consistent with the technical standards of the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures (http://uniformguidelines.com/). Specifically, the Uniform Guidelines require that the method of test use (e.g., as a screening device with a passing score, for grouping or ranking, combined with other assessments) be supported by findings of a job analysis and test validation study. For example, if the test is to be used for ranking, the agency should have evidence showing that higher scores on the test are related to better job performance.
When a test is used as a "screen out," it becomes part of the minimum requirements for the position and is subject to the same job-relatedness requirements as any other selective placement factor (see the guidance in the Delegated Examining Operations Handbook on the use of selective factors in Chapter 5, Section B, http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/hiring-authorities/competitive-hiring/deo_handbook.pdf).
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