We had the proficiency exam today.  I haven’t had any posts in a while, mainly because we haven’t been having lectures.  The move to the TC is soon, however (the week of the 7th), and I should have more to report then.


15 thoughts on ““Proficiency””

  1. Almost time to move to the TC and unlearn everything you were taught in the Academy and learn how your Art Unit actually does things.

  2. how did u do on the exam? Did you and your classmates have any strategy ideas for taking the exam??? When will u get the results???

  3. 3 year examiner: You may be right. We’ll have to see how it goes.

    Don: No results yet.

    PTA Dropout: I don’t know how many people have dropped out of the class as a whole; I won’t speak to my lab in particular, since that unnecessarily narrows down which lab I’m in. Sorry I can’t be more specific.

  4. Hi, I have a pay question??? At your 6-month mark did you take the pay raise?????

    And how does it work??? I am looking at the pay scale, how many steps do you mvoe with the new pay raise????

  5. Some people took the pay raise, some didn’t. I have heard that some supervisors put the paperwork in without making sure that the employee actually wanted the raise. If you want to make sure you don’t have to take it, make sure to come in a little under the numbers required. But you will eventually have to move up.

    The general formula is up a pay grade, down three steps. That isn’t completely accurate, but works most of the time.

  6. We were told we could use anything except other people. We were allowed use our class notes, the online or paper MPEP, and the MPEP notes we were given for the lectures. Really, your best resource is the searchable MPEP.

  7. At the lower GS levels, you don’t get within grade increases. They promote you up a grade. When your grade goes up, so does your production requirement. So the benefit of not taking the increase is that you don’t have the increased stress of additional production. If you want more money, it is easy to make it doing overtime, instead.

    However, “they” (your SPE, management, etc) really want you to go up in grade and to become more valuable to them. So you can get away with not taking your promotions exactly on time, but if you try to stay at your current grade for two years, your SPE might decide that you’re not a good value for retainment.

  8. The only legitimate reason (and I even question the wisdom of this) for not taking the promotion is to make calculations work in your favor for bonuses. If, like me, your promotion date is at the end of the fiscal year (end of september/beginning of october) then you don’t even need to think about it, take the promotion. If, however, your promotion date is in the middle of the fiscal year, taking the promotion can negatively affect your bonus because the bonus is calculated off of your CURRENT pay grade, even if you were on a lower pay grade for the majority of the bonus period.

    Even then, however, I personally would take the promotion. Why? Because it puts you closer to GS-14 and that primary stamp. That should be your #1 concern at all times. Staying a junior examiner, with less money and more hoops to jump through to get counts, is just silly. In the shorter term, taking the promotion puts you closer to qualifying for a laptop for overtime (GS-11), teleworking one day a biweek from home (GS-12), and hoteling (GS-13). All of these things are more important and profitable to you than a higher bonus.

  9. Are you sure that that bonuses aren’t calculated based on your position factor during each hour of examining?

    Also, I’m pretty sure that to get the laptop for overtime you need to be a GS-9 with one year at the PTO, and to telework or hotel you only need to have passed the certification exam, which you are eligible to do at GS-11.

    And I think a lot of people shouldn’t take promotions, especially if they haven’t had many amendments and aren’t sure whether or not they will be able to make production. Yes, it is important to get the stamp, but it is essential to keep the job…

  10. “Officially” hotelling is open to anyone who has passed the exam, but in reality they are only letting 13’s in. The Directors have something against 11’s and 12’s hotelling.

  11. Everyone talks about the promotion from a GS-7 to a GS-9 but I am currently a GS-5 on track for promotion for a GS-7 at the end of 6 months. Do you know any other GS-5s who were promoted and if so, were those people subjected to the “1 step up, 3 steps down” rule? I know several of my PTA classmates at GS 7 step 10 with the same experience I have but a higher college GPA. It would be nice if GS-5 Step 10s could be promoted to GS-7 step 10 instead of GS-7 step 7, which after promotion is still below most of our GS-7 Step 10 PTA cohorts.

  12. The rule isn’t actually 1 grade up, 3 steps down, but that is pretty close. Yes, the same rule applies for GS-5. It is unfortunate, and I think that people who start out at 5 probably should be eligible for an additional accelerated promotion, but they don’t let me make the rules.

    On the plus side, your biggest raises happen when you hit step 1 in your grade, and are then promoted to the next grade. That point will happen faster for you, so you will have parity with your peers at GS-12.

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