Examinations and Selection Boards


    The remarks which Sir Percival Waterfield, the First Commissioner of the Civil Service, made at Oxford in March regarding the low standard in personality and intelligence shown by applicants for entry into the Civil Service have aroused a considerable discussion and formed the subject of a debate on the Civil Service initiated by Viscount Mersey in the House of Lords on May 26. Sir Percival‘s statement that, of three thousand graduates interviewed, 40 per cent of those who wanted to go into the administrative service and 50 per cent of applicants for the foreign service scored marks for personality and intelligence which represented complete failure, is one of which industry and the universities as well as the Civil Service are bound to take careful note. His further statement that about five per cent of applicants for the administrative service and eight per cent for the foreign service were below even the lowest category may well be discounted, as was suggested in the debate, by war-time conditions and the absence of the screening which was practised by the universities with candidates for the written examinations ; but the feature that, among those who failed, 60 per cent had university or college scholarships and 20 per cent were those who had State scholarships, should cause at least as much disquiet to the educationist and industrialist as to the Civil Service Commissioners.

    Rights and permissions

    Reprints and Permissions

    About this article

    Cite this article

    Examinations and Selection Boards. Nature 162, 123–125 (1948) doi:10.1038/162123a0

    Download citation


    By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.