Succeeding at the Federal Public Service Writing Skills Tests (P228)

GSPAT-120, WSPT-351, and WST-305

This course will be scheduled in early 2021. We will add dates to the website as soon as they become available. For more information please contact Sophie at

Regardless of which English test you plan to take for the federal public service — the basic GSPAT-120, the more advanced WSPT-351, or the one specific to CRA employees (WST-305) — you need to know the essential rules of spelling, grammar, punctuation, vocabulary, clear writing, and sentence construction and sequencing.

The English language can be daunting. This one-day workshop introduces you the structure and rules you need to know. It provides many opportunities to practise the skills you’ll discover and points to extra resources for learning beyond the classroom.

This lively, hands-on workshop equips you with the knowledge and skills you’ll need to prepare for the tests. You will have the opportunity to work on a mock-up of the various exam questions and discuss your results. And you’ll receive a manual designed specifically for Canadian English and Government of Canada styles that is yours to keep as a reference.

This is a one-day workshop in Ottawa.

Space is still available for all course dates listed, unless otherwise noted.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this seminar, you will be able to:

  • Recognize the most commonly misspelled words in Canadian English
  • Recognize homonyms, homographs, and homophones
  • Understand when to capitalize words according to Government of Canada style
  • Choose the appropriate word for the context
  • Use Canadian punctuation correctly
  • Make subjects agree with verbs
  • Understand sentence construction
  • Identify the logical relationship between sentences and sequence them effectively
  • Take an English skills test with confidence

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Workshop Topics


  • Learn spelling principles and rules
  • Learn what sets Canadian spelling apart from British or American spelling
  • Discover the most commonly misspelled words in English
  • Practise identifying misspelled words with sample questions


  • Learn the structure of English sentences: subject, verb, object
  • Ensure that subjects and verbs agree, even with intervening words
  • Identify the eight parts of speech
  • Use pronouns properly regardless of their place in the sentence
  • Identify a verbal: a word formed from a verb that acts as a noun, adjective, or adverb
  • Practise identifying grammatical mistakes with sample questions

Punctuation and Capitalization

  • Learn the rules for punctuating correctly in Canadian style
  • Learn more about when and when not to use commas
  • Discover simple rules for using colons and semicolons
  • Learn how to punctuate lists
  • Know when to use Minister and Department or minister and department
  • Practise identifying punctuation and capitalization mistakes with sample questions


  • Learn the difference between antonyms and synonyms
  • Understand and recognize commonly confused words
  • Learn more about homonyms, homographs, and homophones
  • Learn tips for identifying words you are unsure of
  • Practise vocabulary and word choice with sample questions

Concise, Clear Writing

  • Learn why it is important to write concisely today
  • Recognize the difference between active and passive voice
  • Practise identifying concise, clear writing with sample questions

Sentences Structure and Sequencing

  • Understand the importance of building arguments
  • Learn the types of logical relationships between sentences
  • Discover the role nouns and pronouns in sentence sequencing
  • Practise logical sequencing with sample questions

Test Preparation

  • Learn tips, tricks, and traps for multiple-choice tests
  • Discuss ways of increasing success in test taking
  • Learn about further resources for test preparation

Who Should Attend This Course?

Anyone who plans to take the public service GSPAT-120, WSPT-351, or WST-305 writing skills tests.

Does This Course Address Your Competency Development Needs?

This training workshop addresses:

• Achievement / Results Orientation
• Analytical Thinking
• Communication
• Computer and Digital Technology
• Document Use
• Planning / Organizing
• Public Speaking / Presenting
• Reading Skills
• Research, Analysis and Evaluation
• Working with Data and Numbers
• Writing Skills