Every year I receive a swarm of excited emails from YPP hopefuls asking for tips on how to best prepare for the United Nations YPP Exam.
This post aims at gathering all the information I've shared throughout the years in one place, to make it accessible to all.
Let's start off with some tips, shall we?
Make your application stand out.
It all starts with your application! You and it both will be competing against thousands of qualified candidates from the world over, so make it count.
Carefully follow the Applicant Guide that shows you how to properly use the United Nations HR gateway, Inspira.
And of course, follow the instructions kindly compiled by the examinations team to a tee.
Allow yourself the right time to prepare.
Only you know how to best prepare for a big exam and how much time you will need to dedicate to this endeavor.
For example, a candidate who is currently working for the UN might be better acquainted with the UN system and how it works; while someone who is preparing outside the UN system might to well to carefully review books such as "Basic Facts About the United Nations" and the "United Nations Competencies Booklet", regardless of the job family they've applied to take the exam in.
In brief, some candidates need more time than others to review or acquire information; so plan accordingly and even think about taking a day or two of leave from work prior to your exam date.
Understand the exam format.
In today's world full of multiple choice examinations and scantron sheets, many candidates can feel unprepared for a mostly written examination such as the YPP exam.
Although there is an initial multiple choice component, most of your examination time will be spent typing in detailed essays and short but concise answers on a computer. For this, you will need a broad knowledge base for your field of examination and very likely, to know how the UN operates within that specific field as well as which funds and programmes are actively involved.
Stay on top of the official YPP website's updates.
The examinations team are great about providing reading lists and webinars in anticipation to the exam.
Check the website regularly to make sure you are among the first to become aware of any new material available that will help you prepare for the exam.
Be wary of scams.
There are several companies such as YPUN misleading candidates with official-looking branding, offering for-profit services. They also start or run already existing Facebook groups to congregate candidates, and under the cover of "sharing information", they attempt to sell their services or source information to sell from the group members themselves.
What's more, the UN has issued a warning on the official YPP website regarding these for-profit companies which reads:
"The United Nations has been made aware that for-profit companies have been selling services related to the United Nations Young Professionals Programme (YPP), including application review and preparation for the YPP examinations and interviews. Some companies claim to provide access to UN inside information. Please be aware that the United Nations is not collaborating or partnering with any companies offering YPP-related services of any kind. Any services or programmes sold by such companies are not supported or endorsed by the United Nations."
In other words, all you need to prepare for the exam is freely available. Paying for access to services of any kind is unnecessary and actually could work against you in your candidacy.
Look out for groups of YPP hopefuls on social media and WhatsApp.
Many exam candidates use social media to find each other prior to the exam, to share both their excitement and preparation tips, as well as to set up study groups.
You can sometimes find group chats or Facebook groups at the global level, but also some based on country of origin or language group. Browse and see what you can find!
Also consider asking your MoFA for advice on locating other hopefuls from your country of origin, since certain member states have been known to actively support their candidates taking the exam.
Use all the UN's resources.
Know and understand the Charter of the United Nations, use the main UN Library's service "Ask Dag" to request detailed exam preparation resources, and access the main library website, the Digital Library the UN iLibrary and other UN libraries worldwide to obtain the materials you need to prepare, free of charge.
Learn about the history and significance of the UN by accessing archival footage or dig through the Official Documents System (ODS) to understand the essence of the work being carried out by the UN, particularly within the field of your examination.
Stay on top of UN news in all the languages you are fluent in, watch what's going on live at the UN and follow the UN on social media.
Finally, learn how to speak UNese by reviewing the UN Correspondence Manual and the UN Editorial Manual; sounding like a natural UN staff member as you write your exam will make your answers stand out even more.
All in all, I hope this helps other candidates out there. If you have any other questions you'd like answered about my experience with the YPP exam, please drop them in the comments below!