1102 - Limited Three-Rank Model



Audience List

  • Administrative Chiefs
  • Personnel Officers


This policy:

  • Provides information on exams that use a limited three-rank model
  • Establishes exam criteria
  • Identifies record retention requirements


In accordance with State Personnel Board regulations, California Code of Regulations, title 2, section 194 (Board Rule 194), departments may use a limited three-rank model for exams. This type of exam allows candidates who meet the minimum qualifications and rank in one of the top three ranks to be eligible for appointment. Successful candidates are awarded a score of 95, 85, or 75 based on their performance. This model provides an additional ranking method for state agencies administering civil service examinations.


Where an examination that uses the limited three-rank model is given, the criteria set forth in Board Rule 194 must be followed and state agencies shall ensure the related decisions are appropriately documented.

Delegated Authority

As with all examination scoring and ranking models, state agencies should consider a variety of options prior to selecting the model that will best fit the agency’s hiring needs and goals. A limited three-rank model is appropriate for use under any of the following circumstances without CalHR prior approval:

  1. The classification requires professional licensure, certification, registration, or a specialized advanced degree (e.g., attorneys, doctors, nurses) for all minimum qualification patterns.
  2. The classification being tested for receives a small number of applicants.
  3. There is a documented history of difficulty recruiting a sufficient number of qualified applicants for the classification being tested for (e.g., remote or high cost of living areas or inability to reach qualified candidates in lower ranks).
  4. The classification being tested for is general and used in substantially different program areas within the department or state, requiring a broad candidate pool to fill vacancies in different specialties. 

For any situations that do not fall under one of these four criteria, the hiring authority must obtain prior approval from CalHR by submitting the CalHR Three Rank Exam Justification Form.

Documentation Retention:

State agencies are required to maintain examination records, which includes records related to an examination that uses a limited three-rank method, for a minimum of five years from the date of creation of the record, as specified in Board Rule 26. Appointment records are also required to be retained pursuant to Board Rule 26.

CalHR has developed CalHR 264 which agencies may use to document their decision to use a limited three-rank exam, or agencies may use their own documentation process.  These records are subject to review by the CalHR Selection Division and the State Personnel Board’s Compliance Unit. 


Not Applicable.





  • CalHR 264: Three Rank Exam Determination Form

Contact Person

Christina Lopez
Policy Advisor, Selection Division
Phone: 916-323-0860
Email: SDPolicy@calhr.ca.gov

Authorized By

Adria Jenkins-Jones
Chief, Selection Division


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Table of Contents

1000 - Equal Employment Opportunity

1100 - Selection

1200 - Appointments

1300 - Exempt Employees

1400 - Benefits and Insurance

1500 - Work Schedules

1600 - Third Party Pre-Tax Parking

1700 - Compensation

1800 - Savings Plus

1900 - Bona Fide Associations

2000 - Collective Bargaining

2100 - Leave

2200 - Travel/Relocation

2300 - State Owned Housing

2400 - Employee Recognition

2500 - Discipline

2600 - Layoffs

2700 - Retirement

2800 - Training

2900 - Workforce Planning

3000 - Examination and Hiring

3100 - Drug-Free Workplace