A career in law enforcement is the right choice for anyone who feels the urge to protect and serve their community. There is a great variety of jobs in the USA in this field with the most typical one being that of the police officer.

If you want to become member of the law enforcement services you need to pass an entrance exam, which will assess your knowledge, skills and abilities to be a law enforcement officer. There isn’t one uniform law enforcement entrance exam and each state and agency utilizes their own tests. The basic idea and main components of the exam, however, are similar. Below, you will find a guide about what to expect on the exam, some sample test questions and how to prepare for the tests so that you not only pass it but be one of the top competitors.

Law enforcement entrance exam components

The main components of any law enforcement entrance exam include physical agility test with medical check, written exam with several components, psychological check, background review and oral interview. You are not expected to be familiar with specific law enforcement techniques or terminology but you should be able to show basic skills in grammar, math, logical reasoning. Quite often the written exam is one of the big hurdles a candidate has to overcome in order to stand a chance in the hiring process. The minimum score required is 70-80% and anything above is a plus. The sections included in the written exam are basically the following:

  • Memory and facial recognition
  • Spatial orientation
  • Situational scenarios and reasoning
  • Reading comprehension
  • Grammar, vocabulary and spelling
  • Basic math and problem solving

We already mentioned that the entrance exam depends on whether you pursue a career as a state or federal law enforcement officer and on the specific position you are applying for, so the number of sections, their length and points they are assigned may vary. Since the position of a police officer is the most common type of career pursued in law enforcement, we have compiled a list of the entrance exam elements and what type of questions to expect when applying for this job.

The selection process tests three main groups: your knowledge and skills, your physical condition and your psychological status and background.

1st Group of police entrance exam tests: Knowledge and Skills

This group can include a written test, writing and essay, and an oral interview. These parts check your basic reading, writing and speaking skills. The aim is to prove that you have the necessary knowledge, skills and conduct to become a police officer, that the Academy can further develop in you. So, what to expect in each exam type:

  • Written exam – this exam includes multiple-choice, true-false, and open-ended questions. It covers a variety of subjects, some of which are related to the job of a police officer. It checks the ability to understand and interpret what you read, to give reason, to write grammatically correct sentences with properly spelled words, the ability to write and order reports, to perform basic math like subtraction, division, understand percentages and fractions, etc. The Academy cannot teach you basic grammar and math if you failed to learn them at school. Therefore, the requirement is to have at least high school education. The exam may be either computer-based or in pen-and-paper format, so you need to be prepared for both.
  • Essay exam – here the applicants are required to write several paragraphs in the form of an assay on a specific topic. It checks the ability to express yourself clearly, give reason and support your ideas. You need to show that you would be able to cope with the paperwork and report writing, which is an essential part of each law enforcement officer. The neat documentation and proper reports of each accident a police officer has encountered are very important, especially if a case is taken to court and the officer needs to testify.
  • Oral exam or interview – this is an interview with your potential employer. It is conducted by the hiring panel, which may be represented only by the police chief or also include department heads, local government representatives and even local businessmen. It checks your ability to communicate, to remain calm and give precise and honest answers to questions.

2nd Group of police entrance exam tests: Physical agility and medical status

This group checks if your physical readiness and medical status allow you to become a police officer. It consists of:

  • Physical ability test – this is an test that assesses the physical fitness of each candidate. It includes endurance, strength and flexibility. The aim is for the candidates to prove that they are physically capable to go through the tough police training academy. Make sure that you are really in shape and that training is a routine for you, before you decide to apply for a job in law enforcement.
  • Medical evaluation – this is a complete physical check performed by a certified physician. The aim is to determine that there are no medical conditions that can prevent the candidate to become a police officer.

3rd Group of police entrance exam tests: Psychological evaluation and background

This group consists of three parts that check the candidate’s preferences, attitude, interests, education and previous work experience. The aim is to determine whether the applicant is suited for the job of a police officer and to choose the best.

  • Psychological evaluation – this can be in the form of a personality questionnaire and/or interview with a psychologist or psychiatrist. The questionnaire consists of statements that assess the candidate’s interests, attitudes, preferences, where you have to choose whether you agree or not to a given statement. There is a five-point agreement scale ranging from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree”. The aim of the test is to ensure that you can handle the stress of police work.
  • Personal history statement – this is a list of questions related to the candidate’s past. You need to respond in details about your past experience, education and work. This helps the hiring panel choose the most appropriate candidate.
  • Background investigation – this is conducted by an investigator based on the information provided by the candidate in the Personal history statement. The aim is to check that you have a clear background and that you have provided correct information.

Now, that you are aware of the components of the law enforcement entrance exam, you know what to expect. One of the reasons why many people fail to pass the exam and become a police officer is simply because they do not prepare for the tests. Don’t become one of these candidates. There are many sources of information and sample tests on the web that can help you. One of the best things to do is to review some police exam study guides. Below you can find a few for your convenience.

Police study guides

There are several ways to get hold of the most helpful police study guides available: you can request one from the local police department, practice online, watch videos or buy a hard copy.

1. Rely on local guidance

You can request a police exam study guide from the local police department. Contact them and check if such guides are available and how and when you can get them. Keep in mind that the study guide does not contain the actual questions for this year’s exam but sample questions that aim to prepare you. It may also be possible to get such study guide from the state’s department of civil service or from the company responsible for writing the questions for the test.

2. Ace the law enforcement test preparation with online tests

Most law enforcement agencies require candidates to pass a qualification exam and preparing with online tests is one of the easiest possibilities. JobTestPrep offers custom made PrepPacks™ to help you prepare for your upcoming exam. Start practicing for your Law enforcement test here! These guides will help you pass the exam and outperform your competition.

Practice now >>

3. Be the best with online training videos

Here you can find several links to online training videos that can help you perform better at the different parts of the police officer entrance exam:

  • “The Ultimate Guide to getting a Law Enforcement Job” is a series of Online Training Videos where you learn how to become a top competitor when applying for law enforcement job openings. If you are applying for Law Enforcement Jobs, or will be in the next 6 months, The Ultimate Guide is for you.
    Click Here to get “The Ultimate Guide to getting a Law Enforcement Job”
  • Police entrance exam is a video based training by Chief Russ –Learn exactly how to pass your law enforcement entrance exam. – Click Here
  • Police oral board contains 150+ videos by Chief Russ that will teach you EXACTLY how to interview, answer virtually ANY question, and get the job. – Click Here

4. Get your own hard copy of the Police Officer Requirements Directory

Each state has their own set of requirements to be a police officer. These requirements may include education, age, citizenship, and character. Each state has their own list of items that will automatically disqualify someone from becoming a police officer including criminal history, drug use, moral character and tattoos.

If you are planning to go into law enforcement, it is vital you know the requirements to be a police officer in your state. We just finished putting together the “Police Officer Requirements Directory” which lists the requirements and the disqualifiers for every state.

Click Here to order the Police Officer Requirements Directory, which is now available for just $19.95

Police written exam questions and answers

We have already mentioned that each state and police department prepares their own tests. Therefore, when you start studying for the police written exam you need to focus on the specific state requirements. It will do no harm if you do some tests from other states or even for other law enforcement positions. In order to get a brief idea of the type of questions you have to answer, here are a few sample questions with answers.

An officer captures a bank robber. To show appreciation, the manager gives the officer $100.00. The officer accepts. The action is:

  1. Proper, because the money was given for performance of a brave act.
  2. Improper, because the capture of the bank robber was not a meritorious act deserving of a reward.
  3. Proper, because the money was given as a substitute for Departmental recognition.
  4. Improper, because a police officer is not allowed to accept a reward from a bank for performance of his duties.

Correct answer: d

In the following question, choose the sentence that is most clearly written.

  1. Jamal was extremely upset when the witness recanted her testimony at court, he went back to the prosecutor’s office and asked that she be charged with perjury.
  2. Jamal went back to the prosecutor’s office and asked that she be charged with perjury, he was extremely upset when the witness recanted her testimony at court.
  3. Jamal was extremely upset when the witness recanted her testimony at court, so he went back to the prosecutor’s office and asked that she be charged with perjury.
  4. Jamal was extremely upset when the witness recanted her testimony at court, although he went back to the prosecutor’s office and asked that she be charged with perjury.

Correct answer: c

Four witnesses give different accounts of the license plate of a vehicle involved in a hit-and-run accident. Which one of the following is most likely to be correct? (For a test at NYPD)

  1. 237AJX
  2. 231AJX
  3. 281AJX
  4. 231AIX

Correct answer: b

Choose a synonym for the underlined word below.
Officers should be vigilant because suspects sometimes attempt to intimidate witnesses.

  1. Suspicious
  2. Angry
  3. Cautious
  4. Oblivious

Correct answer: c

P.O. Ryan has been told to distribute 36 radios equally among 6 different squads. How many radios are to be assigned to each squad?

  1. 4
  2. 5
  3. 36
  4. 6

Correct answer: d

Check the NYPD test

Even though this Test Preparation Kit of the New York Police Department is a bit old you can use it as a training test. Unlike the other online-based options that you have to prepare you can try another approach here. Print out the test and try answering it following exactly the requirements given. You can find the full kit with answers here.

Make sure to use your time properly and prepare efficiently not only for the written part of the test but also for the other components of the law enforcement entrance exam. We wish you good luck and hope that you can find the right law enforcement job for you.

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