A career in law enforcement is the right choice for anyone who has the desire to protect and serve their community. There is a great variety of jobs in the United States in this field with the most typical one being that of the police officer.
If you want to become a member of a law enforcement agency you need to pass an selection process which will assess your knowledge, skills and abilities to be a law enforcement officer. There isn’t one standard law enforcement entrance exam, each state and agency may utilize their own tests. The basic idea and main components of the process, however, are similar. Below, you will find a guide about what to expect on the exams, some sample test questions, and how to prepare for the tests so that you not only pass but will be one of the top competitors.
Law enforcement entrance exam components
The main components of any law enforcement selection process include a written exam with several components, physical agility test, an oral interview, a psychological evaluation, medical exam, and a background investigation . For the written exam 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, and logical reasoning. Often the written exam is one of the big hurdles a candidate has to overcome in order to have a reasonable chance at being hired. The minimum score required is 70-80% and anything above is a plus. The sections included in the written exam often include 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 local,state or federal law enforcement officer, and will also depend upon the specific position you are applying for. 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 types of questions to expect when applying for this job.
The selection process tests three main groups: your knowledge and skills, your physical condition, 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 evaluates your ability to understand and interpret what you read, to give reasons, to write grammatically correct sentences with properly spelled words, your writing ability, if you are able to perform basic math like subtraction, division, percentages and fractions, etc. The academy will not teach you basic grammar and math, it is expected that you have this basic foundation that you learned in school. Therefore, the requirements include having 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 essay on a specific topic. You are being evaluated on your ability to express ideas and information clearly, give reasons, and support your ideas. You need to show that you would be able to handle the paperwork and report writing essential to being a successful law enforcement officer. Proper documentation and reports are vital, 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 hiring agency. It is conducted by a panel which includes officers or supervisors from the hiring agency, representatives from other departments, and may also include members of the public. The panel evaluates your ability to communicate clearly, express ideas, your reasoning skills, and how you present yourself.
2nd Group of police entrance exam tests: Physical agility and medical status
This group checks if you are physically able to perform the tasks required of 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 of performing the tasks required of a police officers. This test is often pass/fail. Make sure that you are prepare for this test with a training routine prior to applying for a job in law enforcement.
- Medical evaluation – this is a complete physical exam performed by a certified physician. The aim is to determine if there any any medical conditions which would prevent the candidate from the tasks required of a police officer.
3rd Group of police entrance exam tests: Psychological evaluation and background
This group consists of a psychological evaluation and background investigation. The aim is to determine whether the applicant is suited for the job of a police officer.
- 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. Often there is a five-point agreement scale ranging from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree”. The aim of the test is to determine if you can properly handle the tasks required of a police officer. Sgt Godoy created a course Mastering the Psychological.
- Background investigation – this is conducted by an investigator based on the information provided by the candidate in the personal history statement. The purpose of this investigation is to verify that the information provided by the application is true an correct, and also to determine if there is anything about the applicant that would cause them to be removed from consideration for the position of police officer. This information will include: criminal history, work history, drug use, and credit history. Some information may automatically disqualify a candidate from consideration. Other information will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
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. We created a Free Mini-Course to help you Pass the Written Exam.
1. Rely on local guidance
You can ask the agency you are applying for if they have a police exam study guide available, and if, not is there a study guide they recommend. 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 company which prepares the questions for the written exam.
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. On of the most popular and highest rated Police Exam Prep Courses is PoliceExam911 from Sergeant Godoy.
Police written exam questions and answers
Each state and individual law enforcement agency may have their own written exam. Therefore, when you start studying for the police written exam it is beneficial to focus on the exam that you will be taking. Using whatever study guides are available, even if they are not specific for the individual test you will be taking, are still extremely helpful. 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:
- Proper, because the money was given for performance of a brave act.
- Improper, because the capture of the bank robber was not a meritorious act deserving of a reward.
- Proper, because the money was given as a substitute for Departmental recognition.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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)
Correct answer: b
Choose a synonym for the underlined word below.
Officers should be vigilant because suspects sometimes attempt to intimidate witnesses.
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?
Correct answer: d
Check the NYPD test
Here is a Test Preparation Kit for the New York Police Department which you can use as a training test. 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 selection process. We wish you good luck and hope that you can find the right law enforcement job for you.