Joseph Libowsky,
former Special Agent

Georgia is the 24th largest state and the 8th most populous state in the US. It is often referred to as the Empire State of the South and was one of the fastest growing states in the country several years ago. The capital of Georgia, Atlanta, is named a global city and holds 55% of the entire population of the state. Hence, the Atlanta Police Department is the biggest in the state and one of the largest in the US.  

To become a police officer in the state of Georgia, you need to pass the written police exam for the agency you want to work for. Generally, the police departments in the state use a test that checks the basic writing, reading, and math skills of the applicant. But before you start browsing the job openings, it is a good idea to get familiar with the specific requirements of becoming a police officer in the state of Georgia.  

Note that there is no unified written exam used throughout the entire country and it is therefore recommended to check with each state and each individual agency which written exam they use. Then, you will be able to prepare properly for the police exam and pass it with a higher score that enhances your chances of getting hired.  

Georgia police officer requirements 

In order to become a police officer in the state of Georgia, you need to meet a minimum list of requirements as follows: 

  1. Age: Be at least 18 years of age 
  2. Education: Have a high school diploma or its recognized equivalent 
  3. Citizenship: U.S. citizenship required 
  4. Other Requirements: 
  • Not have been convicted by any state or by the federal government of any crime 
  • Be fingerprinted for the purpose of conducting a fingerprint-based search at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to determine the existence of any criminal record 
  • Possess good moral character  
  • Be free from any physical, emotional, or mental conditions which might adversely affect his or her exercise of the powers or duties of a peace officer  
  • Successfully complete a job-related academy entrance examination  

Each individual police agency in the state has the right to add to these requirements based on their specific needs. It is necessary to double check with the agency prior to applying. You should be ready to go through a comprehensive hiring process that features a comprehensive background check and a polygraph test among other checks.  

Types of Georgia police exam  

Joining the law enforcement ranks in Georgia requires the applicants to pass through a series of tests one of which is the written police exam. According to Georgia Peace Officers Standards and Training (GA POST), the applicants need to pass the ASSET or COMPASS tests. As these tests check basic reading, writing, and arithmetic skills, it is also possible to pass one of the standardized tests such as SAT, ACT, CPE, ACCUPLACER 

The main difference between the ASSET and the COMPASS test is in their format – the ASSET is a pencil-and-paper exam, while the COMPASS is a computer-based exam. 

The Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police recommends using the Morris & McDaniel Entry-Level Police Test (ELP), which is part of the company’s SHIELD series of entrance exams. This exam is usually preferred by the smaller agencies.  

Georgia POST tests  

The two POST tests in Georgia are provided by ACT. While ASSET and COMPASS essential check the same competences they have slightly different formats and it is good to be prepared for both of them. For both tests, you are allowed to use an ATC-approved calculator for the arithmetic section.  

  1. ASSET police exam 

The ASSET test is a pencil-and-paper exam that is divided into two parts: Basic Skills and Advanced Mathematics. The Basic Skills part assesses your reading, writing, and numerical reasoning skills in three separate sections. You have a total of 75 minutes to complete this part and 25 minutes are allocated to each section: 

  • The reading section will assess if you are able to find specific information in the text and to form logical conclusions that are not explicitly mentioned in the text. The passing score is 38 points. 
  • The writing section will assess your grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure knowledge as well as your writing strategy and writing style. The passing score is 35 points. 
  • The numerical reasoning section will assess your ability to perform basic math operations with whole numbers, decimals, and fractions. You may also encounter questions related to prime numbers, absolute values, scientific notation, and square roots. The passing score is 35 points. 

The Advanced Mathematics section is often referred to as College Algebra section and includes questions related to inequalities, factoring, complex numbers, logarithms, trigonometry, exponential functions, and graphs of polynomials.  

2. COMPASS police exam 

The COMPASS test is a computer-based exam that has three sections. The test is not timed but there is a certain minimum of scores in order to pass each section. The three components of the test are: 

  • Reading, which is divided into two categories. The first one is referring, where you need to answer questions based on the information provided in a paragraph you have read. The second component is reasoning, which assesses your ability to make conclusions and develop a critical understanding of the text you have read. You will be asked to determine the specific meaning of a word based on the context. The passing score is 70 points. 
  • Writing will check your ability to identify errors in a written text and provide a correct alternative. Whenever you see an error on the text, you will need to click on it and you will then be presented with several replacement options. You have to choose which is the correct alternative. This section checks not only your grammar, spelling or punctuation knowledge but also your ability to use them properly, your writing style and strategy. The passing score is 32 points. 
  • Numerical will check basic and more advanced math skills in pre-algebra, algebra, college algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. The passing score is 26 points.  

You need to check with the specific department which of the two tests are accepted. Most departments accept either of the tests and also a range of other tests including the SAT, ACT, CPE, etc.  

Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police Exam 

The Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police finds that the Morris & McDaniel Entry-Level Police Test (ELP) is sufficient to help shortlist the right candidate for a police department. ELP is part of the SHIELD series of tests developed by Morris & McDaniel, who are known for preparing screening tests for police officers, firefighters, security officers, and dispatchers. 

The ELP exam assesses the basic skills of the candidate that are necessary for the effective performance of their job duties. The test checks 8 aptitudes, namely spatial orientation, inductive reasoning, flexibility of closure, problem sensitivity, memorization, verbal comprehension, semantic ordering, and visualization.  

Atlanta police exam 

The Atlanta Police Department is the largest in the state of Georgia and currently employs over 2,000 sworn officers. APD is divided into 6 divisions under the Office of the Chief: The Community Services Division, The Contingency Operations Division, The Criminal Investigations Division, The Field Operations Division, The Strategy and Special Projects Division, and the Support Services Division. 

To join their ranks, you need to take one of the following exams: ASSET, COMPASS, SAT, ACT, CPE, ACCUPLACER with a specific score as listed on their official website. Note that APD will accept all of the POST exams taken prior to 12/31/2016. Accuplacer will be the only exam accepted after 12/31/2016. 

You will also have to pass through a Review of Basic Qualifications and Complete Application; Interview; Background Investigation; Pre-employment Medical and Psychological Exam; Physical Agility Exam; Final Review, and Training.  

Columbus GA police exam  

The Columbus Police Department serves the second largest city in the state of Georgia. It employs 388 officers both as sworn and non-sworn personnel. To become a police officer in CPD you need to pass through a hiring process that includes several steps: Application, Physical Agility Test, State Entrance Exam, Background Check, Polygraph, Psychological ExamPre-Interview and Final Interview 

The whole application procedure is presented on their website and you can also view it here. 

You shall be prepared to take any of the POST exams as a written test.  

Savannah police exam 

The Savannah Police Department functions as a separate department as of 2017 since it split from the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department after 12 years of collaborative work. 

Currently, the department accepts applications for sworn police officers on an open, continuous basis. You have to take any of the POST exams and complete the application process that includes several steps such as a background check, polygraph test, physical abilities test, and academy training.  

Athens-Clarke County police exam 

The Athens-Clarke County Police Department (ACCPD) is an internationally accredited police agency and one of the first (1 of 6) to receive certification by the State of Georgia. The ACCPD currently employs 254 sworn officers, 64 people on civilian positions, and 33 crossing guards. 

To become part of the department you need to pass through a hiring process that involves several steps. As per their official website after the initial evaluation of the application, the hiring manager will shortlist the candidates that need to come for an interview and “depending upon the position, there may be additional skill testing, physical testing, and/or conditional hire evaluations.”  

As the departments in Georgia have the right to select their written police exam, it is recommended to contact each of them prior to applying in order to make sure, which is the right preparation course to take.