If you want to join a law enforcement agency in the state of Florida you need to prepare for a complex hiring process and a series of tests prior to getting hired. Your first step towards getting hired will be passing the Florida Basic Abilities Test (FBAT). Once you pass this exam, you will be eligible to advance in the hiring process.
The number of people taking the FBAT has increased significantly in the last few years, which means that the competition for the job of a law enforcement officer is getting tighter. Hence, it is very important to be prepared for the exam and pass it with a better score than your competition. In order to succeed, you need to know what to expect and how to properly prepare for the FBAT. The guide below provides answers to some of the main questions related to the exam with some practical advice that can help any aspiring law enforcement officer find their job in the state of Florida.
Overview of FBAT
The FBAT was developed to test and measure the cognitive abilities of aspiring law enforcement officers to meet the criteria of being successful in the field. In order to be able to enter a basic recruit program in Florida, a candidate should first pass the FBAT. The test is based on job task analysis and basically predicts the chances for success of the person during a training program. The Basic Abilities Test requirements for applicant admission into a Law Enforcement and Correctional Basic Recruit Training Program are adopted by the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission pursuant to Section 943.17, F.S., and further detailed in F.A.C. 11B-35.0011(1).
BAT is distributed only within the state of Florida and the result is valid for a period of four years.
The test can be taken both in a computer-based or paper and pencil format. It is up to the applicant to decide which option is better for them. There is no difference whatsoever in the two formats.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) manages the program and scores of the BAT but it has contracted private test centers to organize the exam itself and test candidates.
What does the FBAT contain?
FBAT contains exclusively multiple-choice questions with one possible answer. The number of questions may vary depending on the test provider but the most common option is with 120 questions that need to be answered in 2 hours and a half. The test is divided into 8 subsections, each of which contains 15 questions.
There is a set of cognitive abilities that the FBAT tests in order to determine the ability of the applicant to succeed at the training centers and then further in the job. These are:
- Writing Abilities
- Reading Abilities
- Deductive Reasoning
- Inductive Reasoning
- Information Ordering
- Situational Judgement
- Spatial Orientation
- Flexibility of Closure
The test is formally divided into three sections that check language, visualization, and reasoning ability.
This section of the test measures the following two competencies of the candidate:
- Written comprehension – the aim of the questions is to assess your ability to understand a written text. You will have to read a text and then choose the best answer out of the four provided, proving that you have understood what you have read. This skill is necessary since law enforcement officers deal with a lot of written documents such as city ordinances, Florida statutes, legal bulletins, etc.
- Written expression – this section focuses on spelling and grammar since they are important skills to be used in writing reports, memos, affidavits and other documents. You have an incomplete sentence and you have to choose which word is the best match out of the four options provided.
This part of the test checks how the candidate can deal with spatial orientation and memorization in order to see what is their mental imaging ability.
- Spatial orientation is used to check whether the candidate can use and read a map, layout or compass in order to determine exact location, decide on the shortest way to a certain point or describe the position of one object in relation to another. This skill is very important since a police officer, for example, quite often needs to determine the shortest way to get to the scene of an incident. On the test, you will have to answer questions like: You are on the intersection of Str. 1 and Str. 2. Choose the shortest route to the police department and you will be presented with four options to select from.
- Memorization tests your ability to memorize a photo or text and then describe it to another person or answer questions about it. This skill is vital as often officers need to describe a suspect that they have just seen. On the test, you will be given a few minutes to study an image or text and then you will have to answer a set of multiple-choice questions without looking at them anymore but using your memory.
Reasoning ability section
This part of FBAT assesses four skills that are essential for the position of a law enforcement officer:
- Problem sensitivity – here you need to show that you are able to detect the signals showing that a problem or situation may escalate or not. The questions can cover various situations such as whether a medical condition needs emergency treatment or whether the data received is accurate and trustworthy or not. The ability is essential for law enforcement officers who need to make such calls on an almost every day basis.
- Deductive reasoning – this skill shows that you have the ability to apply a broader concept to a particular case. For example, to correctly use a law or a rule determining the criminality of an action and deciding what is the best approach in the particular case.
- Inductive reasoning – this skill shows that you can use a specific example to formulate a conclusion or rule. It is tested by means of pie charts, graphs and/or tables of data, which you need to interpret correctly.
- Information ordering – you need to prove that you are able to order an event chronologically based on the information you have. It may come from statements given by witnesses, victims, first aid respondents, reports from other police officers and the like. The questions included in the BAT will test this ability requiring to sequence logically or chronologically a set of events or policies.
What is the passing score?
In order to pass the FBAT successfully candidates should score 77% or higher in case, they are taking the test provided by Miami Dade College, which is the most popular one. It is also important to note that the passing score may vary depending on the test provider. The score is valid for a period of four years, which basically means that if you take the BAT and pass it, you do not need to apply immediately with a law enforcement agency as your score will be valid for a significant period of time..
Recently FDLE posted an important updated on their site, which deals with changes in the passing score concerning a past period. The change means that some applicants who were previously considered not eligible to enter a training program now can do it. The change to the Law Enforcement BAT stipulates that candidates who have scored 70% or higher in the period between June 1, 2010 and February 1, 2016 are considered as successfully passing the BAT. The change was approved by the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission.
The results were updated on the Automated Training Management System and will be valid through February 2, 2020. This means that there will be more candidates who can proceed with the training program and contact an agency of their choice. For the candidates who are about to take BAT, this interprets into a higher competition when it comes to the actual selection and hiring process.
The results are stored in the electronic records of FDLE’s Automated Training Machine System and are available for all Florida criminal justice agencies. Note that official BAT results are not provided by FDLE to individuals.
How to sign up for FBAT and where to take the test
FDLE has decided to use external test providers to create, manage and administer the BAT. FDLE has concluded contracts with these private providers for their services but kept the score management, contractual issues, program clarifications, and enforcement as part of its own responsibilities.
The powers provided to the private test providers mean that there are slight differences in the test length and duration depending on the center you have chosen. The questions may vary between 104 and 120, in general, and the testing time is about two or two hours and a half. There is also a fee to be paid, which is also determined by the test provider but is usually about $40 – $70.
The test can be taken in Commission-certified training centers, criminal justice selection centers, and criminal justice agencies. The applicant needs to contact the test provider in order to get the specific details about how to sign up for the test and check all the other requirements. In most of the cases, you will be able to schedule your test date and time using the website of the testing center.
On the day of the exam, you shall arrive at least 15 prior to your scheduled time. It is mandatory to bring a valid ID with a photo, otherwise, you will not be allowed to take the exam. Examples of a valid ID include:
- Driver’s license
- State-issued photo ID
- Current State or Federal ID Card
- Tribal ID Card
- A naturalization card or Certificate of Citizenship
Note that only test candidates are allowed in the testing center. You cannot bring any relatives, guests, and children with you. Before the test is commissioned, you will also be asked to leave all your electronic devices and personal items in a locker or any other secure place pointed out by the employees of the test center.
FDLE has approved three providers of the BAT that are listed on their official website. These are I/O Solutions, Miami Dade College, and Morris and McDaniel, Inc.
How to prepare for the FBAT
In order to pass the FBAT with a great score, it is advisable to properly prepare for the test. There are several options to choose from:
- Buy a study guide and/or a set of practice tests directly from the test providers
- Buy a study guide from any other site, such as Amazon
- Enroll in an online course that can prepare you for the test
All of the three options will help you prepare for the FBAT and get familiar with the test format and content.
An online course is one of the best options to choose from since usually, the course contains both a study guide and a few sets of exam questions that allow you a lot of practice. Look for a course that contains the following elements:
- Comprehensive tutorials with detailed explanation
- Coverage of all subjects included in the test
- A great number of practice questions
- Personal support from an experienced law enforcement officer
It is advisable for the course to be mobile-friendly and to offer a lifetime access against a one-time fee.
The FBAT is a test designed to judge the applicant’s ability to be a law enforcement officer. In order to successfully pass it, you need to be aware of its format and prepare for it. It is also important to stay calm and focused during the exam and try to give an answer to each question. Even if you fail the FBAT the first time, do not give up. Invest some more time into your preparation and take the test again. You are allowed to take the exam three times within a calendar year. Do not forget that the FBAT is administered and valid only in Florida, so if you are considering pursuing a law enforcement career in another state, make sure to check what are the requirements there prior to checking the job openings.