Joseph Libowsky,
former Special Agent

The position of a police officer is one of the most popular among people who would like to work in the career of law enforcement. Becoming one, however is not easy and there is a complicated and comprehensive hiring process the candidate needs to go through. One of the requirements is that the police officer has good reading and writing skills in order to be able to perform their duties and hence there is a written test that checks these skills.

If you want to become a peace officer in the state of California, There is a very good chance that the agency you are applying with uses The POST Entry Level Law Enforcement Test Battery, referred to as PELLETB or PELLET B. In order to be prepared for it, you need to be familiar with the test format and learn a few tricks that can help you pass with a best score possible. Below you will find information about the structure of PELLETB along with some tips on how to prepare for the different sections.

What is the PELLETB?

The PELLETB is a language aptitude test that checks your writing and reading abilities. It checks skills that you have gradually acquired through time and that you will need in order to be a successful peace officer. The PELLETB, which stands for California POST Entry Level Law Enforcement Test Battery, was developed by the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST), which is a California state organization created in 1959. It has set competency standards based on which the PELLETB was developed. The test has become one of the most popular POST exams that is used by the California law enforcement agencies and other government organizations who employ peace officers. We offer a free Pass the PELLET B Webinar to help you.

The main purpose of the test is to measure the language ability of the prospective law enforcement officer. The results of the PELLETB allow the agency to choose only the most suitable candidates for the job. It is clear that police and sheriff departments use the test to screen their potential candidates, however, it is administered by other employers who hire peace officers as well. These include colleges and universities, airports, municipal departments such as parks, housing authority, public safety and the like.

There is a way to improve your performance on the test by getting familiar with its format and enrolling in a course that will help you polish your skills.

PELLETB test format

Being familiar with the test format, the form of administering it and the way of calculating the results will reduce the anxiety of the prospective candidates on the day of the actual exam. Here are the details that you need to know:

  • Test administration

At present, the test is administered only in paper and pencil format. There is no online version available, although one might be considered in the future. Of high importance is also the fact that POST only allows authorized California law enforcement agencies to administer the exam within the state. You need to contact the agency by yourself in order to determine if they are authorized to administer the PELLETB. The POST website can help you, as it offers a list of POST participating law enforcement agencies. Still some of them may not offer entry-level testing and therefore you need to contact them directly to check whether they offer the test at all and if yes, which are the available dates.

  • Test content

The PELLETB measures your reading and writing abilities. The test is divided into three section – reading ability, writing ability and reasoning ability. It contains a total of 105 questions and has to be completed by the candidate under 2 hours.

Each section contains sub-tests and a different type of questions. Most of them are multiple-choice questions where you have a few suggestions but only one of them is correct. There is also a cloze reading text, where the candidate needs to fill in missing words without any options given. These strategies and others are in the Pass the PELLET-B Prep Program.

  • Test structure

The test comprises of three sections – the first one is writing ability, the second is reading ability and the final part is the reasoning ability section. Here is the structure of each of these sections:

  1. Writing ability section

The writing ability section is divided into three sub-tests, which all consists of multiple choice questions. The sub-tests focus on clarity, spelling and vocabulary. Each sub-section contains 15 questions.

In the clarity section, you are given two statements and you are asked to determine which of them is written clearly and correctly. The information derived from the sentence should not be ambiguous. The errors that you need to spot are related to misplaced modifiers, unclear references, run-on sentences and sentence fragments.

The spelling sub-test checks your ability to recognize the correct spelling of a word. You have a sentence that has one omitted word. Four different spellings of that word are given below the sentence and you need to choose the correct one.

The vocabulary section also uses standard multiple-choice questions. There is a sentence in which a given word is underlined and below are given four synonyms and/or definitions and you need to choose which one fits the best.

  1. Reading ability section

This section includes two tests that are used to measure the reading ability of the candidate.

The first sub-test contains 20 multiple-choice questions. You need to read different passages and then answer multiple-choice questions about the content of the text you have read. The passages vary in length – from one paragraph to one page.

The second sub-test contains 40 items. It is a cloze test. There is a passage, where the first and the last sentence are complete and the other sentences have missing words. Every seventh word is deleted from the text and substituted by dashes. Each dash counts for a letter, eg. seven dashes mean that you need to write a seven-letter word. There are no words to choose from. You need to come up with the right one. In most of the cases there is only one correct word, however it is possible to have more than one answer. The word needs to fit the context and be both syntactically correct and semantically appropriate.

  1. Reasoning ability section

This section consists of 16 multiple-choice questions. You have specific information or a data set and the questions asked try to determine specific patterns, relationship or differences between the data. Only one answer can be correct.

How to prepare for the different sections

As you can see, the PELLETB has a specific structure and it is good to get used to answering such type of questions. You need general linguistic knowledge and skills in order to cope with the test, however with some additional practice your score is likely to improve. One of the best ways to prepare is to enroll in an online course. You may want to check out the PELLETB Test Prep Course from Sgt Godoy which has practice questions and multi-media tutorials.  Over 96% of students give this course a 4 or 5-star satisfaction rating. JobTestPrep’s California Pellet B Exam Preparation Pack has over 900 practice questions, 15 reading ability practice sections, 22 writing ability drills and reasoning ability practice. All that is accompanied by comprehensive study guides, answer explanations and solving tips.

When you start solving practice tests, there are a few tricks that can help you achieve better results. These are valid for the actual test as well and if you practice them long enough you will get into the habit of approaching the questions in this way.

  • Tips for the writing skills test

The most important thing to remember is that all answers should be marked on the answer sheet and there should be no marks in the test booklet. Pay extra attention that the question you are marking on the answer sheet has the same number as the question in the booklet. You need to completely darken the circle on the answer sheet using your pencil. You are not allowed to use any other forms of marking the right answer. Make sure to read all choices given before choosing your answer. It is better to answer all the questions even if you just guess for some of them. If a question takes too long, it is better to skip it and return back to it once you are ready with the other answers.

The clarity sub-test is the one that you can study for in order to improve your results. You need to pay attention to the usage of modification, which references are considered vague or indefinite, what are run-on sentences and what is considered a sentence fragment. If you get familiar with these concepts, it will be much easier for you to identify the correct answer on the test.

Some tricks to improve your performance at the vocabulary sub-test include getting to know the meaning and correct spelling of word roots, prefixes and suffixes. If you are not familiar with the word, try to figure out its meaning based on the context. Pay special attention to words that have slight differences in the meaning.

It is hard to prepare for the spelling sub-section as there is no official list of words that appear on the PELLETB. Usually these are words related to law enforcement and such that are likely to appear in a police officer report. Again, the study of word roots, prefixes and suffixes will help, as well as the rules about the formation of the plural form of nouns. Note that i usually precedes e, except after the letter c when e precedes i (ex. receive).

  • Tips for the reading skills test

As a police officer you should be able to understand different types of texts and that is exactly what the reading comprehension section checks. There is no specific practical advice on how to prepare for this sub-section but there are a few tips that can help you with the test. Always read the questions carefully and make sure that you understand them. Read the questions and the multiple choices first and then read the text. This will help you focus on the required answers. Answer the questions only based on the information provided in the given text and not based on your general knowledge or personal opinion on the matter.

  • Tips for the reasoning skills test

Once again, the best way to prepare is to get used to answering this type of questions. In order to learn to recognize patterns you need to practice. Hence the more practice tests you make, the more prepared you will feel on the day of the exam. Reading carefully the questions and the possible answers is a must before making your final choice. These strategies and others are in the Pass the PELLET-B Prep Program.

PELLETB passing score

One frequently asked question about all forms of tests and exams is what the passing score is. The PELLETB scoring is based on the T-score model. It means that the individual performance is placed into a distribution (a bell-shaped curve), where 50 is considered the average score. Hence, your aim is to score somewhere around 50. If your score is below 40 it is considered below average and if it is above 60 – above the average. If you score 42 or higher, you are considered to have passed the test successfully.

Note that POST does not provide the test results directly to applicants or other unauthorized personnel. You must wait to receive notification about your result from the agency you have applied with. Note that they need to inform you within 30 days. If you have not received your result within this period, make sure to contact them and ask.

The PELLETB results do not have a specific shelf-life, meaning that they are valid forever in theory. If you are changing departments, however, the new employer may request that you take the exam once again. Also, a hiring agency may require that you take the PELLETB through their agency, and that will be the score that consider, even if you have taken the exam through another agency.

If you have not passed the PELLETB or you are not satisfied with your result, you may retake the test after 30 calendar days.

Before you start browsing the job openings in the sphere of law enforcement, it is good to be aware of the process that lies ahead of you. We highly recommend that you get prepared for the PELLETB as this is one of the most popular forms of testing the language skills of the candidates used by the law enforcement agencies in California. If you follow the tips above, you will be able to prepare well for the test and pass it with a result that will guarantee your acceptance as a law enforcement officer.

Learn more about Passing the PELLET-B.