Illinois is the 25th largest state in the USA in terms of land but the 6th largest in terms of population. Becoming a police officer in this state is a prestigious but challenging undertaking as the requirements are quite strict.
There is no unified written exam for police officers that is used universally by all states and all departments throughout the US and thus each state and agency can select their own test. The state of Illinois has given the right to its police departments to choose a written exam that best suits their needs. As a result, there is a great variety of tests distributed throughout the state and when you start browsing the job openings it is necessary to check the agency you are applying with for its requirements and test preferences.
In order to facilitate your preparation, we have listed the main requirements for becoming a police officer in Illinois as well as the main written tests used by the agencies in the state.
Illinois police officer requirements
If you have selected the job of a police officer for your future career, you are already aware that there are strict requirements and certain factors that will stop you from becoming a police officer.
The Illinois State Police Merit Board has set the following minimum requirements for persons applying for an Illinois State Trooper position:
- An applicant must be at least twenty-one (21) years of age. (An applicant twenty (20) years of age may apply if the Option 4 education requirement is successfully met.)
- An applicant cannot have been convicted of a felony.
- An applicant must be a citizen of the United States.
- An applicant must possess a valid driver’s license at the time of completing the application.
- An applicant must be willing to accept an assignment anywhere in the State.
- An applicant must have completed, with a C average or better, one of the following education requirements:
- Option 1 A Bachelor’s Degree.
- Option 2 An Associate of Arts or Science Degree or equivalent course work* AND meet one of the following two job experience requirements: 3 consecutive years of continuous, full-time service, as a police officer, with the same police agency OR three consecutive years of active military duty.
- Option 3 An Associate of Applied Science Degree, ONLY if the degree is in Law Enforcement/Criminal Justice AND meet one of the following two job experience requirements: 3 consecutive years of continuous, full-time service, as a police officer, with the ILLINOIS same police agency OR three consecutive years of active military duty.
- Option 4 No education needed if: a)The applicant has been honorably discharged from the armed services of the United States after serving active military duty AND has been awarded at least one of the qualifying medals b) The applicant is an active member of the Illinois National Guard or a reserve component of the United States Armed Forces AND have been awarded at least one of the qualifying medals.
If you meet all of the above-listed factors, you can apply to be a police officer in the state of Illinois. All you need to do is check the specific requirements of the agency you are interested in working for to find out the elements of the hiring process that you need to pass through.
Types of Illinois police exams
Illinois is one of the states that has given freedom to its police agencies to select the written test that best matches their needs as part of their selection process. As a result, there is a great variety of tests used to shortlist successful candidates. It is a good idea to check with each agency before you start preparing.
We can sum up that there are three written tests that are most commonly used by the police departments in Illinois. These include:
- The National Police Officer Selection Test (NPOST) developed by Stanard & Associates
- The National Criminal Justice Officer Selection Inventory (NCJOSI) developed by I/O Solutions
- The Frontline National Testing System developed by Ergometrics
Note that there are several more written tests used by the agencies in the state. Chicago, for example, has its own Chicago Police Officer Exam (CPOE) that is distributed to aspiring police officers. It is necessary to prepare well for each of the exams if you are going to apply to more than one agency, which is actually recommended. One of the ways to prepare for more than one type of written exam is to use the PoliceExam911 Prep Course as it will give you knowledge of a great number of written tests that are currently applied across the USA.
Chicago Police Exam
The Chicago Police Department (CPD) is the second largest municipal police department in the US after the New York City Police Department. It was formed in 1835, which makes it one of the oldest modern police agencies not only in the states but also in the world. At present, CPD employs 13,500 officers and 1,925 other employees.
If you want to join the, you will need to pass the Chicago Police Officer Exam (CPOE). The test is provided by I/O Solutions and consists of 80 multiple-choice questions divided into 10 sections. The time for completion of the test is 2 hours and a half.
CPOE tests different skills of the candidates which are directly related to the ability to perform the duties of a police officer efficiently. The 10 sections included in the test are:
- Deductive Reasoning to check if you can apply a general rule on a specific case
- Flexibility of Closure to check if you can identify a given pattern in the form of objects, words, sounds among other distracting material
- Inductive Reasoning to see if you can use specific information and combine it to reach a general conclusion or rule
- Information Gathering to check if you can arrange information or actions into a consecutive order. The questions may include pictures, numbers, sentences, logical or mathematical operations and the like.
- Problem Sensitivity to check if you can identify a problem in a given situation. You will have to read a passage and answer which is the main issue described in it
- Selective Attention to check if you are able to complete a given task if there are distractions or the work is too monotonous. On the test, you will have to identify the pattern in a series of numbers and/or symbols
- Spatial Orientation to check if you are able to get from point A to point B and how you can navigate within spaces
- Verbal Comprehension to check if you are able to read and understand written text
- Verbal Expression to check if you are aware of basic grammar, punctuation, and spelling. In the test, you will have to choose the correct spelling of a word, identify a misspelled word, select the proper punctuation, choose the correct phrase to complete a sentence
- Visualization to check if you have the ability to imagine how a given object will look after it has been altered or its position was changed. You need to be able to visualize how an object will look after being unfolded or rotated for example or how a person will look with different hair color. On the test, you will have to recognize a person after something on his appearance have changed – new facial expression, hair color or the like.
Once you pass the written exam, CPD will proceed with the rest of the elements of their selection process, which includes:
- POWER test (Police Officer’s Wellness Evaluation Report) – tests for physical ability
- Background investigation
- Drug screening
- Medical Examination
- Psychological Examination
- Other tests as required by CPD
Only candidates who pass all of the elements will be invited to work for the CPD.
Aurora Police Exam
The Aurora Police Department is the second largest department in the state. It has several bureaus and divisions and if you want to become a member of the department you will need to pass the Frontline National Testing System.
The test consists of three sections, which are separately timed and take about 2 1/2 hours to be complete. If you take the Frontline exam, you will need to successfully pass the following components:
- Frontline National Situational Judgment and Human Relations Video Test. You will see about 50 different scenarios as encountered by police officers and you will have about 10 seconds to decide which is the correct course of action for each situation. The section has to be completed in one hour and 45 minutes and tests basic abilities such as common sense, public relations, decision making, flexibility, teamwork. You do not need previous law enforcement knowledge or experience in order to pass the section.
- Frontline National Report-Writing Video-Based Test. This section contains two sub-sections that need to be completed in a total of 31 minutes. In the first part, you will watch a visualization of a given situation and you will have to write a report about the scenario presented. In the second part, you will have to answer 15 multiple-choice questions that assess your knowledge of English within 10 minutes.
- Frontline National Reading Test. This section checks your ability to understand written text. You have sentences with blanks and you need to select the best option of the below-listed alternatives to complete the sentence. The duration of this section is 15 minutes.
Once you complete the written test, you will need to pass through the other elements of the APD hiring process in order to become a police officer.
In addition to Aurora, several other cities also use the Frontline test for their selection process. These include the Elgin Police Department, Champaign County Sheriff, Decatur Police Department, Lincoln Police Department, and Urbana Police Department.
Arlington Heights Police Exam
The Arlington Heights Police Department serves more than 75,000 citizens and uses the National Criminal Justice Officer Selection Inventory (NCJOSI) to select its police officers.
The NCJOSI written test is commonly used by Illinois police departments. Some of the most notable include the Illinois State Troopers, Springfield Police Department, Bradley Police Department, Cook County Sheriff and others. It has two forms, so you need to check which of them is administered by the agency you are applying with.
- NCJOSI I consists of cognitive and behavioral sections, which need to be completed in one and a half hours. The cognitive section includes 45 multiple-choice questions and covers 4 ability areas: problem-solving ability, reading or verbal comprehension, mathematics, and writing ability. The behavioral section consists of 42 statements, followed by a five-point agreement scale: Strongly Agree (1); Agree (2); Not Sure (3); Disagree (4); Strongly Disagree (5). You need to select the statement that best describes your opinion, attitude, preferences or actions. You need to answer all of the questions in order to pass the exam.
- NCOSI II also consists of cognitive and behavioral sections but they feature more questions and thus the completion time for the test is two and a half hours. The cognitive section includes 80 multiple-choice questions in 10 ability areas: verbal comprehension, verbal expression, problem sensitivity, deductive reasoning, inductive reasoning, information ordering, spatial orientation, visualization, selective attention, and flexibility of closure. The behavioral section consists of 120 statements, followed by a five-point agreement scale: Strongly Agree (1); Agree (2); Not Sure (3); Disagree (4); Strongly Disagree (5). You need to select the statement that best describes your opinion, attitude, preferences or actions. You need to answer all of the questions in order to pass the exam.
Addison Police Exam
The Addison Police Department is one of the many departments in Illinois that uses the National Police Officer Selection Test (NPOST) to recruit its officers. Some of the other police agencies that apply the same written test are Champaign, Coal City, Evanston, Gilberts, Lockport, Oak Brook, and South Beloit.
The NPOST tests verbal, logical, mathematical, writing, and critical thinking skills necessary for the job of a police officer. The overall testing time is 1 hour and 15 minutes and each of the sections are separately timed. Three of the sections consist of multiple-choice and True/False questions, while the last section requires the candidate to provide their answer in complete sentences.
The sections to be completed are:
- Arithmetic, which contains 20 multiple-choice questions on basic mathematics knowledge. The time for completion is 20 minutes and calculators are not allowed.
- Reading Comprehension, which contains 25 questions that are either multiple-choice or True/False questions. The time for completion is 25 minutes. The multiple-choice questions will ask you either to select the best option to complete a sentence with omissions or to select the correct answer. The True/False questions follow a sample report form or passage.
- Grammar, which contains 20 multiple-choice questions on choosing the right option or spotting the misspelled word. The time for completion is 15 minutes.
- Incident Report Writing, which contains 10 questions that need to be answered in full sentences with correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling in order to be considered correct. The time for completion is 15 minutes. You will read a sample report form and answer questions related to it.
Note that the questions are related to police work but no prior experience or knowledge of law enforcement is required to pass the test.
Rockford Police Exam
The Rockford Police Department has selected the Entry Level Law Enforcement Test created by CWH Research for its written test. The test measures your cognitive abilities and behavioral traits to determine whether you are fit for the job.
The whole test duration is 3 hours and 15 minutes and is divided into two sections. The first section measures your basic skills and abilities related to reading and writing. The second part aims to check your preferences, feelings or attitude towards certain topics and situations and asks questions to describe yourself. All of the 168 questions are multiple-choice questions and you need to answer them all to pass the test.
Skokie Police Exam
The Skokie Police Department has selected the Law Enforcement Selection Tool (LST) developed by I/O Solutions as its entry-level written exam. The test is developed in such a way to determine whether the candidates are suitable for the position of a police officer by answering two types of questions – some related to their skills and knowledge and others reflecting their personal experience and behavior.
The LST test has two sections:
- Section I: Non-Cognitive Traits consists of 120 questions that need to be answered in 30 minutes. You will have to answer multiple-choice questions or behavioral statements with a degree to which you agree or disagree with a statement. There will be 4 or 5 options to choose from. You need to answer all of the questions.
- Section II: Cognitive Abilities consists of 70 multiple-choice questions distributed in 7 different areas that you need to complete in 2 hours. The questions are in the following areas: deductive reasoning, flexibility of closure, inductive reasoning, information ordering, spatial orientation, written expression, and written comprehension.
Note that once you proceed to Section II, you are not allowed to make any changes to Section I questions.
State Universities Police Exam
If you want to work as a police officer at an Illinois state university, you will need to take the NCJOSI written test in most of the cases. One of the exceptions is the University of Chicago Public Safety Exam which is the Law Enforcement Selection Inventory (LESI).
The LESI written test includes two types of question – one for cognitive abilities and one for personality traits. The cognitive questions are very similar to those included in the NPOST.
The police agencies in the state of Illinois use a great variety of written exams as part of their selection process. It is necessary to check which is the version that you need to take in order to properly prepare for it.