Joseph Libowsky,
former Special Agent

Passing the police exam is one of the requirements to become a police officer. However, there is no standard police exam used throughout the entire country and each state and in most cases, even each police agency, has the right to select the written exam that will be a part of their selection process.  

If you have selected the state of Massachusetts as your place to start a career in law enforcement, you are lucky as there is a unified Massachusetts police exam that is used by all agencies in the state. Once you prepare for it, you can start browsing the job openings and checking the specific requirements of each department in order to see if you are eligible to apply with them.  

Before you start preparing for the Massachusetts police exam, it is necessary to get familiar with the factors that can stop you from becoming a police officer.   

Below, you can get the essential information about the requirements for joining a law enforcement agency in Massachusetts along with details about the EB Jacobs Law Enforcement Aptitude Battery (LEAB), which is the exam used in the state to select the best candidates for the job.  

Massachusetts police officer requirements 

There are certain requirements that you need to meet in order to become a police officer in the state of Massachusetts. Candidates considered for appointment must meet the following requirements pursuant to M.G.L. Chapter 22C: 

  • Must be at least 21 years old and less than 35 years old; 
  • Satisfy all statutory requirements for appointment to the Massachusetts State Police Academy including but not limited to passing a physical fitness test, medical examination including a psychological component; 
  • Must not smoke any tobacco product; 
  • Must not have been convicted of a felony or any offense punishable under M.G.L. Chapter 94C (drug law violations), or have any convicted of a misdemeanor and confined to any jail or house of correction as punishment for said crime. 
  • Demonstrate themselves to be of good moral character, sound work ethic, decision making consistent with the Oath of Office and otherwise suitable for appointment to the Massachusetts State Police Academy; 
  • Be qualified and deemed suitable by the Colonel/Superintendent to possess a valid Massachusetts Firearms License upon appointment to the Massachusetts State Police Academy; 
  • Possess a high school diploma or a General Educational Development (GED) certificate upon appointment to the Massachusetts State Police Academy; 
  • Satisfy the Department’s physical fitness standards for initial appointments, as promulgated and amended; 
  • Satisfy the Department’s medical and psychological standards for the initial appointment, as promulgated and amended 
  • Be a United States Citizen upon appointment to the Massachusetts State Police Academy; 
  • Possess a valid Massachusetts Driver’s License upon appointment to the Massachusetts State Police Academy; 
  • Be a Massachusetts resident upon appointment to the Massachusetts State Police Academy; 
  • Subject to the limitation(s) set-forth in this paragraph all candidates for appointment to the position of Massachusetts State Police Trooper and/or Trainee shall have tattoos, body art, brands or scarifications of any type removed prior to appointment to the Massachusetts State Police Training Academy. For the purpose of this Rule only those tattoos, body art, brands or scarifications that are visible when the candidate is dressed in the Department’s summer Class B duty uniform must be removed. Attempts to disguise, cover-up or, otherwise keep any such tattoos, body art, brands or scarifications from view shall not satisfy the requirements of this Rule.  
  • Meet all other eligibility and entrance requirements duly established by statute, rule, regulation, policy, procedure, directive, and/or order of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of State Police, including but not limited to Classification Specification promulgated for the position of a Massachusetts State Police Trooper, as amended. 
  • Candidates satisfying all of the minimum entrance requirements shall, in accordance with Massachusetts General Laws c.22C §11, be considered for appointment to the Massachusetts State Police Academy. However, the satisfaction of the minimum requirements by a candidate shall not guarantee an appointment to the Massachusetts State Police 

Make sure that you meet all of these requirements prior to applying with the agency that you have selected. In addition to that, it is advisable to check with the department if there are any other requirements that you need to meet in order to be considered as a suitable candidate.  

Types of Massachusetts police exam 

Massachusetts is one of the states that has adopted a standard written exam used by all police agencies. This makes your job much easier as it means that you need to prepare just for one exam and you can apply to as many agencies as you like.  

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts selected a test based on the Law Enforcement Abilities Battery (LEAB) published by EB Jacobs as the state-wide Police Civil Service exam. The questions included in the test are selected in a way that can determine how well a prospective police officer can do their job and are divided into three sections: 

  • Written Ability Test (WAT) 
  • Life Experience Survey (LES) 
  • Work Styles Questionnaire (WSQ) 

The overall testing time is three hours and each component is scored separately. You will have to answer multiple-choice questions in the Written Ability Test, while the Life Experience Survey and the Work Style Questionnaire consist of behavioral statements.  

One of the best ways to prepare for the exam is to use an online prep course that can help you get familiar with the format and content of the Massachusetts police exam. 

Format of the Massachusetts police exam 

It is essential to be aware of the specific format of the Law Enforcement Abilities Battery (LEAB) and the type of questions you are going to encounter on the test in order to pass it with flying colors. A better score will guarantee you access to the other elements of the hiring process and will place you on the list of desired candidates.  

The LEAB is a paper and pencil test and it is necessary to use a No. 2 pencil to mark the answers. All the answers are marked on the answer sheet in order to be considered acceptable.  

The LEAB consists of three parts that are separately scored and you need to answer the questions in all of them in order to proceed further. All of the scores are then added together to give you the final score of the written exam. Here is what to expect in each part of the test. 

  • Written Ability Test (WAT) 

This section of the test is divided into six parts and contains a total of 48 multiple-choice questions. There will be many short passages followed by one or more questions with four possible answers. You will give an answer to each question even if it is simply a guess because each question left unanswered is considered as incorrect when the test is scored. The cognitive skills that this section checks are: 

  • Written Expression 
  • Reading Comprehension 
  • Problem Sensitivity 
  • Deductive Reasoning 
  • Inductive Reasoning 
  • Information ordering 

It is a good idea to answer the easiest questions first and then move on to those that you find more difficult. You have two hours to complete this part of the Massachusetts police exam. 

  • Life Experience Survey (LES) 

This part of the test is related to your previous experience and history. It is often called Bio Data and consists of 47 or 68 multiple-choice questions, depending on the format of the LEAB that is administered. There are five alternatives for each statement and you need to select the one that best describes your attitude towards the question or your past experience in such a situation. The questions are mainly related to work ethic, community involvement and the like. 

This section is timed together with the Work Styles Questionnaire and you have a total of 45 minutes to complete them both. 

  • Work Styles Questionnaire (WSQ) 

This part of the test is kind of a personality profiling test that aims to assess your goals motivation, values, sensitivity, decision-making skills, and overall attitudinal characteristics. There are 74 or 103 short statements within the section depending on the type of LEAB used. Each statement is followed by a five-point rating scale: (1) Strongly Agree; (2) Agree; (3) Not Sure; (4) Disagree; (5) Strongly Disagree and you need to choose the answer that best reflects your preferences. 

Note that you need to answer every question on the WSQ because if you fail to do so, you will be disqualified and you won’t be able to continue with the selection process. The section is timed together with the LES and you have 45 minutes to complete them both.  

Boston police exam 

Boston is the biggest city and capital of the state of Massachusetts. The city has a population of 673,184 and is home to the oldest police department in the USA – the Boston Police Department (BPD). BPD is the 20th largest law enforcement agency in the country and the largest in the area of New England. Currently, it employs approximately 2,015 officers and 808 civilian personnel. 

If you want to join the Boston Police Department, you need to take the LEAB with an excellent score. 

Worcester police exam 

The City of Worcester is the second-largest city in the state with a population of 184,508 people. If you want to become a police officer at the Worchester Police Department, you need to follow the procedure as indicated on their official website: “The WPD is a Civil Service Department. You must score high enough on the Civil Service Exam to be considered. Exams for Worcester are every two years. Exams are scheduled by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Human Resources Division in Boston, 1-800-392-6178. Interested candidates are required to apply online with the State Division of Human Resources (HRD). HRD does not accept paper applications anymore.” 

The written test that you are expected to take is the LEAB.  

Massachusetts State Trooper Exam 

If you are interested in becoming a state trooper in Massachusetts, you are again tested with the mass exam adopted for the state, the LEAB. 

Properly preparing for the Law Enforcement Abilities Battery (LEAB) is the key to becoming a police officer in the state of Massachusetts. It is a good idea to invest some of your time and efforts in one of the most efficient online prep courses that can give you a much better chance of scoring high on the actual police exam.