Joseph Libowsky,
former Special Agent

Ohio is the seventh most populous state in the US despite that it ranks number 34 by size. Becoming a police officer in Ohio is very competitive and you need to pass through a comprehensive police exam process in order to join the ranks of an Ohio law enforcement agency.  

Once you start browsing the job openings, you need to keep in mind that there is a great variety of tests used by each agency and you need to specifically check what their hiring process involves. Keep in mind, that there is no unified written police exam valid throughout the US and even in Ohio. Each state has the right to choose the written test to be used in their selection process and in the majority of the states, there is no state-wide exam imposed as well, with a few exceptions like Iowa, Utah, and Wyoming that have mandated the NPOST to be used by all their departments.  

Ohio is one of the states, where the agencies use different tests but two are predominant – the Frontline test and the Ohio Law Enforcement Selection Inventory (OH-SELECT). Still, you can come across many variations depending on the city you have chosen for your career as a police officer. 

Below, we have summarized the requirements and types of police exams that you need to go through if you want to become a law enforcement office in Ohio.  

Ohio police officer requirements 

The first step in the selection process is determining your eligibility for the Police Academy training and learn the Ohio Peace Officer Training Council (OPOTC) eligibility requirements.  

The following guidelines will assist you in determining whether you meet the basic open enrollment qualifications as dictated by the OPOTC and the LCCC Police Training Academy. The eligible candidate:   

  1. Is a citizen of the United States.  
  2. Is 21 years of age or will reach that age by the completion of the academy.  
  3. Has a High School graduate or equivalent (GED).  
  4. Possess a valid Ohio Driver’s License.  
  5. Is NOT convicted of a felony. This may include felony convictions that have been sealed or expunged. 

If you are considering to join the Ohio State Patrol, then the minimum requirements for consideration are:  

  • Must have a high school diploma or GED;  
  • Must be a U.S. Citizen;  
  • Must be a resident of Ohio 
  • Must have a valid driver license;  
  • Must be a minimum of 20 years of age and must be able to complete processing and enter an Academy Class before reaching the 35th birthday.  

The processing requirements include successful completion of:  

  • A two-month application process which includes a background and polygraph examination, a medical examination, a physical fitness evaluation, and a written examination; 
  • 24-26 weeks of intensive Academy training. 

Make sure that you meet these requirements and that there are no factors that will stop you from becoming a police officer prior to starting your preparation for the appropriate police exam required by the agency you will be applying with.  

Types of Ohio police exams 

To join the ranks of the Ohio Police Officers or the Ohio State Troopers, you need to be prepared for a competitive selection process. There is no universal police exam that applies for the entire state. Knowing the details of the test the department uses and being prepared for its format will give you a competitive advantage before other applicants. 

While basically, each city has its own police exam, there are two written tests that are among the most popular in Ohio: 

It is a good idea to use an online course to prepare for these two tests, in case you have not selected a particular agency to apply with. Here is what to expect when applying with the different agencies in the state. 

Columbus police exam 

The Columbus Division of Police is the largest police department in Ohio and the 25th largest in the country. It was established in 1816 and currently has over 1,800 officers and 300 civilian employees. The Division is responsible for nearly 800,000 citizens and is composed of 20 precincts. Police officers in Columbus can work in several specialized units that include a Helicopter Unit, Canine Unit, Mounted Unit, Community Response Teams, Marine Park Unit, and SWAT Team 

If you want to be part of this police agency, you need to pass through a multi-phase test named the Police Officer Entry Level Exam. The exam has four components that are covered within four days and you need to pass them all in order to continue with the selection process. 

On the first day, candidates need to pass the multiple-choice exam, the writing sample exam, and the Columbus Oral Police Exam (COPE), while the second day faces them with the physical test. Below, you can find details about what each exam includes.  

  1. Multiple-choice exam 

This exam consists of four sections that test basic skills, necessary for the efficient implementation of the police officer duties. The skills tested are: 

  • Spelling: you need to show your knowledge of English. There are two types of questions included in this section. In the first part, you need to select the word which is correctly spelled in order to complete the sentence. In the second part, you need to spot the misspelled word. 
  • Vocabulary: you need to show your knowledge of English words and their meaning by selecting the word that has the same meaning as or the opposite meaning of the capitalized word in the sentence. Be careful which of the two is required.  
  • Reading comprehension: you will need to show that you can read and understand written text. You will have to read 4 to 8 passages and answer between 15 and 30 questions about them. You can refer to the passages at any time.  
  • Map reading: you will need to show that you know how to read a map and that you are able to follow directions. 

2. Writing sample exam 

You will watch a video of a police officer questioning a person in order to fill in an Incident Report. After the video, your task will be to fill in an incident report with the information presented in the video. You are given 1 hour to complete the task. The incident Report consists of two parts – a form completion section and a narrative section, where you need to describe what has happened. You are allowed to take notes while watching the video. 

3. Columbus Oral Police exam (COPE) 

This is a video-based test that aims to assess your ability to solve problems and check your interpersonal relations skills. You will be presented with 8 scenarios in the form of still pictures with audio. You will need to place yourself in the situation and respond the way a police officer would do it. The exam does not test Columbus police policies or procedures.  

4. Entry Level Physical Fitness Test 

This exam will determine whether you are physically ready for the job of a police officer. It includes a 300-meter run, 1-minute sit-up test, and a maximum push-up test with performance being based on age and gender as detailed on the official site of Columbus Division of Police 

Moraine police exam 

While the City of Moraine Police Division is one of the small departments in the state, it is one of those that uses the traditional OH-Select test for hiring its new officers. The department was established in 1956 with only 3 police officers in service. Now it employs 18 Police Officers, five Sergeants, one Deputy Chief of Police and the Chief of Police as well as three civilian employees and four Communications Officers. 

Historically, the OH-Select was the written exam mainly used by the agencies across the state of Ohio. It is quite similar to the NCJOSI (National Criminal Justice Officer Selection Inventory) in format. The test is developed by I/O Solutions and contains a total of 185 questions divided into two sections. 

The first section assesses your cognitive abilities and includes 60 multiple-choice questions that are divided into 12 subsections. The aim is to determine whether you have the basic knowledge to become a police officer. The subsections are the following: 

  • Verbal Comprehension will test your ability to read and understand written text. 
  • Verbal Expression will test your grammar, spelling, and punctuation knowledge. You will have to choose the correct spelling of a word, detect a misspelled word or improper punctuation, select the word or phrase that correctly completes a sentence. 
  • Problem Sensitivity will test your ability to correctly determine an issue or a problem in a given situation. You will have to read a short passage and identify the main problem in it. 
  • Deductive Reasoning will test if you can apply a general procedure to a specific problem. You will read a passage about certain police policies or procedures and then asked, which of them should be used in a specific situation. 
  • Inductive Reasoning will test your ability to make a general conclusion based on specific information presented in charts, tables or graphs. 
  • Information Ordering will test your ability to arrange facts, information or statements in a chronological or logical order. 
  • Number Facility will test your basic math skills to determine if you can calculate an answer using addition, subtraction, multiplication or division. 
  • Mathematical Reasoning will test more complex arithmetic skills such as determining averages, percentages or proportions. 
  • Spatial Orientation will test how well you can determine your location or the location of an object in relation to other objects. 
  • Visualization will test your ability to imagine how an object will look like if its appearance, location or the settings around it are changed. 
  • Flexibility of Closure will test your ability to identify a known object, number or picture that is hidden among other similar objects. 
  • Selective Attention will test your ability to concentrate on a task without getting distracted.  

While the questions are related to police work and contain certain terminology, no previous knowledge of or experience in law enforcement is required in order to pass this part of the test successfully.  

The second part of the OH-SELECT contains 125 statements to check your personality traits. You will be asked questions that aim to assess your attitude and personal vision and preferences. You will have to answer the questions using a rating scale of 5 options: strongly agree, agree, neither agree or disagree, disagree, strongly disagree. 

To pass the exam, you need to answer all of the questions and you have 2 hours to complete both sections.  

Cleveland Police exam  

The Cleveland Division of Police is the second largest police department in the state of Ohio. It provides work to 2,269 employees including about 250 unsworn members. The department has selected the Frontline Test for its competitive application process. Here is what you need to know about the test in order to pass it with flying colors. 

The Frontline Test is developed by Ergometrics and consists of three sections that test the basic abilities of a candidate to become a police officer. You will have 2 and a half hours to complete the whole test but note that each of the sections is separately-timed so keep an eye on the watch. While the topics covered in the Frontline Test are directly related to the job of a police officer, no prior knowledge of law enforcement is required to pass the test.  

The components you need to be ready for, are the following: 

  1. Frontline National Situational Judgment and Human Relations Video Test. In this section, you will watch about 50 different scenarios of police officer duties and you will have to choose the right course of action for each of them. You will have about 10 seconds to answer each question after watching the short video and a total of one hour and 45 minutes to complete the whole section.   
  2. Frontline National Report-Writing Video-Based Test. This section consists of two different parts and you are given 31 minutes to complete them both. The first sub-section presents you with a visualization of a police-related situation and your task is to write a report about it. The second sub-section faces you with 15 multiple-choice questions aiming to check your English knowledge that you have to answer in 10 minutes.   
  3. Frontline National Reading Test. This section consists of multiple-choice questions that will assess your ability to understand written text. For 15 minutes you will need to complete the sentences that have blanks with one of the given options so that they sound grammatically and logically correct.   

Turning at the Frontline Test well-prepared will significantly increase your chances of success. There are several other agencies that use this test as part of their admission process. Among the most notable ones are the cities of Akron, Delaware, and Gahanna.  

Cincinnati police exam  

Cincinnati is the third largest city in the state of Ohio and the Cincinnati Police Department has 1,057 sworn officers and 281 non-sworn employees. The department was formed in 1859 and has undergone several restructuring procedures to reach its current structure. At present, the department consists of four bureaus: Administration, Patrol, Investigations, and Support. 

To join the ranks of Cincinnati police officers, you will need to pass the Frontline Test.  

Toledo police exam  

The Toledo Police Department celebrated its 150th year of service in 2017. At that time, it employed 681 people, 61 of whom were civilians and 133 of the sworn officers were in command positions.  

If you want to join this department, you need to be prepared for the Toledo Police Department Exam, which includes 150 multiple-choice questions divided into four sections. You are also expected to become familiar with standard Police vocabulary, hence it is necessary to prepare specifically for the position. 

The exam that you need to pass will check your knowledge and skills in the following four areas: 

  • Police Operations. You will need to memorize the information related to the laws and procedures for Traffic and Vehicles, Investigations, Law Enforcement Roles and Responsibilities, and Operations. You will have to answer 115 questions on this topic. 
  • Wanted Posters. You will be presented with wanted posters and you will have to memorize the information presented on them by viewing and reading. Afterwards, you will have to answer 10 questions related to the posters. 
  • Observational Videos. You will watch a series of videos and then asked to answer 10 questions related to the information presented in them. You are allowed to take notes while watching the videos. 
  • Language and Mathematics Skills. You will have to answer 15 questions that will check your basic language and arithmetic skills. The questions include spelling, reading comprehension, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division tasks.  

Ohio State Trooper Exam 

If you want to become a State Trooper in Ohio, you need to pass through a selection process involving 7 steps: 

  1. Meet the Basic Qualifications 
  2. Submit your Applications 
  3. Pass Physical and Written Exams 
  4. Drug Test and Polygraph Examination 
  5. Background Check 
  6. Notification of Employment 
  7. Attend Trooper Academy for Training 

The written exam includes 80 questions in three areas – Written Comprehension, Utilization of Information, and Decision Making. You have 80 minutes to complete the test.  

The police departments in the state of Ohio uses various exams to select their police officers. You need to check which is the exam you have to take and then prepare for that test. Taking the exam after being well-prepared will help you achieve a higher score and thus stand a bigger chance of being recruited to serve the people of Ohio.