The California POST Entry Level Law Enforcement Test Battery, known as the PELLETB or PELLET B, is a language aptitude test that aims to determine if the candidate is ready to become a peace officer in the State of California. It checks language skills such as reading comprehension, writing, vocabulary to determine if the candidate has a good command of the English language.
The key to successfully passing the PELLETB lies in the proper preparation for the test. Once you get familiar with the test structure it will be easier for you to answer the questions. Practice can help you improve your English language knowledge. There are certain tricks and tips that can help you select the correct spelling or meaning of a word, even if you are unfamiliar with it. We offer a free Pass the PELLET B Webinar.
Below you will find a short guide about the structure of the test and how to study for each part, along with several sample questions that can give you an idea what to expect on the day of the test.
PELLETB format and scoring
The PELLETB comprises of three sections that aim to check the overall language skills of the candidate. The sections are ordered in the following way:
- Writing ability section, which consists of three sub-sections each comprising of 15 questions. The first sub-section checks clarity. There are two sentences given and the test taker needs to identify, which one is written correctly. You need to look for common writing errors such as unclear references, misplaced modifiers, sentence fragments, and run‐on sentences. The second sub-section tests spelling. There is a sentence where one of the words is omitted and four different spelling options are provided. You need to choose the correct spelling. The third sub-section tests vocabulary. A given word in the sentence is underlined and you need to select the most accurate synonym or definition out of four options.
- Reading ability section, which consists of two sub-sections. The first part is a reading comprehension tests with 20 questions. You need to read a given text, which may be one paragraph or one page long, and then select the correct answer from the multiple-choice questions. The second sub-section is a cloze test and covers forty items and consists of paragraphs, where the first and the last sentence are complete but every seventh word in the other sentences is omitted. You need to guess which the missing word is. The place of the word is indicated with dashes and the number of dashes corresponds to the number of letters in the word. There can be more than one word that fits the context and is accepted as a correct answer.
- Reasoning ability section, which consists of 16 multiple-choice questions. You need to select the best answer based on the facts provided in the text. As a test taker, you need to identify patterns, relationships, ordered series of facts. Note: always answer the questions based only on the given information and not on your general knowledge or personal opinion.
The PELLETB is electronically scored based on the T-score. This means that the average score is 50. Any score below 40 is considered to be below average, while any above 60 is considered to be above the average. You need to score 42 or more in order to pass the PELLETB successfully. Note that the exam contains research questions that do not contribute to the final score. As a test taker, however, you are not aware which these questions are and therefore it is recommended to answer all questions, even if you need to guess the answer for some of them.
The score is valid for life, so to say, meaning that it has no expiration term. If you are moving to a new department, however, they are allowed to require that you retake the test.
If you have failed the PELLETB or you are unhappy with your result you can retake it but you need to wait 30 calendar days.
Sample questions and tips to answering them
If you want to get an idea what the PELLETB includes, you can check online for some sample questions. Perhaps one of the most useful documents you will come across is the Applicant Preparation Guide for the POST Entry-Level Law Enforcement Test Battery (pdf), which includes sample questions and tips on how to pass the writing and reading ability sections of the test. Here is an example of what kind of information you can find in it:
- Writing ability section sample questions
Here is an example of the questions that you will need to answer for each of the writing ability sub-sections.
Clarity – there are two sentences and you need to choose, which is the most clearly written.
- Bullet fragments were gathered by officers in envelopes.
- Bullet fragments were gathered in envelopes by officers.
The correct answer is 2 since 1 uses an incorrect modifier. The way the sentence is written implements that the officers themselves were in envelops.
You can prepare for this part of the test by learning about modification, reference, sentence fragments and run-on sentences. These are the types of mistakes that you will come across in this sub-section.
- Vocabulary – there is an underlined word in the sentence and you need to find its best synonym or explanation from the four options below.
The police sequestered the suspect.
The correct answer is 2. Caught means to seize or trap, isolate means to sequester, arrest means to seize or bring into custody, release means to let go.
- Spelling – you need to choose the correct spelling of the missing word.
It was not _____________ who committed the crime.
The correct answer is 1.
For both the vocabulary and spelling sub-sections, there is no proper material that can be studied by potential test takers. There is no list with the most common words or something similar, however you can expect words that are related to law enforcement and police reports. There are some tips that can help you with both recognizing the meaning of a given word and its spelling. You need to learn the most common word roots, prefixes and suffixes. They can give you an idea of the meaning and help with the spelling. Another thing to pay attention to is the formation of plural for nouns. In most of the cases you add an s but be careful if the word ends with a consonant and y, for example. In addition, there are words with foreign origin that form plural in different ways – for example – analysis is the singular and analyses is the plural form.
- Reading abilities section sample questions
There are two sub-sections, which contain two different types of questions. The first part consists of multiple-choice questions, while the second one is a cloze test. Here is what to expect.
- Multiple-choice questions
The case of Gideon v. Wainwright, decided by the Supreme Court in 1962, granted court appointed counsel to people charged with felonies who could not afford to pay for their own attorneys. In a more recent case, the Supreme Court declared that the right extends to persons who are charged with any crime for which prison is a potential penalty. According to these court decisions, a defendant may waive his or her right to be represented by counsel at trial, but the state must at least provide the defendant with the opportunity to have free counsel.
Based on the above passage, which of the following statements is most correct regarding defendants who cannot afford an attorney?
- Anyone who must appear in court has the right to a free attorney.
- Anyone whose charges may result in prison must have an attorney representing him or her at trial.
- Anyone charged with a felony must have an attorney present for his or her trial.
- Anyone charged with an offense that could lead to prison must have the option of a free attorney.
The correct answer is 1 because it states that “anyone who must appear in court has the right to a free attorney” while the text states that “persons who are charged with any crime for which prison is a potential penalty” have a right to a free attorney.
The best strategy for this sub-section is to read the questions and the possible answers first and then focus on what they are looking for while reading the test. Read the questions carefully and all the options prior to giving an answer. Use only the information given in the text to provide an answer and not your personal opinion.
- Cloze test
In this part you need to supply the correct words for the blank spaces left in a text. Note that there can be more than one correct answer. If the word you choose has the same number of letters as the dashes and fits the text semantically and logically, it will be deemed correct. An example of such a sentence is: “The driver was injured when his 1) _ _ _ crashed into the tree.” The possible answers here are car and bus and both will be accepted as correct. The length of the missing words in the text will differ. Here is an example of such a cloze test:
The juvenile justice system encounters many types of people. Here is one example. Mary was 15 when 1) _ _ _ was first arrested. Mary was a popular girl. 2) _ _ the time of her first arrest, 3) _ _ _ was doing well in school. According to 4) _ _ _ teacher, she was a hard working 5) _ _ _ _ _ _ _ and made excellent grades. Mary also had 6) _ good attitude toward school. Mary lived with her parents 7) _ _ a middle class neighborhood.
The correct answers are: 1 she, 2 at, 3 she, 4 her, 5 student, 6 a, 7 in
Pay attention that the word you think fits the text really has the same number of letters as the dashes indicated in the blank space.
How to prepare for the PELLETB
There are two basic ways that you can prepare for the PELLETB – you can try to do it by yourself solving free practice tests and learning grammar rules or you can enroll in an online course.
- Use a study guide and prepare alone
As the test measures your reading and writing skills, the best way to prepare is to participate in activities that develop these skills. There are multiple language tests available online that can help you improve your skills. The Applicant Preparation Guide for the POST Entry-Level Law Enforcement Test Battery (pdf) is a study guide for the PELLETB put out by the State of California. It contains tons of useful information that can help the test takers prepare for the test. The guide explains what the test checks, how the scores are formed and most valuable of all provides sample questions (some of which we have used above as an example) with answers and explanations. It also includes some tricks as to how to prepare for each section. The drawback of the guide is that it includes no information about the reasoning abilities sections. Otherwise, it gives a lot of good tips and ideas how to prepare for the PELLETB.
In addition to this study guide, there are also guides offered by other companies that you can purchase and use them for your self-preparation. There are also several sites that offer free practice tests with answers and explanations, which can be a great way for improving your skills. You can see a comparison of the Best PELLETB Courses.
- Enroll in an online course
If you want to gain more confidence and proper knowledge for the PELLETB, it is always better to use an online preparation course. There are many courses that you can choose from. In order to select the right one, you need to look for a sufficient number of practice questions, coverage of all sections of the PELLETB, practical guide with answers, explanations and tips how to solve the questions. In addition to that the course should be easily accessible and you should be able to use it 24/7. We suggest that you check out Sgt Godoy’s PELLETB QuikPrep, which answers all of the above criteria and is a great way to prepare for the test.
General Tip: Make sure that you are well rested for the day of the test. Keep calm and read carefully the instructions. Read all the questions and the given options (for the multiple-choice questions) before answering. Always use a pencil and mark the answer clearly on the answer sheet. If you want to change your answer, carefully erase the old one and then mark the new answer. If a question is too complicated, leave it and come back to it once you are done with the rest of the questions. Answer all questions, even if you have to guess for some of the answers.
One of the advantages of the PELLETB is that you can retake the exam in case you have failed or you are not satisfied with the result. Following the tips and tricks provided above will help you achieve the score that you need in order to join California law enforcement forces. It is important to attend the test feeling confident in your knowledge, which is possible after the right preparation. Do as many practice tests as possible and better enroll in an online course that can help you maximize your study time and final results.