Starting a job as a police officer is not that easy. The entire hiring process is different from the application process used for other positions outside law enforcement and sometimes it can be frustrating for candidates who do not know what to expect. Hence, it is very important to be familiar of the elements of the police officer hiring process and to make all the necessary steps to be prepared for each one.
One very important requirement for becoming a police officer is to be able to pass the police written exam with flying colors. To that end, it is necessary to prepare well for the test. There are several ways to do it, but the most efficient one is by enrolling into an online police exam preparation course like the one offered by PoliceExam911.
Below, we will have a brief look at the main steps of the police officer application process, the elements of the police written exam and why an online course will help you succeed in pursuing law enforcement career. We offer a free Mini-Course on Passing the Police Exam.
What does the police hiring process include?
If you have chosen law enforcement as your career, you should be prepared to meet its tough requirements in order to join the ranks of law enforcement officers. Even before you start browsing the job openings, it is a good idea to get familiar with the hiring process and its main steps. Becoming a police officer is one of the most desired jobs and you can expect the competition to be tough. Therefore, knowing what to expect gives you a competitive advantage before the other candidates, especially if you have dedicated the necessary time to prepare for each element.
So, what do agencies expect from the successful candidate and what are the main elements of the hiring process?
- Basic requirements
There are several basic requirements and those requirements vary for each state and for each agency. These are: the applicant should be an US citizen, many departments require that applicants be 21 years of age and some requirement that applicants not older than 37 (or some other specific maximum age), have a high school diploma or a GED certificate, hold a valid driver’s license and have no criminal record which includes a felony or domestic abuse (felony or misdemeanor). The main requirements, as well as more specific details about the job are contained in the job announcement. You can find announcements on the site of the agency, on specialized sites offering law enforcement job openings, in the media.
Note: Each agency may add some specific requirements, so always check with the agency you are applying for to see that you are an eligible candidate, prior to taking any steps for test preparation.
The candidate is required to fill in/submit an application packet. This packet contains all the important documents that a candidate needs to present in order to prove that they meet the basic requirements and can continue further in the selection process. A resume and/or cover letter are also required. They reveal the ability of the candidate to write a self-promoting text, as well as their basic strengths and weakness, whether they have the relevant education and/or experience for the given position.
- Written test
A standardized written test is given to all candidates. The exam contains several sections and tests the basic abilities of the applicants in reading, writing, comprehension, mathematics, memory. Sometimes the written test may be scored as pass/fail but most often a numerical scale is used. In this case – the higher the result, the better the chances of the candidate to continue with the hiring process. If you fail the written test, your application is turned down.
- Oral interview
In the oral interview the candidate appears before a board of interviewers that ask different questions. The board has at least three members that represent the department, other departments or are members of the community. Each of the members rates the candidate and then the scores are summed up. Scoring may be on a pass/fail basis or using a numerical scale. Only those candidates who have passed the oral board interview successfully are allowed to continue with the hiring process.
- Physical Ability Test (PAT)
The PAT aims to check whether the applicants have the physical ability to do the job of a police officer. There are two different methods for assessing your physical ability, used by the police departments: the job simulation method and the fitness-based method. While the components of the PAT based on either of the methods are different, in both cases it is generally a pass or fail test. Each agency determines which type of PAT to use but in all cases the candidates should pass the physical ability test in order to continue with their application.
- Background investigation
All the candidates who have passed successfully through the above-listed elements are subject to background investigation. It aims to check that all the information provided by them so far is valid and that there are no disqualifiers that may prevent the applicant from getting the job. Some of the common disqualifiers are felony convictions, serious misdemeanor, current or past drug abuse, history of domestic violence, bad credit history, poor employment record. As part of the background investigation the applicant may need to pass through a polygraph and/or psychological exam.
- Medical exam
Before being considered for employment, the candidate should pass a thorough medical exam. Its aim is to determine that the candidates are medically fit to do the job and that there are no special medical conditions that can prevent them from performing the required duties. Once the applicants are cleared by the doctor, they can be offered a position in the department. In other words, passing the medical exam is a condition for employment.
- Job offer
The last and most desired stage of the complex hiring process is the job offer. It is received by those candidates who have successfully passed all the elements of the process. Sometimes a job offer may be given before the background investigation is performed. In this case it is conditional and should the background check reveal any inconsistencies with the information provided by the applicant so far, it will be removed.
Elements of the police officer written test
The written test is often one of the most feared elements of the hiring process. It should not be so, if you know what to expect and you are properly prepared. One of the most important things is to know what the written exam contains. In its essence it is a written test that is in a way similar to an ACT or SAT tests used for college admission. So, if you have already passed one, you have a rough idea of what to expect.
The overall aim of the written test is to check whether the prospective police officer has the basic skills to perform their job. The test covers reading comprehension, spelling, math, grammar, and analytical skills. It may also include report writing as part of checking the ability of the candidate to produce a coherent text. The written test checks five main groups of skills:
- math skills,
- reading comprehension skills,
- language skills,
- writing skills and
- observation and memory skills.
There are different types of questions that are used in order to check those skills. The applicant has to be prepared to answer:
- Multiple-choice questions
- True/false questions
- Open-ended questions
- Spot the error type of questions
- Which answer best completes the sentence type of questions
In addition to that, the applicant may need to write an essay. There is also a part that checks the observation and memory skills of the candidate. There, you need to show that you can identify faces, remember scenes, give directions, etc.
There are several tricks and tips that can help you with passing the written exam and attending an online preparation course is one of them.
Why a police exam preparation course matters?
Enrolling into a police exam preparation course can be beneficial to the potential police officer candidates in many ways. First and foremost, the course will acquaint you with the format of the actual exam. You will be familiar with the written test and you will learn how to cope with the different type of questions and writing tasks. This will give you more confidence at the actual exam date. In addition to that you will learn how to cope with a certain task within the given time limit and how to efficiently check your answers and spot any mistakes.
Once you finish the course, you will have greater awareness of what to expect and you will be well-prepared to sit the exam. You will have the necessary tools that will help you score more, which is invaluable given the significant competition for the job. We did a comparison of the Best Police Exam Prep Courses and Sample Tests.
Why to choose an online police exam preparation course?
If you have already decided that you are going to attend a police exam preparation course, the dilemma you need to solve is what type of a course you need to choose – a classroom course, which requires your physical presence, or an online course?
It is better to opt for the online course. In our digital world where almost everything is done online, you can be sure that online courses offer the highest standards and when it comes to preparing future police officers, there is no exception to the quality.
The main benefits of the online police exam preparation course are that it is a self-paced learning and the modules can be completed at anytime and anywhere. The courses offered by PoliceExam911 are structured in such a way, that they maximize the benefits of online learning. The following elements are what makes the course so successful among candidates:
- Prepare for a variety of assessments and tests online
- Access timed practice tests & comprehensive score reports
- Learn as you go with detailed answer explanation
It also covers all of the most popular police exam formats, which is of great importance. Quite often, people apply to more than one agency and are faced with slightly varying tests. Therefore, it is important to be prepared for some differences.
A real bonus of a good online course is that you have the option of selection from multiple practice exams with hundreds of sample questions. So, no matter which test you are taking PoliceExam911 can help you get a winning score. On top that that, the course includes a study guide, score reports and answer explanations.
Your best strategies at the exam
In an addition to all of the above, an online course will usually provide you with some ideas on how to prepare prior to and how to perform on the actual exam, so that your chances of a higher score are better. The best strategy is to be prepared. So, you need to know what to expect and schedule your time properly in order to get prepared. While it is essential to put a lot of efforts into studying for the written exam, it is also a good idea to devote sufficient time to the physical ability test as well. Some agencies organize open houses where you can see how their PAT field looks like or even observe candidates passing through it. Some applicants, prepare their own fields, so that they can train more efficiently. Last but not least, it is essential to rest well prior to each test, so that you can sit the exam in your best shape.
As you can see the overall police officer hiring process is quite intense, however with the proper preparation, your chances to succeed are much higher. Taking an online course is one of the best ways to prepare for the different exams that await you and boost your confidence that you can cope with the challenges that you may come across.