Joseph Libowsky,
former Special Agent

Becoming a police officer in the state of Washington requires candidates to be well prepared for each element of the hiring process and that includes the written police exam, the oral board interview, the physical ability test, and all the other tests, checks, and exams the hiring agency requires.  

The state of Washington is the 18th largest state in the country and the 13th most populous state. Its capital is Olympia but its biggest city is Seattle. Nearly 60% of the state’s population lives in the Seattle metropolitan area. 

Before you start browsing the job openings, you need to be aware that the competition is fierce and you need to be well prepared in order to score well well and stand a good chance of being hired. As there is no national written exam that is administered throughout the entire country, it is advisable to know which exams are approved and used in the state of Washington in order to be prepared for the applying with the agencies that them.  

Below, you will find the main requirements for becoming a police officer in the state of Washington as well as the most common written exams included in the selection process. Still, it is a good idea to always check with the particular agency prior to applying in order to see that you are qualified as per their standards.  

Washington police officer requirements 

There are certain requirements that apply to each candidate who wants to become a police officer. Each state and each agency within it has the right to determine the minimum requirements to be a police officer with their agency.  

What is specific for the State of Washington is that every full-time peace officer in the state, including the Washington State Patrol, and Fish and Wildlife officers regardless of rank, need to be certified. Only reserve Officers do not need to be certified. The Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission (WSCJTC) is the only agency authorized to certify peace officers. 

Before you can become a police officer in the State of Washington, you must complete 720 hours of basic law enforcement academy (BLEA) training within six months of hire to the law enforcement agency you are employing with. All academy recruits must be physically able to actively and fully participate in the defensive drills and other required physical activities 

The WSCJTC requires you to pass a fitness ability test prior to entry into the academy. Applicants should contact the agency they want to work for to find out about their minimum requirements; however, most law enforcement agencies require that you: 

  1. Be a U.S. Citizen.
  2. Have a high school diploma or GED. 
  3. Have a valid Washington State driver’s license.

While each agency has the right to set its own higher minimum requirements, the minimum that applies to all candidates includes the following: 

  • Age: Applicants must be 18 years old or above. There is no maximum age limit 
  • Education: High School Diploma or G.E.D 
  • Citizenship: US Citizen 
  • Other Requirements: 
  • Complete basic law enforcement training which complies with standards adopted by the commission 
  • Have not been denied certification or have had your certification revoked in this or another state 
  • Undergo background investigation including a check of criminal history, a psychological examination, and a polygraph test or similar assessment 
  • Pass Fitness Ability Test 
  • Have a signed “Application for Peace Officer Certification” form 
  • No adult felony or misdemeanor or any domestic violence conviction 
  • Submit fingerprints 
  • Discharged under honorable conditions (fair employment laws apply) if with military record 
  • Possess a valid Washington State Driver’s License prior to being hired  

Types of Washington police exam 

Police departments in the State of Washington have the right to decide which written exam they will use for testing a new candidates. There are a variety of exams that are used throughout the state but two are the most common ones: 

Being prepared for these two tests will help you increase your chances of getting hired. Some of the other police exams used in the state of Washington are similar to these tests. Make sure to check with the department you are applying with to find out what exam they use so that you can properly prepare using the available online courses 

Below, you can find details about the most popular police exams used in some of the well-established police departments in the state of Washington.  

Seattle Police Exam 

Seattle is the largest city in the state of Washington with population of over 713,000 people. The Seattle Police Department (SPD) is the primary agency. The University of Washington has an independent agency that is the University of Washington Police department.  

The SPD is the largest Municipal law enforcement agency in Washington State. It employs 1,444 sworn officers and 580 civilian employees. In order to join the department, you need to pass through a substantial hiring process and pass a written exam, which is based on the Frontline Test 

To become a police officer in Seattle, you need to take the Civil Service Exam. It includes a written test and a video test, which need to be finished within the given timeframe in order to proceed. 

The written test lasts a total of three hours and you have one hour and a half to memorize the given information for the test and then another hour and a half to complete the actual test. You will have to answer 110 multiple-choice questions based on the memorized information that aim to check your knowledge in grammar, spelling, multi-tasking, and reading comprehension. The passing score is 80% but a higher result works in your favor. 

The video test included is based on the Frontline National Test designed by I/O Solutions. While the full exam consists of three parts: The Frontline National Situational Judgment and Human Relations Video Test, The Frontline National Reading Test, and Frontline National Incident Observation and Report Writing Test., the Civil Service Exam features a video test with about 46 multiple-choice questions based on various scenarios. While the questions are based on actual police officer duties and situations, no prior knowledge of or experience in law enforcement is required.

Olympia Police Exam 

Olympia is the capital city of the state of Washington with population of more than 50,000 people. The Olympia Police Department (OPD) is the local agency that enforces law and order in the city. It is a relatively small department but it employs both sworn and civilian employees. 

In order to become a police officer in OPD, you need to pass a rigorous selection process, which features the Law-Enforcement Officer Selection Tool (LST) as the written exam.  

The LST features two main components – one part measures the cognitive abilities of the candidate and the other part their non-cognitive traits. You have three hours to complete both parts of the exam.  

The cognitive abilities section features 70 multiple-choice questions that cover seven different areas: 

  • Deductive reasoning 
  • Flexibility of closure 
  • Inductive reasoning 
  • Information ordering 
  • Spatial orientation 
  • Written expression 
  • Written comprehension 

The non-cognitive traits part features 120 questions in two areas: biographical data and work style or personality test. The aim is to assess your attitudes, beliefs, experience. You will have to answer either multiple-choice questions or behavioral statements where you choose whether you agree or disagree with the given statement. It is necessary to answer all of these questions in order to proceed. 

The LST is quite popular in the state of Washington and other cities that use the test are Vancouver, Spokane, Kent, and many others. Hence, getting ready for the LST gives you a chance to apply to several agencies within the state.  

Bellevue Police Exam  

Bellevue is one of the five large cities in the state of Washington and the Bellevue Police Department services more than 139,000 people. It employs 178 sworn officers and 41 civilian employs and has its main headquarters in Bellevue City Hall. There are two other stations located in the city.  

If you want to join the department in Bellevue, it is necessary to prepare well for the Frontline National Test as it is originally administered. The Frontline test is divided in the following parts: 

  1. The Frontline National Situational Judgment and Human Relations Video Test which features about 50 scenarios from the job of police officers. You have 10 seconds to choose which of the options provided is the best outcome for each situation.   
  2. The Frontline National Reading Test faces you with sentences with blanks and you need to select the right option to complete the sentence. You have 15 minutes to answer all questions.   
  3. Frontline National Incident Observation and Report Writing Test is a video-based test, made of two components. In the first part you watch a given situation and then write a report based on the information provided in the scenario. You have 21 minutes to complete it. The second part is a multiple-choice test with 15 questions that need to be completed in 10 minutes. 

It includes questions and video scenarios that are based on the actual work of police officers but it is not necessary to have previous knowledge of law enforcement in order to pass the test with flying colors.  

As the Frontline test is one of the popular tests in the state of Washington, you can encounter it if you are applying for a police officer in the cities of Bellingham, Kennewick, Monroe, Oak Harbor, Pullman, and others.  

Everett Police Exam  

The city of Everett has a population of over 110,000 people who are served by the Everett Police Department. The department has several divisions and employs just over 200 sworn officers and 45 civilians. 

If you want to become one of the members of EPD, you need to take the Entry-Level Police Officer written test. This is a written test that measures your basic language, logic, and mathematic abilities. It contains 100 multiple-choice questions in the following areas; 

  • Reading comprehension 
  • Writing skills 
  • Inductive reasoning 
  • Deductive reasoning 
  • Name and number matching 

A higher score on the written exam will help you stand a better chance of recruitment.  

Washington State Trooper Exam 

If you plan to be a Washington State Trooper you need to get prepared for the Entry Level Police Officer Exam created by Darany and Associates. The exam should be completed in two hours and you will face 169 multiple-choice questions that cover four areas: 

  • Accuracy of Observation 
  • Written Communication Skills 
  • Reading with Understanding 
  • Biodata 

These are the main types of police exams that a prospective police officer may face if applying to an agency in the state of Washington. Note that it is necessary to check with the department which are their specific requirements and components of the selection process in order to prepare for them. 

Remember that each component of the hiring process is equally important for your recruitment but a higher score on the written test gives you a better chance to proceed with the process. A comprehensive online course will get you all the tips and additional information that you need to ace on the exam.