Becoming a police officer requires certain skills and the determination to prove that you are right for the profession and that law enforcement is the right fit for you. In order to choose the best candidate, the police agencies across the country administer various entry tests. The National Police Officer Selection Test (NPOST) is one of the most popular and preferred tests in the USA. At present, the Police Chief Associations in 25 states use the NPOST as part of their hiring process.
The test aims to assess several competencies and determine the overall knowledge and readiness of the candidates to join law enforcement. No previous knowledge or experience in law enforcement is required in order to pass the NPOST, but if you want to be successful it is advisable to prepare well. Knowing what to expect on the day of the actual exam and where to find preparation materials and courses is part of the process of becoming a police officer. In the guide below, you can find useful information about the components of the NPOST, why it is preferred by different agencies, and how to prepare for it.
What is the National Police Officer Selection Test?
The National Police Officer Selection Test (NPOST) is an entry-level basic skills test that was created by Stanard & Associates, Inc. It is used by law enforcement agencies to select the best candidates who possess the necessary cognitive skills to successfully and efficiently perform the duties of a law enforcement officer. The test is used by agencies at the municipal, county, state, and federal level of law enforcement. Three states – Iowa, Utah, and Wyoming have mandated it as the statewide entry-level test, while a total of 25 Police Chief Associations use it in various states.
The NPOST was specifically developed for law enforcement use and is a job-related test that gives an accurate assessment of the candidate’s skills. It tests basic skills in four sections: Arithmetic, Reading Comprehension, Grammar, and Incident Report Writing. No previous knowledge of law enforcement terminology or experience in the field is required in order to pass the test.
Each agency can choose between two forms of the NPOST: one is self-scored by the individual department or municipality while the other is scored by Stanard & Associates, Inc.
Components of the NPOST
The NPOST aims to test several basic skills and comprises of four separately timed sections. In order to pass the test successfully, the candidate needs to score at least 70% in each individual section. The NPOST tests verbal, logical, mathematical, writing, and critical thinking skills in the following components:
- Reading Comprehension
- Incident Report Writing
The first three sections consist of multiple-choice and True/False questions, while the last section requires the candidate to provide their answer in complete sentences. Here is what type of questions you can expect in each section.
NPOST Section I – Arithmetic
This component of the test will assess your basic mathematical knowledge. You will be presented with a short text and you will have to solve the problem. You are not allowed to use a calculator in this section of the test but you will be provided with scratch paper that you can use for your calculations.
You will only have to mark one answer in the answer sheet provided. As your score is a percentage of the answered questions, it is advisable to give an answer on each question even if it is just a guess. There is no penalty for wrong answers, so make sure to mark an answer for each question.
The Section contains 20 questions and you have 20 minutes to answer all of them.
NPOST Section II – Reading Comprehension
This component tests your ability to read and understand written text. The passages that you will read will be related to police duty, however, no prior knowledge of law enforcement is necessary in order to be able to answer the questions. All the necessary information will be in the paragraph. You need to read it carefully and answer the questions that follow. You will have to answer three types of questions:
- True/False questions. You will have a statement that concerns a given passage or a sample report form. Based on the information contained in the passage or sample report form, you need to choose whether the statement is accurate and true or inaccurate and false.
- Multiple-choice questions where you will need to find the correct answer based on the information presented in the given passage or sample report form.
- Multiple-choice questions where you will have to choose an alternative that best completes the sentence based on the information contained in the passage or sample report form
This Section contains 25 questions and you are given 25 minutes to answer them. Make sure to provide an answer to each question even if it is just a guess.
NPOST Section III – Grammar
This component of the test will check your grammar knowledge. You will be asked to identify grammar, spelling, and/or punctuation errors in the text. There are two types of multiple-choice questions that you will have to answer:
- Choose the right alternative. There is an incomplete sentence and you need to select the word that best completes it. Make sure to read all the text before and after the blank space as it will guide you to the right answer.
- Spot the misspelled word. You will be presented with a sentence that contains a spelling error and you have to choose the answer that shows the misspelled word.
This Section of the test contains 20 questions and you have 15 minutes to answer them all. Make sure to give an answer to each question, even if you are simply guessing it.
NPOST Section IV – Incident Report Writing
This component of the test aims to check your writing skills. You will have to read a completed sample incident report form and answer the questions following it, based on the information in the form. You will need to write the answers in full sentences and it shall contain the correct information. All your sentences need to be grammatically correct and the words correctly spelled in order to bring you points.
This Section contains 10 questions and you have 15 minutes to complete them. Note that in order to have the maximum score, you need to answer the questions in complete sentences that are grammatically correct, all words are correctly spelled and the answer shall contain the correct information as per the details provided in the incident report form.
Why the NPOST is preferred by many agencies?
The NPOST is an academic test, which is similar to a high school equivalency exam. There are many agencies at different levels of law enforcement that prefer this type of entry-level test in order to select the best candidates for the positions they offer.
There are several reasons why agencies choose the NPOST and the main one is that it checks the skills necessary to perform the job. It is a job-related test and some of its benefits include:
- Compliance with ADA requirements
- Follows the guidelines provided by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
- Meets professional standards
- Format based on extensive research of existing entry-level test for law enforcement officers in the country
- Four different forms to choose from
- Possibility for self-assessment
- An external scoring option provided by Stanard & Associates, Inc.
- Efficient and easy to administer selection tool
- Affordable price (especially for a higher number of copies)
These are some of the main reasons why agencies prefer to use the NPOST as part of their hiring process. The written exam is one of the important steps in this process and candidates are often concerned if any specific skills are needed. The NPOST is created in such a way that you do not need prior knowledge of law enforcement terminology or any experience as an officer in the field. It checks basic skills and abilities that the candidates should have acquired in high school such as mathematics, language, grammar and the like. The test provides the agency with an idea which candidates are better positioned to deal with the duties of the job.
Which states use the NPOST?
Stanard & Associates, Inc. is a Chicago-based company that has been dealing with police testing since 1976. Based on extensive research of the entry-level test administered by various law enforcement agencies and they work with experts in the field, the company created the NPOST. It is a test that objectively checks the candidates’ main skills such as grammar proficiency, reading comprehension and writing and arithmetic abilities.
Based on these qualities of the NPOST, many agencies at different levels choose the test to be part of their selection process. The states of Iowa, Utah, and Wyoming use it as a statewide entry-level test. In other words, if you are browsing job openings concerning agencies in these three states, you shall be prepared to pass the NPOST.
There are 25 state Associations of Chiefs of Police that partner with Stanard & Associates, Inc. to administer the NPOST. They are based in the following states:
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
If you are applying for a job in any of the above-mentioned states, make sure to double check with the agency which type of test they use in their selection process, so that you can prepare for it.
How to prepare for the NPOST and pass it successfully?
It is true that NPOST tests basic skills and covers a great number of topics, however, it is possible to prepare for the exam so that you can stand a better chance at achieving a higher result. As a whole, you need to improve your vocabulary, mathematical and grammar skills, as well as memory and critical thinking.
There are several ways to prepare for the NPOST and you need to select the best one for you.
- One of the ways is to choose the prep materials provided by the test developer Stanard & Associates, Inc. You can purchase an Online POST Study Guide or an Online POST Practice test. The study guide will give you information about the format and timing of the test so that you know what to expect on the actual day of the exam. You will also find sample questions in it. The practice test will let you have a feel of the test prior to taking it. You can check if you are able to answer all questions within the given time limit and whether there is time for checking your answers. Once the time of the test expires, you will receive immediate feedback about your responses. It will contain an explanation of the incorrect responses so that you can improve your answers for the next time.
- Find an online prep course. There are several providers who offer a variety of preparation tests and guides dedicated to the NPOST. Depending on the provider, you get a different number of tests included in the packet along with tutorials and explanations. One of the top-rated courses is the NPOST Practice Test & Study Guide by Sgt. Godoy. It includes hundreds of prep questions and several insightful multi-media tutorials that will help you ace the exam. It also gives tips on how to search for a job in the field of law enforcement and how to prepare for the overall selection process. There is a one-time fee that provides you with unlimited access to the course along with 24/7 personalized support.
It is important to prepare for the NPOST so that you are calm and confident on the actual day of testing.
The NPOST is one of the popular entry-level exams used by agencies across the states. It tests the basic skills that a candidate needs to have in order to become a good law enforcement officer. No previous knowledge of law enforcement or experience in the field is required in order to be successful on the exam, however, a good preparation prior to sitting it will give you better chances of a higher score and will take you one step closer to the desired job.