Guide to Police Officer Entrance Tests
Police officer entrance exams are the first step in the process of trying to gain employment as a police officer. Entrance exams for police officers are offered by each individual municipality, town, city or county that maintains a police department. There are also exams given at the state and federal levels for state troopers and other state or federally run law enforcement programs and agencies. Police officer entrance exams can vary widely, but most also have many similarities.
Police officer entrance exams are tests that are given by police departments and government agencies to screen for potential officers to join the police department or law enforcement agency. All locations offer some type of a written exam in order to select candidates. Some districts may require an oral interview, video test, medical evaluation, psychological assessment, or physical abilities test as well, although most districts will not require the additional tests and evaluations until after a candidate makes it through the initial screening process by scoring well on the written exam.
Any person who is interested in becoming a member of the police force will need to take a police officer entrance exam in the location in which they are hoping to be hired.
Each police department can tailor their own test however they see fit, but there are some similarities among most police officer entrance exams. There is a written portion to every test. The written test measures basic aptitude and general knowledge, and usually this portion consists of multiple-choice questions. The number of questions and the time limit for this portion of the test can vary.
There usually are also questions related to on-the-job type situations, as well as problem-solving ability and judgment questions. The types of questions asked can vary depending on the location of the law enforcement agency and the jobs for which the potential police officers would be responsible.
Many law enforcement agencies now also use the Police Analytical Thinking Inventory (PATI) test, which focuses primarily on logic and analytical reasoning questions. This test has become increasingly common so that only candidates that possess good critical thinking ability and reasoning are selected for positions as law enforcement officers. It has become imperative that police officers can think logically and reasonably in the many difficult situations they encounter on a regular basis. The PATI test is a better determinant of those candidates that possess strong decision-making skills so that law enforcement agencies can better predict which candidates will be able to handle the stringent critical thinking required when entering into the profession of law enforcement.
Some districts and agencies may also require a video test, where candidates see real life scenarios and have to make decisions based on what they see on the video. This method tests decision-making and critical thinking skills as well.
Usually the written portions of the exam determine if a candidate will even be considered when an opening for a position comes up in the law enforcement agency. This is an extremely important exam because many times the score received on the exam determines the ranking the candidate receives on the potential hire list. Some agencies and districts will also require that candidates have an oral interview, psychological assessment, medical evaluation and physical abilities test, but often these tests and evaluations are not completed until a candidate has already made it through the preliminary round of screening and has been selected as a viable candidate for a position as a police officer. A high score on the written exam will usually score a potential candidate an interview for the next phase of the job selection process better than just about any other criteria.
Various locations offer police officer entrance exams on different schedules. There are usually specific dates that the exams are offered and those dates can be obtained by the appropriate departments or agencies. Many times the police officer entrance exam is given once a year. Some jurisdictions require applicants to first register for the exams, while in other cases there is public notice given about the exams and anyone can show up to take the exam. Fees can vary widely, if assessed at all, among locations as well. Pre-requisites to be eligible for police officer entrance exams can vary as well, but usually require that candidates be within a specific age range (for example, over 21 but younger than 40), that they be US citizens, and that they meet some minimum educational or military experience requirements.
Taking a police officer entrance exam can be one of the most important exams an individual who wishes to have a career in law enforcement will ever take. It is important to be as prepared as possible for the exam, since the higher the score received on the exam, the more likely the candidate will receive an interview or be allowed to move on to the next step in the hiring process. Much of the basic aptitude information is education related and can be reviewed through practice exams or study courses or guides. The decision making and critical thinking portions of the exam should be prepared for by going through potential situations and determining responses and solving problems. There are many manuals, study guides, video tutorials and study courses available to help candidates prepare for police officer entrance exams.
Interested in becoming a police officer? Check out our Police Office Entrance Exam Directory.