Study preparation for the police officer exam is
simple and straightforward. Read your test guide
front to back and then read it again. Check out the
library, Internet and bookstore for more resources
on police exams, especially for sources with sample
questions. Most libraries will have books in the
reference section that contain explanations of the
exam sections most commonly used and sample
questions for each. If you find an exam section that
you feel is a weak area for you, spend extra time on
it to tone down test day anxiety.

Nearly every police officer exam will include 5 areas
of evaluation. These areas may be covered in
separate sections of questions, or may be bundled
within 2 or 3 sections. They include:

1. Accuracy of Observation/Memory

Your ability to retain and recall specific information.
You will be given printed information, allowed to
read and study it (no note-taking) for a certain
amount of time (5 to 25 minutes), then the
materials are returned and you are tested on the
contents. Tests may be strictly memory recall, or
may ask for conclusions to be drawn from the
information given.

This exam section evaluates your ability to perform
police-related duties such as: remembering suspect
descriptions, wanted posters/pictures, department
policies and procedures, and safety and tactical

2. Written Skills

Your ability to communicate in writing. You will be
given either a spelling or vocabulary test usually
consisting of 25-50 words to be defined and spelled
correctly. You will also be given, in some form, a
scenario to read and take notes on. You will then
write a report that relates to specific test-defined
points of the scenario.

This exam section evaluates your ability to perform
police-related duties such as: report writing,
witness statements and completing department

3. Reading Comprehension

Your ability to understand what you read. You will
be given materials to read and will then answer
multiple choice questions on that information to
show that you understand and can apply
information you read.

This exam section evaluates your ability to perform
police-related duties such as: accurately reading and
comprehending technical and legal information -
court orders, department policy, state law, haz-mat
warnings and training materials, for example.  
Prepare for exam sections 1 - 3 by cornering family
and friends to give you verbal or written answer
pop-quizzes on information you've read in
newspapers and magazines. This is so close to a
game that you shouldn't have any trouble finding
people to 'play'.

4. Decision Making/Judgment Skills

Your ability to identify and comprehend critical
elements of a situation and to choose an
appropriate course of action. You will be given
written, audio or video materials and then asked to
pick the best response out of several responses,
within an extremely limited time frame (10 seconds,
for example).

This exam section evaluates your ability to perform
police-related duties such as: responding calmly to
provocation, handling authority appropriately, using
unbiased enforcement, professional ethics and
social maturity.

Prepare for exam section 4 by studying sample
questions, reading newspaper accounts of crimes
and proposing what your response would be, and
observing officer response during a police ride along.

5. Navigational Skills/Directional Orientation

Your ability to read maps and recognize the
direction you are traveling.  You will be given
materials that ask you to find locations on maps,
show point to point routes for specific location
responses and suspect vehicle and foot chases.
This exam section evaluates your ability to perform
police-related duties such as: routing to calls to
decrease response time, knowledge of street
closures and need for re-routing, radio
transmissions of a suspect chase, and emergency
response to officer down/needs assistance.

Prepare for exam section 5 by observing the officer
during a ride along, sticking a compass in your
vehicle and learning to use landmarks as orientation
guides and lastly, involve friends or family in
imaginary suspect 'chases'. Your 'chase' exercise
would be something like this: Both drivers are in cell
phone contact. Your vehicle is 2 blocks away from
your partner's vehicle. You will begin your imaginary
'chase' of a suspect (at legal speeds) while giving
directions to your 'backup' over your cell phone. Set
a time limit (5 minutes). When the suspect is
'apprehended', see if your backup finds you. Then
switch roles and have your partner be the lead
vehicle. Your job will be to follow, and also to
anticipate routes that would allow you to block the
suspects anticipated direction of travel. Again, this
is a great game and you'll have little trouble finding

The police officer exam is designed to evaluate
multiple abilities and skills. In addition to the five
evaluation sections noted above, you will also find
simple math and problem-solving math questions,
and behavioral questions that indicate character,
compliance with laws and personal accountability.
Sergeant George Godoy (Ret.) is a 22 year police
veteran.  During his police career, Sergeant Godoy
served for 5 years as a police recruitment specialist
where he personally tested over 1,000 potential
police recruits.
by George M. Godoy
Police Officer Entrance Exam
What You Should Know
You've taken the first step. Your application is in
the hands of a police recruiter. Now you're ready to
take the plunge with the police officer exam. Like
everything else in your quest for the badge, the key
to success in the written exam is: preparation.

First on your prep list is the police officer exam
study guide. Before you leave the recruiter's office,
ask for one, or where you can get one. Many
agencies have an online guide available on their web
site. These exam guides tell you what types of
questions to expect and how many there are per
section, how much time you have on each section,
and what skills and abilities are tested. If your
agency does not have an exam guide, ask the
recruiter or your department contact, for
information about the exam. Find out where the
exam is taken, the time required to complete the
exam, what types of questions will be on the exam
(multiple choice, essay, etc.) and what areas of
knowledge will be tested.

Ask also if the exam is Civil Service. Civil service
exams are usually only offered once or twice a year,
and re-testing may also be limited. Check your
guide for specifics, but in general, police officer
exams are timed, contain 100 to 200 questions in
several sections, require 2-3 hours time for
completion and are scored as pass/fail or require
70% correct to pass. Most exams are completed by
hand (pencil-marked answer sheets), but many are
taken on computers.
Police Exam

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