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 procedures.

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 forms.

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

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

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 partners.

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.

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Police Exam
Becoming a Police Officer
An Insider's Guide to a Career
in Law Enforcement
There are Five
Indispensable Truths
for a Successful Police
Recommended reading for
those of you thinking
about becoming a Police
Accurate crime reporting is
so important on so many
levels.  It all begins with
you and your preliminary
police report.
As a police officer, you'll
be writing something
everyday of your police
career.  Everything you put
to writing, no matter how
seemingly inconsequential,
will be important.
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