Many law enforcement candidates react
to reading comprehension questions by
thinking, "This part of the test is going to
really slow me down." And, to a degree
this part of the test will slow you down.
However, if you follow the strategies
described in this article you will be able to
complete your test at a steady pace and
gain valuable points.

Most police entrance exams emphasize
reading comprehension. Why? Because
to properly perform their jobs, law
enforcement officers are expected to
understand and comprehend what they

Reading comprehension questions will
typically be based on one or more
situational paragraphs, or require a
candidate to determinethe proper course
of action to take based on reading police
rules and procedures.

Firstly, I would suggest you do a lot of
reading before taking the test.
Newspaper and magazine articles can
improve your concentration and your
ability to understand what you read.
Read with purpose. Underscore details
and ideas that appear crucial to the
meaning of the articles. Identify the
writer's point of view and their
supporting information. When you finish
with an article, summarize it. Ask
yourself, what was the author's purpose
in writing the article? What was the main
idea. What was the article's focus, key
information and words?
Another suggestion is to take practice
law enforcement exams. The best
practice exams will include reading
comprehension sections taken directly
from actual exams used by law
enforcement agencies.

Here are seven proven strategies to help
you pass the reading comprehension part
of the law enforcement written exam:

1. Skim the answers before reading the
passage. This will let you know what to
look for while reading. As you read the
passage, mark or circle anything that
answers a question. Continue reading
that passage until you're done. Don't
answer the question until you've read the
entire passage because you'll break your

2. Ask yourself after you read a
paragraph, "What exactly did that
paragraph say?" Spend a couple of
seconds summarizing the contents of the
paragraph. While doing this look at the
paragraph to help you remember where
important information is located.

3. Without fail there will be one or more
questions asking you to identify the main
idea. Usually a passage will have a few
sentences stating the author's main idea.
While reading, underline these sentences.
This will save you valuable time.

4. Underline key words, phrases and
facts, such as dates, names and events.

5. If you are totally confused by a
sentence or phrase in the passage, read
the sentence before and after the difficult
sentence to clarify its meaning. If you're
still confused, move on. Don't dwell too
long or you'll lose valuable time.

6. Try to visualize by forming a mental
picture of the events described in the
passage as you read. When you are able
to visualize something, it's easier to

7. Answer the questions based on the
information in the passage, not prior
knowledge. If you don't agree with
something stated in the passage this is
not the time to argue your point.
Remember your goal is to get the highest
score. In this part of the test, you are
being tested on your ability to read and
comprehend, not your knowledge of the

Do's and Don'ts

Do read actively, not passively. Pause
briefly after each paragraph to think
about the points made by the author. Jot
down a brief outline as you go.

Don't get too concerned with details as
you read a passage, especially long
passages. Just take notes of where the
details were in the passage. You can
quickly list statistics, numbers, dates,
names titles, etc.

Do pay attention to the passage
structure. Is it organized chronologically,
by comparison of two or more
arguments, or was there some other
classification system? This will help you
locate details later.

Do summarize the passage. Take a few
seconds to recap the main idea of the
passage. This may help you answer
several questions quickly.

In summary, if you follow these simple
tips and strategies you will find reading
comprehension test questions far easier
to answer correctly. Remember read with
purpose. By far the most effective
method to help you hone your skills and
build your confidence, besides reading
newspaper and magazine articles, is to
take actual practice exams used by law
enforcement agencies.
by George M. Godoy
Seven Strategies
To Help You Ace
Reading Comprehension
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.

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