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 read.
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
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
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
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 concentration.
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
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 comprehend.
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,
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
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.
To Help You Ace
Reading Comprehension Questions
|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
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