Police Officer Selection Test
The Police Officer Selection Test, or POST, is a generic name for the entrance exam given by law enforcement agencies for entry level positions. The POST consists of several different steps, of which the Police Written Exam is just one. Other steps include the Physical Abilities Test, the Psych Exam, Polygraph and more. There is no national standard in the U.S. for the POST - each agency decides what to use within guidelines set by their state law enforcement commissions.
Police Written Test
The police written test is a critical first step in the police hiring process and is stressful for most applicants. When you pass the police written exam, you will be placed on the eligibility list for further evaluation. The higher you rank on this list, the better your chances will be of getting hired.
Even though most agencies are testing applicants for 12th grade knowledge, approximately 80% of students taking the test will not pass. DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE POLICE WRITTEN TEST.
The police written test will vary from agency to agency throughout the country. Many police agencies outsource their written exam to third-party companies. (See list of common exams below)
In the days and weeks prior to taking the written test, it is imperative to study. This is one phase of the hiring process where preparation and practice will make a big difference for you.
The following paragraphs will cover these topics:
Types of Questions on Police Written Tests
Most police written tests nowadays use multiple choice questions. Multiple choice questions are easy to grade and remove any subjectivity. However, you may still find the written essay is required by some departments. like the LAPD.
The types of questions that may be found on most police exams are listed in the following paragraphs. Examples of each of these will be found in the Practice Exams recommended on this site.
Logical Reasoning Questions
There are many types of logical reasoning questions that police written exams include. Sometimes these are called “Judgment and Problem Solving” questions. It is important for applicants to study all of the potential classes of logical reasoning questions that may be asked. These can include:
Deductive Reasoning tests one’s ability to apply general rules to specific problems and come up with logical answers. It involves deciding if an answer makes sense.
Inductive Reasoning involves the ability to combine separate pieces of information, or specific answers to problems, and form general conclusions. It reveals one’s ability to think of possible reasons for why things go together. Questions generally have you read a procedure then draw conclusions from what you read.
Verbal Reasoning is the ability to use words correctly and to understand meaning from the use of words (as opposed to pictures and diagrams.) Examples include common sense questions, analogy questions and classification questions.
Non-verbal Reasoning tests measure one’s ability to recognize visual patterns and sequences, interpret diagrams and maps, and memorize visual features. There are several variations of these tests including Selective Attention, Spatial Orientation, Facila Recogniton and Flexibility fo Closure.
Arithmetic Reasoning is a fancy word for “math questions.” The math requirements on police written exam are usually minimal and frequently presented as word problems.
Writing Skills Questions
Law enforcement agencies place high priority on ones’ ability to write clearly due to their demand for accurate and clearly written police reports. The most common elements of the writing abilities tests found on police written tests include:
Writing Clarity (Grammar and Punctuation)
Incident Report Writing
Written Essay (not common nowadays)
Preparation for these questions is very important, as most of us have forgotten much of what we learned about proper grammar and how to write. Be sure to find a prep course that provides plenty of help on this subject.
Reading Skills Questions
There are two categories of reading comprehension questions.
Traditional, Multiple-choice Reading Comprehension Test
The Traditional Reading Comprehension Test involves reading a passage and being able to identify specific points and draw conclusions about the main ideas that are presented.
CLOZE Reading Test
The CLOZE reading test is used in California on their recommended written exam known as the PELLETB. It is rarely found at other agencies throughout the U.S. Most applicants have never been exposed to the CLOZE test. The CLOZE presents the student with a passage where words are omitted. The applicant is to fill in the correct word. This test is a powerful way of testing a whole range of English skills including grammar, spelling, and vocabulary, as well as reading comprehension. Special practice is required in order to learn how to master the CLOZE.
Situational Judgment Test
Situational Judgment Test (SJT) are becoming more commonplace on police entry exams. This form of question measures how you would instinctively react to various stressful situations you will run into as a police officer. Some test will refer to this as Problem Solving. More sophisticated versions of this test measure certain personality traits that are desirable for the job like Integrity, Openness, Cooperation, Focus, Stability, Interpersonal Skills and more. Good preparation will help on this type of test.
How to Select the Best Police Exam Prep Course?
Think about what you want in a prep course? There are many choices ranging from $20.00 books on Amazon, to $600 seminars that you can attend. Here is a checklist of what to look for:
Focused Tutorials that give you real insight and tips for solving the types of questions that will be asked on your exam.
Access to hundreds of stimulating Practice Questions have detailed answer explanations and use modern, eLearning technology to make your learning experience fast and easy.
Instant, online access to updated info. (This rules out books)
Access to advanced subjects like the Polygraph, Background Check and Job Interview should be included.
Personalized Support should be available from a law enforcement expert who is dedicated to your success.
Great Value – reasonably priced with unlimited use.
Popular Police Written Exams (click to learn more)
Police Written Exams by State
East of the Mississippi
West of the Mississippi