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The Police Exam - How To Get Hired Faster

Sergeant George Godoy

When you made your decision to become a police officer, you made a decision to change your life. And when you turned in your application, you took your first step in a grueling process towards achieving your goal.

Next in the gauntlet: the police written exam.

The first hurtle. The first cold sweat in a long line of cold sweats. Now’s the time to untie the knot in your stomach and retighten your guts to prepare for the first punch of reality: you’re actually on your way to becoming a police officer.

Whether you hate tests or you ace tests to draw a bead on living your life behind a badge, you need to turn your mind into a diamond-dust whet stone and hone your wits razor-sharp. Your goal in the police written test, your first step towards your badge, is simple and single-minded: get the highest scores possible on the police exam for the highest ranking possible on the eligibility list. You don’t just want to get on the list, you want to be in the top five — better yet, you want to be the first name on the list.

How can you do this?

Like I said, simply and single-mindedly. Prepare yourself by informing yourself. Arm yourself with hard facts about the police exam, which are yours for the asking from the recruiter, the department’s HR section, or the department website. Identify your weakest areas on the test and reinforce your abilities in that area. Review spelling rules. Pick up, “The Elements of Style” by Strunk & White, and a high school level math book while you’re at it. Then find a quiet spot with no distractions — like the library, and study.

If you don’t read regularly start doing so now. Get a newspaper and read it, then read it out loud, then read it to someone else — then discuss what you’ve read and practice being a comprehensive reader. Have someone quiz you on articles, ads that were on the same page, the page number the article was on, what other articles are on the same page and anything else they can think of to test your memory and understanding.

Teach yourself to be ferociously observant, yet careful with your assumptions. Practice observing people, vehicles and places – memorize descriptions, then check what you think you saw for accuracy.

If you haven’t gone on a ride along yet, schedule one today! And when you slide inside that patrol car forget every daydream or pre-conceived idea you ever had about police officers and police work. Wipe your mind clean and focus on every action that officer makes. Your prime objective is to learn about the ‘why’ that is the basis for an officers actions, reactions, and decisions. What observations are important to their work? Ask questions, take notes – throw yourself into the experience wholeheartedly and you’ll walk away with a little piece of a badge attached.

Would you pass the Police Exam?
Find out with PoliceLink’s FREE Practice Police Exam

The written test evaluates you on several areas of common knowledge — that’s what the math, spelling and vocabulary books were for but there are other areas that test your range and use of common sense knowledge. These areas blend judgment skills, memory and observation skills and the simple ability to know left from right into complex questions that evaluate how you react and why.

And you want to react for the same ‘why’ as any police officer — right?

Take a look at the practice questions on the next page for a taste of the test to come.

Practice Questions >>

  • Me_in_uniform_small_format_max50


    about 3 years ago


    Thanks for the nice comments. To fully understand what the police selection process involves and what it doesn't visit:

  • Stopsign_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Pretty interesting read. Thanks for the tips sir. I'd also recommend investing in a police exam study guide as you prepare for your test. They are not expensive at all. In fact, if you have zero dollar I'd suggest going to your local library and getting one there. However if you want a quality guide right this minute, I'd suggest downloading one at

  • Photo_user_banned_big


    almost 4 years ago


    Interesting read, I feel it's important to know about these things.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago


    how about for illinois?

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago


    If you live in the Connecticut area try . They offer 2 day seminars on getting hired, practice written and oral tests, etc. You'll be taught by real cops too, not some want-to-be from an online only source. Very informative course!

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago


    Great read! However I would take it a step forward and instruct candidates to visit their local library to get a police exam study guide. The downside is sometimes local libraries have outdated police exam books. rule of thumb if they are older then 2005, the book is outdated. I'd suggest visiting to download a guide there if you are able. Hands down the best law enforcement guide on the internet.

  • Photo_user_banned_big


    over 4 years ago


    Good point Sir, I'll work on that, anything else Sir?

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago


    good advice but my problem has been the oral board if you want to be a cop learn to talk about yourself on top of the other stuff.

  • Beth_spic_s_059_max50


    almost 5 years ago


    Just get the complete police officer exam book , and going to start appliction in my area . All so it have the instantly scored online practice test to see what my scored be ,with the study book i hope to boost my overall score to guarantee success wise me ..... LUCK !

  • Newpolice5_max50


    almost 5 years ago


    I am waiting for the Pittsburgh Police exam to open up.

  • 9_11_01_max600_max50


    almost 5 years ago


    thank you

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 5 years ago

    I've passed the NPOST, and I'm working on my physical agility for that test. Hopefully I'm ready when they send out the test dates. I want to be a top performer.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 5 years ago


    So I passed the MA State/Local Police Exam with a 96. What do I do now?

  • Pics_5_031_max50


    over 5 years ago


    Hey officer Forestal my name is Marcus and i'm trying my hardest to pass the police exam, but i need the right study guide could you please help me. I,m taking a test for Ottumwa Police dept in Iowa.

    thanks Marcus Cottrell

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 5 years ago

    practice practice practice

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