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Your Written Exam: How To Think Like A Cop

Sergeant George Gody

Preparation for judgment/situational test questions on the police written test may seem daunting, but in reality, you need to capture only one thing — the mindset of a police officer.

Thinking like a police officer is not simple, yet the elements that make up a police officers mindset are simple, straightforward and support effective, correct actions and decisions in situational dilemmas.

Preparing yourself to view situational questions with the mindset of a police officer involves establishing a solid analytical foundation based on three fundamentals:

1. Common Sense

2. Police Priorities

3. Police Hierarchies

When these fundamentals are combined and applied to police situational questions, they become a single, skilled viewpoint that ensures the most effective and equitable actions and decisions. Using these fundamentals as your primary information filters; you can approach any situational problem and determine an effective and appropriate course of action.

Common sense is knowledge acquired through trial and error, experience and commonly accepted animate and inanimate behaviors, and the laws of physics.

For example: Is it safer to talk to someone involved in an auto accident in the street or on the sidewalk? Common sense indicates: Sidewalk. If you were knocking on someone’s door, would you stand in front of the door or off to the side? Common sense indicates: Side. If you’re pursuing a traffic violator at a high rate of speed through downtown traffic, do you continue the pursuit or let him go? Common sense indicates: Let Him Go. The risk of injuring innocent people is too high versus upholding the law by stopping a traffic violator.

Another example: What would you do if you saw a naked man walking down the street with only a cell phone in his hand? Arrest him? If so, on what charge? You should first ask questions and determine what happened. He may be a victim of a crime, so don’t jump to conclusions.

In police work, and in police situational test questions, using common sense to evaluate the situation means basing actions and decisions on knowledge that is generally common to everyone, but is occurring in a situation that involves a need for police action.

Common sense should temper your reactions, allowing you to control the urge to jump to conclusions before gaining all the available facts. Often the set of circumstances seen at first glance seems to warrant a certain conclusion, however, common sense allows us to see where circumstances simply could not coexist in certain situational conflicts.

Police Priorities are defined by each law enforcement department in particular, but can also be identified in general for the purposes of preparing for police situational test questions.

Assessing a situation and the information pertaining to it requires relying on your common sense and using Police Priorities to determine the most effective, appropriate course of action.

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  • Me_grappling_pic_max50


    almost 3 years ago


    Very good read. I will strive to think with this mindset before I begin my career in the LE field.

  • Badge_max50


    about 3 years ago


    Very good framework for decision making process. In preparation for the academy I'm trying to teach myself to think like a police officer so it will be second nature by the time I'm running around with my FTO.

  • Stopsign_max50


    over 3 years ago


    This might be the best all around article on the written exam that I've ever read. I was directed to this website by a buddy and I am glad that I came here. I used the tips in this article, as well as downloaded a study guide at . The result was fantastic as I scored in the high 90's on the test.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago

    For a pionner like me it is a very interesting document. Common sense.

  • Photo_user_banned_big


    almost 4 years ago


    This is such a good article, I would like to share it with others. ... How do I get permission to do so? ... Common sense coincides with Common Law; and it's good to be educated in Common Laws of the Land. Many individuals aren't aware of the difference between Common Law (Constitutional Law) and Commercial Law (corporate statutes, regulations and codes) that often attempt to overrule an individual's "unalienable" rights. This lack of awareness causes a lot of problems in the public domain, especially around protests and demonstrations; so it seems to me, we all need to be more EDUCATED in Law, in general; and that's up to the educational system to do this, teach the differences between Laws of the Land and Laws of the Sea.

  • Greensboroskyline_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Great article. Useful information as always.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 4 years ago


    Great article, very helpful!

  • Ncapd_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Very good article, helpful in many ways.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago

    Good article.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago


    Thanks for posting this useful information. This was just what I was on looking for. I'll come back to this blog for sure! I bookmarked this blog a while ago because of the useful content and I am never being disappointed.  Mouth Yeast Infections

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago


    The general public expects an awful lot , sometimes unreasonably so. They call you, they expect you to come & fix whatever it is they need you for. leather sofas

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago


    This probably one of the best written exam that I've read. I used the tips on here, as well as downloaded a police exam study guide at and the results were more than amazing. Thanks guy for this article. If anyone is schedule for the exam follow the tips here, and if you can download the study guide. Unless you are brain dead, you will pass the test.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago


    Excellent advice, could have used this before I took the exam(which I still passed & then found out that in my state I'm too old to go through any Police Academy). I will say that I approached most Q's as if I was taking Military orders, since they are closely related and feel this did help in a few scenarios that were presented on the test. How someone thinks during certain situations really does reflect how that person was trained. How I myself respond to a certain situation(I'm a Security Guard)is totally different from my friends/family in the same instance. This article was great in pointing out that as LEO's the order of your Priority List may continually change depending upon the importance/seriousness of the situation as it unfolds before you, the people & conditions that exist and all the other elements that come together in seconds, the same seconds that as a trained LEO you'll know what to do 1st, even as a rookie. Law Enforcement more than any other job field comes under a unique microscope. Every action you do, as well as every action you do not do is taken apart and YOU are going to have to defend every little nuance of what you did/failed to do. You have split seconds to respond and because of your training, the general public is going to expect the best of you. The general public expects an awful lot , sometimes unreasonably so. They call you, they expect you to come & fix whatever it is they need you for. Their memories of the good that you do is often cloudy, but their memories of what is wrong with Cops is always crystal clear. As LE you already start out with 2 strikes in the eyes of the general public , but practicing proper proceedures at least keeps you in the game just in case a call of "Foul" comes down.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago


    Thanks for the info! ddeangelo, check your spelling, please?

  • Photo_user_banned_big


    over 4 years ago


    I can do that, I also know, In some cases people attack policemen and I belive that should not be the case if you as police officer take back up with you at all times. Being on duty by your self is way too dangeress and it may not always work reminding them about, their rights and yours as the on duty police officer.

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