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Police Written Test Tips

Sergeant George Godoy

The police written test will vary throughout the country. Some police agencies rent the written test from companies like Stanard & Associates that specialize in the police entrance test, while other agencies have written tests provided to them by state run organizations such as POST (Peace Officer Standards & Training). Still, countless municipalities with smaller budgets write their own.

In the days and weeks prior to taking the written test it is imperative to study. This is one phase of the process that you will have the opportunity to prepare, so don’t cut yourself short. A little preparation will help you excel over your competition.

Types of Questions

The police written test can comprise of true/ false, essay, fill in the blank…but the most popular type of written exam used by police departments today is the multiple choice test. The reasons are straightforward. It is the simply the most objective test to measure a candidates ability to perform the tasks of a police officer. In addition:

It is easy to grade.

It removes subjectivity because there is only one correct answer.

Any trained person grading the test will have the same results.

Multiple choice tests can be administered directly from a PC and graded instantly.

Prepare For The Written Test

1. Find out what’s on the test. Visit the police department web site you applied to for the basic components of the written test. Common areas that are tested include: judgment and problem solving, vocabulary, spelling, grammar, memorization, mathematics and reading comprehension. If the web site tells you that you will be taking a civil service exam, and that’s it, then it is not inappropriate to call human resources or the recruitment section in larger department’s and politely ask what components will be on the test. You will find in most cases that you will be provided with this information.

2. Establish a study program. Study each component separately. If the components given to you were math, reading comprehension, and writing and grammar then start with your weakest area first. You can find most of the information needed to tweak your knowledge on the Internet. For example, if you consider yourself weak in math you can go to Google and enter the word “math”. You will find a great site called Here you can brush up on basic math. You can do this with any subject.

3. Take practice police tests. This can reduce your anxiety and improve your test taking strategies.

4. Organize your schedule so you can perform your best on test day. Prepare mentally. Stay positive. Negative feelings of failure are common, but don’t allow these thoughts to enter your head. Being prepared for the written test will allow you to feel confident in the test room. Study and practice prior to test day will make a huge difference in your test score.

5. Get enough sleep. Most adults do best with 7-8 hours. Try to adopt this pattern several days before the exam. Give yourself plenty of time to have a light, balanced breakfast. Minimize your use of caffeine. Arrive at the test 20 minutes early. Allow enough time to cope with traffic, weather, parking, etc.

Written Test Tips

1. Understand all verbal and written instructions given by the test proctor. Ask questions if you’re unsure. The time to ask questions is before the written test begins.

2. Use the time given to complete each section of the test carefully. Some written tests are given a total time to complete, others will be timed separately. Divide the time given by the number of questions. This will tell you how much time you have on each question, or get you close. Keep a steady pace throughout the test.

3. Read each question carefully. Don’t get bogged down on any one question. Sometimes a certain question will stump you. Use your informed judgment to make a choice between possible answers. This is not guessing. To the extent your decision is informed you are demonstrating a degree of knowledge and not just blindly guessing. Answer all questions.

4. Avoid reading too much into a question. Most questions require an answer that is most correct. Reason through the answers to find the most logical answer.

5. Use all the allotted time given to complete the test. If you finish early go back to problematic questions and re-think them. Use every second you’re given on the written test.

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