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Map Reading for Police Officer Exam Study Guide (page 2)

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Updated on Jul 5, 2011

Finding the Shortest Route and Finding the Direction

The two most common types of map questions involve finding the shortest route from one location on the map to another and identifying the directional relationship between two or more locations on the map.

For questions involving finding the shortest route, first study the map to see where you are and to get your bearings just as you would in your own vehicle. Read the question, remembering to turn the map in any direction if this helps you get a better sense of place. Now figure out the best route without first looking at the answer choices, which may prejudice your judgment. Once you have done this, look at each answer choice and trace the suggested route with your finger or the point of your pencil. Do this with each choice. If none of the choices are the one you mapped out, and if none of the choices are "d. none of the above," take another look at your route to see if you missed something the question presented. If you missed a crucial piece of information or misread the map, start over and reconsider each of the choices presented by the question.

Finding the direction questions may take two forms; sometimes they are based on a map, but sometimes the information will be in words only. If there is a map, follow the same method, tracing your path after reading the question and then comparing your route to each of the answer choices and selecting the choice that matches your route. If the question is in words only, read carefully to make sure you understand where the question places you and where it wants you to go. Consider drawing a very rough map based on the words to help you follow the path of the question.

For practice thinking through map questions, study the map provided and then answer the questions based on it.

Finding the Shortest Route and Finding the Direction

Map Reading Sample Questions

Answer questions 1-6 based on the map. Review the directional arrows and the map key. You are not permitted to go the wrong way on a one-way street.

  1. Officers Singh and Bean have just completed a call at the southeast corner of the Raymond Avenue Mall. They are notified of a silent alarm going off at a residence located at the northwest corner of Arroyo Drive and Linda Lane. What is the quickest route for the officers to take to reach the residence?
    1. Turn north on Spivey Road, then east on Linda Lane, and then north on Arroyo Drive.
    2. Turn east on John Street, then north on Vincente, then west on Linda Lane, then north on Malinda Road, and then east on Brigham Boulevard to Arroyo Drive.
    3. Turn north on Spivey Road, then east on Brigham Boulevard, and then south on Arroyo Drive.
    4. Turn north on Spivey Road, then east on Battery Road, then north on Malinda Road, and then east on Brigham Boulevard.
  2. Officers Mayweather and Schultz have just crossed Needle Street while driving southbound on Arroyo Drive. They are dispatched to a call of an altercation between a bus driver and a passenger at a bus stop located at Raymond Avenue and Battery Road. fWhat is the quickest route for the officers to take to the bus stop?
    1. Continue south on Arroyo Drive, then west on John Street, then north on Malinda Road, then west on Needle Street, then north on Spivey Road, and then west on Battery Road to Raymond Avenue.
    2. Continue south on Arroyo Drive, then west on Shore Drive, and then north on Raymond Avenue to Battery Road.
    3. Make a U-turn on Arroyo Drive and then go west on Battery Road to Raymond Avenue.
    4. Continue south on Arroyo Drive, then east on Shore Drive, then north on Vincente, and then west on Battery Road to Raymond Avenue.
  3. Officer Riccadelli is driving west on Battery Road. She makes a right turn onto James Avenue, then a left turn onto Linda Lane, then a right turn onto Raymond Avenue, and then a right turn onto Brigham Road. What direction is she facing?
    1. east
    2. south
    3. west
    4. north
  4. What is the number of two-way roadways (whether streets, avenues, or drives) depicted on the map?
    1. two
    2. four
    3. six
    4. eight
  5. What is the number of roadways (whether streets, avenues, or drives) that intersect with Spivey Road?
    1. one
    2. three
    3. five
    4. seven
  6. You have been assigned to escort the mayor from the northwest corner of the Raymond Avenue Mall and John Street to the entrance to Town Hall, which is located a few feet to the left of the northeast corner of the building. Following the most direct route, how many turns will you have to make?
    1. one
    2. two
    3. three
    4. four

Tips for Map Reading Questions

  • Read carefully and follow all directions.
  • Feel free to move the map around during the test to face the direction you find comfortable.
  • Find your starting point.
  • Find your ending point.
  • Use a small object as your police car and find the shortest route, paying special attention to the traffic signals.
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