Medical and Psychological Evaluations for Police Officer Exam Study Guide
The medical evaluation is not the same as the physical agility test. Physical agility testing measures your ability to perform tasks associated with the police role, while a medical evaluation assesses your medical fitness to perform those tasks. For instance, if you have a heart condition, you might be able to run and jump successfully during the physical agility test, but the medical evaluation would reveal that you might be prone to collapse immediately after performing strenuous activity.
The medical evaluation will measure your height and weight (primarily to ensure they are in a healthy balance); your vision (including a test for colorblindness); and your hearing. You may be tested on a treadmill or other device for cardiovascular-pulmonary health; your blood may also be tested; and you will definitely be tested for drugs in your system. Not all of the evaluations will result in automatic disqualification, but some will. If you are colorblind, show a history of drug use, have a heart condition, or are considerably overweight, you should expect to be disqualified. While some medical decisions can be appealed, failing other parts of the evaluation is considered too serious to permit you to move on in the selection process. If you fail a portion of the medical evaluation that can be rectified in some way (for instance, being overweight), you may be offered a set time period to lose the weight and appear for retest.
The psychological test is another one for which you cannot study. It is generally administered in two parts. The first is a paper-and-pencil test that is similar to any other multiple-choice test. In this one, however, the questions are personal. They ask you about your personal attitudes and to describe yourself in many ways. Answer honestly; the questions are intended to pick up in the scoring whether you have tried to trick the test. Some questions are what you might anticipate—asking if you used drugs, if you get depressed easily, or similar queries—but others may be unexpected for this sort of test. You can be sure that the questions are intended to get at issues you might not recognize. If your score indicates no personality traits that would prevent you from becoming a police officer, you will be scheduled to meet with a psychologist or psychiatrist who will interview you to further determine your adaptability to the police profession. Based on the assessment of the interviewer, your agency will determine whether you will continue on in the application process.
Psychological Evaluation Tips
- Read over your application and any other written material you have submitted to the department to refresh your memory of events in your past that you described. You may be asked a number of questions about each event, so be prepared ahead of time.
- Be confident when you walk into the room, and greet the psychologist with a firm handshake.
- Focus on answering each question clearly, but try not to draw out your answers into lengthy stories. You want to answer the questions, but not supply unrelated additional information.
- Try not to get defensive if the psychologist seems to be getting too personal. Just be honest and remember that he or she is just doing his or her job.