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Reading Comprehension for Police Officer Exam Study Guide

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Updated on Mar 16, 2011

Reading comprehension is an important skill for understanding the material taught during the police academy. Information presented to you will include a large number of legal principles and court decisions; detailed reports, procedures, and forms; suspect descriptions; and many other documents that you will refer to regularly in the course of your work. To make sure that you are able to understand the material that will be presented to you in the academy and throughout your career, the reading comprehension portion of the written test is designed to measure how well you understand what you read.

These tests are most often multiple-choice; you will be given brief passages to read and then you will be asked a series of questions based on each. They are very similar to exams you have probably taken in high school and college. Along with sample questions, this chapter provides you with advice and strategies for maximizing your test score.

In addition to spending time with this chapter, consider adding more reading to your daily schedule of activities. Just as you can become a better baseball pitcher by practicing your pitches, you can become a better—and more thorough—reader by practicing reading. After you read something, think about what you read. Did you understand it? Were there words or phrases you should look up in the dictionary? Were issues presented that were unfamiliar to you? Ask yourself these and other questions to be sure that you not only read the words themselves, but that you understood what you read.

After studying the sample questions later on in the article, make up similar questions for yourself for passages you read on your own. Do not be intimidated; the passages you will be given on your written exam are no more difficult than a newspaper article or a high school or college textbook. Practicing, though, will raise your current level of reading comprehension and will benefit you not only on the exam, but in all aspects of your career.

Types of Reading Comprehension Questions

You have probably encountered reading comprehension questions before, where you are given a passage to read and then have to answer multiple-choice questions about it. This kind of question has two advantages for you as a test taker:

  1. Any information you need to know is right in front of you.
  2. You're being tested only on the information provided in the passage.

The disadvantage, however, is that you have to know where and how to find information quickly in an unfamiliar text. This makes it easy to fall for one of the incorrect answer choices, especially since they're designed to mislead you.

The best way to excel on this passage/question format is to be very familiar with the kinds of questions that are typically asked on the test. Questions most frequently fall into one of the following four categories:

  1. fact or detail
  2. main idea or title
  3. inference or interpretation
  4. vocabulary definition

In order to succeed on a reading comprehension test, you need to thoroughly understand each of these four types of questions.

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