Vocabulary Review for Police Officer Exam Study Guide (page 3)
Having a good vocabulary is important when reading, writing, or speaking. While all police officers and police officer applicants are encouraged to use a dictionary to look up the meaning of words they are unfamiliar with, it is not good use of their time to have to run to a dictionary to check every third word they see. Police officers must understand complex laws, regulations, and procedures. While you cannot be expected to be familiar with many of these terms as well as the specialized words you will be introduced to, you will need to be able to use the English language efficiently.
If your written exam has a section that tests vocabulary, which is very likely, the questions are most likely to cover synonyms, antonyms, context, and/or homophones.
Synonyms and Antonyms
Synonyms are words that share the same or nearly the same meaning as other words.
Antonyms are words that are opposite or nearly opposite the meaning of other words.
The most common question type that tests for your understanding of words that are similar to or different from one another will give you a short sentence or phrase with a word underlined and provide four choices from which you are to select either the synonym or the antonym. Root words can sometimes help you answer these questions, but you must be careful to avoid so-called "false friends," or words that look or sound alike and seem to have similar meanings but may not.
Make sure to read the brief instructions prior to the series of questions carefully so that you know which choice you are looking for; a tricky question may provide both a synonym and an antonym as one of the choices to catch whether you read the question closely.
Synonym and Antonym Sample Questions
Choose the synonym of the underlined word in questions 1-3
- The defendant's attorney was eager to expedite the trial process.
- The new lieutenant had trouble learning how to delegate authority.
- The Oak Hill Police Department is housed in an obsolete building.
- The citizens of Rock Hill were unanimous in the view that the police department should hire at least five new police officers.
- Which word means the opposite of refute?
- Officer Tomas went about his duties very purposefully.
Choose the antonym of the underlined word in questions 4-6.
- b. Unanimous means uniform or in agreement; the opposite is divided.
- a. Refute means to disprove or show to be false; the opposite is to verify, or to show to be accurate or true. Note that this question is arranged somewhat differently than the previous ones, but is still testing your vocabulary skills. This question style may be more difficult than the sentence format because you have no context to help you determine the meaning.
- a. Purposefully means with purpose, or seriously; the opposite is casually. Note that in this question, the root word purpose would have helped you in figuring out the answer.
Context refers to the text surrounding a word from which you develop its meaning. You may be unaware that you use context whenever you come across a word you are unfamiliar with when you try to figure out its meaning through the rest of the words in the sentence or phrase. Context questions are similar to synonyms and antonyms but may seem easier because they give you a full sentence to help you figure out which of the choices is the best. You are able to put the words into the context of the sentence. However, the sentence may be phrased in such a way that more than one of the choices initially appears correct. You must still read carefully even if you rely on the process of elimination more than you are able to with other questions.
Context Sample Questions
For questions 7-12, select the word that means the same or almost the same as the underlined word.
- The members of the jury were appalled by the wild and uncontrolled behavior of the witness
- Despite the fact that he appeared to have financial resources, the defendant claimed to be destitute.
- Though she was distraught over the disappearance of her child, the woman was calm enough to give Officer Chu her daughter's description.
- The unrepentant criminal expressed no remorse for his actions.
- Professor Washington was a very ________ woman known for her reputation as a scholar.
- His ________________ was demonstrated by his willingness to donate large amounts of money to worthy causes.
- a. Choice a is more appropriate than choice d because it indicates a stronger emotion that more closely matches appalled. Choices b and c do have the same meaning.
- d. The phrase Despite the fact alerts you to look for the opposite of financial resources.
- d. The words though and disappearance of her child alert you to look for the opposite of calm.
- b. Remorse means regret for one's actions. If you know that repentant comes from the root repent, someone who is unrepentant would be someone not repenting, or not regretting or being sorry about.
- b. The key words are professor and scholar. Even if you are unfamiliar with the word erudite, the other choices, with the possible exception of d, disciplined, do not fit the description of a scholar. Note that the format of this and the next question are slightly different from the first four; here, rather than have an underlined word to start from, you are expected to fill in a blank directly from the context of the sentence. Do not fall into a trap of trying to select the word based on the size of the space; in other words, a short space does not mean you should select the shortest word in the list of choices, nor does a long space mean you should select the longest word.
- d. The phrase large amounts of money to worthy causes is the key to the definition you are looking for. Even if you are unfamiliar with the word altruism, the other choices do not describe generosity, a word you may be more familiar than altruism.
Don't be fooled by words that sound alike but have entirely different meanings. The best way to identify these easily confused words is by studying them and quizzing yourself until you have the meanings and spellings memorized. A list of homophones that are often found on written exams follows this section. Review the list carefully and consult your dictionary to determine the meanings of any words that you are unsure of.
Homophone Sample Questions
Questions 13–18 each provide two choices of words that are homophones. Select the word that makes sense in each sentence.
- Officer Markus slammed on his ________ to avoid hitting a car that had stalled in the intersection.
- Our sergeant asked us to ________ him before responding to the parade.
- The mayor told the police commission to ________ six new police officers; I hope I will be one of them.
- We learned in the police academy to keep unauthorized persons away from a crime ________.
- Lieutenant Bashari did not know ________ he was on the promotion list.
- I was thrilled to learn I had ________ the defensive driving course.
cite, sight, site
due, do, dew
for, fore, four
their, there, they're
to, too, two
ware, wear, where
- b. Brake is the word for a stopping device; break means to damage something.
- a. Meet means get together; meat is something you eat.
- a. Hire means to employ; higher is a comparative based on the word high.
- b. Scene is a place of occurrence; seen is the past participle of see.
- b. Whether indicates an alternative; weather pertains to temperature, moisture, wind, velocity, and atmospheric conditions.
- a. Passed indicates to undergo a trial or test with favorable results; past indicates no longer current.
Ways to Improve Your Vocabulary
- Learn groups of synonyms for words.
- Learn new words in context.
- Memorize common word roots, prefixes, and suffixes.
- Create and use flashcards regularly.