The Written Exam for Police Officer Exam Study Guide (page 2)
Once again, know that the written exam may be the most important step in your path to becoming a police officer. It is generally the first screening device in the selection process. It is your first opportunity to show that you have the skills and abilities to become a police officer—and unfortunately, if you do not pass the exam, it may be your last opportunity.Under most circumstances, you will not be permitted to continue in the selection process unless you receive a passing score on the written exam. This is by design; agencies rely on the written exam as their first elimination step because it is easy and inexpensive to administer. In the nation's largest cities, literally thousands of applicants might take the written exam at the same time at schools or auditoriums throughout the area.
How do you make sure you will stand out and that your score will help you to be among the first applicants invited to move onto the next steps in the screening process? The written exam is almost always a multiple-choice exam; although not all exams are identical, they will most frequently follow the formats of the practice exams in this book. Although some agencies may send you study material or a fact sheet about the exam, you are not expected to have knowledge of police procedures or rules or to know the laws of your state. Those are the topics you will learn and be tested on when you attend the police academy after successfully completing the screening process.
If the written exam is not based on police knowledge, what is it all about? The exam tests for many of the abilities you see in the headings of the chapters of this book. Questions will evaluate your ability to reason; to understand and answer questions about reading passages, pictures, and maps; and to select actions you would take based on a given fact pattern. There will also likely be a section on grammar, spelling, and selecting the correct word to complete a sentence or idea. Finally, there will be math-type questions that may ask you to add, subtract,multiple, and divide, and to pick up number patterns.
You may not see the connections to policing in these types of questions, but the format tests whether you have the ability to master the complex sets of rules and procedures and laws that you will study in the police academy, and whether your vocabulary and language is sufficient enough to read and understand material that will be presented to you and to speak with people and write accurate reports detailing your activities.
To discern your ability to grasp police-like situations, many of the questions and fact patterns that will presented to you will be similar to what you would be asked to do while working. For example, you might read a passage that explains the difference between two legal concepts and then answer a series of questions about those concepts or about how you would apply them in a situation that will be described. Similarly,you might read a passage written in the same style a police procedures manual would be and asked to answer questions that indicate whether you understood what you read. Or you might be given a common police situation and asked questions about how you would write the follow-up report.
Sample Police Situation Report Question
Instructions: Answer the next two questions based on the following information.
- Officers Biddle and Barron were dispatched in response to a 911 call regarding an automobile accident. At the scene, they obtained the following information:
Date of accident: July 18, 2008 Type of accident: Hit and run Victim: Bob Sellis, a pedestrian Type of car: Ford Color of car: Green Driver of car: Unknown male
- Officer Barron is writing up the crime report. Which of the following expresses the relevant information most clearly and accurately?
- On July 18, 2008, pedestrian Bob Sellis was the victim of a hit and run accident when he was struck by a green Ford, driver unknown.
- The hit and run victim, pedestrian Bob Sellis, was struck by an unknown male driver of a green Ford.
- A green Ford hit and ran from Bob Sellis, a pedestrian on July 18, 2008.
- Bob Sellis, a pedestrian, was hit and run by a man driving a green Ford.
Choice a is the only one that contains information provided in the question. Choices b and d imply that Sellis was struck by a driver rather than by a car; choice c creates an illogical category of "hit and ran."
- Which of the following is a correct assumption based on the material provided?
- Bob Sellis was exiting his vehicle when he was struck.
- The man driving the green Ford was talking on a cell phone.
- Bob Sellis was seriously injured when he was hit.
- Bob Sellis was not killed by the unknown male driver.
d. Since there is no mention of anyone other than Bob Sellis talking to the police, it must be assumed he provided the information and must therefore be alive. Choices a, b, and c contain information that is not provided in the fact pattern.
Memory and map-reading questions might present you with wanted posters that you will then have to answer questions about, without looking back at the pictures. The maps might ask you to select the best way to get from one location to another.
The math questions on the exam might also be related to law enforcement responsibilities. An example of this could be a description of a burglary scene that required you to total the value of missing or stolen property. Some of the numbers in series or patterns might resemble what a state's license plates look like.
Sample Math Questions
Instructions: Based on the information provided in the following descriptive paragraph, answer the next three questions.
You are dispatched to take a report of a burglary at Tom's Tire Store. Tom is convinced that someone drove a truck up to his store to take the tires because a large number have been taken. According to Tom, six Silver Edition touring tires, six Pathfinder Truck/SUV tires, and four each of the All Season Regular and All Season Ultra tires were stolen.
The tires are valued at:
- Silver Edition touring tires $66 each
- Pathfinder Truck/SUV tires $111 each
- All Season Regular tires $41.99 each
- All Season Ultra tires $83.99 each
- What is the total value of the Pathfinder Truck SUV tires reported by Tom?
b. You calculated 6 × 111. Choice a is an incorrect multiplication; choice c is probably based on recalling four rather than six tires having been taken, and choice d is the value of only the Silver Edition tires.
- What is the total value of the All Season Ultra tires reported by Tom?
- What is the total value of all the tires reported by Tom?
d. You calculated 4 × $83.99. Choice a is an incorrect multiplication; choice b is the value of the Pathfinder Truck SUV tires, and choice is c is most likely based on recalling six rather than four tires having been taken.
a. Choice a is the sum of all the values calculated (6 × 66) + (6 × 111) + (4 × 41.99) + (4 × 83.99). Choice b reverses numbers and results in an addition error; choice c omits the value of the All Season Ultra Tires, and choice d omits the value of the Pathfinder Truck/SUV tires.
As these samples illustrate, each question tests more than one thing. Judgment, reading, and the ability to do math are combined in the samples. You were required to do more than merely add up numbers; you had to note not only what was missing and how much each cost, but also how many of each were missing.