The Written Exam for Police Officer Exam Study Guide (page 3)

Updated on Mar 16, 2011

Preparing for the Written Test

Not every question will have a policing angle, but many will.While it is difficult to study for an exam that does not test specific facts you learned in school or at a job, there are ways to improve your score on this type of an exam. You have begun your study routine by purchasing this book with sample tests. When you take the sample tests, create a situation that matches the conditions under which you will take the actual written exam. This usually means you will be given about two hours to take the exam and you will not be permitted to leave the room once the exam booklets are distributed.

To get the best effect of the sample tests, create a test situation identical to the real thing. Go to a quiet place; turn off your phone, music, or television; sharpen two or three pencils; and take the exam just as you would if it were the real thing. This not only prepares you for the type of questions and the atmosphere, it provides you with insight into your own behavior.Do you need to practice sitting still in a quiet atmosphere? Are you able to maintain your attention span for two hours while concentrating on only one task? If you grab your cell phone or feel the need to get up and walk around, you will need to stop yourself from doing those things.

All of the questions will in some way test your reading and memory abilities, whether they are labeled that way or not. If you know you do not read as much as you should, begin to read regularly. Reading a newspaper is an excellent way to improve your reading and your comprehension skills. Test passages are generally written at the same skill level as a daily newspaper. A newspaper also introduces you to places and names that are unfamiliar; after you read an article, test yourself to see how well you recall what you read. After reading, ask yourself some questions that are similar to those in the practice tests. This will help you to learn to focus and to remember what you have read Think about what happened, to whom it happened, and who reported the events. Each of these questions is similar to creating a police report, and also to what you will be asked to do on the written exam.

Learn to read carefully and to pick out key words. Does the passage say "always," "never," "often," or "sometimes"? These words are important for answering the questions that follow. Look for negatives; if a sentence has the word not and you miss it, the meaning will be lost on you. "I did not pass the written exam" is exactly the opposite of "I did pass the written exam," but only one word separates the two realities. To make sure the second sentence pertains to you, learn to read carefully without skipping over important words.

If you come across words you are not familiar with, use a dictionary to learn their meanings. It can be fun to guess at the meaning of a word based on another word it looks like, but you can be tricked. Since the roots of many English words come from a variety of languages, two words that look similar often have very different definitions. Knowing the meanings of words will help you answer not only the actual vocabulary questions, but all the questions. If you think a word means something different from what it does mean, you are likely to misinterpret a reading passage. If the passage is followed by four or five questions, you could lose all those points just because there was one key word you did not understand.

Some questions may ask you to rephrase sentences that are awkward or are not grammatically correct. One way to prepare for this is to improve your own speech patterns. Do you use slang or speak in incorrect sentences? If so, when faced with sentences that need to be corrected, you might see nothing wrong with them. (Using standard English and avoiding slang will also serve you well when you meet your background investigator or if your agency requires an interview prior to being hired).

For additional tips on the written exam, review the material that explains specific test sections in later chapters of this book.

The rest of this chapter outlines the steps after you pass the written test. Depending on the agency to which you have applied and your score on the exam, it may be only months before you are called to the next step in the selection process or it may be years. In many jurisdictions, your next hurdle will be the physical agility test.

Written Exam Tips

  • Gather as much information as you can about the exam in advance. Some agencies will issue study guides, while others hold study sessions. If your agency has a website, you may find sample test questions online.
  • Practice, practice, practice! Review the material in the instructional chapters of this book, which offer tips on how to improve in each skill area on your exam.
  • Take all the applicable practice police exams in this book.
  • Listen carefully to any and all directions given by the person who administers the test.
  • Budget your time during the exam. Don't spend too much time on any one question.
  • Read through the entire question before answering it, and make sure you carefully read each answer before choosing the correct one.
  • When you read questions, look for words that modify such as not, never, and only.
  • Stop to check every now and then to make sure you are filling in the correct bubble or blank for each answer. You don't want to fail the test because of misplaced marks!
  • If there is time left after you are finished, go back and double-check your answers.


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