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How Tough Is It To Pass The Police Exam?
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Let me first start out by saying that not only do you want to pass the exam itself but you also want to finish in the top 10% who take the exam at the precinct where you’re testing.

Why do I want to finish in the top 10%?

It all comes down to jobs. Those who pass in the top 10% are more likely to get the jobs that they want and not get stuck walking some beat in a part of town where you wouldn’t want to be caught dead in.

So it is almost critical that you not only pass the exam but also score as high as possible.

What many people don’t realize is that the police exam is one of the toughest exams in the world today. If you’re wondering why this is, the answer should be obvious.

Being a police officer is one of the toughest jobs in the world…hands down. No other profession requires you to have so many skills as does being a police office.

One day you’re attempting to thwart a bank robbery and the next you’re trying to reason with a distraught teenager who is possibly thinking of taking his own life.

Warrior one day and psychologist the next.

It doesn’t get any more diverse or difficult than that. And THAT is the reason why the police exam is so tough.

On average, only about 35% of the people who take the police exam pass it. And of those 35%, only about 10% get hired. Given that there are about 1 million police officers in the US, that means about 9 million people apply and never get hired.

Those are not great odds if you’re not prepared to take this exam.

Law enforcement is probably one of the most rewarding professions in the world, as well as potentially the most dangerous. One day you get to prevent a robbery and the next you’re helping somebody who is lost and needs a ride home.

In short…you actually make a difference in this world.

Not a lot of people can say that.

Sadly, most of the best candidates for this job don’t end up getting hired simply because they can’t take tests.

In fact, the irony of all this is that if you had to choose from these three abilities to determine who gets to be a police officer, which one would be at the bottom of the list?

  1. Toughness
  2. Intelligence
  3. Testing Ability

Wouldn’t you choose toughness and intelligence over testing ability without even blinking an eye?

Kind of makes the whole selection process meaningless.

Still…it’s what we have. And therefore, we need to make sure that we can improve our police force exam testing ability if we’re going to get a chance to show off our toughness and intelligence.

Sometimes life just isn’t fair.

A good candidate essentially needs to do the following in order to have the best chance of being selected into the police academy.

  • Learn testing memory aids
  • Learn strategies for reading comprehension
  • Learn polygraph strategies
  • Learn strategies to handle essay exam
  • Learn strategies to apply logic to thinking out a problem
  • Let me touch on the last one briefly.

If you’ve ever take an exam before for just about anything, especially if they are multiple choice, you have probably noticed that of the 4 possible answers, two of them are absolutely wrong and obviously so.

That means the correct answer comes down to one of two.

So even if you have no idea what the answer is, you still have a 50% chance of getting the answer right just by guessing.

Yes…there is a way to do this and it’s very easy if you know what to look for.

Candidates who know this secret will take a multiple choice exam over any other kind of exam any day of the week.

Let me pass along a very important testing tip here because I think this is the appropriate place.

When answering reading comprehension questions, don’t answer those questions based on any prior knowledge that you might have but answer them based on the information given in the exam itself.

In other words, even if you don’t agree with something, put that bias aside and simply answer based on the info provided.

If you do this, you will find, more often than not, that the answer given, leaving out your prior information, will turn out to be the right answer.

This is one of the most common mistakes that applicants make. They take a whole lot of personal baggage into the exam that simply doesn’t belong.

Leave it at home and just answer the question, as asked, with the information provided.

You’ll find that you’ll score a lot higher with just that one little tip.

Okay, so just what test are you actually going to get?

Well, while this varies from precinct to precinct, a lot of them are now moving over to the Police Analytical Thinking Inventory (PATI) exam.


The questions in the police force exam focus on logic and analytical reasoning. They’re looking for people who can logically asses a situation and analyticaly think it through.

In other words, it’s not just enough to be some big bruising hulk who can shoot a hole through a pea at 50 yards. Your brains are just as important as your brawn…maybe more so.

Ultimately, they don’t want some hot head who is going to use a knee jerk reaction to a problem…especially a difficult one.

Police departments are looking for candidates who can think their way through a problem without having to constantly go to superiors for help.

The PATI helps weed out those who simply cannot do this.

For example, let’s say you come upon a domestic situation where you arrive at a home to find a wife and husband both bruised and bleeding with the kids screaming and crying.

Who started the altercation? Who reacted in self defense?

You need to be able to rationally and logically go through your investigation to determine who was at fault.

Here’s another important test tip for the PATI exam

When answering police situation questions, do the most important things first. You have to prioritize your response to the situation. You have to also familiarize yourself with the role of the police officer in the particular department you’re looking to become a member of. Each department has its own set of priorities for each particular situation.

Street Talk

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