How to Prepare for the Police Written Exam


If you want to become a police officer, part of the application process will include a written exam.

The test will cover a variety of subject areas and may include multiple-choice, true/false, fill-in-the-blank, and open-ended questions. Some questions may be general, others may relate specifically to the police department, community, or region in which you are applying to become a police officer.

The exam is designed to test your math proficiency, written skills, and logical reasoning, to see if you have the basic skills to become a police officer. You will not be asked about specific law enforcement techniques or terminology—that’s something you will be taught at the academy.

You should expect the test to cover things like:

  • Basic math like addition, subtraction, division, percentages, and fractions
  • Memory and observation
  • Facial recognition
  • Spatial and directional orientation
  • Situational judgment and reasoning
  • Decision-making and problem-solving
  • Reading comprehension
  • Grammar, vocabulary, and spelling


If you are serious about becoming a police officer, being well prepared for the police written test is essential. For most departments, a passing score is 70%. Follow these tips to make sure you can pass the written test and take the nest step toward becoming a police officer.

Ask the department for guidelines and study materials. Contact the police department to which you are applying and ask them if they have a police exam study guide. If they don’t have one, ask if there is a third-party testing guide they can recommend, and if they can provide any details about the written test, such as how many questions are on the test, how many sections there are, and how much time is given to complete each section.

Research what will be on the test. If your police department does not offer its own test prep kit, several online sources offer general police exam prep kits and sample questions. Use these online sources to familiarize yourself with the types of questions that will be asked and practice on your own.

Police Exam test Prep Resources:


Find someone who has taken the test. Knowing more about someone’s actual experience taking the test can give you valuable insight into what the test is like and what you can do to prepare. Ask around to see if you can find someone who has already taken the police written test. Ask how they prepared, what the test was like, how they did, and if they have any tips for preparation.

Polish up on basic skills. You will be expected to show knowledge of basic skills at about a 12th grade level. If your grammar, writing, reading comprehension, or math skills are rusty, spend some time each day studying, and focus on the things you find most difficult.

Work on your memory. One of the most important skills a police officer has is the ability to pay close attention to details, memorize faces and scenes, and be very aware of everything they experience so they can accurately recall details related to people, events, conversations, and situations. Prepare for the memory portion of the police written test by looking at a photo, map, a person’s face, or a landscape or other indoor or outdoor location for a few seconds, then write a list of everything you can remember about what you saw.

Be prepared on the day of the test. It’s important to be in top physical and mental shape for your test, so be sure to get a good night’s sleep the night before, have something to eat before the test, wear comfortable (but not sloppy) clothing, and arrive before the scheduled time so you don’t feel rushed or stressed.

Pay attention during the exam. Tests can be stressful, but try to stay calm and relaxed during the exam. Listen closely to any instructions you are given before the test begins and read each question carefully. For multiple choice questions, read all the options before making your choice. Keep an eye on the time. If a question is stumping you and you’re getting frustrated, skip it and move on to the next one, then come back to it later.

Do your own work. Cheating on any exam is a terrible idea, but it’s particularly bad if you are applying to be a police officer sworn to uphold the law! Keep your eyes on your own paper—you can be disqualified for even the appearance of looking at someone else’s answers.

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