How to Pass the Civil Test for Police Officers

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Police civil service tests require a great deal of effort. It is not enough to just pass the civil service test. You need to score high enough to advance to the next level in the hiring process because there is so much competition for police careers. These five steps are crucial to passing and scoring well on the police civil service test. If you are willing to study and invest the practice time, a police career may be on the horizon for you.

Things You'll Need

  • Internet connection or a library card
  • Practice police exams

How to Pass the Civil Service Test for Police Officers

  • Sharpen your memory and practice paying attention to detail. Most entry-level police exams will show a picture or a short video clip of a scenario. After a minute or two, you will be asked a series of specific questions to recall intricate details of what you saw. As a police officer, you are expected to accurately depict the scene. Avoid focusing on the central character of the photo or video. Instead, scan the entire scenario, listen for important details if there is audio, and be sure to make a mental note if something is out of the ordinary. Short-term memory skills are crucial to a police officer's investigative prowess.

  • Hone your analytical thinking. "Basic math skills are important," says Officer Ronald Milligan, a certified police instructor. Police civil service tests typically have a few short-story problems to solve, as well. These problems demonstrate a police officer candidate's ability to think quickly, to be an effective problem solver. There are many arithmetic word problems that can be found on the web or in books at a local library.

    Here is an example of a question likely to be on a civil service test:
    Louis is making snowballs to build a fort. Louis can build 15 snowballs in one hour but two snowballs melt every 15 minutes. How long will it take to build 210 snowballs?

  • Focus on reading comprehension, which is a must. Police officers must be able to read and decipher reports, statements, legal papers, courtroom documents, department policies, and the complexity of various law books. Typically, police civil service exams will have a few essays explaining police protocol or a procedure. Officer Thomas Kuchler, a field training officer emphasized, "It is important to be able to identify the central theme and to be able to answer specific questions about what you just read." Remember that these tests are timed. Generally, these answers are multiple choice and the answer is there in front of you.

  • Be prepared to organize your thoughts in order to write a clear and concise essay. Report writing is a huge part of a police officer's job. A police civil service test will likely require you to write an essay. In your essay, you will probably be instructed to write on a particular topic. Police officers report the facts and stick to the basics such as who, what, when, where, why, and how. Be sure to answer these questions in your writing and watch your spelling. Keep reports simple and easy to read.

  • Be ready for the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), one of the most frequently used personality tests in mental health. Police exams tend to use many of these questions to preliminarily identify ideal police candidates. The key to these questions is to avoid trying to out-think the questions. Just answer each question honestly and try to remain consistent. These questions are usually rephrased several times throughout the test. If your answers vary, you may have difficulty passing this portion of the test.

Tips & Warnings

  • The next time you have the opportunity to talk with a police officer, ask for advice. Take several tests in different venues. You will see your scores increase with each test. Several cities now charge fees as high as $25 to take the civil service tests so be sure to be prepared to avoid wasting your money. Bring a pencil and scratch paper with you in case it is not provided and don't forget your identification.

References

  • Ronald Milligan, Police Instructor; Parma, Ohio
  • Michael Elkheir, Police Officer; District of Columbia
  • Thomas Kuchler, Police Field Training Officer; Parma, Ohio
  • Photo Credit Darrin Klimek/Digital Vision/Getty Images
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