What are the tests to become a law enforcement officer?

If you’re considering a career in the police force, you might be wondering about the tests to become a law enforcement officer. The testing requirements vary from state to state and region to region, but there are some similarities throughout.  Testing also depends on what branch of law enforcement you’re entering.  Most law enforcement agencies require that you take a written, or cognitive test, as well as a physical fitness test. 


A basic entry level written exam is the first step of testing.  The test is meant to screen out unsuitable candidates from the field of applicants before too much time and investment goes into the testing process.  When scoring the initial tests to become a law enforcement officer, extra points are given to people who’ve served in the military, as well as those who’ve served in law enforcement in another agency or capacity. Points are also given to people who are bilingual in areas where a significant level of the population speaks a language other than English.


There are some basic criteria that must be met before you can take the entry level tests to become a law enforcement officer.  Most departments require that you be at least 20 years of age and have a high school diploma or GED.  Many departments also have a maximum age for taking the test, which is usually around 35 years of age.  This age requirement is sometimes waived if you have military service or have worked in law enforcement and are transferring to another branch of the police force. 


You must also take a physical fitness test to become a law enforcement officer. The test is meant to determine if you’re physically able to perform your police officer duties. Officers need to be able to run and jump in order to pursue fleeing suspects.  They also must be have the strength to overpower suspects, if need be.  Dexterity and coordination is also a must for officers, who must be adept at handling firearms.


You don’t have to be a super-athlete to pass the physical part of the law enforcement test, but you do have to be in good physical condition. The testing process measures abdominal strength, upper body strength, dexterity and stamina.  It usually involves being able to do sit-ups, push-ups, and bench presses, as well as climbing stairs and running distances. You must also be able to reach, turn and stretch to show that your body has a good range of motion.


If you pass the written and fitness tests, the next tests to become a law enforcement officer involve a thorough background investigation.  Any arrests or convictions on your record could disqualify you from becoming a police officer.  Some agencies require you to undergo a polygraph test to see if you’re being truthful about your background information.

Once you pass all of these tests to become a law enforcement officer, you’re ready to take on the final stage of the process by entering the police academy to begin training. 


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