How to pass the law enforcement ability test


In order to qualify as a law enforcement recruit, you must first take a law enforcement ability test.  The testing process is multi-faceted.  The first phase is the written test which measures cognitive ability that’s critical to good job performance. The test doesn’t require specific knowledge about law enforcement work, but instead measures the ability to think effectively.  It’s designed to equally assess skills without bias to any racial, ethnic, religious or gender-specific group. It includes vocabulary, reading, spelling and mathematical skills. 

The written law enforcement ability test also measures spatial orientation, reading comprehension, problem solving, and memory, among other skills. Some law enforcement departments use the standard civil service test for this phase of law enforcement recruitment.  The test is usually multiple-choice and contains about 100 questions.  The time limit for completion is generally around 90 minutes.

If you’re about to take the law enforcement ability test, make sure you study beforehand, as getting a good score is crucial to becoming a law enforcement officer. Many departments issue a study guide and test prep manual to those signed up for the test. You can also purchase them online and in bookstores. If purchasing one, be sure to obtain the study guide appropriate to the branch of law enforcement you’re entering, as tests vary for different agencies.

The next phase of the law enforcement ability test procedure is examination of your physical abilities. This determines if you can fulfill the physical requirements of being a law enforcement officer, which includes being able to run, jump and climb while in pursuit of a suspect. 

The physical portion of the law enforcement ability test includes exercises such as sit-ups, push-ups, pull ups, running, jumping and climbing.  A part of the test requires running through an obstacle course which includes stairs and other impediments an officer might have to traverse while pursuing a fleeing suspect. They also may have to carry a dummy to demonstrate whether they have the strength to rescue an incapacitated person. Each portion of the test is graded on a pass/fail basis.

The law enforcement ability test for physical skills is pass/fail overall and applicants must pass it if they’re to continue in the hiring process.  Many law enforcement departments will let you observe the testing procedure in order to practice the skills necessary to pass. If not, they will give you a written description of the components of the test for practice purposes.  Most departments administer the test once a month.

It’s important to get in good shape before taking the law enforcement ability test. Upper body strength, leg strength, good cardio fitness and endurance are all important in passing this examination. 

If you pass all of the components of the law enforcement ability test, you’ll continue on to the next phase of law enforcement recruitment, which includes psychological testing and having a physical examination to see if you have any health impairments which would impact your ability to perform law enforcement duties.

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