3 Methods of Preparing for the Police Test

Wouldn’t it be great if there was one and only one police entrance exam for every department in the nation? However, as many of you know, that’s just not the case. Every police agency has different requirements and different attributes they are looking for in an employee, which means you could take a dozen police entrance exams and none of them would look the same. So how in the world do you properly prepare for an exam that you might not see until you sit down to take it? Here are three basic ideas to keep in mind so you can do to improve your chances of passing any police test.

IMPORTANT MESSAGE: Although the police exam varies from agency to agency, I encourage every applicant to at least look over a police exam study guide beforehand.

Work on Your Reading Comprehension

Police examiners want to know that you are capable of reading a paragraph and then explaining what you just read. Nothing improves your reading comprehension better than actually reading. Read fiction, non-fiction, newspapers, magazines, or anything that is well-written and requires concentration. Your best friend’s MySpace blog or the local sports scores don’t count. You also need to be able to write about what you’ve read. Pick a good book, like Ben Sherwood’s The Survivors Club. Read a chapter at a time and ask yourself questions. Make sure to write these questions down or write a summary of what each chapter meant to you. After this, go back and read that chapter again. Police agencies want to know that you can not only read, but that you can remember and utilize what you’ve just read.

Refresh Your Basic Math and Intellectual Skills

Most police tests will include some form of mathematical equation. This could include measuring an accident scene or figuring out staffing levels for a certain size community. Again, the examiner isn’t interested in finding out if you’re an accountant; they want to know if you can logically apply basic skills. Cops have to know a little about a lot of things; math is one of them. Studying math also helps structure your reasoning skills, so if x = 17 + [(5×12)/3], what is the value of x?

Be a Good Test-Taker

This is a skill that most people have to study for and work at. Practice controlled breathing and other relaxation techniques. Remember, anxiety is a performance killer when it comes to taking tests; don’t let a difficult question hinder your progress. If you don’t readily know the answer, move on and come back to that it later. You’ll be surprised how often the answer comes to you while working on another question. Make sure you read each question carefully. Many times you are able to pull part of the answer from the question itself. Police departments are looking to see if you are logical, observant, and can think critically, that’s why they “test” you.

Only about 30% of police test takers will pass the first test they take. Like any law enforcement survival skill, testing takes practice. Try to find out as much as you can about the type of test you’ll be taking, what the agency is looking for in a candidate, and if there is a study guide available. Just do what you’d do if you’re on the range or on the mats– practice, practice, practice! Good luck! Oh yeah, the answer is 37.

Here’s a list, by rank, of the toughest cities to be a police officer:

Rank City
1 New York
2 Los Angeles
3 Chicago
4 Houston
5 Phoenix
6 Philadelphia d[›]
7 San Antonio
8 San Diego
9 Dallas
10 San Jose
11 Detroit
12 San Francisco
13 Jacksonville
14 Indianapolis e[›]
15 Austin
16 Columbus
17 Fort Worth
18 Charlotte
19 Memphis
20 Boston d[›]
21 Baltimore f[›]
22 El Paso
23 Seattle
24 Denver
25 Nashville e[›]
26 Milwaukee
27 Washington
28 Las Vegas
29 Louisville e[›]
30 Portland
31 Oklahoma City
32 Tucson
33 Atlanta
34 Albuquerque
35 Kansas City d[›]
36 Fresno
37 Mesa
38 Sacramento
39 Long Beach
40 Omaha
41 Virginia Beach f[›]
42 Miami
43 Cleveland
44 Oakland
45 Raleigh
46 Colorado Springs
47 Tulsa
48 Minneapolis
49 Arlington
50 Honolulu b[›]
51 Wichita
52 St. Louis f[›]
53 New Orleans d[›]
54 Tampa
55 Santa Ana
56 Anaheim
57 Cincinnati
58 Bakersfield
59 Aurora
60 Toledo
61 Pittsburgh
62 Riverside
63 Lexington
64 Stockton
65 Corpus Christi
66 Anchorage
67 St. Paul
68 Newark
69 Plano
70 Buffalo
71 Henderson
72 Fort Wayne
73 Greensboro
74 Lincoln
75 Glendale
76 Chandler
77 St. Petersburg
78 Jersey City
79 Scottsdale
80 Orlando
81 Madison
82 Norfolk f[›]
83 Birmingham
84 Winston-Salem
85 Durham
86 Laredo
87 Lubbock
88 Baton Rouge
89 North Las Vegas
90 Chula Vista
91 Chesapeake f[›]
92 Gilbert
93 Garland
94 Reno
95 Hialeah
96 Arlington c[›]
97 Irvine
98 Rochester
99 Akron
100 Boise
101 Irving
102 Fremont
103 Richmond f[›]
104 Spokane
105 Modesto
106 Montgomery
107 Yonkers
108 Des Moines
109 Tacoma
110 Shreveport
111 San Bernardino
112 Fayetteville
113 Glendale
114 Augusta e[›]
115 Grand Rapids
116 Huntington Beach
117 Mobile
118 Newport News f[›]
119 Little Rock
120 Moreno Valley
121 Columbus
122 Amarillo
123 Fontana
124 Oxnard
125 Knoxville
126 Fort Lauderdale
127 Salt Lake City
128 Worcester d[›]
129 Huntsville
130 Tempe
131 Brownsville
132 Jackson
133 Overland Park
134 Aurora
135 Oceanside
136 Tallahassee
137 Providence
138 Rancho Cucamonga
139 Ontario
140 Chattanooga
141 Santa Clarita
142 Garden Grove
143 Vancouver
144 Grand Prairie
145 Peoria
146 Sioux Falls
147 Springfield
148 Santa Rosa
149 Rockford
150 Springfield
151 Salem
152 Port St. Lucie
153 Cape Coral
154 Dayton
155 Eugene
156 Pomona
157 Corona
158 Alexandria f[›]
159 Joliet
160 Pembroke Pines
161 Paterson
162 Pasadena
163 Lancaster
164 Hayward
165 Salinas
166 Hampton f[›]
167 Palmdale
168 Pasadena
169 Naperville
170 Kansas City
171 Hollywood
172 Lakewood
173 Torrance
174 Escondido
175 Fort Collins
176 Syracuse
177 Bridgeport
178 Orange
179 Cary
180 Elk Grove
181 Savannah
182 Sunnyvale
183 Warren
184 Mesquite
185 Fullerton
186 McAllen
187 Columbia
188 Carrollton
189 Cedar Rapids
190 McKinney
191 Sterling Heights
192 Bellevue
193 Coral Springs
194 Waco
195 Elizabeth
196 West Valley City
197 Clarksville
198 Topeka
199 Hartford
200 Thousand Oaks
201 New Haven
202 Denton
203 Concord
204 Visalia
205 Olathe
206 El Monte
207 Independence d[›]
208 Stamford
209 Simi Valley
210 Provo
211 Killeen
212 Springfield
213 Thornton
214 Abilene
215 Gainesville
216 Evansville
217 Roseville
218 Charleston
219 Peoria
220 Athens e[›]
221 Lafayette
222 Vallejo
223 Lansing
224 Ann Arbor
225 Inglewood
226 Santa Clara
227 Flint
228 Victorville
229 Costa Mesa
230 Beaumont
231 Miami Gardens
232 Manchester
233 Westminster
234 Miramar
235 Norman
236 Cambridge
237 Midland
238 Arvada
239 Allentown
240 Elgin
241 Waterbury
242 Downey
243 Clearwater
244 Billings
245 West Covina
246 Round Rock
247 Murfreesboro
248 Lewisville
249 West Jordan
250 Pueblo
251 San Buenaventura (Ventura)
252 Lowell
253 South Bend
254 Fairfield
255 Erie
256 Rochester
257 High Point
258 Richardson
259 Richmond
260 Burbank
261 Berkeley
262 Pompano Beach
263 Norwalk
264 Frisco
265 Columbia
266 Gresham
267 Daly City
268 Green Bay
269 Wilmington
270 Davenport
271 Wichita Falls
272 Antioch
273 Palm Bay
274 Odessa
275 Centennial
276 Boulder