Is there a Written Exam to Become a Police Officer?

If you have ever considered a career in law enforcement, probably the first thing that comes to mind is passing the the written exam to become a police officer. However, there are a series of tests that all prospective candidates must take in order to become a cop. Becoming a police officer is a highly coveted career, especially in large metropolitan areas like Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City where the average cop with at least five years of experience can make close to six figures a year. However, becoming a police officer is not an easy task. Here is a comprehensive overview of basic entry requirements as well as other tests that must be passed in order to obtain a career in the law enforcement field.

Basic Requirements

Most law enforcement agencies require potential candidates to be at least 18 years of age during the time of application, however, candidates more than likely won’t be able to start the police academy until they are at least 21 years of age. You will need to graduate from high school or have a GED and obtain at least 60 credits from an accredited college or university. Also, keep in mind if you want to be a police officer, you cannot be a law breaker. More than likely you cannot have any felonies or misdemeanors. Some police departments make an exception for certain felonies and misdemeanors if some time has passed and if the acts were committed before the age of 18.

Written Exam

When you submit an application to become a police officer, you are actually submitting an application to sign up to take the written police exam offered by the local law enforcement agency. All major law enforcement agencies and police departments in the United States require candidates to successfully pass a written exam to become a police officer. There are no exceptions to this. The written exam usually is administered to weed out candidates who do not possess basic arithmetic, logic and reading comprehension skills. Most tests usually ask a battery of questions to gauge a candidate’s level of memory recall, ability to properly research and investigate information in the field, writing skills and other relevant skills that make for a good detective and patrolman.

Physical Aptitude Exam

After passing the written exam, the next phase of testing involves a physical aptitude test. This evaluation is designed to gauge the level of physical conditioning of a prospective police cadet. This exam is a test of muscular endurance, strength and aerobic capacity. It usually involves a mile run, push up test, sit up test and a bench press test.

Psychological Screening

After passing the written exam and the physical aptitude evaluation, the final phase of testing involves a psychological screen and a polygraph test. This is used to determine a candidate’s mental health and whether or not they have the right personality suited for police work. Because police officers deal with the public, no law enforcement agency wants to take the risk of hiring an individual who might have some sort of personality disorder or mental illness.

Once you have passed the battery of tests given to you, you will be offered an invite to join the police academy. These tests can seem overwhelming, especially the written exam to become a police officer, but they are only necessary to select the right individuals suited to protect the general public and uphold the law.