How do I Prepare for a Law Enforcement Exam?

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  • Written By: Ken Black
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 04 October 2018
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Preparing for the law enforcement exam begins with understanding what is on the exam and tailoring your study schedule to meet those requirements. It also means understanding when the exam is offered and how exams may be slightly different, depending on the agency involved. This requires doing some research both into the basic form of most law enforcement exams and understanding how those exams are tailored to meet the needs of certain agencies.

In most cases, a law enforcement exam will be taken before attending a police academy. Taking a few basic college courses, perhaps at a local community college, should help you prepare for some of the basic questions regarding the law and other topics. Included in these courses should be an entry-level law enforcement course, such as basic criminal justice. Basic courses in English and math may also be useful.

While preparing with these basic courses, it is also a good idea to check with those local police departments in which you have an interest to find out about their exams. Many will only offer the law enforcement exam at certain times and perhaps not even on a regular schedule. Some will allow you to walk in at any time and take the exam. Many will also offer a basic study guide that may even include a sample of questions similar to those that will appear on the exam.


There will usually be several parts to the exam, including sections on English, math, law, patrol, and observation. For example, in observation a picture will be provided and you will be given the opportunity to study it. Then, you must answer questions based on what was shown in the photo. Some of these sections may be combined on certain tests because there is no uniform standard among all law enforcement agencies.

The written test is only part of the law enforcement exam; the other part is the physical agility test. This will likely include jogging, pull-ups, sit-ups, or other basic exercises meant to ensure minimum physical standards are met. The standards are based on your age and gender, and each department can provide you with a minimum of what is expected.

It may be possible to do the written and physical parts of the law enforcement exam at separate times. Those who feel they need more time for one or the other should ask about that possibility. In some cases, they may not be offered at the same time anyway. There is usually no requirement regarding which one must be taken first.



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