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police tests

Police Tests

  • 17 tests
  • 224 questions
police tests

A career as a police officer can be highly rewarding, but it does come with a broad range of challenges that not everyone is capable of handling effectively. As such, the assessment process for police officers is designed to measure your suitability for this demanding line of work, testing core skills, cognitive abilities and behavioural characteristics.

Typical assessment process for police candidates

The recruitment process for police officers in the UK varies across each of the four nations. In England, there are three main entry routes for the role of police constable: the two most common being the police constable degree apprenticeship (PCDA) and the degree-holder entry programme (DHEP).

The assessment process for each follows a very similar path laid out by the College of Policing, though there can be slight variations depending on the regional force you apply to. There is also an additional assessment process followed by the Metropolitan Police.

In all cases, you’ll be assessed against the Competency and Values Framework (CVF), which defines the key competencies, values and behaviours expected from anyone in the policing profession.

College of Policing assessment process

Founded in 2012, this independent professional body sets policing standards across England and Wales, and provides training and support for those employed in this sector. Its assessment process for new applicants is followed by all forces in England, albeit with small variations in some cases.

The typical process you can expect starts with an application to your chosen force, followed by a three-stage assessment. This consists of a situational judgement test, a competency based interview, and a written and briefing exercise.

If you have applied via the PCDA entry route, you may also be asked to sit a numerical and/or verbal reasoning test, depending on your past academic achievements.

This part of recruitment is traditionally conducted in a face-to-face capacity, and referred to as the SEARCH Assessment Centre, or Day One assessment. Owing to recent circumstances it has been moved online.

Once you’ve completed your online assessment, the force to which you’ve applied will contact you with regards to next steps.

police aptitude tests

Metropolitan Police assessment process

As the UK’s largest police force, the Metropolitan Police operates across every borough of London.

Those applying to the Met will go through the same online assessment outlined above, before moving on to a Day Two in-force assessment. This is split into two stages, which may or may not take place on the same day. You’ll be informed of your schedule in advance.

Stage one is an interview specific to the Metropolitan Police, and is made up of two role play exercises. These are designed to closely mirror the kind of situations you’d encounter as a serving member of the force.

You’ll be expected to demonstrate the key values and behaviours as outlined in the Competency and Values Framework.

Stage two covers the medical side of things, including tests of your hearing, vision and blood pressure, as well as fingerprint, DNA and substance misuse testing. You’ll also take part in a fitness assessment.

On successful completion of each assessment stage, a thorough background check will be conducted before any offer of employment is made.

Though these latter stages take a physical form of preparation, the online assessments require a different approach. Below you’ll find further details on the skills, aptitude and personality tests involved to help you better prepare.

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Police numerical reasoning tests

Numerical reasoning tests measure your mathematical understanding and your ability to interpret data. You’ll work through a series of questions relating to information given in the form of graphs, tables and charts.

All questions are multiple-choice and tests are timed, so you’ll need to work both quickly and accurately.

Basic numeracy skills are a key requirement in most professions, policing included. You’ll be expected to show an understanding of ratios, percentages and averages, as well as statistical interpretation.

Police verbal reasoning tests

In a verbal reasoning test, you’ll need to show a keen understanding of the English language, and the various ways in which information can be interpreted. Again, these are multiple-choice tests. You’ll be given a written statement or passage of text, along with a question prompt.

Questions may be situational or comprehension-based. In the first instance, you’ll need to respond with either true, false or cannot say, based on the passage and prompt. In the second case, you’ll need to determine which of a set of conclusions, inferences or assumptions can be made based on the evidence provided.

Police situational judgement tests

In the police situational judgement test, you’ll be given 12 hypothetical scenarios, very much akin to those you would face in your day-to-day role as a police constable. For each scenario, you’ll have four response options, and will need to choose which of these actions you’d personally take in the circumstances.

The aim of this assessment is to ensure your values and behaviours align with those required by the police force, and that you’re capable of effective decision making and sound judgement.

You’ll be given a maximum of two hours to complete this assessment, though most candidates do so in around 30 minutes.

Police competency-based interviews

The online version of the competency based interview takes around 40 minutes to complete. You’ll be asked five preset questions delivered through a video recording, each of which will give you the opportunity to demonstrate core values and competencies through real examples.

After each question, you’ll have 60 seconds to formulate a response, and five minutes to record an answer. It’s recommended you use the STAR method – outlining a situation, task, action and result – and focus your answers on key principles outlined in the Competency and Values Framework, including ownership, integrity and open-mindedness.

The process is designed to offer a level playing field, so every candidate faces the same set of questions. You’ll need to complete this interview in a single sitting, and will only have one opportunity to record an answer for each question.

Police written exercises

This assessment is made up of two parts: a written exercise and a briefing exercise.

For the written exercise, you’ll play the part of a serving police constable. You’ll be given four pieces of information to assist you in completing a written task assigned by your line manager.

The key things assessors will be looking for in your response include critical analysis, collaboration and objectivity. You will not be assessed on your spelling or grammar.

You’ll be given two hours to complete this section, and may only submit your response once.

For the briefing exercise, you’ll again act as a serving constable, and will be given information relating to a hypothetical scenario. You’ll need to read through this information carefully in order to proceed with the task. This should take around 10 minutes.

You’ll then be asked four questions, delivered through both a video recording and as written text on screen. You’ll answer these questions based on your understanding of the information given, with 60 seconds to formulate your response and three minutes to record.

You’ll then receive additional information, and complete another four questions following the same format.

In the case of both the written and briefing exercises, you must only use the information provided; do not add or embellish any details.

Five tips on preparing for police officer tests

1. Know the Competency and Values Framework

This forms the basis of the entire assessment process, detailing the key behaviours, values and abilities you’ll need to demonstrate as a successful applicant. The more familiar you are with its contents, the better your chances of making the right first impression.

2. Review you experience

For your competency-based interview, you’ll need to provide appropriate examples based on past experience. These could be from either an academic or professional setting. Though you won’t know what questions you’ll face, you can prepare by considering challenges you’ve overcome, and how your actions make you a suitable candidate.

3. Take practice tests

While no pre-existing knowledge is required to pass your police assessments, there are certain areas where you might need to brush up on your skills (numerical and verbal reasoning for example). Take plenty of practice tests to build your confidence and get used to the kind of questions involved.

4. Try out role-playing exercises

Role playing is all about thinking on your feet and getting into a certain mindset. Practice will make this easier. Other forces besides the Metropolitan Police may make use of role playing exercises, so it’s worth putting in the effort here. It will also help with the briefing exercise in your online assessment.

5. Plan for success

Make sure you have a stable internet connection and quiet surroundings for each part of your online assessment. You cannot pause your progress and only get one shot at each section, so give yourself plenty of time and make sure you won’t be interrupted.


What is the pass score in a police officer test?

This information is not currently available. As the assessment has recently been updated and moved online, the College of Policing is still assessing the minimum pass mark requirement, though previous in-person assessments required a mark of 50% or greater.

How difficult is the police exam?

The assessment process is designed to be fair and objective, and requires no knowledge of policing law. It’s more a measure of your innate skills and behaviours, so as long as you’ve put in the groundwork, and have what it takes to become a serving officer, you should do well. That said, pressure adds to the difficulty level, so make sure you put in as much practice as possible.

What disqualifies you from becoming a police officer?

Serious criminal offences, like GBH for example, will lead to instant rejection of your application, whilst other convictions, charges and fixed penalties may not. It depends on the nature of these, and the time at which they were issued.

If you fail to declare any convictions, cautions or investigations relating to yourself, a friend or family member on application, you may also be disqualified from the process.

What happens if you fail the police assessment?

Candidates are permitted two attempts at any one part of the assessment process within a 12-month period. However, you must repeat the assessment in full, regardless of your performance in other areas. You must also wait three months between attempts.

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