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prison officer tests

Prison Officer Tests

  • 21 tests
  • 287 questions
prison officer tests

Working as a prison officer is a pressured role that involves taking responsibility for the care of inmates, some of whom may be vulnerable individuals. Job candidates must be able to demonstrate good basic numeracy skills, plus personality traits and behaviours that align with the expectations of someone working in a position of authority.

What is a Prison Officer Selection Test (POST)?

The Prison Officer Selection Test, often referred to as POST, is a mandatory test for all applicants wishing to work in the prison service. It is designed to determine whether you are right for the role and has recently been developed to assess personality traits as well as skills and behaviours.

Prison officers are required to carry out numerical tasks as part of their role, so numeracy assessments are a key part of the POST.

You will also undertake psychometric tests to show how you respond to workplace situations and behave under pressure. Honesty and integrity is an utmost requirement for work as a prison officer.

You do not need any prior knowledge of the prison service or the specific role of a prison officer to pass the test.

The format of the Prison Officer Selection Test

To express your interest in joining the prison service, you must first submit an online application form. If you meet the minimum requirements and your initial application is successful, you will be invited to sit the POST.

The Prison Officer Selection Test is a remote test that can be taken from anywhere (providing you can access a computer with an internet connection).

You will receive a link to the test via email. The test takes around an hour to complete and you have seven days in which to submit your test.

The test is divided into multiple stages, as outlined below.

Stage one starts with a situational judgement test that assesses your behaviour when confronted with a typical prison workplace situation. This is followed by a numerical test to assess basic numeracy skills and mathematical ability.

If you are successful in stage one, you will be invited to move onto stage two.

Stage two presents a new addition to the Prison Officer Selection Test: a game-based assessment. This innovative format tests your natural behaviours and reactions.

POST situational judgement test

The situational judgement test assesses your natural behaviours in the workplace. You will be presented with a typical work-related scenario along with multiple possible actions that you could take in response to that scenario.

You will be asked to order the actions to show which you think are the most effective to the least effective. You will have an allowance of 20 minutes to answer 16 questions.

prison officer POST tests

POST numerical reasoning test

The second section of stage one is the numerical reasoning test. You do not need a high level of mathematical knowledge to pass this test; just a good understanding of basic mathematical principles like multiplication, division, percentages and currencies.

You must also have a perfect grasp of the 24-hour clock as very accurate timekeeping is a skill needed for work as a prison officer.

The numerical reasoning test has a time allowance of 15 minutes and consists of 20 questions. You will be permitted to take in a pen, paper and a calculator to help you work out answers.

The test is not negatively marked, meaning that you won’t be deducted marks for incorrect answers – so if you are unsure, take an educated guess.

POST games-based assessment

If you successfully complete stage one, you will move onto stage two, which is a new format of testing in the Prison Officer Selection Test.

You will receive unique login details that give you access to a games-based test that you can take on a computer or tablet. The purpose of this stage is to assess your natural responses in ‘real time’ as you are immersed in the game.

You are offered the chance to take as many practice tests as you like before sitting the actual test, so familiarise yourself with the format and process of the game before diving in.

The game has no time limit. Candidates usually take around 30 to 50 minutes to reach the end, passing through nine levels that all present different scenarios.

There are no right or wrong answers, so you don’t pass or fail this stage. Instead, you will receive a feedback report outlining your responses and what this reveals about your personality and behaviours.

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Assessment & recruitment centre

If you successfully complete the Prison Officer Selection Test, you move onto the final round of the recruitment process: the assessment and recruitment centre day.

The day consists of further testing, similar to the POST, but often slightly more challenging. You will also be required to sit a literacy and language test that assesses your reading, writing and comprehension skills.

Examiners need to be sure that you have a good grasp of English and can read and apply written instructions, guidelines and reports accurately – all of these are requirements of day-to-day working life as a prison officer.

You will be required to:

Compare two texts and identify any errors, omissions or discrepancies.

Show that you can understand written rules and apply them to keep order in the prison

Look at an image or picture of a typical scene in a prison and later recall details about that scene

Read an extract of text and answer questions on it to demonstrate basic comprehension

Participate in role plays

You must also pass a fitness test and medical assessment. Finally, you will undertake a recorded interview to talk more about your suitability for the role.

Five tips on preparing for prison officer tests

1) Make sure you are at peak physical fitness

Prison officers are on their feet all day and often have to use physical strength in their job. Your general fitness and physical stamina will be assessed using a bleep test. You will also be asked to demonstrate upper body strength by handling heavy equipment used frequently in prisons.

2) Revisit basic mathematical principles

Refreshing your numeracy skills – particularly in addition, subtraction, division and multiplication – will prepare you for the numerical reasoning test. You can also take online numerical practice tests to familiarise yourself with the types of questions you might face.

3) Research what is involved in being a prison officer

Although you don’t need any prior knowledge to pass the assessments, you will be asked about why you want to join the prison service and what you can offer to the role. Having a basic awareness of what the job entails means you can prepare some answers beforehand.

4) Brush up on your literacy skills

Read all you can about the prison service to bring yourself up to date with any developments, news or current practices in the field and then rewrite your findings. Take online verbal reasoning practice tests to develop the reading, writing and comprehension skills you’ll be tested on during the assessment day.

5) Check the requirements of the tests

Before each stage of testing, double-check when and where you are sitting the test, what you can or cannot take with you, and if you need to do anything in particular beforehand.


Do prison officers need good maths?

You will need a good understanding of basic mathematical principles to be able to work as a prison officer, as you will need to draw upon these skills accurately in your everyday work.

How long are prison officer tests?

Stage one of the tests has two parts. The situational judgement test has a time limit of 20 minutes and the numerical reasoning test allows 15 minutes.

Stage two, consisting of the game-based task, has no time limit, but typically takes around 30 to 50 minutes to complete.

What happens if you fail the prison officer exam?

If you fail the POST, you must wait six months before reapplying. If you fail only the fitness component of the test, you may retake it up to three times, as long as you have passed all the other components of the tests.

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