Practice Questions for Law Enforcement Exams



By: Marie Hullett

6 Min Quiz

Image: kali9/E+/Getty Images

About This Quiz

While big screen cops like Leonardo DiCaprio as Billy in "The Departed" make law enforcement work look effortless and alluring, real-life officers go through extensive testing and training in order to earn their badges. Before cops can go uncover corruption and save the day, they must first break out the pen and paper and study up. 

In order to identify quality candidates for potential employment, U.S. law enforcement agencies administer The National Police Officer Selection Test (POST). The test aims to ensure all candidates possess the basic reasoning skills necessary to fulfill the duties and responsibilities expected of officers across the force. In particular, the assessment tests applicants on arithmetic, grammar, reading comprehension and incident report writing. 

Do you have dreams of becoming an officer? First, find out if you can pass the skills test! The following guide offers a few practice questions to help you excel in your future endeavor. While these aren't the exact questions from the test, they will give you an idea of what to expect. 

Fill in the blank: A recent report found that car thefts are largely concentrated in border ________, where the thieves can quickly ship the stolen vehicles outside the U.S.

The POST must ensure officers possess the basic grammar skills necessary to summarize data findings accurately. In this case, the correct answer is "cities," which is the plural form of "city."


A car traveled at 65 miles per hour in a 35 mile per hour zone. You must fine speeders $10 for each mile per hour they went over the limit. How much should you fine the driver?

Since 65 minus 35 equals 30, the driver went 30 mph over the speed limit. Thus, you must fine the driver 30 times $10, which equals $300. Yikes!


What is 20-7+(-3)?

The POST quizzes applicants on basic arithmetic to ensure officers can carry out a number of key tasks; for instance, making calculations for accident investigations, analyzing crime statistics or issuing speeding tickets. In this case, 20 minus 7 equals 13. When you add -3 to 13, the answer is 10.


Identify the misspelled word: The victim issued multiple restraining orders against the persistant stalker.

The POST ensures that officers have the basic spelling skills necessary to complete accurate police reports. In this sentence, "persistant" should be spelled "persistent."


Rob visits the bank to withdraw some funds. He has $987 in his account; then he withdraws $244. What is the balance of his account now?

Sometimes, police officers must compute quick calculations in order to assess one's financial situation, especially when it comes to drug money or laundering cases. In this scenario, 987 minus 244 equals $743 left in Rob's account.


The police officers confirmed that _______ still searching for the suspect.

Police officers must know basic grammar in order to write effective briefs. In this sentence, the correct answer is "they're," which is the contraction for "they are." Thus, "The police officers confirmed that they're still searching for the subject."


Identify the misspelled word in this sentence: The robbery incident occured Friday evening at 6:43 p.m."

Police officers must know how to spell well, which is likely why law enforcement agencies require applicants to have completed some college coursework. They also often prioritize candidates with bachelor's degrees. In this sentence, occured should be spelled "occurred."


Choose the sentence with correct grammar:

Law enforcement officers have to write detailed reports about a range of incidents. Since these may be used in court, they must be grammatically sound. In this sentence, correct grammar is "Officer Romeros and I arrived at the scene of the crime at 3 p.m."


A store clerk tells an officer that the following items were stolen from his tech repair shop: a computer valued at $995, a tablet valued at $445, and three smart watches valued at $250 each. What is the total value of stolen goods?

Quick! When you're an officer, you'll need to add up the value of stolen goods with ease. In this scenario, the total value of stolen goods equals $2190, because $995 plus $445 equals $1440, and $250 times three watches equals $750. Together, $1440 plus $750 equals $2190.


"The victim claimed that the perpetrator deliberately _______ him." Fill in the blank:

Even minor misspellings can be embarrassing and perceived as unprofessional for law enforcement agencies, which is why the POST attempts to assess a candidate's competency in this area. In this sentence, the correct spelling is "deceived."


"The police report reads that the assailant lacerated the victim." What does lacerated mean in this sentence?

Law enforcement agents must use proper terms to ensure 100% accuracy in police reports. In this scenario, lacerated means to cut deeply into the skin.


"Officers spoke with three _________ to the crime." Fill in the blank:

The plural of "witness" is "witnesses," which is the correct answer in this sentence. Since witness is not possessive in this context, no apostrophe is necessary.


"The officer did not think _________ action was necessary." Fill in the blank:

While POST exams vary from state to state, most will ask a lot of spelling questions. If you find yourself relying on autocorrect a little too often, you may want to study up! In this case, the correct spelling is "disciplinary."


The officer takes the elevator to the 11th floor. Then, she goes down three floors before going up seven floors. Which floor is she on now?

It's a smart idea to brush up on basic arithmetic problem solving skills before the POST! In this scenario, the correct answer is 15 because 11 minus 3 equals 8, and 8 plus 7 equals 15.


Officer Brown visits public schools to speak about drug prevention. She visits four schools per week, 50 weeks per year. How many schools does she visit annually?

Since 4 times 50 equals 200, Officer Brown visits 200 public schools per year. Wow! Hopefully, she makes an impact.


The judge arrests a suspect in a crime and sets bail at $900,000. The bond agent then requests a 15% deposit in order to issue the bond. How much will the suspect be expected to pay?

Since 15% of $900,000 is $135,000, the suspect must pay this amount to the bail agent in order to secure the bail bond. You can find 15% of $900,000 by multiplying 900,000 by .15.


"When the _________ gives instructions, officers should always listen up." Which is the correct word to fill in the blank?

Many aspiring law enforcement officers understandably underestimate the importance of spelling to the academy. While you don't need to have won any spelling bees, you definitely need to know the basics. In this case, "sergeant" is the correct spelling.


During the five-day work week, Officer Rodriguez drove her patrol car 390 miles. If she drove 50 miles on Monday, how many miles per day did she drive per average on T-F?

If Officer Rodriguez drove 50 miles on Monday, then she had to have driven 340 miles from Tuesday through Thursday, since 390 minus 50 is 340. When you divide 340 by four days, she averages 85 miles per day for the rest of the week.


Officer Douglas visits local businesses on a regular basis to talk about theft prevention. If he visits five businesses per week for 36 weeks each year, how many businesses does he visit?

Since 5 times 36 is 180, Officer Douglas visits 180 businesses per year. With his help, hopefully, they can combat the risk of theft.


"Police officers must obey all ___________ orders that a superior officer gives." What missing word makes the most sense?

The POST contains a reading comprehension section that helps determine a potential officer's ability to recall, contextualize, and infer information from a text. In this sentence, the answer "lawful" makes the most sense. Lawful means "recognized by the law."


The officers head to the cafe for their break! While they're there, Officer Smith buys three boxes of a dozen donuts for $13 each and three jugs of cold brew for $7.50 each for the rest of the team. How much did Officer Smith spend?

Everyone knows police officers and donuts go together like peanut butter and jelly. In this scenario, $13 times 3 boxes of donuts equals $39, and $7.50 times three jugs of cold brew equals $22.50. So, $39 plus $22.50 equals $61.50.


"In the event that an officer does not understand an order, it is their __________ to clarify the order with a higher-ranking officer." Which word most logically fits in the blank?

"Responsibility" best fits into this blank, since it's officers' responsibility, or duty, to clarify any orders that they may be confused about. When it comes to the law, don't take any chances!


Officer Kerr's squad car breaks down 9.7 miles away from the station. If he walks back to the unit at a rate of 4.96 miles per hour, about how many hours will it take him?

Since 9.7 divided by 4.96 equals about 1.955, it will take Officer Kerr about two hours to walk back at that pace. Better to just radio for help, instead!


"The defendant failed to show up to his _______ hearing." What is the correct word?

The arraignment (not arrangement, arrainment, or erraignment) is a formal reading of a criminal charge in court. The defendant is expected to be present at the hearing and enter a plea.


The $30,000 squad car's value depreciates by about $1,500 each year. In 12 years, how much will the car be worth?

All cars depreciate over time, including patrol cars. Since $1,500 multiplied by 12 equals $18,000, and $30,000 minus $18,000 equals $12,000, in 12 years, the squad car will be worth about $12,000.


In the police unit, about 13.5% of the officers are assigned to the investigative department. If there are 87 officers total, how many work on the investigation team?

Since 87 multiplied by .135 equals 11.745, about 12 officers will work on the investigative team. It often requires a lot of hard work and dedication to work in this department.


"Officers who receive an order that seems unlawful or in conflict with previously issued regulations should respectfully inform the superior officer who ________ it." Which word best fits in the blank?

The correct answer is "issued," as in, "the superior officer issued the unlawful order." If you become an officer and receive a questionable order, don't be afraid to speak up! In the end, though, the superior officer has the power to make the final call.


In a box of donuts, the ratio of maple donuts to total donuts is 3:5. The ratio of chocolate donuts to total donuts is 1:5. If the donuts that aren't maple or chocolate are classic glazed, how many glazed donuts are in the box of 40 donuts?

Three-fifths of 40 donuts is 24 maple donuts, and one-fifth of 40 donuts is 8 chocolate donuts. Two dozen maple donuts plus 8 chocolate donuts makes 32, which means the 8 remaining donuts were glazed. Which one will you choose?


What do you call a lesser crime, or one that is below a felony?

In general, a misdemeanor (not mistamenor, mistemeanor, or mistemeanor) is an offense punishable by no more than a one-year prison sentence. By contrast, all other crimes are called felonies.


Which of the following sentences utilizes proper English grammar?

The correct sentence is "Officers must use black ink when writing reports so that their words will be as legible as possible" because it uses the proper usage of writing, their, and the comma. Don't forget your black pen! Most departments do indeed ban the use of colored ink.


"The grand jury ____________ not to ____________ Officer Grant." Which words most logically fit in the blanks?

The sentence "The grand jury decided not to indict Officer Grant" makes the most sense here. In this context, decided means "to come to a resolution," and indict means to "charge with a serious crime." Fortunately, Officer Grant can go home free.


"At 1:35 a.m. on July 29th, 2018, the officer headed to Millgreen Bar to address a fight. Four men were playing pool when another man spilled a drink on the pool table. A fight broke out; the bartender asked them to leave the premises. A pool stick struck the bartender." Which sentence most accurately summarizes the incident?

This sentence most thoroughly and accurately describes the event. Since we don't know for sure how the pool stick hit the bartender, we can't make any assumptions. Police officers must always practice precaution in writing reports, as it's the court's job to uncover further details and press charges.


Last year, Officer Simmons earned $60,000. Thanks to a raise, this year, he earns 8% more. How much does Officer Simmons make now?

This year, Officer Simmons makes about $64,800, since 8% of $60,000 is about $4,800, and $60,000 plus $4,800 equals $64,800. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015, the average annual salary for U.S. police officers and sheriffs was about $61,270.


"The sheriff ordered the officer to ________ his behavior." Which word fits in the blank?

The correct answer is alter, which means "to change or cause to change." The officer better alter his behavior before he's relieved of his duties!


Due to a serious injury, Officer Lang couldn't attend the ceremony. She asked Officer White to _______ the award on her behalf. Which answer fits in the blank?

The correct answer is accept, which means "to consent to receive." Congratulations on the award, Officer Lang, and sorry about your injury.


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