Can You Ace This Police Academy Exam?

Torrance Grey

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About This Quiz

Oh, the world of law enforcement: it just isn't as glamorous as TV and the movies make it seem! If you're intent on applying someday to serve on a police force, you should know that you won't pull or use your gun nearly as often as Hollywood would have you believe (though you have to stay certified with your service weapon). You probably won't run down criminal suspects like a lion running down an antelope on the savanna (though, again, you have to stay in shape). You'll do a good bit of paperwork, go to court to testify, and respond to quite a few uneventful incidents of alarms going off, suspicious vehicles or behavior, and the like. 

So, given all that, what's an entrance exam like? Well, first off, a written exam is only part of the process. Naturally, there's an in-person interview and a physical-fitness test. But the written exam is going to test you on things like ethics, judgment, and a baseline understanding of the law, especially concerning searches and search warrants. It might surprise you to know that you'll also be tested on math, spelling, and grammar. Not, however, at a very high level. That's right - to be a cop, you have to prove you're smarter than a 5th grader!

Are you ready to see how you'd stack up? Test your fitness to serve now with our quiz!

After a hard day at work, which of these are you most likely to do?

Police forces are looking for recruits that blow off steam in a healthy way. Even if having a drink or going to a strip club wouldn't disqualify you for service, it's wiser to pick the "gym" option on an exam with personality-assessment questions.

Which of these sentences is punctuated correctly?

A police entrance exam is likely to test you on both grammar and spelling. This is because writing a basic report is an essential part of police work.

The area in which you are legally entitled to patrol, make arrests, etc., is called your _______.

"Jurisdiction" is the official word for a place where a law-enforcement officer can operate. If you're on vacation in Canada, you have no jurisdiction. So if you intervened in a crime being committed, you might not be faulted for your actions, but they'd be treated as the actions of any civilian.

When must someone be read their Miranda rights?

The Miranda warning is the famous one beginning with "You have the right to remain silent." It must be read or recited aloud to a suspect at the time of arrest.

From whom would you get a search warrant?

Search warrants must be approved by judges. (Imagine if the voters had to decide on every single warrant! What a nightmare!)

Which of these conditions makes a search warrant unnecessary?

There are four exemptions to the need for a search warrant: plain view, consent, emergency, and after arrest. (Thanks to author Vernon Geberth, of "Practical Homicide Investigation," for this piece of information).

Lakisha needs to lose seven pounds to meet her department's fitness standards. If her diet-and-exercise plan lets her lose a pound every 5 days, when will she meet her goal?

Lakisha will lose seven pounds in 35 days. Which is, of course, five weeks.

Evidence that has been unlawfully obtained, and is thrown out, is called ______.

"Inadmissible" is a key term in legal situations. It can apply both to physical evidence and to testimony.

Which of these is the correct spelling?

As mentioned in another question, members of the media or defense attorneys might read your reports. Having basic good spelling and grammar is important. "Adolescent" isn't the easiest of words, but remember, spellcheck will catch it if you only remember to run the program!

Which of these weapons are you likely to carry on the job?

The Glock is a common handgun for officers to carry, and 40-caliber is about the largest that you'd be issued. If you chose AK-47, we really hope you aren't applying to the police academy any time soon!

Which of these calls poses the most danger to an officer?

Time and again, officers say they dread domestic calls. Tempers are high; alcohol is often involved, there might be handguns in the home - it's a volatile mix. There's also a psychological toll, too, from observing the effects of violence on women and children.

You've observed that a fellow officer frequently comes back from breaks smelling like alcohol. Though he's never visibly drunk, his behavior can be erratic. What should you do?

While it's good to be compassionate, this is a situation in which the public could be endangered. The officer's partner is also at risk if the officer is driving their squad car. Bite the bullet and go to your sergeant or lieutenant.

Which of these locations do you NOT need a warrant to search?

Anything that is private property requires a search warrant. It doesn't matter who the ultimate owner is, e.g., a landlord. But public land is an exemption.

The town you patrol is roughly rectangular, with a northern and southern border of 12 miles each, and eastern and western lines of 10 miles each. How many square miles does your police force patrol?

To get the area of a rectangle, you multiply the length by width. Here, that's 12 by 10, or 120 square miles. True, it'd be rare for a town or county to be perfectly rectangular, but we're simplifying here to exemplify the kind of math problem you might find on an exam.

You are pursuing a suspect's car when you reach town limits. What should you do?

It'd be a good idea to radio the dispatcher of the jurisdiction you're entering so that officers there know what's going on. They might even give you a hand. But there's no legal reason to stop short at the city limits.

Which of these is the legal limit for blood alcohol level?

0.08 is the legal limit in all 50 states. It's important to know this because of DUI arrests are among the most common arrests made by police officers.

To get in shape for his fitness exam, John has resolved to run 10 miles a week. About how many miles will he run in 12 days?

This is a fairly simple math problem. It requires you to divide those 10 miles by seven days, getting 1.43, then multiplying that by 12, getting (roughly) 17. Of course, we don't know how John is dividing up his running schedule, so this is one case in which we can literally say "actual mileage may vary."

Captain Jones has an old-fashioned wind-up alarm clock, so a power outage won't make him late for work. After one very stressful day, he sets it for 8 a.m., then collapses into bed at 7 p.m. How long will he sleep?

Hopefully, Captain Jones would be smarter than this! But if he did indeed go to bed at 7, and set his wind-up alarm for 8, he's only going to get an hour's sleep until the alarm goes off at 8 p.m. Retro technology can really backfire on you!

Why do police officers wear uniforms?

Police uniforms serve several purposes. When detaining or arresting someone, officers benefit from wearing a visible sign of their authority. Uniforms also help members of the public flag down officers quickly in time of need. And at calls where multiple agencies respond -- metro police, country sheriff, harbor patrol, park police -- it can really cut down on confusion.

Which of these statements is NOT appropriate for a report?

Judgmental phrases like "went nuts" have no place in reports. It doesn't help that the phrasing is so casual, either. Remember, a defense attorney and/or reporters can read these reports, and they should reflect well on the department.

Which of these words is correctly spelled?

Contrary to popular belief, there's absolutely nothing wrong with using simple words in a police report. For example, f you can't spell "juvenile," then "child" or "teenager" will do.

You respond to a call where an aggressive dog is keeping people from approaching their building's entryway. What's the next step?

Police are not trained to deal extensively with animals. It's fine to pass this off to the more qualified agency.

You're chasing a stolen car when it heads toward a downtown district full of bars at about 11 on Saturday night. What should you do?

The right thing to do here is to drop back. The safety of citizens comes first, no matter what they're doing with their free time.

You respond to a jewelry-store break-in, and just as you arrive, a man dashes from the store with a necklace in his hands. He ignores your commands to stop. Should you fire on him?

Deadly force is to be used to protect you, your partner or the public. Despite what you might have seen on the 70s and 80s cop shows, you can't fire on a criminal just for committing a crime or running away.

To pass the entrance exam, you must get a score of 80 percent. If the exam has 80 questions, how many must you get right?

An easy way to figure this is to find ten percent of 80, which is eight. (Just lop off the second digit of 80). To get to 80 percent, multiply that 8 by 8, which equals 64.

Which of these is the correct spelling?

"Offender" is not an uncommon word in police work. Just don't use it interchangeably with "suspect." If a person hasn't been convicted yet, they are still a "suspect," not an "offender."

Which of these protects American citizens from unreasonable search and seizure?

We're asking a lot of questions about the right to search, but there's a good reason. Understanding when it's OK to search a person or place, and when not, is key to being a competent officer. The issue will come up again and again.

During your 6-month probationary period, you will make pay of $2,000 a month. After that, you will make $2,400 a month. What is your average pay for your first year?

This was a fairly easy averaging question. Because you're dealing with two equal periods of time, six months each, you simply choose the figure that falls halfway between $2,000 and $2,400. Written as an equation, it'd be (6 x 2,000) + (6 x 2,400) /12 = 2,200.

Two-thirds of your police academy class made it through to graduation. What percent of your class will be getting their badges?

Technically, two-thirds is .66666 ... indefinitely. But it's generally written as .66, or 66 percent.

You and a veteran officer respond to an break-in call at a deli. While waiting for the owner, you see your partner sneak a large ham into your cruiser. She explains that her husband just lost his job, besides which, insurance will cover the loss to the owner, along with the things that were legitimately stolen. What do you do?

Judgment questions like these are tricky. Is the Academy looking for recruits who are absolute straight arrows, and would report a thief? But, on the job, aren't you expected to be loyal to your partner first and foremost? Is anything wrong with simply making an anonymous repayment? Ultimately, though, the second option offers the best mix of backbone and compassion.

You arrive at a dead-body call and are the first one on the scene. What do you do first?

Your first obligation is to preserve life, meaning you should make sure the dead body is really a dead body. Of course, common sense comes into play: if the body is quite decomposed, that wouldn't be necessary.

Which of these is the correct spelling?

"Purloined" is an old-fashioned word meaning "stolen" or "taken by false premises." It appears in the work of 19th-century mystery writers, which is where it should stay! This word really doesn't belong in police reports.

A shoulder-to-shoulder line of officers, used in public-unrest situations, is called what?

If you've watched TV coverage of the G8 summits, or certain protest marches, you've seen a skirmish line. It's a military tactic adopted by civilian police for crowd control.

Which word in this sentence is misspelled? "The youthes were harassing the cinema's customers."

Some nouns require an "es" rather than just an "s" to be made plural, but "youths" isn't one of them. Sidebar: Bonus points if you thought of "My Cousin Vinny" here, and "the two yoots."

Lane's body fat percentage is 15 percent. If his total weight is 175 pounds, how many pounds of that is fat?

This question isn't as hard as it looks. Ten percent of 175 is 15.5. Another 5 percent is half that, or 8.75. Added together, that's 26.25 pounds, which we've rounded down to 26.

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