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NYPD Exams

NYPD Exams

Updated July 27, 2022

By Fi Phillips
Fi Phillips

To work as a New York police officer, you must pass the NYPD exam as part of the recruitment process.

However, passing the NYPD exam is only one element of eligibility to work as a police officer.

You must also:

  • Be a minimum of 21 years old and a maximum of 35
  • Have a minimum of 60 college credits with a 2.0 GPA from an accredited academic institution, or have completed two years of active military service in the US Armed Forces
  • Hold a valid driver’s license
  • Pass a background investigation, including any criminal history
  • Pass a physical fitness test

You must also be a US citizen and, within a month of beginning employment as a New York police officer, be resident in one of the following:

  • The five boroughs of New York
  • Nassau
  • Suffolk
  • Rockland
  • Westchester
  • Putnam
  • Orange counties

There are two main types of NYPD exam used in the recruitment of police officers.

These are:

  • The NYPD Police Entrance Exam
  • The NYS Civil Service Police Exam

The former is generally used in New York City and the latter in New York State. However, it is always recommended that you check which of these two exams you will be expected to take.

In this article, we will mainly discuss the NYPD Police Entrance Exam.

What to Expect on an NYPD Police Entrance Exam

The two NYPD exams vary in their format and sections, but both seek to assess whether you have the correct skills and personality to work effectively as a police officer.

Generally used for police officers who will work in New York City, the NYPD police online exam features multiple-choice questions that present you with scenarios you may encounter on the job.

The exam is two and a half hours and the pass score is 70%.

Memorization

This section assesses how well you are able to memorize and accurately recall information.

You will be allowed to memorize a photograph for 10 minutes. After that time, the photograph will be removed and you will be asked a number of questions.

For instance, having studied a photograph of a New York City street, you might be asked the following:

  • How many vehicles are parked on the street and what are they?
  • Which of the vehicles is parked closest to the open door?
  • Which of the following series of digits appear on the registration plates of any of the parked vehicles?

Written Comprehension

This section assesses how well you can understand written information. You will be presented with a typical police scenario and then asked to answer a series of multipl-choice questions on that scenario.

For instance:

Example Question

Police officers Kent and Lowry are sent to investigate a burglary at Apt 3, 672 West Avenue. When they arrive, they discover that the door has been forced open. The tenant, Alison Kelly, states that she left to go to work that morning at 8:30 a.m. and returned home at 6:00 p.m. She tells the officers that a jewellery box and its contents is missing, in addition to an expensive ornament, and a brand new tablet.

Miss Kelly agrees to leave the apartment until the Evidence Collections Team has investigated her home. The officers escort her out of the apartment.

The officers then attempt to interview Miss Kelly’s immediate neighbours and other residents who live on the same floor – four in all, apartments 1, 2, 4 and 5.

The resident of Apt 1, Mr Jarvis, states he has been at work all day. He saw Miss Kelly walk down the stairs as he left his apartment for work. He saw nothing when he returned home at around 4:00 p.m., but he didn't pass Miss Kelly’s apartment to reach his own.

There is no answer at Apt 2.

The residents of Apt 4, a retired couple called Mr and Mrs Holmes, who live next door to Miss Kelly, state that they heard movement in Apt 3 around lunchtime but assumed it was Miss Kelly herself. They didn’t hear the door being forced open, but they had been watching the TV with the volume turned up loud.

The resident of Apt 5, a young woman called Miss Lane, states that when she left her apartment just before noon, two young men passed her on the stairs. She had never seen these men enter the building before. They were both white, in their early to mid-twenties, and dressed casually. One had a neck tattoo, but she didn’t notice the design.

The Evidence Collection Team arrives 30 minutes later and proceeds to take fingerprint samples. Officers Kent and Lowry start on the report for burglary.

According to the passage:

1. Who is the resident of Apt 3?

a) Miss Kelly
b) Miss Lane
c) Mrs Holmes
d) Mr Jarvis

Example Question

2. The items stolen from Apt 3 are a jewellery box and its contents, a brand new tablet, and what else?

a) DVD player
b) TV
c) Designer clothes
d) Ornaments

How to Prepare for the NYPD Exams
How to Prepare for the NYPD Exams

Written Expression

This section assesses how well you can express a clear message in writing.

You will be presented with a table of information and asked to choose which statement matches the data provided.

For instance:

Example Question

Officer Banner responds to a traffic accident. He obtains the following details at the scene:

Place of Accident: Intersection of 13th Avenue and 74th Street
Time of Accident: 7:30 p.m.
Vehicles Involved: 1993 Buick and 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee
Drivers: Elizabeth Stan and James Prince
Damage: Buick side-swiped Jeep, causing damage to side of both cars

1. When Officer Banner completes a report of the incident, which of the following best expresses the details in the most clear, accurate and complete manner?

a) At 7:30 p.m., Elizabeth Stan and James Prince were at the intersection of 13th Avenue and 74th Street. A 1993 Buick was involved in an accident when it side-swiped a 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee, causing damage to the side portions of each vehicle.
b) Two cars were involved in an accident at the intersection of 13th Avenue and 74th Street at 7:30 p.m. One side-swiped the other, causing damage to the side portion of each car. Elizabeth Stan has a 1993 Buick.
c) A 1993 Buick driven by Elizabeth Stan struck a 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee driven by James Prince at the intersection of 13th Avenue and 74th Street at 7:30 p.m., causing damage to the side of each car.

Spatial Orientation

This section assesses your spatial awareness – for instance, where you are in relation to another item or how well you can identify your location.

In this section, you will be presented with a map and a related direction, location or distance question.

For instance:

Example Question

A mugging victim states that the perpetrator ran down 13th Avenue, and then took the first left onto 52nd Avenue. The victim ran after them and saw the mugger turn right onto New Utrecht Avenue, where the victim was forced to stop because they were out of breath.

According to this information, in what direction was the perpetrator last seen heading?

a) North
b) West
c) South
d) East

Information Ordering

The section assesses whether you can recognise and follow a sorting rule.

You will be asked to put a number of items into the correct order, whether numerical order, alphabetical order or by following another logical pattern, such as the correct order of carrying out a process.

For instance:

Example Question

In a hostage situation where the perpetrators will not surrender voluntarily, you are told the correct procedure in order is to:

  1. Inform the Communications Division, who will in turn inform the patrol supervisor, Operations Unit, and Emergency Service Unit.
  2. Confirm that the patrol supervisor and Emergency Service Unit have been notified and have responded.
  3. Seal off the site and isolate the perpetrators and hostages until the patrol supervisor and Emergency Service Unit arrive.
  4. Establish police lines and maintain firearms control.
  5. Maintain ongoing surveillance of the site. Detain witnesses for debriefing at a later time.

Question: Facing a hostage situation, having notified the Communications Division and confirmed the response of the patrol supervisor and Emergency Service Unit, which of the following should be your next step?

a) Contact the Operations Unit
b) Isolate the subjects involved and contain the site
c) Maintain firearms control and establish police lines
d) Detain any witnesses

Visualisation

This section assesses how well you can picture something in your mind and identify items in different locations or after they have been moved or altered in some way.

You will be asked to answer questions about a diagram, map, geometric shape or some other type of graphic.

For instance:

  • Based on the floor plan above, how many bedrooms are there?
  • Based on the floor plan above, which room has the longest wall measurement?

Inductive Reasoning

Inductive reasoning asks you to draw a conclusion or find a common factor or pattern after considering a selection of items such as images, witness statements or mathematical charts.

For instance:

Example Question

After a hit and run incident, the attending police officers take five witness statements.

  1. A dark blue Buick hit an elderly woman who was on a pedestrian crossing at the intersection between 13th Avenue and 74th Street. The car did not stop and continued up 74th Street to 12th Avenue.
  2. A dark blue Buick hit an elderly woman who was about to use a pedestrian crossing at the intersection between 13th Avenue and 74th Street. The car did not stop and continued up 74th Street to 12th Avenue.
  3. A black Buick hit an elderly woman who was on a pedestrian crossing at the intersection between 13th Avenue and 74th Street. The car did not stop and continued up 74th Street to 12th Avenue.
  4. A dark blue Buick hit an elderly woman who was on a pedestrian crossing at the intersection between 13th Avenue and 74th Street. The car did not stop and continued up 74th Street to 12th Avenue.
  5. A dark blue car hit a woman who was on a pedestrian crossing at the intersection between 13th Avenue and 74th Street. The car did not stop and continued up 74th Street.

Which is likely to be the most accurate?

Deductive Reasoning

This section assesses how well you can draw logical conclusions from the information you encounter by applying a specific rule.

Questions in this section will often ask you to apply a state or NYC legal policy to a scenario and deduce what the correct course of action is.

Problem Sensitivity

This section assesses how well you notice and foresee problems. Can you tell when something is wrong or predict that something may go wrong?

Problem sensitivity generally involves drawing a conclusion from a variety of information sources.

For instance, questions in this section may ask you to assess the volatility of a situation and how best to handle the people involved.

Mathematical Reasoning

This section assesses your mathematical ability at a generally basic math level.

For instance:

Denomination Number of
$1 13
$5 8
$10 12
$20 3
Example Question

Police Officer Pollock arrests Jill Hedge for burglary. The currency in the table above is found in Ms Hedge’s possession at the time of her arrest.

Which one of the following formulas should Officer Pollock use to calculate the total amount?

a) $1 + 13 + $5 + 8 + $10 + 12 + $20 + 3
b) 13 + 8 + 12 + 3
c) ($1 x 13) + ($5 x 8) + ($10 x 12) + ($20 x 3)
d) $1 + $5 + $10 + $20

NYS Civil Service Police Exam

The NYS Civil Service Police Exam carries a 70% pass rate and includes the following sections:

  • Memorizing written information
  • Preparing written material in a police setting
  • Reading comprehension
  • Writing abilities
  • Work style questionnaire
  • Life experience survey

Practice papers can be sourced from NYS Civil Service Exam Prep.

How to Prepare for an NYPD Police Entrance Exam

The NYPD Police Entrance Exam is considered to be a difficult exam to pass, so preparation in the run-up to the day is key.

Step 1. Create a Study Plan

Set aside a regular portion of time when you will study for the NYPD Police Entrance Exam.

Your study plan could include:

  • Practice papers
  • Research into the exam and the job
  • Memory games
  • Math problems
  • Research into state and NYC legal policy

Mark it in your diary and keep to it.

Step 2. Take Practice Papers

The main benefit of using practice papers is to familiarise yourself with the format of the questions.

You can source practice papers from:

The NYPD also offers exam tutorial sessions.

The more practice papers and sample questions you take, the easier it will be to identify your strong and weak areas.

Step 3. Don't Forget Timed Practice

Another benefit of using practice papers is being able to time your practice runs.

The time limit for the NYPD exam is two and a half hours. Use that as a guide to work out how long you can spend on each section.

Timed practice runs will also demonstrate how long each type of question might take.

Step 4. Try Memory Games

Brush up your memorization skills by using memory games.

From tried-and-tested manual exercises, like trying to remember long digits or items on a shelf, to memory game books or apps and websites like Lumosity and CogniFit Brain Training, there are all manner of things you can do to improve your memory.

Step 5. Practice Math Problems

You will be expected to use math skills in the exam, so take this time to improve your math and problem-solving abilities.

You may still have educational resources from your college days to look back over.

Alternatively, find online math resources through apps and websites like BBC Skillswise and Sumaze.

Frequently Asked Questions

You will only be expected to take the NYPD entry exam as part of our initial application process.

However, there are other assessments that you will be expected to take throughout your career as a police officer.

To pass the NYPD assessment, you will need a score of 70% or above.

The NYPD written exam is one of the first things that you will do as part of your application process.

It is usually required to be completed before physical tests or other forms of assessment.

Yes, the NYPD entry exam is considered to be difficult. This is because it looks at a wide variety of skills and abilities which are essential for your career as an officer.

Proper preparation and practice tests will help you do well.

The NYPD entrance exam is typically made up of 85 questions which are designed to assess nine different cognitive abilities. The test should be completed within two and a half hours.

Most candidates will be allowed to retake the NYPD entrance exam if they fail it. There may be a waiting time required between attempts. This is usually six months.

It is important to be as prepared as possible ahead of the NYPD entrance exam.

There are several courses and practice papers which you can consider. These will help to familiarise you with any areas which you find difficult as well as enable you to see the style of questions before the main exam. They can also be useful for building confidence.

You should also take time to practice math and memory problems to build your knowledge in these areas.

Many people find that taking the time to develop a study plan can also help them to manage their time better and balance the different areas which need to be studied for.

Final Thoughts

The NYPD Police Entrance Exam is generally acknowledged to be a difficult exam to pass, and there is high competition to work as a New York police officer.

However, if this is your career of choice, your best option is to prepare as fully as you can for the exam to provide yourself with the best chance possible of success.