Updated 23 June 2021
What Is the PELLET B Test?
The PELLET B Test is an aptitude test used to assess the reading, writing and reasoning abilities of candidates who are looking to become peace officers in California.
PELLET B is an acronym for the POST Entry-Level Law Enforcement Test Battery, which is a standardized testing mechanism to ensure that all peace officers have the same basic standard of reading and writing.
The test is about 2.5 hours long, covering 105 questions and must be passed to become a peace officer.
Why Was It Developed?
The Commission on POST (Peace Officer Standards & Training) was established in 1959 with the express aim of ensuring that minimum selection and training standards were adhered to for all peace officers.
POST is directly and wholly funded by fines from criminal and traffic offenses and the voluntary membership of POST for peace agencies is based on incentives.
More than 600 agencies are members and take advantage of benefits such as job-related assessment tools, management counseling services, reimbursement of training costs and professional certificates recognizing achievement and proficiency.
The PELLET B Test was developed to standardize the basic reading, writing and reasoning skills that peace officers need to be able to perform their roles well.
When Do You Take PELLET B?
The PELLET B is required for all peace officer roles in organizations that are members of POST.
The organizations will pay for you to take the test if you reach that stage in the application process (see below).
The scores on the PELLET B are considered reliable in predicting success during training at an academy, so most agencies use them.
The PELLET B Test is just one stage of the application process to become a peace officer in California. While all departments and agencies have their own procedures, the usual order of steps in the recruitment process are:
- Physical Test – Endurance, fitness and strength
- PELLET B
- Oral Interview – Personal questions to assess your suitability
- Background Check – May include a polygraph
- Medical – Identify any health issues
- Psychological Evaluation – Personality test/meeting with a psychologist
Each stage of the recruitment process must be passed before you are invited to take the next stage. Successful applicants can then attend the academy and begin training.
Where Do You Take PELLET B?
If the law enforcement agency you are applying to uses the PELLET B, contact them to find out how to complete it.
It must be administered by a POST-Authorized agency representative; they will be able to let you know when and where the test will be.
What Does PELLET B Measure?
The first part of the assessment looks at your basic writing ability. Each section focuses on a specific skill set within writing, looking for grammatical knowledge, spelling and a wide vocabulary.
Peace officers must be able to comprehend written instructions and act on them appropriately.
In the second section of the test, applicants need to be able to read information, answer questions and provide missing words – this requires you to not only deduce what the missing concept must be from context but also have a sufficient vocabulary.
In the final section, you need to quickly find patterns and rules to enable you to answer questions based on them.
No general knowledge or previous experience is needed; you are expected to draw conclusions based only on the limited information you are presented with.
PELLET B Test Format and Example Questions
The PELLET B Test is a timed exercise. You will have 2.5 hours to answer 105 questions, using pencil and paper.
The test is marked by computer using a Scantron-style system, so you record your answers by coloring in the relevant ovals.
For sections where you must write a word, sheets will be given with the entire alphabet on for you to mark the order of the letters.
The test is broken into three main areas, each with subsets.
The first part of the assessment is based on writing skills and is broken into three subsections, each with 15 questions.
The clarity section questions offer two almost identical sentences. To answer, you must decide which one is written correctly and therefore provides the most clarity.
For success in this section, look out for common writing errors like sentence fragments, misplaced modifiers, run-on sentences and unclear references.
a) The suspect was wearing a blue baseball cap; he ran across the park.
b) The suspect was wearing a blue baseball cap, ran across the park.
In this example, b) has an unclear reference. The second half of the sentence, ‘ran across the park’, could grammatically refer to either the suspect or the baseball cap.
While context will almost guarantee that it is assumed the suspect ran across the park, because baseball caps cannot run, it removes ambiguity and provides more clarity to add the subject ‘he’.
Therefore, the correct answer is a).
The spelling subtest offers a sentence with a missing word and multiple words to fill in the gap.
You need to choose the correct one. The words used will often be ones that you will come across in day-to-day work on the job.
“The suspect ____ some rocks at the approaching officers.”
While a), b) and c) sound the same when spoken, they are homonyms (i.e., they mean different things), so you must consider the context and choose the correct one. Here, it is b).
In the vocabulary section of the writing test, a word in the presented sentence will be emphasized and you need to choose the correct synonym for this word. This is likely to be based on the vocabulary that you will need to know as a peace officer.
“The suspect was in a dirty hotel room.”
The answer is c) as that is the only synonym for ‘dirty’ on the list.
The reading part of the PELLET B is separated into two subsets.
The comprehension subset consists of 20 questions. Each has a passage of text, similar to reports and policies that you will have to deal with as a peace officer.
These passages might be a paragraph or a page long, and you will have to answer a multiple-choice question based on the information provided.
This part of the PELLET B Test can take up some time as the texts that you need to read can be lengthy, so remember you only have a limited time for the whole test and lingering here may not be the best use of your time.
Read to the end of the article for a tip on this section.
“Sheriffs and Deputies are required to be present at the briefing room no later than 10 minutes before the start of their shift so that daily tasks, focus and ongoing cases can be discussed and assigned. The normal shift length of peace officers is 10 hours, but overtime is mandatory when needed. Meal breaks can be taken as workload allows and it is suggested that these are taken outside of the station where possible.”
Question: How long is a normal shift?
a) Six hours
b) 10 hours
c) 12 hours
d) Eight hours
Reading the text gives the answer, b).
The last part of the reading section is considered by many test-takers to be the hardest as it needs good vocabulary, comprehension and spelling skills.
The CLOZE subtest also requires a strong understanding of context to be successful.
Despite always being rendered in capital letters, CLOZE is not actually an acronym; it is merely the shortened form of the term 'closure' from gestalt psychology theory and capitalized for stylistic reasons.
In the CLOZE section, there are 40 items. Each consists of a written passage with missing words; you need to understand the context to fill in the missing words.
There are no word lists to choose from. Instead, you must use your vocabulary to fill the gap.
A dashed line replaces the missing word, and, for a little help, each dash is a letter in the word that they are looking for.
There may be more than one word that fits in the passage, but as long as it fits the context it will be marked as correct.
“The patrol car must always be checked before driving to ensure that it is safe. Full visual checks must be completed, and the vehicle signed out as checked. Check that all the _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ is present including weapons, ammunition and safety items.”
In this passage, both the context and the number of letters indicate the missing word is ‘equipment’.
The reasoning section of the test is not yet standard on all PELLET B exams but will soon be. It is made up of 16 questions.
You will be provided with a sequence of numbers, letters, words and facts. There will be a relationship or a pattern for each and you will need to find this rule to answer the question correctly.
All the information you need is in the question. You should answer using only the data provided and not any prior knowledge or opinion.
You will be provided with some text or other information that you need to put in the correct order or ascertain the order from.
“The suspect entered the room before the victim, and the witness was already seated facing the couch.”
Who was the first person in the room?
In this (simplified) question, the first person in the room was the witness as they were already seated.
In this type of question, you will be required to group information according to some rules. The rules will not be explained – you have to recognize or deduce them from the context.
Choose the odd one out in the list below:
c) Maine Coon
Three of the four answers are dog breeds, making the odd one out is c) because it is a cat breed. Here, you have grouped the items according to this and chosen the smallest group (the odd one out).
Finding the rule that links the words, terms, shapes, or patterns will help you to find the odd one out easily.
In this type of question, you continue a pattern of numbers, letters or shapes. The rules of the patterns are not explained; they are something you have to recognize or work out.
Complete this pattern:
1, 4, 9, 16, 25, 36, ___
Choose from the below:
The numbers in the pattern are all square numbers, starting from 1. The next number in the pattern would be d) because 7 x 7 = 49.
What Is the Scoring System?
When you have completed the PELLET B test, the raw score is digitally analyzed and calculated to produce a T-score.
This process means that you will not receive your results for about 2 weeks, and they will be sent to your assessment agency for dissemination.
The T-score is based on an average score of 50, with a standard deviation of 10. A score below 40 is lower than average and a score above 60 is considered higher than average.
According to POST, the attainment of officers in academies improves for every score above 42, so anything below a 42 is generally considered a failing score.
Your T-score remains valid for life. In most cases, they can be submitted with applications to different departments, but they can also ask you to retake the test.
If you fail or are unhappy with your results, you can retake the test after 30 calendar days.
How to Prepare for the Test?
Familiarity with the PELLET B Test will help you feel more relaxed when taking the test.
You can achieve this with practice and brushing up on your knowledge of language rules, spelling and grammar. This will also help broaden your vocabulary.
Take an Online Preparation Course
Several online preparation courses can help you gain confidence ready for the PELLET B exam.
The choice, of course, is up to you.
Practice Each Section of the Test
POST has practice questions in its preparation pack that will help you get used to the phrasing, style and structure of the questions. This can make you more confident taking the test because it will feel familiar.
Revise Language and Spelling Rules
To be successful in the writing part of the exam, your knowledge of spelling and grammar rules needs to be good.
You can revise online for common writing errors and spelling conventions. It is easiest to try to learn and remember the rules for spelling that you would have learned in high school.
Read Books and Newspapers Daily
You can easily widen your vocabulary and get used to recognizing context if you read more. Books and newspapers are best for this because they tend to use correct grammar and spelling, as well as more interesting words.
The more you read, the more you will learn and understand now words. You can test your new abilities and find areas you need to improve online.
Key Tips to Remember
Read Each Question Thoroughly
Make sure that you fully understand what the question is asking before you start. Read the question and any instructions given to make sure that you know how they want you to answer.
Speed Reading for Comprehension
A great tip for speed in the comprehension subtest is to read the question then look at the multiple-choice answers first, before reading the text.
This helps you to already have an idea of the information you are looking for before you get stuck in the details.
You can practice this technique online.
Return to Difficult Questions Later
If a question seems too hard, you can leave them and come back at the end. The test is timed, so spending too long on one question can mean you miss out on answering questions later in the exam.
If you do not know the answer, it is ok to guess. It is better to have an answer rather than nothing.
Most of this test is multiple-choice, so it is best to have a go at more questions than spend ages figuring out a single one, as that gives you a chance to get multiple of them right.
On Test Day
On the night before your exam, make sure that you get an early night so that you are well rested. Eat a good breakfast and stay hydrated.
The test is administered using pencil and paper. You can carefully erase your answer if it needs changing. Bring at least two sharpened pencils and an eraser with you to the PELLET B exam.
You will be told if you are allowed to store your belongings at the test center or have to leave them elsewhere.
POST has made it simple for all peace officers to have the same basic abilities in reading and writing through the PELLET B exam. It is not an easy test, but with practice and concentration, it can be passed.
PELLET B tests are administered by peace officer agencies that are affiliated with POST. You should contact your agency directly if you want to take the test.
Understanding and practicing what each subtest is looking for gives you the best chance to gain a good T-score.
Your T-score stays with you for life unless you retake the test. Your results will form part of the application process to join an Academy.
Preparation is the key to becoming more confident and improving your test scores.