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How to Prepare for the Police Memory Test.

Sep 17th, 2022

Question Types on the Police Memory Test.

Some police departments throughout the country include a memory test on the written exam. For example, NYPD, Irving Police Department and Pheonix Police Department test all include a memory test.

In this test, you will be presented with a photograph and asked to memorize as many details as possible within a defined timeframe. The exact timeframe differs with each police department. Once that period elapses, you will then be permitted to answer a series of questions on that photograph.

All questions asked will be multiple-choice questions (MCQs).

Typically, three types of question are asked:

  • Detail identification: you will need to identify specific details. This could be anything from what someone was wearing to what weapon was available for a suspect to use. All details, both big and small, can be tested.
  • Direction questions: for these questions, you will be asked to consider what direction a suspect is running toward. The photograph will give details that imply the direction. You need to remember the image in terms of where people or objects appear to be moving toward or away from.
  • Numerical questions: in this question type, you will be asked to remember what numbers, or number ordering, is present on a part of the photograph. You may also be asked questions on remembering numbers and letters in a specific order.

Most applicants taking the police memory test focus too much on the first question type. Whilst it’s important to identify specific details, it’s also important to consider the other two question types. In your long-term preparation when practicing memory questions, always try to memorize all three types of detail.

With enough practice, it will improve your exam score over time.

Why are memory questions tested on the written exam?

Observation skills in law enforcement are essential. The most effective police officers have a trained, honed memory. They have a proactive approach to deliberately recall as many essential details as possible.

For instance, police officers chasing a suspect must remember what that person looks like – or at least as many details that they can.

That can include remembering:

  • what they are carrying.
  • make and model of their vehicle.
  • clothing.
  • facial features – such as hair type or color; skin color; scarring.

It’s also important to remember the time and place that the incident occurred. The more details the officer can remember, the better. If the suspect fails to be apprehended, the details remembered can be used to put together a picture of what the suspect looks like. This then aids public identification.

In other words, memory matters in law enforcement.

Many police departments include a memory test precisely because they want to identify those applicants with the strongest aptitude for detail and memory identification.

You may think you have a poor memory, though. Even if that’s true today, there are ways and means to improve your memory over time. It is a mental muscle that becomes stronger the more you train it.

How to Improve Police Memory Skills.

As with any skill, it takes time to improve memory.

Most information kept in your short-term memory is stored for approximately 20 to 30 seconds. A smaller amount of this information can last for up to 1-minute. As you don’t have much time to form short-term memories, you need to maximize the memories that do form – in terms of both forming them as well as retaining them as long as possible.

There are six key strategies we want you to focus on:

  • Avoid distractions.
  • Start focussing on details in your day-to-day life.
  • Use mobile apps and free study resources.
  • Practice police memory test questions.
  • Use all senses when trying to remember information.
  • Note key information as soon as you can.

Let’s go through each of these strategies in turn; the first, learning to avoid distractions.

During the thirty seconds or one-minute you have with the photograph, do not get distracted by anything else in the exam hall. Instead, focus on details and details alone. Don’t worry about what questions might get asked. Instead, keep your focus 100% on studying the photograph in question. You might be the type of person who is easily distracted. If this is the case, try to focus on one object or number sequence at a time. The more memory questions you practice, the faster this memory collection will become.

Next, start to focus on details in your day-to-day life. For instance, you may be sitting on the sofa at home trying to identify details you otherwise never focussed on. In other words, get into the habit of identifying details no matter where you are. Memorize detail more granular than surface detail i.e. not just “a table”; but “a square, red table with a damaged leg”. Consider harvesting detail in the same way a police officer must do in their daily life. As they must focus on details, you should try to instil this habit into your daily life, too. It will pay dividends on the day of your police officer exam.

Third, use mobile apps and online study tools. There are many effective mobile apps that focus on testing your memory. Get into the habit of using these free apps each day. Again, it’s about training your muscle memory over time. As with resistance training in the gym, you must work on your memory in different but complementary ways.

Fourth, practice police memory test questions. Just like the police exam, these questions should be timed, and you should be presented with a photograph or image. Practicing sample questions puts you under pressure, and that pressure can force you to memorize details in a way that wouldn’t otherwise happen in a real-life situation. Again, it’s about finding ways to improve your memory by trying many different techniques at the same time. Each strategy comes with its own unique learning value.

Fifth, try to use all senses when memorizing details. Imagine the police exam tested a photograph that included a train. We could imagine the sound of a train shooting along its tracks to help memorize this object. The same photograph might have flowers. We can imagine the scent of those flowers, allowing the scent to become the memory indicator. The same principle applies to touch and taste. When assessing an image, try to memorize details using all the senses. It allows you to gather more details than trying to remember words in your mind. It makes the details three-dimensional and more memorable.

Sixth, write down key information as soon as you can. There may be some details that are difficult to remember. It could be a number sequence, or it could be the vehicle license plate number. Don’t attempt to learn the sequence at the beginning because you are likely to forget it. Instead, keep the memorization until the very end of your allotted time, and then quickly write down the plate number or sequence the second the opportunity arises. The same applies to any other key detail you need to remember but that you feel you may forget.

Sample Police Memory Test Questions.

Take approximately 120 seconds to study the image below.

Memorize as many details as you can and then answer the questions below. Be careful not to inadvertently review the questions. Answer explanations can be found at the very bottom of this study guide.

police memory test question

Q1. How many people are present in the painting directly above the night table?

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4

Q2. Which of these objects is lying on the floor?

  1. Briefcase
  2. Water bottle
  3. Lamp
  4. Laptop

Q3. What color is the headboard of the bed?

  1. Green
  2. Beige
  3. Blue
  4. Brown

Q4. How many paintings are hanging on the wall?

  1. 5
  2. 6
  3. 7
  4. 8

Q5. The color of the walls is most related to which color scheme?

  1. Red-brown
  2. Magnolia
  3. Green-gray
  4. Blue-green

Take Home Message.

Over the course of this study guide, we have sought to show you how to prepare for the police memory test. It doesn’t matter if you have a poor memory today, there are ways and means to improve your memory over time.

We went through six techniques to help you improve your memory. To refresh, these techniques are:

  • To avoid distractions.
  • To start focussing on details in your day-to-day life.
  • To use mobile apps and online study resources.
  • To practice police memory test questions.
  • To use all senses when trying to remember information.
  • To note down key information as soon as you can.

By implementing these strategies, your memory is guaranteed to improve over time. Your memory will not improve overnight, so don’t expect quick results. But you need to invest the time – and that means investing time each day leading up to the day of your police officer exam.

The answers to the test questions above are:

  • A1. There are three people in the painting above the night table.
  • A2. A brown briefcase is lying on the floor.
  • A3. The color of the headboard is beige.
  • A4. There are a total of eight paintings hanging on the wall.
  • A5. The color of the walls is most like green-gray.

We hope you found this study guide on the police memory test helpful. Check back to Police Test Study Guide soon for more exclusive content to help you study and pass the police officer exam.

Daniel Sullivan

Daniel joined Police Test Study Guide in 2019, and currently serves as a senior executive overseeing course product development. With over 20-years’ experience in law enforcement, Mr. Sullivan began his career in Philadelphia Police Department before advancing to the role of detective. He has more recently worked with police departments throughout the country in the development and preparation of law enforcement exams to ensure applicants meet the standards needed to meet today’s growing challenges.

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Author:

Daniel Sullivan

Daniel joined Police Test Study Guide in 2019, and currently serves as a senior executive overseeing course product development. With over 20-years’ experience in law enforcement, Mr. Sullivan began his career in Philadelphia Police Department before advancing to the role of detective. He has more recently worked with police departments throughout the country in the development and preparation of law enforcement exams to ensure applicants meet the standards needed to meet today’s growing challenges.

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