How to Become a State Trooper

If you're thinking of becoming a state trooper in the United States, you will need to go through the following process. Below, we go into more detail on each of the police tests you will be expected to pass.

Physical abilities test

Physical Abilities Test to State Police Written Exam

The state trooper exam tests an applicant’s ability at problem solving and logical reasoning; their ability to work things out when presented with a range of problems.

Typically, candidates are tested on:

  • Arithmetic
  • Reading comprehension
  • Communication skills
  • Personality characteristics
  • Math
  • Problem solving skills
  • Written ability
  • Incident report writing

The total exam time is typically 1.5 hours, though this depends on each state police department.

Physical Abilities Test

The physical abilities test (PAT) challenges the applicant’s physical strength and endurance capacity.

These questions include:

  • Push-ups
  • 300-meter dash
  • Sit-ups
  • 1.5-mile run

It takes time to prepare for the PAT and candidates are recommended to train regularly for several months in advance of the test. Candidates are assessed on a pass/fail basis.

State police written exam
Psychological Evaluation


Each state trooper exam involves a psychological evaluation.

Candidates must have the mental strength to operate under the strenuous conditions that characterize day-to-day life as a law enforcement officer.

Each state trooper is evaluated on their character and suitability for the role of state trooper or highway patrol officer. This involves a series of tests and questions where the psychologist compares your answers to a set standard.

This informs the psychologist of how you think about problems and situations – and how you are likely to perform in real-life situations as a police officer.

Background check and polygraph exam

Candidates who reach this stage of the process have already been given a conditional job offer.

Conditional, of course, on whether the candidate can pass both the background check and polygraph exam. These two tests complement one another, in that both seek to establish whether the candidate has been truthful – or not – throughout the entire selection process.

Background investigations may include most or all of the following:


Financial check


Education check


Criminal history


Employment background

Candidates who have been found to be economical with the truth may have their job offer revoked.

Furthermore, candidate’s close relatives or other personnel, such as past colleagues, may also be briefly interviewed.

Background Check
Medical Evaluation

Medical evaluation

The final stage in the state trooper exam is the medical evaluation; a series of tests that establish whether you are physically capable of performing successfully as a state trooper or highway patrol officer.

These tests typically take place at least 1-month before academy is set to commence. Note that these tests include both physical and mental tests.

Past medical records may also be requested as part of this review process.

Salary expectations

Candidates who pass the state trooper exam can expect to earn (average salaries as of 2023):


State Trooper


Highway patrol officer

2023 Average Exam Pass Rate

Note that only the highest scoring candidates from those who pass make it through to the police academy.



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