Writing Skills on the Police Written Test!July 10th, 2021
Why do writing skills get tested?
Accurate writing skills on the police written test are important. Not all police departments focus on writing skills, but most do – particularly the larger departments.
For the police exam, you must learn to write as accurately and succinctly as possible. Many candidates ask: “why are writing skills even tested? If I were trying to become an author, that is what I would have chosen to become!”.
The answer is this: that writing skills are a core part of communication skills. As an aspiring law enforcement officer, it is incumbent upon you to have the basic writing and reading skills needed to operate effectively in this role.
The fact is that police officers with greater communication skills – both written and verbal – are far more effective police officers than those without these skills. Rather than seeing writing and communication as something altogether irrelevant to the police officer exam, you should instead see this as an opportunity to demonstrate to the department the skills you have in this area.
Communication is important not just for incident report writing or communicating with the public but also for the legal setting, too. One of the core responsibilities of many police officers is to attend court, verbalizing the evidence of the case in question. If you do not have effective communication skills, this will not come easy!
That’s why, in the weeks and months leading up to your police exam, you must take the time to consciously improve your writing skills on the police written test.
What Kind of Questions Get Asked?
Multiple-choice questions are one of the most common forms of question type on the police exam.
But for writing skills, there are other options, too.
For instance, you may be presented with a paragraph and asked a series of questions. Rather than marking off a box, you will be asked to write the answer instead.
Look at the following examples of what to do, and what not to do:
Note that when asked these questions, you must:
- Answer in a proper, short form sentence.
- Answer questions with complete grammar accuracy.
- Answer questions with complete spelling accuracy.
- Answer questions that have clarity of meaning to the reader.
- Avoid 1- or 2-word answers that are void of context, meaning, grammar.
Furthermore, you may also want to review your writing style.
Whilst your handwriting may be clear to you, it may not be clear to others. Do remember that, for incident report writing, clarity of what you have written is of paramount importance. The information you have noted is, after all, being used for evidence-based and legal purposes. You may want to ask family or friends about your handwriting and if it is as comprehensible to them as it is to you.
One of the pressures of the police written exam is timing.
Exam pressure can change the dynamic, a lot! Under pressure, you may forget about your handwriting style and so errors can start to creep in. You must retain focus and clarity throughout. Otherwise, you increase the risk of generating errors and, for the police exam where competition for places is high, every mark counts.
How to Develop Writing Skills
The great thing about communication is that you do not need to like it to do well.
In fact, you can improve these skills by immersing yourself in interests that are tangentially related to communication.
For instance, this means:
- Read more – of the books and magazines you like. Though as you read, be aware of the grammar used and always ask yourself whether you know how to use these formats.
- Write more – again, it doesn’t have to be anything too academic. But the point of writing is to become familiar with writing short, accurate statements that are free from grammar mistakes. Take a grammar rule and apply it without notes. Then, check back to see if your examples are correct.
- Practice exam questions – the more police written exam questions you practice, the better. This gives you ample opportunity to prepare for the real thing, in advance, and to correct errors in the weeks leading up to the exam.
- Flashcards – flashcards should be used for the basic grammar rules. There are also neat spelling tricks you can include, too. Remember that flashcards should be concise and to the point – with one topic on one side of the card, and the meaning/explanation of the concept on the other. Flick through these cards on a regular basis to smash these grammar rules into your memory.
Ultimately, it’s about building structure into your study – having the resources to hand, a study timetable that handles all of the above, and taking the conscious time to learn the subject. This doesn’t need to be boring, either! As we learned above, there are great ways to improve communication without needing to become too academic about the matter.
There are also great YouTube videos explaining grammar concepts, too.
As a rule: keep things simple.
Avoid complex language speech forms and overly complex words. As George Orwell wrote, always replace a complex word where a simpler, more understood word could be used. His essay, “Politics and the English Language”, is worth a read if you would like to learn more about how to improve core writing skills.
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