NYPD Sergeant Exam: Everything You Need to Know

Leadership roles in the New York City Police Department or NYPD entail a deeper understanding of community partnership, conflict resolution, and ethical decision-making. These roles require aspirants to uphold the NYPD’s vision of fostering a safe and fair city and solving problems through interdependent relationships and by pioneering strategic innovation. Such vision makes NYPD a premier law enforcement agency, and thus, the department takes pride in its administration of the NYPD Sergeant Exam.

Given that the two main goals of NYPD are problem-solving and innovation, the NYPD Sergeant Exam is a rigorous examination process that is designed to assess aspiring officers’ readiness to perform these two competencies and apply the department’s core values of justness, integrity, and service as they lead the dynamic and demanding urban community of New York City.

This article then aims to present the structure of the NYPD Sergeant Exam along with some strategies for analyzing the questions in every given category. Since the exam is timed, accurate preparation for its take is an essential step for those aspiring and eligible to become an NYPD leader.

What Is the NYPD Sergeants Exam?

Sergeants are the first-line supervisors in police departments. As supervisors, they are expected to have skills in management which include planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. The NYPD Sergeant Exam serves as an instrument for determining those officers who have these essential management skills in addition to strong law enforcement knowledge. Moreover, the NYPD Sergeant Exam is a way for the department to maintain its high standards of promoting officers and reinforce its commitment to excellence.

Why Is the NYPD Test Used?

To ensure that officers are filtered accordingly through the NYPD Sergeant Exam, cognitive competencies are measured:

  1. Use of Working Memory and Attention to Detail
  2. Comprehension and Composition
  3. Logic and Reasoning

How Is the NYPD Sergeants Exam Administered?

The NYPD Sergeant Exam is a test taken at a designated computer terminal and administered by the Department of Citywide Administrative Services or DCAS.

How Long Is the NYPD Test?

Examinees are given four and a half (4 ½) hours to answer around 100 questions over four sessions. The questions are mostly scenario-based and reflect the authentic tasks of NYPD police officers. Each question follows a multiple-choice format.

Who Are Eligible for the NYPD Sergeant Exam?

The NYPD Sergeant Exam is actually open to all employees of the department given that on the first date of the test, (1) the employee holds a permanent competitive appointment or appears on the Preferred List of Police Officers and (2) has served for a total of three years as a permanent employee.

Take note that passing the exam is only one of the requirements for getting promoted to Sergeant. Only those Police Officers with at least five (5) years of service and an exemplary record with the department will be considered for promotion. Extra points are awarded to those who have been in NYPD for more than five years and those who have received certain merit or awards.

Moreover, the following are required:

  • Gained at least 64 college semester credits or the equivalent as shown in the official transcript of a college or university recognized by the US Secretary of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (or in cases of foreign college, the credits must be approved by the Foreign Education Evaluation Service)
  • Passed the drug test that may be required prior to promotion or after promotion within the probationary period
  • Owns a valid New York State driver’s license with no restrictions
  • Agrees to present all relevant  and official documents for investigation

How Do I Register for the NYPD Sergeants Exam?

The application for the NYPD Sergeant Exam is via the Online Application System (OASys). Applicants only need to follow the instructions provided for electronic submission and payment. A valid email address is required for this online application.

Acceptable payment methods include the use of all major credit cards, bank cards linked to a bank account, or prepaid debit cards bearing a credit card logo. Examination fees may be waived for those receiving or providing certain public assistance or public welfare programs. Updated fee waiver application forms and requirements may be viewed via the OASys.

Upon successful submission and payment, a confirmation will be sent to the applicant’s email. This email also details the exam date, time, and location.

What Questions Are Asked in the NYPD Test?

Although the NYPD Sergeant Exam is in multiple-choice format, most of the exam time will be spent reading and understanding scenarios to carefully answer the questions. The questions can be categorized based on the specific cognitive competencies being assessed:

  • Use of Working Memory and Attention to Detail 

  1. Photo Study. This section of the exam requires studying the details of a photo for 10 minutes. Once the time is up, examinees are asked to answer a set of questions about the tiniest and remote aspects of it. Examinees are allowed to take notes but not look back at the photo. Many consider this the most challenging part of the exam.
  2. Spatial Orientation. This section requires studying maps, space visuals, or written scenarios to evaluate examinees’ attention to detail and use of relative (left-right) and absolute (north-south) directional skills. Some questions ask examinees to find the fastest route while some ask for the last known location of a person or object.
  3. Visualization. This section targets to measure examinees’ ability to identify an object even after it has been altered. Usual items include pictures of human faces, floor plans, and diagrams.
  • Comprehension and Composition

  1. Reading Comprehension. This section presents several passages such as a sample crime report. After each passage, questions that ask for literal and inferential details are presented.
  2. Written Expression. This section requires paraphrasing or summarizing information from a document such as an incident report while retaining the original meaning. This aims to measure examinees’ ability to understand key ideas and identify key supporting details.
  3. Problem Sensitivity. This section measures not only the literal and inferential levels of comprehension but also the analytical and evaluative levels. Examinees are asked to read scenarios and spot incongruencies in the testimony, procedures, and other information sources.
  • Logic and Reasoning 

  1. Information Ordering. This section aims to measure logical skills and the test items require examinees to perform pattern recognition or apply mathematical operations.
  2. Inductive Reasoning. This section aims to know the examinees’ ability to form a conclusion or hypothesis based on patterns observed in a given data. Sample scenarios in this section are offense classification where the crime committed will be asked or witness statements where inaccurate statements should be identified.
  3. Deductive Reasoning. This section aims to measure examinees’ ability to apply a rule given to a given set of data. Sample items in this section are tables, diagrams, pictures, or lists of information.

What Are the Exam Topics?

Law enforcement leadership position requires that examinees make use of their knowledge from policing experience along with their knowledge of management and leadership. The following are the topics covered in the NYPD Sergeant Exam:

  • Law Enforcement Knowledge

  1. Legal concepts and procedures
  2. Safety protocols
  3. Police operations and tactics
  4. Community policing and problem-solving
  5. Crime prevention and investigation techniques
  6. Ethics and professional standards
  • Policing Duties

  1. Narrative logs or reports
  2. Response situations
  3. Patrol supervision
  4. Personnel organization
  5. Special patrol operations
  6. Technical translation
  • Management and Leadership Abilities

  1. Supervision and coaching
  2. Training and counseling
  3. Communication and collaboration
  4. Critical thinking and decision-making
  5. Data analysis
  6. Organizational sensitivity

Sample Questions

The table below shows sample questions. In this table, the topics covered and competencies assessed are indicated for your review reference:

Question Number 

Competency Assessed 

Topics Covered 

1

Logic and reasoning

Inductive reasoning

Law Enforcement Knowledge

Legal procedures

Investigation techniques

2

Comprehension and Compositon

Written expression

Policing duties

Narrative reports

Managing and Leadership

Communication and collaboration

3

Use of Working Memory and Attention to Detail

Spatial orientation

Law Enforcement Knowledge

Community policing and problem-solving

Policing Duties

Response situations

Question 1

Accurate documentation of footwear impressions found at a crime scene plays a pivotal role in any investigation. Precise photographs are essential as even the slightest variation in shoe sizes can significantly impact the outcome. The angle at which these photographs are taken is of utmost importance, and capturing them at a 90° angle to the impression is crucial. Failure to do so can result in an inaccurate representation of the true-size impression, potentially compromising the entire investigative process. When an expert later compares these impressions to the shoes of a suspect, it becomes imperative that the true size of the impression is correctly reproduced. Only then can reliable conclusions be drawn, leading to effective progress in solving the case.

Which of the following CANNOT be validly concluded from the information given above about photographing footwear impressions at a crime scene?

a) Proper photography of footwear impressions is essential for a successful investigation.

b) Photographs taken at a 90° angle to the impression result in correct true-size impressions.

c) There is a minimal difference between various shoe sizes.

d) The true size of the impression is critical for an expert to compare it to a suspect’s shoe.

Question 2

Suspect Information: If known, ______ any available information about the suspect(s), such as physical description, clothing, and any identifiable ______.

Which of the following options completes the sentence correctly?

a) produce, features

b) provide, features

c) produce, signs

d) provide, signs

Question 3

You have been assigned as the supervising sergeant to investigate the disappearance of a person reported missing in a busy urban area. The person was last seen near a well-known intersection, which is situated at the heart of the city. Your task is to accurately determine the direction of the last known location based on the given information.

If the person was last seen at the intersection of 5th Avenue and Main Street, with 5th Avenue running north-south, and Main Street running east-west, which direction is the person’s last known location from the intersection?

a) North

b) South

c) East

d) West

How Do I Prepare for the NYPD Sergeant Exam?

The sample questions as observed reflects the usual incidents, procedures, and protocols encountered on the field. Relying solely on experience and stored knowledge may not be enough. To conquer the top rank, the following tips for preparation may be considered:

  1. Reviewing of narrative logs and reports. Since the test questions will reflect authentic situations commonly encountered by Police Officers on the ground, it is best to be exposed to the format, content, and language of these reports. This can help enhance one’s skills in comprehension, technical translations, and attention to detail.
  2. Taking practice tests. Aside from exposure to actual logs and reports, downloading tutorials and practice materials is also recommended. Paid practice tests found online usually contain well-curated questions that somewhat mimic the actual exam. This can help enhance one’s ability to read quickly through the test items and decide on the most appropriate answer.
  3. Creating own questions. By doing this, one can restate or summarize important details and would have certain insights on what type of question would be normally asked given a scenario, diagram, or photo.
  4. Finding opportunities to discuss with a small group. Teaching a concept to someone else increases understanding of the information and allows the brain to make use of the inputs received and store them in long-term memory.
  5. Doing item analysis for every practice test taken. Noting every mistake in practice tests enables one to evaluate which topics or question types to further study. After gathering this information, it would be a good idea to practice with someone who already has mastered one’s weak spots.
  6. Simulating test-taking conditions such as the time required to answer all questions and the mode of answering the test. The NYPD Sergeant Exam is taken over four sessions for two days. It is best if this kind of setup is simulated at least twice before the actual date of the exam to discover both useful and irrelevant habits or routines when taking exams.
  7. Setting and sticking to a regular schedule for reading and reviewing. Brain research tells us that consistent practice is important for people to retain information and develop test-taking skills.

NYPD Sergeant Exam Results

The passing score for the NYPD Sergeant Exam is 70.000 computed using the percentage of correct answers. If the examinee has ratings for seniority or points for departmental awards or credit, these will be added to the test scores of those who passed to determine the final ranking.

NYPD Sergeant Exam Passers will be notified via email of the test results and their names will be posted on an eligible list. The eligible list shows the ranking of the examinees based on their passing scores and it is used to determine the topmost consideration for promotion. Once this list is published, the data here is kept active for four years.

Conquering the NYPD Top Ranks

Learning the techniques for conquering the top ranks or eligible list in the NYPD Sergeant Exam can be a transformative journey for those aspiring to the first-line leadership role. It is transformative because the preparation for the exam requires dedication and discipline. As aspirants navigate the different topics and question types of the NYPD Sergeant Exam, they are reminded, not only of the greater responsibility they will perform but also, the fact that promotion in the field of law enforcement means deeper commitment and partnership with the New York City individuals and community. The techniques discussed in the article are aimed to give aspirants the confidence they need to work on each question keeping in mind the values of NYPD: justness, integrity, and service.