Police Psych Exam Disqualifiers – 6 Reasons You Might Fail

by Sarah Duncan

The police psychological exam is an essential element of the police officer selection process, as it is designed to assess suitability for the demanding and sensitive nature of law enforcement work.

The exam establishes a clearer idea of candidates’ personality traits such as stress management, judgment, empathy, and assertiveness – all essential parts of being a police officer.

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This article is designed to give readers a better insight into how the exam works, potential disqualifying factors, and tips to maximize candidates’ preparation for the test.

Let’s get right into it!

Understanding the Police Psychological Exam

The Police Psychological Exam is a crucial element of the screening process for aspiring police officers.

It enables law enforcement agencies to assess an individual’s suitability for the stressful, potentially violent, and sometimes disturbing scenes police may bear witness to in their line of work.

The exam assesses qualities and traits such as judgment, stress management, intelligence, and honesty, and investigates any personal biases or historic drug use applicants may have.

In an applicant’s bid to become a police officer, this testing is often paired with a face-to-face psychological interview and a background check to further assess suitability for the demanding role.

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Key Disqualifiers in the Police Psych Exam

Being a police officer is a highly mentally and physically demanding role. As such, the standards for becoming a police officer are very high.

The screening process applicants must go through is designed to look out for key areas in which they may not be suitable for the role. The main areas are as follows:

Inability to Manage Stress

As has been mentioned before, stress management is an essential skill for all police officers given that they operate in highly stressful and potentially dangerous situations on a daily basis.

If a difficulty in managing stress is noticed in the answers given in the police psychological exam, this is an important sign that a candidate may not be suited for a career in law enforcement.

Lack of Empathy

The nature of a police officer’s job means they deal with a diverse array of people in potentially vulnerable situations.

Not having the appropriate skill set of empathy and compassion may hinder an officer’s ability to select the best course of action in high-stakes situations and prevent meaningful community relationships from being made.


While assertiveness up to a point is considered desirable in a police officer’s skill set, excessive aggression could definitely be viewed as a disqualifier.

The police psychological exam uses the big five personality trait framework; that is, it works to gauge applicants’ levels of Extroversion, Agreeableness, Openness, Conscientiousness, and Neuroticism.

Scoring high on questions designed to test Neuroticism and Extroversion have been shown to be indicative of aggression, while scoring high on questions designed to test Agreeableness is indicative of lower levels of aggression.

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Honesty and transparency are viewed as essential characteristics of effective police officers.

Inconsistent answers in the police psychological exam may raise suspicion, as this is a sign applicants are not answering questions truthfully.

Going into this exam with the goal of answering questions based on what you think a law enforcement agency may want to hear may lead to an increase in inconsistencies, and is strongly recommended against.

Instead, answer questions truthfully so that the relevant authorities can gauge whether or not you are the best fit to serve your community faithfully.

Poor Judgment

Effective police officers require the ability to make judgments that best serve their community in potentially high-stakes situations.

The inability to do so could easily result in additional harm for associated parties and is a telltale sign that a candidate is not up to the job of becoming a police officer. Closely related to this is a lack of impulse control.

Issues with authority

This could manifest in multiple ways, from personal relationships and legal issues to an inability to be managed in a hierarchical team dynamic.

Seeing as candidates are applying to take up positions of considerable authority in society, any personal issues in dealing with this same authority is a potentially disqualifying factor.

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Preparing for the Psych Exam

It is important to keep in mind that the Police Psychology exam isn’t an academic test; instead, It’s designed to measure your core personality traits, values, and attitudes.

While this may be a somewhat daunting hurdle to overcome, it is one of the most important in the process of becoming a police officer.

Self-awareness and honesty are essential in completing the police psychological exam to give a valid representation of yourself.

However, this doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared for what you will encounter in the exam.

Reading this far into the article will have already primed you with some highly valuable information.

Knowing what are essential qualities for a law enforcement officer and what are negative qualities in this context should help you to decide whether this is an avenue you still want to explore.

There are also ways to prepare for the specific content of the police psychological exam.

JobTestPrep’s tailored personality tests and police personality profile guides will guarantee applicants are as well prepared for the exam as they can be.

Final Words

The police psychological exam is a crucial component of screening for aspiring police officers.

After all, it’s designed to assess how candidates’ personality types and qualities stack up to the ideal profile of a police officer.

Approaching the exam with honesty and self-awareness is crucial in order to give a truthful representation of yourself.

Knowledge of some of the potential disqualifiers in the exam should provide you with a better understanding of what law enforcement agencies are looking for, and ultimately better prepare you for the exam. Good luck!

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