How to Prepare for Prison Officer Selection Test?

Last Updated on November 30, 2022

Welcome to our Prison Officer Selection Test guide. On this page you’ll find practice tests, coaching videos & 5 Top Tips for passing your Prison Officer Selection Test. Let’s get started!

2 Useful Starting-Point Resource

  • Our Prison Officer Assessment Day guide is here.

Download our Ultimate Assessment Day & Interview Guide 2022 here. (It's packed with tips, tricks and insider-secrets to help you succeed.)

What’s in This Guide?

This guide is broadly split into two parts:

  1. Firstly, we’ll tell you what to expect in your Prison Officer Selection Test.
  2. We’ll show you how to succeed in the test.

Sound good? Let’s cover the basics first.

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Prison Officer Selection Test POST test What Is the Prison Officer Selection Test?

The Prison Officer Selection Test (AKA ‘POST test’) is an online psychometric test that assesses the numeracy skills of people who want to become Prison Officers. If you want to be a prison officer you will have to pass your Prison Officer Selection Test.

Don’t feel that you need to have in-depth knowledge of the Prison Officer role or duties at this stage; the prison officer selection test is purely designed to examine your basic numerical intelligence.

Where Will I Sit My POST Test?

Wherever you want. You take the POST test remotely after receiving a link via email.

You will have seven days to complete the test and it should take around an hour to complete.

What’s the Pass Score for the Prison Officer Selection Test?

You must get at least 35 out of 46 questions correct, in order to make it through to the Prison Officer Assessment Centre.

Important Tip: The POST test is not negatively marked; it’s about what you get right, not what you get wrong. (Which means that guesses are ok in the POST test, which is unlike many other forms of aptitude testing.)

I’m Rubbish at Maths. Can I Get My Friend to Take the Test for Me?

Yes you could do, but it’s not recommended. Firstly, cheating your way through your Prison Officer Selection Test isn’t a great way to start your new career(!), and secondly you will have to sit a second POST test during your Prison Officer Assessment Centre. This is to confirm the results from the first POST test. (Or otherwise!)

NOTE: The POST test that you’ll sit at the Prison Officer Assessment Centre will be slightly harder than the original.

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What’s in the Prison Officer Selection Test?

Ok, let’s get into the detail. What will you find in your Prison Officer Selection Test?

The NOMS (National Offender Management Service) recently made some helpful videos for candidates. There’s handy tips galore here.

There will be five sections and each of those sections can be completed, saved and then returned to at a later time.

You are permitted to use a calculator.  (Make sure to have a pen and paper handy, for any workings out that you may want to make.)

What Type of Questions Will Feature on the Prison Officer Selection Test?

You will be presented with a series of questions and you will have to choose the answer from the options provided.

You can expect to find two types of questions:

  • Text-based questions that require you to choose the correct answer using mathematical calculations.
  • Visual-based questions based on a data set – this could come in the form of a graph, pie chart, picture, etc.


What Type of Calculations Should I Expect?

The usual stuff that we see in most numerical tests:

  • Addition
  • Subtraction
  • Multiplication
  • Division
  • Percentages
  • Currencies
  • Time

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Help, I’m Terrified! I’m Rubbish at Maths!

We get more emails about numerical tests than anything else. People really dread them!

Relax. The secret to passing numerical tests is preparation. We’re assuming you’ve already thoroughly read through the NOMS website? (You should also check out this helpful page from the National Careers Service.)

Preparing for the Prison Officer Selection Test

Firstly, check this video out:

5 Top Tips For Passing Your Prison Officer Selection Test

Top Tip 1) You must invest some time and money in boosting your numerical ability.

We’ve written extensive guides on how to improve your numerical ability. We’ve also recorded several coaching videos with mathematician John Bridges. Here’s one:

Here’s one:

You can see the other videos and learn much more on our Numerical Hub.

Top Tip 2) Practice. Practice. Practice.  

We cannot make this point strongly enough. Taking practice tests transforms your chances of success. We always recommend these practice POST tests because they contain clear explanations. This allows you to identify where you’re weak and then IMPROVE that area. It’s game-changing for your chances of success.

If you’re serious about your career and are determined to pass your Prison Officer Selection Test you should practice for 30-60 minutes every day before the test. Remember you’re being measured against other candidates, so literally every second counts.

Speed and accuracy come through repetition. Practice. Practice. Practice.

Top Tip 3) Check Out the Other Free Resources Here

Elsewhere on this site you’ll find guides to all areas of aptitude testing and also the Prison Officer Assessment Centre.

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Top Tip 4) Go Crazy on YouTube

Get on YouTube and start searching, you’ll find tons of useful videos that will help you. Maths Antics is a channel we often recommend:

Top Tip 5) Check Out Our Podcast

Listen to our podcast on Numerical Test success. It’ll help!

After you pass your Prison Officer Selection Test with flying colours, you will be invited to attend the Prison Officer Assessment Centre. Well done! Check out our guide for that event here.

Good Luck!

We hope you found this free guide useful? Thanks for reading and good look with your future career and in your Prison Officer Selection Test.

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