Police SEARCH Assessment Centre Guide – How to Prepare?

The Police SEARCH assessment centre is an essential part of the recruitment process for all applicants who want to pursue a career in the Police Service.

During the SEARCH assessment, you will be tested in several ways and this guide will help you prepare.

Take the SEARCH Assessment Practice Test to improve your score.

An excellent starting-point resource:

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

SEARCH Assessment Centre: The Essentials

The SEARCH Assessment is the most rigorous part of the police recruitment process and the standards are incredibly high. It’s vital you put in 110% when practicing for the SEARCH assessment.

Your time at the SEARCH Assessment will be broken down into the following:

  • A Competency-Based Interview.
  • A Numerical Ability Test.
  • A Verbal Ability Test.
  • Four Role-Play Exercises.

police assessment centre

SEARCH Assessment Centre: Competency Based Interview

The whole interview will be 20 minutes in total. You will be asked 4 questions, each with a maximum response time of 5 minutes.

Expect your interviewer to stick to these timings exactly. It’s vital that you are clear and concise when giving your answers.

To learn more about how to excel in interviews, check out these articles:

Now let’s focus on the specifics of the interview.

SEARCH Assessment Centre Interview: Competencies

The college of policing outlines a set of core competencies that all police officers must have.

This is a ‘gold-dust’ checklist for you in your preparation!

Let’s look at them one by one…

  • Serving The Public

 You must show a real belief in public service. Understand the needs of the public and the benefits of policing for different communities and be able to work alongside other agencies to deliver the best service possible.

  • Openness To Change

As a police officer, you must be able to approach change with positivity and be able to implement changes quickly. Be flexible and creative when solving problems.

  • Service Delivery

You should understand police priorities and your own place within them. You must have the ability to multi-task and methodically plan ahead. Having effective time management skills and the ability to prioritise is the key to being successful here.

  • Professionalism

Make sure that you follow the Ethical Code. Show courage and initiative in difficult situations and be honest and respectful to all, with the ability to diffuse conflict.

  • Decision Making

You should have the ability to gather and assess all information in order to fully understand a situation. Consider all of the options before making a decision. You must act in the interest of the public.

  • Working With Others

You must be a team player; be approachable and willing to help colleagues. Effective communication and excellent listening skills are essential. You should be respectful and assess the needs of all individuals.


Pro Tip

These competencies are the building blocks for everything at all police assessment centres. These competencies are the pillars of police force recruitment and candidates will be scored with these in mind.

This means you need to know this inside out!

The Application Form

You may have noticed we haven’t covered the initial application form here. If you haven’t already submitted yours, click here to get some great tips.

Test practice is the key to test success

You can double your chances of success by practicing the SEARCH assessment tests beforehand. Get hold of practice tests by clicking here: Police assessment centre psychometric tests.

Vital Preparation Exercise

Here’s an exercise which will help you prepare for the SEARCH assessment:

  • Look at the competencies and compose a list of examples of when you have demonstrated each one.
  • Try to take your examples from your own personal and work experience.
  • Once you have your list. Memorize it! (You will return to this list again and again during the interview as you will be asked for examples.)
  • Try and create two examples for each competency.

search assessment centre

SEARCH Assessment Centre: Numerical Ability Test

The SEARCH Assessment will be assessing your mathematical skills and how you process numerical information.

You will be given information in several forms. This could be in graphs or tables. The information presented will then form the basis of the questions.

Time is of the essence here as you only have 23 minutes to answer 21 questions.

Terrified? Most people are. Here’s how to succeed!

This is the area we get more emails about than any other. So we created a Numerical Hub to help you learn how to pass these tests.

Practice the police numerical tests by clicking here.

The Numerical Hub

To learn more about numerical reasoning go to our hub: Numerical Reasoning Practice Tests & Knowledge Hub: Essential Tips

These numerical tests are going to be assess how you draw conclusions between number relationships.

You’ll be expected to show a strong understanding of:

  • Percentages.
  • Averages.
  • Ratios.
  • Graph Interpretations.

A calculator will be provided for you but that doesn’t mean it will be easy.

Practice the SEARCH assessment centre numerical tests here.

Please also check out the Numerical Hub. Here’s a coaching video that will help you out:

SEARCH Assessment Centre – Verbal Ability Test

Now for the second test. This test is 30 minutes long. However, there are 28 questions in total.

The test is split in half.  The first half will present you with questions that are situational judgment test-based.

You will have to decide on whether the outcome of the situation is true, false or impossible to say.

Here’s an example question:

  • John woke up at 9 o’clock as a car crashed into his neighbours house. His neighbour was on holiday. A green car crashed into John’s neighbours house. True, false or impossible to say?

This type of question can take some getting used to, so it’s vital that you practice for the test as much as possible.

Practice the SEARCH assessment centre verbal tests here.

The second part of the test will be comprehension based.

You will need to digest and comprehend information then choose the correct statement in relation to it from multiple options.

To learn more about verbal reasoning tests visit our Verbal Reasoning Ultimate Guide: Verbal Reasoning Tests: 7 Top Tips For Success (Includes Practice Tests)


Stop worrying! Download a 12-step assessment day cheatsheet & be perfectly prepared.

Click here to download your copy


SEARCH Assessment Centre: Role-Plays

Candidates tend to fear role-play exercises, but don’t worry, role-plays can be prepared for very effectively.

Read our popular role-play guide here: Role-Plays: The 7 Steps To Role-Play Interview Success.

Your role-plays will last ten minutes each. There will be four in total. The role-plays will be split into two segments. You will have:

  • 5 minutes of time preparation.
  • 5 minutes to conduct the role-play.

Use the preparation time wisely. You won’t be assessed on how you use this time but you need to digest all of the material given to you whilst keeping the competencies in mind.

Related Study Guide

That is the end of your exercises at the SEARCH Assessment, however, you will still be subject to a physical and medical test before being offered employment.

To learn more about the SEARCH assessment , check out these links:

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Get your copy of our Ultimate Assessment Day & Interview Guide here. It's packed with tips, tricks and insider-secrets to help you succeed.

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1. What is a police search assessment?

A police SEARCH assessment test is a tool used to measure an individual’s cognitive abilities and problem-solving skills. The test is designed to help law enforcement agencies identify candidates who are best suited for positions that require critical thinking and decision-making abilities.

2. Is police search assessment hard?

During the police recruitment process, the SEARCH Assessment Centre is the most rigorous. The standards are extremely high. You need to practice for this assessment centre at 110%. At the SEARCH Assessment Centre, you will take part in the following: A competency-based interview.

3. What is the pass rate for police assessment centre?

From August 2017 to the present, 59.40% of PC candidates have passed the PC recruitment assessment center. The pass rate for PC recruitment Day Two since August 2017 to date is 96.67%.

4. What happens if you fail police online assessment?

When you are unsuccessful at this stage, you will receive feedback in the form of a report that details how you performed against competency areas. This exercise will have you assume the role of a police constable and you will be responsible for dealing with some issues presented to you.

5. How long does it take to hear back from the police online assessment?

It usually takes four to five weeks for the police to get back to you after you’ve taken the police online assessment process.

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