The best police officer exam prep book

Jennifer Blair

Approximately 35% of candidates actually pass the police officer exam.

Becoming a police officer can be a satisfying career path for anyone who wants to help serve and protect the public. Along with other qualifying assessments, you must pass a police officer exam to become a police officer. Studying for this type of exam can be tough, but an effective police officer exam prep book can mean the difference between passing and failing.

Our shopping guide will help you choose the best police officer exam prep book. It also includes specific product recommendations like our top pick from Barron's, which includes a helpful diagnostic to pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses and three practice exams to help track your study progress.

Considerations when choosing police officer exam prep books

Police entrance exam components

The police entrance exam isn't just a written test. In addition to the written exam, you'll also have to complete the following:

An oral interview
A background check
A drug screening
A medical check-up
A psychological profile
An agility test

Though many of these components can't be studied for, a police officer exam prep book can help you study for the written test while helping you to understand the physical requirements necessary to pass the medical screening and agility test. The main benefit of a prep book, though, is that it can help you build the knowledge necessary to pass the written exam and aid you in developing effective test-taking and studying strategies.

You're only allowed to sit for two written exams in any 12-month period, so having an effective police officer exam prep book can help ensure that you stay on track with the application process and don't experience any delays.



While a police exam prep book should focus on getting you ready for the written exam, you may also want a book that offers a wider view of a career as a police officer and the entire application process. This can not only help you decide whether a career in law enforcement is right for you but can also help you come up with a strategy for the application process beyond just the written exam.


Most police officer exam prep books include a diagnostic test that you take before you really begin your exam preparation. It helps you identify your strengths and weaknesses for the written exam so you know what areas you need to work on and can better focus your studying efforts.

Section reviews

To make sure you can handle all of the concepts and knowledge areas that the police exam tests for, a good prep book will offer general section reviews to help you boost your knowledge. Many books offer specific sections for:

Grammar and spelling
Reading comprehension
Police situations

Practice tests

As with any exam, taking practice tests is one of the best ways to prepare for the police officer exam because it gives you a clear idea of exactly to expect from the test. A prep book should have at least one practice exam, but you may want to invest in a book with at least three practice tests. You can take them at different points during the studying process to give you a better idea of how you're progressing and what areas you might still need to work on.


Many police exam prep books offer general strategies both for studying for the test and actually taking it. You'll usually get some important tips on maximizing your time and score on the police officer exam, which can help alleviate some stress as you're preparing.

Career opportunities

While you may have your heart set on being a uniformed police officer, there are actually other career options in law enforcement once you have your foot in the door. Some exam prep books discuss other career paths that you may want to take advantage of once you pass the exam.


Police officer exam prep books are usually fairly inexpensive, ranging from $10 to $25. You can even find some books for less than $10, but those are usually e-books or digital downloads.


Q. What score do I have to earn to pass the police exam?

A. You need to get at least 70% of the questions on the exam correct to achieve a passing score. But keep in mind that passing doesn't mean you'll be accepted into police training -- you must be among the top 10% of test takers to be considered.

Q. What requirements do I have to meet to take the police exam?

A. Requirements can vary from department to department, but you usually have to be at least 18 to 21 years old, have a high school diploma or GED, be a U.S. citizen, hold a valid driver's license, have no felony convictions or a dishonorable military discharge, and have no history of drug or alcohol abuse.

Police officer exam prep books we recommend

Best of the best: Barron's Educational Series Police Officer Exam, 10th Edition

Our take: An up-to-date, comprehensive prep book with expert information from one of the most trusted names in the test prep game.

What we like: Written by two law enforcement professionals. Provides information for testing with multiple police departments. Includes study strategies, practice exams, and detailed area reviews.

What we dislike: Some books arrived damaged, but there are no real complaints about the content of the book itself.

Best bang for your buck: Normal Hall Police Exam Preparation Book, Second Edition

Our take: A budget-friendly option that has lukewarm reviews regarding its content but features a money-back guarantee that makes it worth considering.

What we like: Author guarantees at least an 80% on the exam. Includes tips for boosting your overall score. Provides a detailed breakdown of the entire application process. Features three practice tests.

What we dislike: Some of the information in this book information isn't up to date. Doesn't include prep information for test takers in all states.

Choice 3: Police Officer Exam for Dummies, First Edition

Our take: Extremely user-friendly prep book that provides a helpful basic look at the studying process but works best as a supplemental study guide.

What we like: Written by a former LAPD member. Features four practice tests with detailed answer explanations and targeted review of key knowledge areas. Offers both study and test-taking strategy tips.

What we dislike: Math section isn't as detailed as some users would like. Doesn't contain information for all states.

Jennifer Blair is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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