Police officers enjoy dynamic, rewarding careers that allow them to serve their communities. In Canada, most police officers work for municipal, provincial, or federal agencies. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, one of the most well-known police detachments, work on the federal level.
There is typically fierce competition for open police positions. To narrow down the pool to the most promising candidates, most agencies follow thorough recruiting procedures. One or more written exams are often part of the process.
Canadian Police Hiring Process
The hiring process varies depending on the police service you want to join, but there are some common steps. The entire process can take at least four months and up to one year.
Before you begin the application process, ensure you meet the minimum standards. These include the following:
- At least 18 or 19 years old as determined by the police service or province
- Canadian citizen or permanent resident
- High school graduate
- Valid, unrestricted driver’s license
- CPR and Standard First Aid certified
- No unpardoned criminal convictions or criminal charges
The first step of the process is to find an opening you would like to apply for and submit an application. Police-specific job boards can help you locate postings in your province. Some openings, including those with the RCMP, are posted on the Government of Canada’s website.
The written examination varies by agency. With any exam, the goal is to determine whether you have the cognitive abilities to succeed at the job. There is more information about the written exam below.
Physical Abilities Testing
There are three standard physical ability tests that you may need to complete: the POPAT (Peace Officers Physical Abilities Test), PARE (Physical Abilities Requirement Evaluation), and PREP (Physical Readiness Evaluation for Police). Each test measures whether your fitness level will meet the demands of police work. The tasks involved include running, climbing stairs, dragging objects, navigating obstacles, pushing, and pulling. You will need to perform these tasks within a specified timeframe.
You will need to complete an interview with a panel of three to five people. There may be additional interviews, such as a one-on-one interview with a member of management. You can expect typical interview questions, such as your greatest strengths and weaknesses. There will also be questions more specific to police work, such as whether you have ever committed a crime or taken drugs.
During a polygraph (lie detector) exam, you will answer questions about your background and the information you supplied on your application.
The psychological examination part of the process may consist of a written personality test, an in-person evaluation with a trained professional, or both. The purpose is to confirm that you can handle the stressful aspects of the job and that your personality is suitable for police work.
The medical examination will determine whether you are medically healthy enough to become a police officer. Your hearing and vision will usually be tested. Note that it’s typically acceptable if you need glasses or contact lenses as long as your corrected vision meets the minimum requirements.
An experienced police officer completes the background review. The officer will ask you questions to confirm your background and speak to people who know you. They may talk to your friends, family, neighbors, employers, colleagues, landlords, and others.
Selection and Training
If the police service you have applied with determines that you are a suitable candidate, the next step is to begin training. With the RCMP and other agencies, you will start training as a cadet or recruit.
What Is the Canadian Police Exam?
There is not a standard exam to become a police officer in Canada. Instead, there are different testing processes to join the RCMP or a particular province’s police force.
The RCMP is present in each province, along with provincial and municipal police services. Some provinces, including British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario, have a standard assessment process. In the other provinces, the assessment depends on the particular police detachment.
- In British Columbia, most agencies require candidates to take the Intake Exam. It includes the following sections: memory and observation, reading comprehension and critical thinking, summary skills, and writing and editing.
- Provincial police officers in Alberta take two exams: the APCAT (Alberta Police Cognitive Ability Test) and the ACT (Alberta Communication Test). The APCAT covers five topics: problem analysis, written communication, judgement, observation skills, and memory recall. The ACT measures your writing skills, including vocabulary, spelling, and grammar.
- The provincial police service in Ontario also requires two exams: The PATI (Police Analytical Thinking Inventory) and the WCT (Written Communication Test). The PATI covers deductive, inductive, and quantitative reasoning. The WCT assesses a variety of skills related to writing.
The most common format for these tests is multiple choice and true or false, but you may come across questions that require you to answer in complete sentences or paragraphs.
How to Prepare for the Canadian Police Exam
The exact steps you take to prepare depend on which particular exam you need to take. However, there are strategies that will be of use regardless of the specific test. If you can, confirm ahead of time which test you’ll take.
You usually don’t need prior knowledge of law enforcement to pass an entry-level police test. Familiarizing yourself with the characteristics police detachments look for in a candidate will help throughout the hiring process.
Online practice tests are an excellent way to ensure you have the knowledge you need and to feel confident on test day. There are practice tests designed to help you get ready for many of the exams aspiring police officers need to take. Look for a timed test, as it is very likely your actual assessment will be timed.
A high score on your exam will bring you one step closer to a new and exciting career. If you give yourself the opportunity to study and practice, you’ll be much more likely to succeed. Good luck!