Entry-Level Test Battery FAQs

Law Enforcement - Agency

1. Why are agencies required to give a reading and writing test?

Commission Regulation 1951 mandates that peace officers be able to read and write at the levels necessary to perform the job of a peace officer as determined by the use of the POST Entry-Level Law Enforcement Test Battery (PELLETB) or other professionally developed and validated test of reading and writing ability. Because performance on the PELLETB is highly correlated with performance in the academy, many agencies and academies use the PELLETB as an indicator of readiness for a career in law enforcement.

2. What does the PELLETB measure?

The PELLETB is a multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank written examination designed to measure reading and writing ability. Applicants are given 2 ½ hours to complete the PELLETB, which contains five sections:

  • Spelling (applicants select the correct spelling of a word from a list of options)
  • Vocabulary (applicants select the correct meaning of a word from a list of options)
  • Clarity (applicants select the sentence that is most clearly written from a pair of options)
  • Reading Comprehension (applicants read a passage and answer questions about the passage’s content)
  • CLOZE (applicants use contextual clues to complete a passage that contains blanks/missing words)


3. Is it possible to obtain a copy of the test for review?

For test security reasons, current test materials are not provided for review. Copies of the PELLETB are only provided to agencies that use the PELLETB as part of their hiring process. Agencies can view sample questions and test format by reviewing the Applicant Preparation Guide for the POST Entry-Level Law Enforcement Test Battery (pdf).

4. How do agencies get permission to use the test? 

Agencies wishing to use the PELLETB as part of their hiring process must obtain and complete a Security Agreement. Contact POST at testorders@post.ca.gov for a current copy of the POST Entry-Level Law Enforcement Test Battery Security Agreement.

5. Does POST charge a fee for the test?

POST does not charge a fee for the test. However, there are fees associated with expedited shipping of answer sheets. If your agency needs to order answer sheets for an upcoming examination, your request must be submitted to testorders@post.ca.gov at least 10 business days prior to your examination date. Expedited shipping charges will be applied to orders made less than 10 business days prior to an exam.

6. Do agency personnel need to be trained to administer the test?

Yes, all PELLETB proctors are required to complete two online proctor training courses: the Jumpstart and the PELLETB. The Jumpstart course covers general test security information pertinent to all of POST's secure tests. The PELLETB course covers procedures specific to the ordering, storage, administration, mailing, and scoring of the PELLETB.

All users of the PELLETB must comply with this requirement. POST will only fill PELLETB test orders and provide scoring services for agencies that are in compliance with POST's online proctor training requirements.

Additional questions about the Online Proctor Training can be directed to proctorrequest@post.ca.gov.

7. How do I order the test?

If your agency has a current Security Agreement on file, you may submit your test request to POST at testorders@post.ca.gov. All requests must be made at least 10 business days prior to your testing date.

8. What advice should be given to applicants who are preparing to take the test?

Since the test measures various facets of reading and writing ability, the best method for preparing for the test is to participate in activities that involve reading and writing. Assessment centers at community colleges can generally provide information about specific reading and writing deficiencies and guidance on how to improve those deficiencies. Online writing labs (OWLs) are another tool that can be used to identify weaknesses and improve reading and writing skills. A simple internet search will render results for the many OWLs that are currently available for free on the internet. Applicants inquiring about sample questions and test format should be directed to the Applicant Preparation Guide for the POST Entry-Level Law Enforcement Test Battery (pdf).

9. Can an applicant take the exam multiple times?

Yes, however, before an applicant can retest, the applicant must wait for a period of one month (30 calendar days) before taking the exam again. This applies even if the exam is taken through a different department/agency than the original exam.

10. How are test results processed?

All answer sheets are sent to POST for processing. Upon receipt, POST electronically scans the answer sheets and renders a score report which includes a breakdown of each applicant’s reading, writing, and total T-scores. The score report is sent to the agency (either as a hard copy or electronically, depending on the agency’s preference) within 5 business days.

11. How should agencies interpret and use the test scores rendered by POST?

When POST electronically scans test answers, statistical calculations are performed to convert raw test scores (the number of items answered correctly) into “T-scores.” T-scores are standardized scores that place an individual applicant’s performance on the test into a distribution (bell-shaped curve) with a midpoint (average) of 50 and a standard deviation of 10. If an applicant’s score falls around 50, his/her performance is considered “average” when compared to other applicants who have taken the test. If an applicant’s score is 40 or below, his/her performance is considered “below average” when compared to other applicants who have taken the test. If an applicant’s score is 60 or above, his/her performance is considered “above average” when compared to other applicants who have taken the test. Given the diverse needs of California law enforcement agencies, POST does not require all agencies to use the same passing score. Agencies are allowed to locally determine the passing score that best fits their hiring needs and standards. Since research shows that the likelihood of successful academy completion increases for every point above 42 an applicant scores; POST recommends that agencies select a passing score of 42 or above.

12. How are test results reported to applicants?

As indicated in the POST Security Agreement, all agencies/academies that use the PELLETB are required to provide each applicant with a T- score breakdown that includes the individual applicant’s reading, writing, and total T-scores. The score breakdown must be provided to the applicant in writing on agency/academy letterhead within 30 days of the test administration. POST does not provide T-scores to applicants.

13. How can test results be verified for applicants who tested at a different agency?

For security reasons, POST is unable to provide test results directly to applicants or other unauthorized persons. Authorized individuals (i.e., individuals listed on a current POST Entry-Level Law Enforcement Test Battery Security Agreement) from a POST user agency can contact POST’s Standards, Evaluation, and Research Bureau at (916) 227-4888 or (916) 227-2810 to verify test results reported by applicants.

14. What if I have additional questions?

Additional questions about the POST Entry-Level Law Enforcement Test Battery can be directed to testorders@post.ca.gov.

Law Enforcement - Applicant

1. Where can I take the test?

Contact law enforcement agencies and/or basic training academies in your area to determine if they are administering the PELLETB (some agencies also refer to it as the “POST Reading and Writing Test”). Unfortunately, POST does not maintain a list of nor provide referrals for testing locations; however, the POST website does provide a list of POST participating law enforcement agencies that may offer entry-level testing. Again, you will need to contact the agencies directly to determine if and when they offer the test.

2. How do I get my test results?

For security reasons, POST is unable to provide test results directly to applicants or other unauthorized persons. All agencies/academies that use the PELLETB are required to provide applicants with their test results within 30 days of the test administration. If it has been less than 30 days, please allow time for the agency/academy to process your results. If it has been more than 30 days, contact the agency where the PELLETB was originally administered to inquire about your results. Alternately, an authorized agency representative (i.e., an individual listed on a current POST Security Agreement) from any of POST’s user agencies can contact POST on your behalf to obtain your results.

3. Can I take the exam multiple times?

Yes, however, before you can retest, you must wait for a period of one month (30 calendar days) before taking the exam again. This applies even if the exam is taken through a different department/agency than the original exam.

4. What if I retest within 30 days?

If you retest within 30 days either with the same or a different department/agency, your test results will be invalidated. You MUST wait at least 30 calendar days prior to retaking the test.

5. How do I interpret my test results?

When POST electronically scans your test answers, statistical calculations are performed to convert your raw score (the number of items you answered correctly) into a “T-score.” A T-score is a standardized score that places your performance on the test into a distribution (bell-shaped curve) with a midpoint (average) of 50 and a standard deviation of 10. If your score falls around 50, your performance is considered “average” when compared to other applicants who have taken the test. If you score 40 or below, your performance is considered “below average” when compared to other applicants who have taken the test. If you score 60 or above, your performance is considered “above average” when compared to other applicants who have taken the test. Research shows that the likelihood of successful academy completion increases for every point above 42 you score.

6. Why do I have to take the test?

Commission Regulation 1951 mandates that peace officers be able to read and write at the levels necessary to perform the job of a peace officer as determined by the use of the POST Entry-Level Law Enforcement Test Battery (PELLETB) or other professionally developed and validated test of reading and writing ability. Because performance on the PELLETB is highly correlated with performance in the academy, many agencies and academies use the PELLETB as an indicator of readiness for a career in law enforcement.

7. What should I expect when I take the test? 

The PELLETB is a multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank written examination designed to measure reading and writing ability. Applicants are given 2 ½ hours to complete the PELLETB, which contains five sections:

  • Spelling (applicants select the correct spelling of a word from a list of options)
  • Vocabulary (applicants select the correct meaning of a word from a list of options)
  • Clarity (applicants select the sentence that is most clearly written from a pair of options)
  • Reading Comprehension (applicants read a passage and answer questions about the passage’s content)
  • CLOZE (applicants use contextual clues to complete a passage that contains blanks/missing words)

 

8. How do I prepare for the test?

The Applicant Preparation Guide for the POST Entry-Level Law Enforcement Test Battery (pdf) is a study guide that provides information about the PELLETB. Sample questions for all sections of the test are provided. Since the test measures various facets of reading and writing ability, the best method for preparing for the test is to participate in activities that involve reading and writing. Assessment centers at community colleges can generally provide information about specific reading and writing deficiencies and guidance on how to improve those deficiencies. Online writing labs (OWLs) are another tool that can be used to identify weaknesses and improve reading and writing skills. A simple internet search will render results for the many OWLs that are currently available for free on the Internet.

9. I am located outside of California, is the test available on-line?

At this time, the test is only administered in paper and pencil format. Additionally, POST only allows authorized California law enforcement agencies to administer the exam within the state. You will need to contact a California POST participating law enforcement agency to determine if they are authorized to administer the exam and when and where it is scheduled.

10. What if I have additional questions?

Additional questions about the POST Entry-Level Law Enforcement Test Battery can be directed to testorders@post.ca.gov or the Test Coordinator Information Line at (916) 227-4888.

Public Safety Dispatcher - Agency

1. Are agencies required to give the POST Entry-Level Dispatcher Selection Test Battery (Dispatcher Test)?

Commission Regulation 1957 mandates that “public safety dispatchers shall demonstrate Verbal, Reasoning, Memory, and Perceptual Abilities at levels necessary to perform the job.“ These abilities must be evaluated before hire to assure the presence of ability levels commensurate with the performance of dispatcher duties, as measured by the POST Entry-Level Dispatcher Selection Test Battery (POST Dispatcher Test) or alternative job-related tests of these abilities. Since scores on the POST Dispatcher Test are predictive of both training proficiency and job success, many law enforcement agencies and communication centers use the POST Dispatcher Test to measure the applicant’s aptitude for performing public safety dispatcher work.

2. What does the POST Dispatcher Test Measure?

The POST Dispatcher Test is designed to measure aptitude for performing public safety dispatcher work. The test consists of eleven (11) brief tests that measure a candidate’s:

  • Verbal Ability (the ability to read and listen to information and identify facts and draw conclusions; and the ability to write clearly),
  • Reasoning (the ability to apply general rules to specific problems to attain logical answers; and the ability to correctly follow rules to arrange things or actions in a certain order),
  • Memory (the ability to store and retrieve facts, details, and other information), and
  • Perceptual Ability (the ability to quickly and accurately compare letters and numbers presented orally and in written form; and the ability to shift back and forth between two or more sources of information, both written and orally imparted, in performing a task).


Each test is administered with its own set of instructions and is timed separately. The separately-timed tests range from 5 minutes to 15 minutes each. The entire test battery takes about 2½ to 3 hours, including a short break. Additional detailed information about the test battery is available in the POST Entry-Level Dispatcher Selection Test Battery: User’s Manual (pdf).

3. Is it possible to obtain a copy of the test for review?

For test security reasons, current test materials are not provided for review. Copies of the POST Dispatcher Test are only provided to agencies that use the test as part of their hiring process. Information about the test format along with sample questions is included in the POST Entry-Level Dispatcher Selection Test Battery Examinee Guide (pdf). The Examinee Guide is designed for and can be disseminated to applicants.

4. How do agencies get permission to use the test?

Agencies that would like to use the POST Dispatcher Test as part of their hiring process must obtain and complete a Security Agreement. Contact POST at testorders@post.ca.gov for a current copy of the POST Entry-Level Dispatcher Selection Test Battery Security Agreement.

5. Does POST charge a fee for the test?

POST does not charge a fee for the test. However, there are fees associated with proctor training and proctor services. Additionally, if you order your tests less than 10 business days prior to your testing date, you will be charged an expedited shipping fee.

6. Do agency personnel need to be trained to administer the test?

Yes. Agencies that use the POST Dispatcher Test must have authorized proctors who have completed a POST-approved proctor training session. If your agency does not have a trained proctor on staff, you will need to contact Cooperative Personnel Services (CPS) to schedule a POST-approved proctor training session. Another option is to have CPS proctor the test for your agency. CPS charges for both of these services, and needs at least one month’s notice to schedule the proctor training or service. For more information on proctor training and/or services, contact CPS at postdispatcherorder@cpshr.us or (916) 471-3516.

7. How do I order the test?

If your agency has a current Security Agreement on file, you may submit your test request to POST at testorders@post.ca.gov. All requests must be made at least 15 business days prior to your testing date.

8. What advice should be given to applicants who are preparing to take the test?

Agencies can refer applicants to the POST Entry-Level Dispatcher Selection Test Battery Examinee Guide (pdf) for information on the test format and sample questions. Your agency may want to have some printed copies of the Examinee Guide available for applicants.

9. Can an applicant take the exam multiple times?

Yes, however, before an applicant can retest, the applicant must wait for a period of one month (30 calendar days) before taking the exam again. This applies even if the exam is taken through a different department/agency than the original exam.

10. How are test results processed?

All answer sheets are sent to POST for processing. Upon receipt, POST electronically scans the answer sheets and renders a score report which includes a breakdown of each applicant’s verbal, reasoning, memory, perceptual abilities and total T-scores. The score report is sent to the agency (either as a hard copy or electronically, depending on the agency’s preference) within 5 business days.

11. How should agencies interpret and use the test scores rendered by POST?

When POST electronically scans test answers, statistical calculations are performed to convert raw test scores (the number of items answered correctly) into “T-scores.” T-scores are standardized scores that place an individual applicant’s performance on the test into a distribution (bell-shaped curve) with a midpoint (average) of 50 and a standard deviation of 10. If an applicant’s score falls around 50, his/her performance is considered “average” when compared to other applicants who have taken the test. If an applicant’s score is 40 or below, his/her performance is considered “below average” when compared to other applicants who have taken the test. If an applicant’s score is 60 or above, his/her performance is considered “above average” when compared to other applicants who have taken the test.

POST has established neither a mandated nor recommended cut score for the exam. It is the responsibility of the user agency to set the cut score. POST has established, however, a recommended range of scores within which the cut score should be set. This range is from 48 to 57 based on total test score (Overall T score). POST research has repeatedly demonstrated that there is a linear relationship, across the entire range of scores, between the scores on the POST Test Battery and on the job. Therefore, the higher a department sets the cut score the higher the expected proficiency of those passing. Conversely, the lower the cut score the lower the expected performance of those passing.

As is always the case with test predictions, there will be false negatives and false positives. That is, there will be some individuals with low test scores for whom failure is predicted but who will succeed. And, there will be individuals with passing test scores for whom success is predicted but who will fail. In the long run, however, low scoring individuals will perform less well than better scoring individuals, and the higher the test score achieved the greater the probability that the individual will perform more capably on the job. Care should be exercised, however, when deciding how high to set a cut score. For while it is true that higher scores predict higher abilities, they also tend to increase adverse impact against some protected groups. Thus, considerations other than just predicted performance should play a role in deciding on a specific cut score (e.g., the number of vacancies to be filled, the ethnic make-up of the department, etc.). One important factor to consider when setting a cut score is the standard error of measurement for the test. No test is perfectly reliable; there is always some error in test scores. The standard error of measurement is an estimate of the magnitude of this error. For the POST test battery, the standard error is about 3 score units. This means that for a score of 50, for example, there is a 68 percent chance that the "true" score is somewhere between 47 (50-3=47) and 53 (50+3=53). Realizing that scores are not error free, one should be cautious when making distinctions between candidates with extremely close scores.

Given the diverse needs of California agencies, POST does not require all agencies to use the same passing score. Agencies are allowed to locally determine the passing score that best fits their hiring needs and standards. For additional information on setting the passing score, see the POST Entry-Level Dispatcher Selection Test Battery: User’s Manual (pdf).

12. How are test results reported to applicants?

As indicated in the POST Security Agreement, all agencies that use the POST Dispatcher Test are required to provide each applicant with a T-score breakdown that includes the individual applicant’s Verbal, Reasoning, Memory, Perceptual Abilities and total T-scores. The score breakdown must be provided to the applicant in writing on agency letterhead within 30 days of the test administration. POST does not provide T-scores to applicants.

13. How can test results be verified for applicants who tested at a different agency?

For security reasons, POST is unable to provide test results directly to applicants or other unauthorized persons. Authorized individuals (i.e., individuals listed on a current POST Entry-Level Dispatcher Selection Test Battery Security Agreement) from a POST user agency can contact POST’s Standards, Evaluation, and Research Bureau at (916) 227-4888 or (916) 227-2810 to verify test results reported by applicants.

14. What if I have additional questions?

Additional questions about the POST Entry-Level Dispatcher Selection Test Battery can be directed to testorders@post.ca.gov or the Test Order Information Line at (916) 227-4888.

Public Safety Dispatcher - Applicant

1. Where can I take the test?

Contact law enforcement agencies and/or communication centers in your area to determine if they are administering the POST Entry-Level Dispatcher Selection Test Battery. Unfortunately, POST does not maintain a list of nor provide referrals for testing locations; however, the POST website does provide a list of POST participating law enforcement agencies that may offer entry-level testing. Again, you will need to contact the agencies and/or communication centers directly to determine if and when they offer the test.

2. How do I get my test results?

All agencies that use the POST Dispatcher Test are required to provide candidates with their test results within 30 days of the test administration. If it has been less than 30 days, you should allow time for the agency to process your results. If it has been more than 30 days, you should contact the agency where the test was originally administered to inquire about your results. For security reasons, POST is unable to provide test results directly to candidates.

3. Can I take the exam multiple times?

Yes, however, before you can retest, you must wait for a period of one month (30 calendar days) before taking the exam again. This applies even if the exam is taken through a different department/agency than the original exam.

4. What if I retest within 30 days?

If you retest within 30 days either with the same or a different department/agency, your test results will be invalidated. You MUST wait at least 30 calendar days prior to retaking the test.

5. How do I interpret my test results?

When POST electronically scans your test answers, statistical calculations are performed to convert your raw score (the number of items you answered correctly and subtracting a portion of a point for those answered incorrectly) into a “T-score.” A T-score is a standardized score that places your performance on the test into a normal distribution (bell-shaped curve) with a midpoint (average) of 50 and standard deviations (statistically-significant variations from the mean) of 10. If your score falls around 50, your performance is considered “average” when compared to other candidates who have taken the same test. If you score 40 or below, your performance is considered “below average” when compared to other candidates who have taken the same test. If you score 60 or above, your performance is considered “above average” when compared to other candidates who have taken the same test.

6. Why do I have to take the test?

Commission Regulation 1957 mandates that “public safety dispatchers shall demonstrate Verbal, Reasoning, Memory, and Perceptual Abilities at levels necessary to perform the job.“ These abilities must be evaluated before hire to assure the presence of ability levels commensurate with the performance of dispatcher duties, as measured by the POST Entry-Level Dispatcher Selection Test Battery (POST Dispatcher Test) or alternative job-related tests of these abilities. Since scores on the POST Dispatcher Test are predictive of both training proficiency and job success, many law enforcement agencies and communication centers use the POST Dispatcher Test to measure your aptitude for performing public safety dispatcher work.

7. What should I expect when I take the test?

The POST Dispatcher Test is designed to measure aptitude for performing public safety dispatcher work. The test consists of eleven (11) brief tests that measure a candidate’s:

  • Verbal Ability (the ability to read and listen to information and identify facts and draw conclusions; and the ability to write clearly),
  • Reasoning (the ability to apply general rules to specific problems to attain logical answers; and the ability to correctly follow rules to arrange things or actions in a certain order),
  • Memory (the ability to store and retrieve facts, details, and other information), and
  • Perceptual Ability (the ability to quickly and accurately compare letters and numbers presented orally and in written form; and the ability to shift back and forth between two or more sources of information, both written and orally imparted, in performing a task).


Each test is administered with its own set of instructions and is timed separately. The separately-timed tests range from 5 minutes to 15 minutes each. The entire test battery takes about 2½ to 3 hours, including a short break.

8. How do I prepare for the test?

The POST Entry-Level Dispatcher Selection Test Battery Examinee Guide (pdf) provides information about the test. Because the test measures general abilities, there is no study guide or reading list for the test. It is recommended that you familiarize yourself with the test formats shown in the Examinee Guide. If you are not accustomed to test-taking in general, of if you tend to get tense in testing situations, you may find it helpful to practice doing activities similar to those described in the Examinee Guide.

9. What if I have additional questions?

Additional questions about the POST Entry-Level Dispatcher Selection Test Battery can be directed to testorders@post.ca.gov or the Test Coordinator Information Line at (916) 227-4888.

 

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