Law Enforcement - Agency
Frequently Asked Questions
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 that would like to use the PELLETB as part of their hiring process can download and complete a Security Agreement (doc). Once completed, contact POST at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional instructions.
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 email@example.com at least 15 business days prior to your examination date.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com. All requests must be made at least 15 business days prior to your testing date. Test orders received after 12:00 pm will be considered the next following business day.
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 10 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 Strategic Communications and Research Bureau at (916) 227-4888 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.