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Police and Law Enforcement Home    >    Promotional Exam Resource Center    >    What to Expect from the New Sergeant's Exam

Promotional Exam Resource Center

Police and
Law Enforcement News


What to Expect from
the New Sergeant's Exam

By: Dr. Jeff Bernstein of Bernstein and Associates
Police and Law Enforcement News
Wednesday February 13, 2013 1:15 a.m.


On February 5th, the New Jersey Civil Service Commission (NJCSC) issued the revised 2013 Police Sergeant Orientation Guide. In it they state the new police sergeants exam will be divided into two sections: a written multiple-choice portion and a video-based portion. Although similar to last year's proposal, a number of significant changes were made.

Here is in part what the NJCSC said about the new test format:

• In the written multiple-choice format, candidates will be provided a question preceded by a statement, situation, or other stimulus, such as a brief scenario. Each multiple-choice question will have four choices from which candidates will select one answer which BEST addresses the problem or situation.

• Test questions related to the written multiple-choice portion of the exam may be based upon the application of NJ Criminal Code 2C, Title 39, NJ Attorney General Guidelines / Directives, Case Law, and the candidate’s knowledge of effective supervision and management principles found in the text Common Sense Police Supervision, 4th Edition, as well as other related areas. (No information on format changes to the written exam was announced in the orientation guide. Civil Service simply said that the orientation guide is not yet finalized.)

• In the video-based part of the exam, candidates will assume the role of a police sergeant as they view scenarios associated with the duties of a police sergeant. Each video will present information and circumstances which candidates will have to consider before responding to the questions. (Clearly, the biggest change announced by Civil Service is in how you will respond to the questions presented in the videos.)

Questions for the video portion of the exam may be presented in various forms. Some questions may be in a typical multiple-choice format where the candidate will choose the one BEST answer from a group of options. However, candidates should be prepared for the possibility of open ended questions which require a brief written statement consisting of complete sentences, proper spelling, and proper punctuation. Below is a brief description of the various formats that candidates may encounter during the video-based portion of the exam:

o Multiple-Choice: Following information presented in the video, questions will have four choices from which candidates will select one answer which BEST addresses the problem or situation.

o Ranking: Following information presented in the video, questions will offer candidates several actions which must be ranked from MOST appropriate to LEAST appropriate.

o Sequential: Following information presented in the video, questions will offer several potential actions from which candidates will have to choose which should be their FIRST, SECOND, and FINAL action.

o Differential Weighting: Following information presented in the video, questions will be followed by several possible actions to choose from. Candidates will be asked to choose the actions they would to take in response to the question by placing a check-mark next to their selected actions. Because, the question may contain more than one right answer, candidates could receive full, partial, or no credit based on the actions they would choose.

o Free Answer: Following information presented in the video, open ended questions will require candidates’ response. The questions may be responded to by using a narrative essay or bullet-point format. In responding to each question, candidates will be instructed on whether their answer requires complete sentences with proper punctuation and spelling, or simply organized bullet-points, which are more informal and do not require proper sentence structure.

• Candidates may be assessed in areas such as knowledge of effective supervision and management principles, ability to write legibly and express ideas clearly and accurately in narrative form, and ability to actively listen to, and understand subordinates and the public, as well as other related areas.

Finally, NJCSC stated the following: Please note that the development of test items IS NOT limited to the sources provided in this orientation guide. Candidates are encouraged to consult additional source material they feel will aid them in their preparation for the police sergeant exam.

Candidates are encouraged to check the Civil Service Commission website for updates. There will be additional information provided in regards to the new exam. Candidates testing should know that the online orientation guide had not yet been finalized.

Further information on "How to best prepare for the new police sergeant's exam" can also be found at

-Dr. Jeff Bernstein

Dr. Jeff Bernstein is the President of Bernstein & Associates, Inc. He is a consulting psychologist who has experience as a police officer and sergeant. He earned a Masters Degree in Human Resource Management and is a licensed Doctor of Psychology. He is also a Certified Assessor and Assessor Trainer. Dr. Bernstein's post-doctoral studies are in the field of Civil Service exams and test preparation. He is a published author of the best selling book, "Supervision of Police Personnel." He is also a published author of a number of articles and test preparation study guides. Dr. Bernstein is a member of the American Psychological Association, and is considered the top expert in police promotional and entry level testing.








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