Assessment Centre Secrets

Police Assessment Centre – Problem Solving: Never jump to conclusions!

With nearly a quarter of all mark available at assessment centre coming from Problem Solving, it is important that you can demonstrate this skill…

Good problem solvers avoid jumping to conclusions but instead gather lots of information about all the possible causes, and then draw conclusions after a logical examination. If you don’t collect enough information about all the possible causes, then of course the problem is unlikely to be resolved. It is this that is often the main challenge for people, they just don’t collect enough information. If they don’t know where to look or don’t really know what they are looking for, then of course your likely to be left facing the same problem, time and time again!

During the course of the assessment centre, one of the main skills to demonstrate is the ability not to jump to conclusions. So where role-actors are putting pressure on you to make quick decisions, you should resist this – saying “you understand their concerns however you will not be drawn into jumping to conclusions, you will fully investigate and gather as much information about the situation before any action is taken”.

This kind of pressure arises in at least three of the role-plays…

Assessment Centre Secrets

Maths pass mark for Police Assessment Centre

The Maths test (aka Numerical Reasoning) does NOT have a pass mark. It is worth only 3 marks out of the 123 available in a police assessment centre – that 2.5% overall.

It forms part of the Problem Solving competency which you are assessed 7 times during the course of your day. There is also no specific pass mark for Problem Solving, nor any other competency with the exception of Race and Diversity.

To find out exactly what skills you need to demonstrate on your assessment day, book one of our group police assessment courses or a one to one police assessment training course.

Application Form Secrets Assessment Centre Secrets

Advice for Police Officer and PCSO Applicants: Spelling and Grammar

Both the police officer application form and police assessment centre are designed to test your ability to use correct spelling and grammar.

In the competency section of your police / PCSO application form, you must not exceed 10 errors or more, while in the assessment centre this is limited to no more than 5 spelling / 4 grammatical errors in each written proposal.

If you exceed this amount in your application form, or you exceed this amount in both written proposals, this will result in rejection. To help candidates I have compiled the following advice:

Let’s have a look at when to use capital letters

Which is correct?

  • I attended School between the ages of four and eighteen
  • I attended school between the ages of four and eighteen

Answer: I attended school between the ages of four and eighteen

The word ‘school’ only needs a capital letter at the start when it is part of a name of a specific school. It does not need one when it appears on its own. The same is true for other places, institutions, organisations, and buildings.

When using capital letters in titles (for a film, book, ‘role’, period or event) however, be careful only to use them for the start of the first and key words, and not for small words within the title.

Which is correct?

  • an Officer and a Gentleman
  • An Officer And A Gentleman
  • An Officer and a Gentleman

Answer: An Officer and a Gentleman

The above examples throw up a few additional points to remember. People’s titles should always have capital letters, for example: Prime Minister, Princess Royal.

Periods have titles, and begin with a capital letter: Gothic, the Renaissance, the Depression.

Countries begin with a capital letter, but so too do languages and nationalities, for example: English, Kurdish, Chinese, Arabic, French, Polish. Note that all words that are formed from, or are connected to, these base words also begin with capital letters, for example: Frenchman, Arabia, Chinese lantern.

Which is correct?

  • It is far warmer in the south, especially in the summer
  • It is far warmer in the South, especially in the summer
  • It is far warmer in the south, especially in the Summer
  • It is far warmer in the South, especially in the Summer

Answer: It is far warmer in the south, especially in the summer

Note that although capital letters are used for days of the weeks and months of the year, they are not needed for the points of the compass, or for seasons.

Let’s have a look at when to use commas

Commas should be used in a sentence to indicate where someone reading the sentence would pause (for a fraction of a second only), perhaps to take a breath. As a rule, longer and more complex sentences are more likely to need commas than short sentences.

i.e. While teaching my recent assessment centre training course, a client whom I never met before, kindly introduced themselves on arrival as Julie Smith.

Assessment Centre Secrets

Ministry of Defence (MOD): Firearms Assessment

I teach many candidates whom are applying for the MOD police. With the MOD they require you to pass the fitness test and firearms test, normally the day before your assessment centre.

The firearms test consists of you handling an unloaded MP7 handgun and they teach you a simple drill with it; they are simply looking to see if you can follow instructions for safe handling of the gun and that you get the hang of moving the parts of the gun. Easy! It also gives you the opportunity to see if they really want a career where they will be carrying a gun 70% of the time.

Assessment Centre Secrets

Written Communications : Explained

I receive many calls from candidates who are looking for assistance in their preparations for a 2nd or perhaps 3rd attempt at a police assessment centre.

During the initial conversation they suggest that their weakness was with the written proposals. Candidates form this opinion because on their feedback form it advises them that they did not meet the requirement for Written Communications.

Now, Written Communications is assessed 3 times throughout your assessment centre. The Verbal Logical Reasoning test falls into this competency, along with your spelling and grammar in both of your written proposals. Written Communications is NOT what you wrote in your proposal, it is how you wrote it. E.g Capital Letters for the start of sentences and names. Full stops. Avoiding the use of acronyms and abbreviations. For example H&S would be unacceptable; you would need to write health and safety.

If for example you wrote in your proposal that the centre must liaise with the Police before events take place, this would score you a mark in Team Working. If you spelt the word liaise as ‘liase’ this would be a spelling error and count against Written Communications.

So if you have recently failed a police assessment centre for Written Communications, you need to work on your spelling and grammar, and Verbal Logical Reasoning tests.

If you need assistance with Written Communications, please do consider attending one of our police recruitment one to one courses.

Assessment Centre Secrets

Which exercises are more important than others?

With so many books on the market and plenty of forums to browse, it is increasingly difficult for candidates to get accurate advice regarding the police assessment centre.

The difficulty you face as a candidate is knowing what is good accurate advice and what is not? Believe it or not, the worse people to ask about how to join the job is police officers!¬† The current recruitment process was only introduced in 2004, therefore the chance of you speaking to an police officer who joined since then is slim. Even if they have joined since, the feedback reports you receive as candidates do NOT tell you what you said or wrote that enabled you to be successful – a successful candidate would merely be guessing or speculating if they told you how to pass. The same is true for forums…Avoid these like the plague!!! They are populated by candidates, most of which are unsuccessful (remember 70% fail assessment centre).

I actually worked in recruitment…there is no better person to speak to about how to join than myself.

So which exercises are more important than others? Well for sure the role-plays are the most important exercises, with 57% of all marks being available from these. Next, is the written proposals with 26%, followed by the interview with 12%. I’m afraid all you candidates who have been practicing hard with your maths, this accounts for just 2.5% of the marks – the same can be said for the verbal logical reasoning test.

STOP PRESS: There is NO pass mark for the maths exercise (AKA Numerical Reasoning).

As mentioned the Maths exam only accounts for 2.5% of all marks, that’s 3 out of 123 marks available. The maths test forms part of the Problem Solving competency, which is tested 7 times at present – 21 marks available. There is no pass mark for problem solving, hence no pass mark for the maths.

The only core competency that actually has a pass mark is Race and Diversity. There is 21 marks available for Diversity, of which you have to score 50%, 55% or 60% – depending on which force you apply for. If the pass mark is 60%, you must achieve 13 marks or more to reach the standard. You are not allowed to obtain a grade D in Race and Diversity. In other words you must give an example in your interview that fits with Race and Diversity, or the examiner will only be able to award you a grade D. During the role-plays, of course you have to remain impartial, and suggesting that all youths should be banned from the centre, would clearly be prejudice towards a persons age and would get you a grade D score.

The same applies when you are in the holding room, having just completed your role-plays, if you say “blimey I had a blonde moment in that exercise” then a grade D is on your way!!!

So in order, the most important exercises are:

  • Role-Plays 57% of all marks available (72 marks out of 123)
  • Written 26% (30 marks out of 123)
  • Interview 12% (15 marks out of 123)
  • Verbal Logical Reasoning 2.5% (3 marks out of 123)
  • Maths 2.5% (3 marks out of 123)

To be succesful with a force there a four pass marks that must be achieved:

  • Overall 50%, 55% or 60% (depending on which force you apply for – see my blog post on 50% or 60%)
  • Race and Diversity 50%, 55% or 60% (as above)
  • Oral Communication 50%, 55% or 60% (as above)
  • Written Communication 44% (same for all forces)

Overall there are 123 marks available, therfore if you applying for a force that requires 60% or more, you would need to obtain 78 or more marks to reach the standard.

As mentioned, for Race and Diversity there are 21 marks available. A 60% standard would require you to score 13 marks or more.

Oral Communications has 15 marks available. A 60% standard would require you to achieve 9 marks or more.

Finally, Written Communication has just 9 marks available. The 44% standard requires you to obtain 4 marks or more. Written Communication is assessed just 3 times – the Verbal Logical Reasoning Test carries a weighting of 3 marks, finally your spelling and grammar in your written proposals carries 3 marks for each (total 6 marks). You must not exceed more than 5 spelling or 4 grammatical errors in each proposal.

If you’ve recently been unsuccessful with an assessment centre and you would like to know where you went wrong, please do call ‘David’ the Recruitment Director on 07890 607967 (have your assessment results in front of you).

When I teach police recruitment training, all of this is explained along with a score matrix. A score matrix is a document that tells you which competencies are tested in which exercises. This is very useful, because it enables you to focus on particular competency skills in particular exercises. For example: Personal Responsibility is tested in 3 out of the 4 role-plays, I’ll tell you which ones and how to evidence your understanding of this competency.

The police assessment centre is a tick box process, they are looking for you to ask particular questions and state particular things…If you fail to do this, you will be rejected. Find out more about a group police assessment centre training course or to have a one to one police assessment training course.

Assessment Centre Secrets

Assessment Centre: Customer Focus Top Tip

Community and Customer focus is just one the seven core competencies you are assessed on when you undertake your police / pcso assessment centre.

Here’s a few tips on ensuring you are heading in the right direction during your role-plays:

  1. How to manage expectations – well you have to first ask what their expectations are: What would you like to acheive from today’s meeting?
  2. How to know if a customer is happy with your course of action – Are you happy with the course of action I am taking to resolve this matter?
  3. If the customer threatens to take their business elsewhere – tell them they are valued and you do not wish for this to happen…

This is just an example of some the quality training you receive when you attend a police recruitment training course with

Assessment Centre Secrets

Assessment Centre Pass Marks: 50% or 60%

The current assessment centre process was introduced in 2004 and at this time all forces required candidates to achieve a pass mark of 50% or higher. A year later the bar was raised to 60%, as many of the small forces were getting too many candidates pass V’s the number of vacancies.

By raising the bar to 60%, this clearly had an impact on any force that had a significant number of vacancies. Of course by having a higher pass mark, fewer candidates are successful. 70% of candidates who attend an assessment centre with a force that has a 60% or higher pass mark are rejected.

It is now apparent that forces have differing pass marks; some set the bar at 50%, while others require 55% or 60%. But what implications does this have for you as a candidate? Well, let’s say for example you applied for a force that had a 50% mark and you were successful with 54%. Later on in your career you decided you wanted to transfer to another force. Well here could be the stumbling block! If the force you wish to transfer to had a pass mark of 60%, they would probably make you sit another assessment centre to prove that you could meet their standard. (Even if you are a serving officer, you probably would be required to resit the assessment to prove that you meet the same standard as other candidates being considered).

I recently had a client who is currently a serving officer with the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC). When he joined the CNC a couple of years ago, he successfully completed the current recruitment process and assessment centre. Of course the training is different for the CNC than most forces, so one would expect to have to retrain for the new force. Despite this, the force that he is transferring to have made him sit another assessment centre. Surely, given that he had passed an assessment centre, he really should have been transferred and made to simply retrain? But no, that would have been too simple!

This is an example of the barriers that are in place with some forces.

My advice to candidates: even if the force you are applying only requires 50% or more to be successful, you should always aim for 60% or greater, as this will  prevent you from having to resit another assessment. Even more the case if you are applying to a small force. If they have too many candidates meet their standard, those with the highest scores are most likely to be offered first opportunity.

To my knowledge at the time of writing this post:

Forces that require 50% or greater assessment centre scores are as follows: West Midlands, British Transport Police, CNC, Derbyshire, West Yorkshire, Cheshire, Northumbria, Devon and Cornwall, Cumbria, Cleveland, Ministry of Defence and Merseyside.

The MET and Greater Manchester Police at this time require 55%

To my knowledge, all other forces require 60% or greater.

Please note: I do advise candidates to check with their own force as forces do change their standard as and when they feel necessary. Simply give them a telephone call and ask them what their required pass mark is!