Prepare for the College of Policing Fast Track Aptitude Tests and Assessment Centre

Are you applying to your local police force’s fast track programme? This is a highly competitive selection process which involves the police national assessment centre, tests and interviews. Learn more about how to join the police fast track with JobTestPrep.
Police Fast Track Practice

Practise for the Fast Track cognitive ability tests as provided by CEB's SHL. Including detailed explanations & score reports!

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The police fast track programme is a relatively new addition to police recruitment. Looking for future police leaders, candidates who are currently graduates or non-officer police staff can join this programme to jet set from police constable to inspector in just three years. The programme is highly selective, with just under two thousand applications last year and only forty three recommendations for roles. This means that practice and preparation are integral to your success! Find out what’s in store for you and how to beat the odds in this article.

See which forces around the UK are participating in the Police Fast Track Programme here

Recruitment includes:

Police Fast Track Competencies

There are seven major competencies under review throughout the national fast track recruitment process:

  • Serving the Public
  • Leading Change
  • Leading People
  • Managing Performance
  • Professionalism
  • Decision Making
  • Working with Others

The Policing Professional Framework gives full explanations and more details on what these competencies mean to the police. Refer back to these competencies throughout and before your assessment centre, make a list of examples of when you have shown these competencies in the past and how you can implement them in the future.

Before submitting a formal application to your local force, there are a number of preliminary stages to go through to make sure you are eligible for the position. Review the programme’s competency framework and high potential development tool to ensure you have what it takes. The realistic job preview and self-selection questionnaire are there to test your suitability to the programme. Note that these are not always mandatory parts of the application process however it is recommended you use them to give yourself a fuller picture of this career.

Some forces may hold an eligibility interview by phone with interested candidates. This essentially does the same task as the preliminary stages mentioned above. It’s a good way to determine if you are right for the force and if the force is right for you. Joining the fast track is a big commitment and it is not to be taken lightly.

Once you have been determined as eligible, you must fill out a formal application to your chosen force.

Local Force Selection

Many forces include their own selection day before the National Assessment Centre as part of their recruitment process. This allows the force to get to know the potential candidates and gives you a more indepth look at the police. This selection day may include interviews, exercises and aptitude tests.

Looking for help preparing for your local force’s selection day? Contact us at and we can advise you on resources on how to prepare.

National Assessment Centre

Candidates selected by their local force proceed to the National Assessment Centre. This is a two day selection event run by the College of Policing. For most forces, this is the last stage in the process so it is important to be fully prepared for the exercises, tests, role plays and interviews you encounter there.

Cognitive Ability Tests

The national assessment centre includes a numerical, verbal, and inductive reasoning test, all of which are supplied by CEB’s SHL Verify series. The purpose of these tests is not only to make sure you have the necessary skills for the job but also to see how well you work under tight time constraints.

The numerical reasoning test test is 25 minutes long and contains 18 questions. The test presents information in a graph or chart and your task is to use the data to answer multiple choice questions. Analysis and interpretation of numerical data are critical skills necessary for working in the police and are tested here.

The verbal reasoning test is 19 minutes with 30 questions. Your goal is to use the short text provided to determine whether a statement is true, false or cannot say in relation to the information provided. Understanding and interpreting verbal information is something you do every day with the police.

The inductive reasoning test is 25 minutes long with 24 questions so time is of the element. This test uses patterns and sequences to examine your ability to draw logical inferences from non-verbal data. Seeing how you think and come to conclusions gives the police insight to your potential fit within the force. 

Oral Briefing

In this exercise, you are given a packet of information describing a fictional situation with 40 minutes to prepare. During the prep time, you need to formulate a 10 minute briefing to present to two assessors where you describe how you would handle the issues which come up in the situation. This exercise is very similar to a case study. Following your briefing there will be a further 10 minute session in which the assessors ask questions regarding your briefing.

Competencies: managing performance, professionalism, and decision making.

Performance Management Exercise

This exercise is a one-to-one “meeting” with a role actor. To prepare, you are given 20 minutes and a set of information detailing a fictional scenario. In the following 15 minute meeting, you must address the issues included in the fictional scenario with the role actor.

Competencies: serving the public, leading people, and managing performance.

Partnership Meeting

The partnership meeting exercise is similar to the previous exercises wherein you are given a packet of information and 25 minutes to prepare for a meeting. The meeting lasts up to 15 minutes and is conducted with a role actor playing a character from the scenario.

Competencies: leading change, professionalism, and working with others.


In the presentation exercise, you are assigned a topic on a current policing issue to discuss. You have 30 minutes to prepare this topic and then give a 10 minute presentation to two assessors. Following your presentation will be a 10 minute question and answer session with the assessors.

Competencies: serving the public, leading change, and professionalism.

These interactive exercises can be difficult, especially if you haven’t faced something like this before. To help you prepare, book a practice session via Skype with one of our trained assessors to work out your strategy for success!

Written In-tray Exercise

The written in-tray exercise functions as a case study where you are given 2 hours to work through a set of documents. Although all of your work must be done by computer, you are given scrap paper to work out some of the questions. The subject of the case study does not deal with technical police knowledge so don’t worry about not being familiar with law enforcement terms. Looking for ways to prepare? Our case study practice pack is designed to help you with analysing information and constructing clear and concise answers to the questions asked.

Competencies: serving the public, leading people, and managing performance.

Competency-based Interview

The interview is usually the last part of the 2 day assessment centre and is a final opportunity for the assessors to get to know you. The interview lasts for a half an hour and includes 6 questions from three competency areas: leading change, decision making and working with others. These questions touch on previous experience you have from both work and life in general along with future situations that are common to the police.

To prepare for this final stage, have a look at our free guide to interviews pdf or for further preparation, our Skype-based interview preparation sessions can give you all the help you need in preparing.

In Summary

The National Assessment Centre is the first step in the long process of the national fast track scheme. The assessment centre is highly selective, requiring you to be on your game at all times. Make sure you are fully prepared by reviewing the competencies expected of you and displaying them at each step of the way. Practice for the cognitive ability tests, interview, case study and interactive exercises to develop a good strategy and remember to stay calm and confident throughout. Good luck!

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