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NOMS Prison Officer Recruitment Process

Your first move towards becoming a prison officer is to understand the recruitment process. This page focuses on the selection tests and the POST test.

Prison Officer Selection Process

The first stage of recruitment is the completion of the prison officer application form. This form is fairly basic, and it is used to determine if you are eligible to become a prison officer. See below for a sample of questions you may be asked to answer:

  • Are you an undischarged bankrupt?
  • Are you associated in any way with racist groups such as BNP?
  • Are you willing to be vetted to ensure that you have no criminal record?

Once you have completed the application form successfully, you are sent a link asking you to complete the Prison Officer Selection Test, known as the POST test.

Prison Officer Selection Test (POST)

The Prison Officer Selection Test is made up of a number of different tests. Whilst in the past all the tests were lumped together, nowadays they are done in two different sittings. The first set of tests is completed online immediately after your online application has been accepted, while the second set is performed at the police officer assessment day, the RAD. For this part of the application, you must take two different types of tests: a situational judgement test and a prison officer maths test. These are outlined in more detail below.


Prison Officer Situational Judgement Tests

After you have completed the application form online, you will be asked to take a number of prison officer situational judgement tests or SJTs. In all, there are four different scenarios which you have to tackle. Each of these scenarios has eight questions that you must answer. You are shown a short video of a possible situation that can occur during your work as a prison officer, and you must decide what to do in each situation. There are six different answer options, and you must select two of these options—the best and the worst. You only have three minutes to complete each scenario. If you miss some of the video, you do have the option of reading through the text. However, as there are such severe time constraints, it will be difficult to complete the exercise in time if you read through the text slowly. You cannot go back to previous questions during the test.


What Are the Different Scenarios in the Prison Officer Situational Judgement Test

There are four different scenarios, each containing eight questions and a time limit of three minutes per scenario. The scenario is presented in the form of an actor playing the role of a prisoner. You are also given the pertinent rules in the test. Below is an example scenario:

You caught an offender with an item he is not allowed to possess in prison. He uses it to build matchbox models. He claims he got permission and threatens to cause you trouble if you take it away from him.

There are eight questions or statements relating to the narrative, each with six or more different options. For example:

Apologise and state that obviously he is correct and that you will make an exception. Make a note of his file to delineate this.

Is this idea:

  1. Counterproductive
  2. Ineffective
  3. Slightly ineffective
  4. Neither ineffective or effective
  5. Somewhat effective
  6. Effective
  7. Highly effective

The prison service wants you to view your job as a mission—as a way to help offenders improve their ways and get back into society. You must be emphatic to offenders whilst enforcing the rules and regulations. It is your task to protect offenders and encourage them to improve without bending any rules. Preparing for the prison officer SJT is difficult as you really have to 'step into' the mind of a prison officer and know exactly what to do. You can use our generic SJT pack to prepare for this stage of the application process. Once you have completed this test, you will be asked to take the prison officer maths test.


What Is the Prison Officer Maths Test?

In the prison officer maths test, you must answer 59 questions in 40 minutes. The questions are based on prison scenarios. For example, you may be asked to calculate a prisoner’s bill in the canteen, to help a prisoner change the time from a 12-hour clock to a 24-hour format, or to use different tables and charts to calculate different prison activities. While this test is taken online, you can still use a calculator, and/or pen and paper, to help you answer the questions. Make sure you understand how to answer the questions here as you will need to repeat this same test during the assessment centre. You are also allowed to use a calculator then, so there is no problem with using it now. Make sure you are ready for the prison officer maths test with our dedicated PrepPack™.


Prepare for the Prison Officer Exam

If you are looking for prison officer test questions to prepare you for your upcoming online test, you’ve come to the right place. In our preparation packages, you'll find comprehensive exercises and guidance to help you prepare for each of the tests you will take.