The Personal Qualifications Essay (PQE) is administered at the written test site. The PQE requires you to write essays in response to questions regarding demonstration of your personal qualifications for Police Officer. Essays will be evaluated based on your written communication skill and demonstrated effectiveness in judgement and decision-making and behavioral flexibility.
Candidates are not successful in the PQE for numerous reasons, including the following:
- Using poor examples that fail to showcase their abilities and potential
- Failure to provide enough details that would make the essays clear and easier to understand
- Failure to stay on topic (i.e. rambling, too much detail, or irrelevant information)
- Failure to provide all information asked for in the essay questions (i.e. did not completely answer the questions)
- Lacks adequate written communication skills (i.e. English usage, grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.)
Written communication skill
Police Officers are required to fill out many different forms, logs, and reports. Correspondingly, Police Officers must write legibly and clearly and have a good working knowledge of English grammar, sentence structure, vocabulary, and spelling. Police Officers must be concise, descriptive, and thorough in all written documents. You must read the questions carefully to ensure that your answers are appropriate to the questions.
Judgement and decision-making
This has long been part of what a Police Officer does on a daily basis. Police Officers are expected to recognize small problems and solve them before they become big problems. They must note trends and develop preventive solutions to potential long-term problems. Think about problems you have confronted in the past and how you approached them. Why did you do what you did? Would you do it again?
Police Officers must be able to work alone, responsible only for their own actions; with a partner, where responsibility is shared; as a member of a team, capable of following the orders of others and working cooperatively with other team members; or as a leader, taking control of a situation and directing or helping others. Officers must be able to assume these different responsibilities at appropriate times and as circumstances change, often during a single work shift or even during a single event. Plan to talk about your past behavior and how it has prepared you to adapt to this behavioral flexibility.
What to think about before taking the PQE
There is no right or wrong answers to the questions. You will be asked to elicit the information needed to evaluate your qualifications for each of the factors discussed above. Each candidate's response will be unique to that candidate, based on his or her life experiences. Prior to your PQE you may want to spend some time reviewing the many events and incidents that make up your personal history and that have helped make you who you are today. Which of these many experiences have prepared you for the position of Police Officer and the factors on which you will be rated?
Your PQE Score
The passing score for the PQE portion is 75% or higher, and your score is valid for 18 months. If you do not pass, you may take the PQE once every six months.
Your score determines your rank on the eligible list and what happens next. The City can only consider candidates in order of their score on the list. The highest scoring candidates will be scheduled for additional testing. The lowest scoring candidates will not be considered further. If your score is in the middle, you may be scheduled for some further testing, but there is no guarantee that you will ultimately be successful.
The number of candidates needed (and what score is high enough to be called for further processing) depends on two major factors -- the number of appointments expected and the number of applicants. These numbers can change dramatically over time, with new applicants testing every week, making it impossible to exactly predict what will happen to you. Continuing assessment of these external factors is done to determine what scores will be needed to fill expected Academy classes.
If you have one of the very highest scores, you can expect to be scheduled to take the Physical Abilities Test (PAT) and to complete the Personal History Statement ( PHS). If you have one of the lowest passing scores, you will not hear further from the City, but you may recompete (see below) to try to improve your score. If you are in the middle ranges, you will be notified by mail if further processing is available to candidates with your score. It is your responsibility to make sure your contact information is up to date. Call (213) 473-9060 ( City of Los Angeles Personnel Dept) to be change your address or other contact information.
Plain talk about this test part:
Read the essay questions and make sure that you answer the questions that are asked. Reread your answers and look for careless errors. You will be taking this test with paper and pencil. You won't be able to rely on spell-check. It's not enough that you know how to write or have created excellent written papers in the past - you have to demonstrate your skill on the day of the test.
Tips for the test day
- When you write your essays, consider a thoughtful answer to the question before you begin writing.
- Read the question carefully and answer the question as it is asked.
- Save time to review your essays and correct any careless grammatical or spelling errors you can find. It's not enough to know proper grammar and how to spell - you have to demonstrate your knowledge on test day. Don't be overconfident - check your work.