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Physical Training (PT) Assessments (Scored) for Entry-Level Law Enforcement 2019-01-06T01:46:12-05:00

Physical Training (PT) Assessments (Scored)
for Entry-Level Law Enforcement Selection Processes

Many law enforcement agencies include either pass/fail or scored physical assessments as part of the selection process for new officers. This page is dedicated to providing some examples of scoring tables used by law enforcement agencies. These are just examples as the scoring of physical assessments vary greatly. Most law enforcement agencies have the flexibility to choose whichever scoring mechanism suits the needs of the department. 

Some of the Most Common Types of Exercises Used in Law Enforcement Testing

300 Meters
Vertical Leap
1 Mile
Broad Jump
1.5 Mile
Body Drag/Carry
Sit and Reach
Shuttle Run
Bench Press (Reps)
Squat Thrusts
Obstacle Course


The above listed categories are just an example of some of the commonly used exercises as part of a scored or pass/fail competitive assessment. The “Cooper Standard” is an example of one method of scoring a candidate’s performance on a competitive physical exam.

This is an example of the Cooper Standard as sometimes used by Law Enforcement:

Cooper Standards for Law Enforcement (Age & Gender)

Click the image to view the full document.

Another Type of Scored Physical Assessment

Many other forms of scoring are used as well. This is simply an example of a 5-exercise physical assessment along with the specifications for how each exercise is required to be performed and how each exercise is scored:

Sample PT Assessment Scoring Guide

An Example of Physical Agility Test Specifications

Usually, in order to pass this particular assessment, candidates must finish with a total combined score of at least 250 points for some department and as high as 350 points for others. The highest possible score is 500 points (100 point maximum for each of the 5 exercises). With this particular assessment, there are no allowances made for differences in gender. Some agencies require the sequence of exercises be complete back-to-back with no break in between, while other agencies space out the exercises. When the exercises are required to be completed back-to-back, the candidate is put in a difficult and challenging position. When candidates complete the fourth exercise station, they have been running at close to maximum output for 5 or more minutes without rest. It is not uncommon for unconditioned candidates to vomit under such physical stress.

The first four stations include push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, and squat thrusts. Candidates then may have as little as 2 minutes to reach the track or other designated running course to commence the 1 mile run.

It is critical that each exercise is performed properly, as repetitions which are not done to exact standards are not counted. Too many candidates waste valuable time and energy doing improper repetitions which yield no points whatsoever.

Each of the exercises, along with a description of the proper technique, are listed below.

PUSH-UPS: Candidates will start in a standard push-up “up” position. The back must remain straight. Arms must be straight and elbows must be locked out. The candidates will lower the upper body until the sternum is within 4 inches of the ground, and will then push the upper body back up until the arms are straight and the elbows locked out. This is one repetition.

The following are common issues which cause a repetition to not be counted:

  • Elbows are not locked out when the repetition begins;
  • The sternum is not lowered to within four inches of the ground;
  • The candidate’s knees are placed on the ground for support; and/or
  • The back is not kept straight during the repetition.

SIT-UPS: Candidates will start lying on their backs with their shoulder blades touching the ground, knees bent approximately 90 degrees, and their fingers interlaced behind their heads. The candidates will pull their upper body up off of the ground and towards their knees until the elbows contact the knees. The candidates will then lower their upper body back down until the shoulder blades reach the ground. This is one repetition.

The following are common issues which cause a repetition to not be counted:

  • The repetition is started without the shoulder blades touching the ground;
  • The elbows do not contact the knees; and/or
  • The repetition is completed without the shoulder blades touching the ground.

PULL-UPS: Candidates will start by hanging from the bar with their arms straight and their hands either facing towards or away from their bodies. The candidates will then pull their body up until their chin is higher than the bar. The candidates will then lower their body until their arms are straight. This is one repetition. Any swinging or kicking of the legs will result in the repetition not being counted.

The following are common issues which cause a repetition to not be counted:

  • The repetition is started before the arms are straight;
  • The candidates kick or swing their legs; and/or
  • The chin does not go higher than the bar.

SQUAT-THRUSTS: The candidates will begin in the standing position with their arms straight at their sides. The repetition consists of four distinct movements. 1) The candidate must bend at the knees and place both hands flat on the ground to the outside of their feet. 2) The candidate must next, while keeping their feet parallel, kick their legs back out into a push-up position. 3) The candidate must then, while keeping their feet parallel, spring both feet back to the #1 position. 4) The candidate must return to the starting upright position with the legs and back straight.

Squat thrusts repetitions are not counted due to improper performance typically more than all other exercises combined. Candidates must strive to be precise in all four movements of the exercise. The most common reason for failure to be credited for the repetition is failing to stand up straight at the end of one repetition before beginning the next.

ONE MILE RUN: The one mile run usually consists of four laps on a formal ¼ mile track. The run is the last exercise and many candidates are commonly close to physical exhaustion before they even begin. Because of this, the run offers those who have trained hard excellent potential to pick up points.
Below is an example of a scoring table from the above described entrance exam physical agility test. Just like with the written exam, it is not good enough to pass, you must strive to beat the competition.

Remember that each department has different standards. While some departments require 250 points others require as high as 350 points to pass the test. Look at the chart to gauge how you might fair on such a challenging physical exam. Once you learn of the specific exercises a department requires for the PT test, make sure you practice doing the exercises precisely as described prior to your assessment day.

It is highly recommended that candidates focus on these specific exercises as part of a well structured physical training routine. DO NOT assume that because you weight lift that you are prepared for the push ups or because you ride a bicycle regularly that you are prepared for the run. As a serious law enforcement candidate, you should maintain top physical shape and conditioning to ensure that you can excel on any physical assessment during the hiring process.

Click the below image to view the scoring method for the above listed 500-point physical assessment.