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The Physical Abilities Test

As with any other test, the Physical Abilities Test also requires some preparation in advance if you want to make sure that you will pass it successfully. Below we have provided information on what you can expect in the PAT portion of the hiring process.

This information  is intended to provide you with a guideline for how to

best approach and prepare for the Physical Abilities Test.

We want you to succeed!


Since 2010, PES has learned from sponsoring departments, that the pass rate for the PAT's is typically less than 50%. Sadly, that percentage has been steadily declining every year.


If you are serious about a career in law enforcement, you need to be serious about being in shape. There's absolutely no excuse for failing this exam! To better help you stay on your game, we've provided details on the PAT that can help you come out on top.


Firstly, the PAT's can vary, however quite often agencies use:


  • The Copper Institute of fitness standards, or

  • PAT standards defined by the testing agency, or

  • Both and/or a combination thereof.

Both of these PAT's are specifically designed to measure the performance of the candidate. These standards take into account the gender and age of the candidate, and determine how many repetitions of each exercise a male or female needs to perform or how quickly to cover each activity in order to pass the test.

Based on the approach chosen by the police department for preparing its PAT, it may include the following activities:

Job simulation method: This type of PAT is performed over a specifically designed obstacle course. The candidate needs to cover all the activities included in the course in one go for a certain period of time. The components included in the course vary for the different agency but most commonly include the following:

  • Get out of a patrol car, while your seat-belt is on

  • Run a certain distance

  • Climb or jump over a wall

  • High step over several low hurdles

  • Drag a dummy weighing 150 pounds for 50 feet

  • Belly crawl

  • Stair climb and decent

  • Climb through a window


You will receive detailed instruction prior to covering the course on how to approach the different obstacles, what is allowed and what is a disqualifier. For some activities, you may be allowed a second or a third attempt, while others activities must be passed the first time. The test is timed and there will be a timed cut-off score.

Secondly, there are components of the fitness-based physical ability test. Again, each department has the right to decide how many and which components to include in its fitness-based PAT.


The most common ones, however, include:

  • Push-ups

  • Sit-ups

  • Bench-press

  • Additional strength assessment –trigger pull, arm ergo-meter, sit/reach extensions

  • 75-yard dash

  • 1.5-mile run

In order to pass the test, the candidate needs to perform each activity according to a given standard. There is usually a scale that shows the expected results depending on age and gender. Respectively, there is a score table that shows how many scores you receive depending on your performance. The candidates must fulfill each activity otherwise they are disqualified. In some cases, there is a certain amount of points that need to be reached in order for the candidate to be successful but in general it is a pass/fail test.

Again, passing the written exam is only one step of the hiring process, but with a little preparation, you can be ready! Best of luck; PES is routing for you!