Nelson-Denny Reading Test: Format, Score, and Prep Tips 2023


On this page, you’ll find info on the Nelson Denny Reading test format, scores, and passing tips for its Vocabulary and Reading Comprehension sections, Let’s begin.

What Is the Nelson-Denny test (NDRT)?

The Nelson-Denny test (NDRT) is a multiple choice online exam comprised of two main sections vocabulary and reading comprehension and is geared to entry-level police work and academy training requiring good reading and comprehension skills.

Here are some of the job positions that require taking the Nelson-Denny Law Enforcement Test

  • Entry-level police officer.
  • Deputy sheriff.
  • Police Officer.
  • Security Officer (TSA).
  • Records Clerk.
  • State Trooper.
  • Transit police officer.

Pass the Nelson-Denny Reading Assessment

The Nelson-Denny Reading Test is a challenging law enforcement pre-employment exam.

What makes the test difficult is the fact you have only 35 minutes to answer 128 questions or 16 seconds per question.

That’s why it’s important you’ll gain access to accurate practice for every type of question you might encounter on the actual exam (2023 Edition).

If you're here, you've already taken an important step towards passing the Nelson Denny Assessment, and we're here to help you advance toward that goal.

Nelson-Denny Reading Comprehension Section

Expect five to eight reading passages and between 36 to 38 questions that will test your reading comprehension skills. The time frame for this portion of the NDRT is 20 minutes. Each passage is approximately a half-page in length.

There are two basic assessments in the NDRT's online Reading Comprehension section that test takers need to consider:

  • Ability to understand the literal meaning of the written material.
  • Ability to infer from the information contained in the passage.

The items require a recall of facts, analysis, summary, or conclusion based solely on the facts included in the scenario presented.


Nelson-Denny Vocabulary Section

The Vocabulary section is comprised of 80 to 100 items to be answered in 15 minutes. A word will be presented either alone or in the context of a phrase or sentence.
The total Nelson-Denny vocabulary words list is comprised of 300 words.

Your goal is to choose one response that best fits the definition of the initial word from a set of alternatives following the question.

Vocabulary Sample Questions

Augment most nearly means:

A. Repent
B. Concise
C. Improve
D. Amplify
Correct Answer
Incorrect Answer

Augment means add to something, to enlarge or increase. Therefore, Amplify is closest in meaning.

Surmount most nearly means:

A. Add
B. Hill
C. Remainder
D. Overcome
Correct Answer
Incorrect Answer

The word surmount has two meanings: (1) To be on top of something, (2) To deal with something successfully.

The word overcome is similar to the second definition and is therefore the correct answer.

Click to see more Nelson Denny Reading Comprehension and Vocabulary test questions.

Nelson Denny Police Typical Pre-Hiring Test Day

The following is a typical test-day procedure you may encounter when applying for a job at a police department in your area.

Two tests are used in Pre-Hire testing to assess your ability to handle real on-the-job demands: The online Nelson-Denny Reading Test and the Police Officer Physical Abilities Test (POPAT).

Nelson Denny Test

As mentioned previously a typical Nelson-Denny Test includes two sections:

  • A Vocabulary section that has 80-100 multiple-choice questions and takes 15 minutes.
  • A Reading comprehension section that includes 36-38 multiple-choice questions and takes 20 minutes.

Police Officer Physical Abilities Test (POPAT)

The POPAT includes physical exercises police officers experience in the field. To feel comfortable and prepared for the test, applicants should practice these exercises before the day of the test.

Chase and Apprehension Scenario

  • Maximum time: 7:15.
  • You will do all steps 2 times.

The steps Include actions such as a broad jump over a 4-foot area, going over a 4-foot fence, 20 pushups, and crawling under a 2-foot obstacle.

Rescue Scenario

You must complete the rescue scenario in a maximum time of 3 minutes and 30 seconds. It includes actions such as: Drag the dummy backward across the 25-foot mark, advancing 50 feet around the cone and back 2 times, and completing 30 steps on the step box.

What Is the Passing Score of The Nelson-Denny Test

As far as Nelson-Denny's scoring goes, it is required that a score of 102 be obtained to proceed with the hiring process. A score below 86 will disqualify an applicant from moving forward in the hiring process.

Passing the Nelson Denny Test

Practice is key to passing the Nelson Denny exam and dealing with its strict time limit.

JobTestPrep provides you with the tools needed for comprehensive exam preparation including Nelson-Denny practice tests, detailed questions analysis, study guides, an extensive list of vocabulary words, and detailed Nelson-Denny PDF guides that cover every aspect of the test and offer strategies to overcome them.

As you work through test sample questions, you will refresh your vocabulary and gain a greater comfort level with the process of reading passages, recalling information, and drawing conclusions from the written material.


Is the Nelson-Denny Reading Test Hard?

Yes, the questions on the test are simple but the tight time limit makes it hard.

You have only 20 minutes to answer 36-38 reading comprehension questions, or 30 seconds per question, and 15 minutes to answer 80-100 vocabulary questions, or 9 seconds per question.

So using an accurate test-like practice test that will simulate real test conditions will give you a true indication of your current skill level is vital.

What are the Nelson-Denny Reading Test Instructions?

Here is a good example of the instructions you’ll see in the real exam

“In this study guide, you will find a word list consisting of 300 words you should be familiar with before taking the examination. The word list is also accompanied by two sample questions similar to what you will be expected to answer during the examination.

You will also find two similar examples of the type of reading comprehension passages and
questions you will be expected to answer during the Reading Comprehension section of the

Prior to the beginning of the test, a proctor will give concise instructions regarding the
examination. A passing score of 102 is required to proceed in the hiring process.”



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