Police Physical Ability Test: Police Officer Fitness Requirements

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About the Police Physical Ability Test

Each police department administers its own Physical Ability Test. Whether they call it PAT, PTT, POPS, POWER, or PAA – they are all measured by similar criteria. The test is a physical fitness evaluation that is meant to display the candidate's physical abilities necessary to perform the day-to-day duties as a police officer.

It is a pass-or-fail fitness test that is evaluated based on a standardized set of criteria. You will be considered in the police application process only if you successfully complete the Physical Ability Test.

After successfully completing the police hiring process, candidates must go through a period of police training at the Academy that corresponds to each law enforcement department. This training will last between 8 to 12 weeks and will require intensive physical endurance.

The PAT test is the first of many physical and fitness challenges that you will face throughout your career as a police officer.

Components of the Physical Ability Test

The following are some of the components that a police Physical Ability Test can include. Each test will be a mix of a few (not all) of the following.


Running is a key part of any PAT test because it is a good indicator of a candidate’s aerobic fitness level and endurance - while also relevant to the daily duties of a police officer. Most police fitness tests will have a running component.

Most police Physical Ability Tests require a 1.5-mile run. It is a timed run to measure the heart and vascular system capability to transport oxygen. It is an important area for performing police tasks involving stamina and endurance and to minimize the risk of cardiovascular problems.

Some police departments, like the Pennsylvania State Troopers and LAPD, include a 300-meter sprint that will test your anaerobic ability to perform short intense bursts of effort. 

Police Obstacle Course

A PAT test can also include an intricate and physically demanding obstacle course that will recreate the challenges of a suspect pursuit. Obstacle courses often include climbing, crawling, dodging objects, jumping barriers, dragging dummy weights, pursuit running, and other exercises that will simulate various fitness challenges of a police officer.

Some police departments require you to perform the obstacle course with a training gun and a vest with extra weight. This section of the Physical Ability Test will assess not only your physical strength but also agility, endurance, stamina, and your ability to think and perform fast when confronted with barriers and obstacles.

As a police officer, you will be expected to handle physical challenges and difficult unknown terrain when capturing suspects.

Some police departments that include an obstacle course as a part of their Physical Ability Test are NYPD exam, the San Diego Police Department and the MPD in Washington. 

PAT Test Strength Assessment

The Strength Assessment section of the test will include at least two subtests. They will usually have a time limit (around 1 or 2 minutes) and you will be scored on the number of repetitions that you managed to complete.

The minimum scores of each Strength Assessment depends on the specific police department and the criteria they apply.

💡Tip: When training, do as many repetitions as you can in under one minute, then each day try adding at least 1 more.

  • Push-ups: this will test your upper body strength. The push-ups are "military style" with your legs straight and hands positioned under the shoulders.
  • Sit-ups: this will test your general body strength. Your knees must be bent and elevated off the ground, fingers interlocked behind your head or neck, and then rise so that your elbows touch the top of your knees.
  • Bench press: This is the maximum weight pushed from the bench press position, measuring the amount of upper body force that can be generated. It is an important area for performing police tasks requiring upper body strength.
  • Squat thrusts: Also known as burpees. You will start standing and then lower into a squat position with your hands on the floor. After that you must step your legs back to a plank position to then jump back into squat position and return to stand up.

Common Police Physical Test Standards

Cooper Standards for Physical Fitness

The Cooper Standard is an internationally used measure of aerobic fitness developed by the Cooper Institute. It was originally designed to assess the physical condition of soldiers. Most police departments in the United States base their Physical Ability Test around the Cooper Fitness Standard.

The test is very intense and physically demanding - most applicants fail the Cooper Test because they didn't train and prepare accordingly. Knowing what to expect and training in advance is the way to ace the fitness test.

The Cooper Standard Test consists of three sections:

  • One-minute push-ups.
  • One-minute sit-ups.
  • 1.5 mile run.

The results will be measured according to the Cooper Standard for Physical Fitness that depend on age and sex.

Police departments like the NY State Police and the MTA Police use the Cooper fitness standard for their Physical Ability Test.

Beep Test

The Beep Test (commonly mistaken as Bleep Test), or Pacer Test, is a commonly used physical fitness assessment tool developed by personal trainer and former police officer Russell Kempster. It is mostly applied to athletes – however, some police departments use it as well. It consists of running back and forth between two points in time with progressively shorter intervals.

Police departments that use the Beep Test will usually include other subtests like push-ups and sit-ups.

💡Tip: Working on your breathing technique will go a long way for the Beep Test. Practice maintaining a smooth, slow, and controlled breathing pattern throughout the entire test.

Police departments in Cleveland and Colorado Springs use the Beep Test as a part of their hiring process. 

Public Safety Testing

Public Safety Testing (PST) is a company that supplies testing services for various public safety and law enforcement agencies, including police departments, fire departments, and emergency medical services. They offer, among other things, a Physical Ability Test designed to test you on three main physical abilities: push-ups, sit-ups, and squat thrusts.

The standards are the following:

  • Push-ups: 20 repetitions in 90 seconds.
  • Sit-ups: 25 repetitions in 90 seconds.
  • Squat thrusts: 35 repetitions in 3 minutes.

Some of the police departments that use the Public Safety Testing are the Washington State police, Alaska State police, and Dallas State police. 

How to Prepare for the PAT Test

30 Days Before the Police Fitness Test

First, once you have applied to the police department of your choice, you will know what the areas you must practice for are. Each test will need a slightly different training routine. If you are already in good physical condition, a 30-day training plan will help you get ready for the assessment. Consider training a few weeks before if your fitness state is a little rusty.

Depending on the test you will take, talk to a health professional to help you build a training program that will help you take the test to the best of your abilities. Remember, it is a pass-or-fail examination, and you have Academy training to look forward to. In this case, more is more.

24 Hours Before the Test

Make sure to give your body a chance to relax before test day. Have a good night's sleep, nutritious but light meals, drink a lot of water to stay hydrated, and get your most comfortable clothing ready.

Consider arriving early at your test location to stretch and mentally prepare. Since you followed a fitness training regimen, you will be ready to ace the test, it is mostly a mental game from now on.

You will likely get results that same day and will then have to prepare either for the rest of the hiring process or for your training at the Academy.

Police Hiring Process

The Physical Ability Test is an essential part of the hiring process to become a police officer. However, you must complete several steps to be considered for the position.

Police department applications include all or most the following:

  • Medical examination: it is a necessary step for all departments. You will be asked to fill in a form and might also have a general check with a health professional. A drug test will also be administered.
  • Psychological evaluation: This includes questions on your personal preferences and behavior. It aims to measure your personality, motivations, attitudes, and values.
  • Written exam: Each department has its own written exam. However, they usually test you on math, reasoning skills, reading/writing, spatial orientation, and situational judgement.
  • Polygraph/background check: Another necessary step in the process. You will be asked questions related to potential risks for the position.
  • Oral board interview: Some departments include a police panel interview so that sergeants and officers can assess if you are ready for the position.

Thinking of applying to a position other than police officer? Take a look at JobTestPrep’s Complete Guide to Law Enforcement Exams.


  • What happens if I fail the test?

If you fail the test your application cannot be considered. But don't worry, you can apply to take the PAT again a different time. You can take it as many times as you want.

  • When can I take the exam?

Each department has its own test dates. Apply to the police department you want to join to see when the test can be administered.

  • How long is the test?

The duration of the test can vary depending on the police department and position. Generally, the PAT will last between 30 minutes to 2 hours.

  • Are the physical ability requirements different for women?

The Physical Ability Test is the same for everyone, although some of the tests' standards will be different for men and women (for example the Cooper fitness standard).

  • What is a good score?

There is a minimum score for each one of the tests.

  • What are the requirements to take the test?

To take the Physical Ability Test, and to apply in general, there are a few requirements that include age, education, citizenship, and COVID-19 vaccination. The specific requirements depend on each police department.




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