Written Test Explanation

About the Test

The written test we utilize (Nelson/Denny) is designed to test an individual's vocabulary and reading comprehension. This standardized test uses a formula to convert the number of correct responses to a representative test score. This final test score indicates a reading level equivalency scored according to standards set forth in this particular test. (We are frequently asked if the MPD furnishes or recommends a study guide for the Nelson/Denny. We do not. However, there are preparatory study guides available—for a fee—by checking the internet. There is also a website which offers a Nelson-Denny online course which is free and includes practice questions.)

What Your Score Means

For the purposes of our hiring process a minimum score is required in order to be eligible for advancement. There are no specific criteria for weighting or ranking performances on this test. The test confirms that the applicant possesses basic essential functions to perform the job. Receiving a "high" test score does not automatically guarantee advancement, nor does a lower score dictate that an individual will not advance. However, when considered within the larger context of a candidate's reported level of education, degrees obtained, life experiences and essay responses, the written test score is viewed as indicative of a candidate's communication abilities.

A Passing Score

The minimum score required to pass the written test is (10.3). The highest possible score is (18.9). A competitive score is typically above (14.0).

What the Numbers Represent

The number preceding the decimal point indicates years of education, and the number which follows the decimal point indicates additional months of education. For example, the minimum passing score of 10.3 indicates just over a 10th grade reading level. A score 15.3 indicates a reading level equivalent to a third year college student, and so on.

The Essay Component

Part of the written testing block involves composing a response to the following: "Provide us with specific information on what is leading you to choose a career in policing for the City of Madison. We are looking for personal insight that demonstrates your knowledge of our community and our "brand" of policing."

The essay question should be reviewed prior to your arrival at the test site. Please understand that no notes or outlines will be permitted for use in this exercise. Candidates who come to test will only be allowed to bring a photo I.D.; all other materials will be provided. You will only have 15 minutes to complete the essay.