The Personal Qualifications Essay

December 4, 2005

The Personal Qualifications Essay (PQE) was basically three essay questions, which needed to be completed within 90 minutes. I was one of about 15 or so people who showed up to the testing center to take the PQE only. Most of the applicants in attendance were there to take both the multiple-choice written test, as well as the PQE.

Back when I first went to Los Angeles to take the written test, the application process was slightly different. After the written test, there used to be some sort of interview, to be conducted (I believe) by an off-duty LAPD detective. Since the mayor is intent on hiring over a thousand new officers by the end of fiscal year 2007, the city felt that it could not afford to pay those detectives overtime for conducting those interviews. At least that’s what I’ve heard through the grape vine.

I was one of the first ones to arrive at the testing site. A burly LA police officer walked by and spoke to a few of us briefly. He recalled the time when he, too, was an applicant. He told us, “The only advice I can give you is to use common sense.

Judging from the reactions of many of my fellow test takers, the officer’s advice seemed to go right over their heads. I took his advice to mean, “Use common sense when answering any and all questions they (those affiliated with the LAPD testing procedures) throw your way.”

When it was time to sit down and take the PQE, I did just that. The last essay question was something along the lines of, “Describe something that you have done that you regret. What did you learn from your experience? How have you changed since then?”

While I will not discuss my answer here, suffice it to say that I didn’t discuss the time, as a 19-year-old punk kid, where I consumed a fifth of vodka, beat the crap out of some guy whom I felt “disrespected” me at a nightclub and proceeded to drive into the horizon drunk and a skunk.

It seemed like the common sense thing to do was to not write about such a thing. In any case, we’ll see in about two or three weeks whether my prose was good enough for the City of Los Angeles.


25 Responses to “The Personal Qualifications Essay”

  1. Jotas said

    How did u answer that question?? (Describe something that you have done that you regret. What did you learn from your experience? How have you changed since then?)

    i mean, i not talking about ur life, i talking about how answer that question (2 or 3 paragraphs or a simple quote about what u learn back then)

    I asking u cuz i gonna take the PQE too… and i reallllllllllllllly wanna pass that test

  2. Sammy said

    I have been preparing for the PQE. I have three essays I have done in advance to see If this is what they are looking for.Can you please read them and tell me what score you would give them.

    My biggest regret in life so far has to be not going to school right after high school graduation. This is one of my biggest regrets because I could have had my bachelors’ degree eight years ago. By know I would of had a stable job and maybe even a family to look after.
    Now that I’m thirty-two years old I look back in time and see all that time wasted working on seasonal and par time jobs. Even though I was getting paid enough to support myself it still didn’t give me the stability I was looking for. This experience in life has made me a much wiser person because I know what I want in life, to find a life long career that is going to allow me to get started in life.
    In these past eight years, I was able to reflect back in time. This helped me decide to go back to school and earn my AA degree from Los Angeles Valley College. This degree encouraged me to continue my studies at California State University, Northridge. It is here where I earned my BA in Psychology, in December 2009. Now I feel like I’m getting a second chance in life and that’s why I decided to apply for the LAPD. This is the department that will give me the opportunity to have a stable job.

    A time when I helped someone?
    This actually happened when I was working for the MOSAIC program at of CSUN. I was working as a mentor with six kids that needed help improving their grades and behavior. This program consisted of six other mentors who also helped in the progress of these kids.
    My main goal was to help them pass to the next grade without failing. One of the things I would do was to ask them to take out their homework and to work on math problems. I allowed them to work on each problem and saw that they were doing them correctly. I taught them to solve problems, showing them how to breakdown the equations step by step. After teaching them I would allow the kids to do it on their own five times using the same steps I did. Once they were done I would then ask them to do a similar problem with out looking at the steps to see if they remembered how to do it.

    When I became a leader.

    I became the leader of a group when I was working for the city of Los Angeles on a golf course. My supervisor called in sick one Sunday morning. He was in charge of the community service people, but on this day, only I knew what to do with the workers.
    I immediately put them all in the back of the truck with their tools rakes, shovels and picks. The plan was to finish an area they had started the previous day. This area consisted of cleaning up three sand traps that needed edging, mowing, and raking. Once we arrived at the destination I explained to the crew that I wanted them to work with a partner to get the job done in a more productive way. I went ahead and demonstrated what I wanted done by getting a shovel and digging to remove the roots from the sand. I told others to rake what was being edged and to please put the roots in plastic bags. I also told them that we needed to finish all three sand traps by one o’clock.
    Once everyone knew what they were doing, they all worked as a team throughout the morning. I helped as well, but most of the time I supervised so everyone stayed safe and no one was mis using the tools. This went on for the rest of the afternoon and by twelve-thirty we were done with all three sand traps. At this point I knew I had managed the time and crew in an efficient way.

  3. david steven said

    I cant tell you if what you wrote is what they are looking for, but i can tell you that youir spelling is off, and certain commas and period need to be put correctly. good luck, i will be taking mine again this upcoming month. i failed it with a 78 percent and i needed to get a 80 percent or better…good luck.

  4. dadafda said

    i think sammy PQE essay is fine. let me expicit this i am not a writing expert. however, from my writing experience, writing essays are not too much about punctuation just as long as you get the usage correct and write a good detail essay then everything will be fine!

  5. Lorance said

    Does anyone know the exact questions for a time you became a leader and a time you helped someone? I have the third question, Describe something that you have done that you regret. What did you learn from your experience? How have you changed since then?” If I could get the break down for the first two that would be awesome. Thanks

  6. Jorden said

    I took the PQE and got a 95 percent. All they really want is for you to explain the question fully and for your sentences to be clearly written. They do somewhat care about spelling.

  7. Marylu said

    I heard that you have to dress up. Is that true?

  8. Jorden said

    No. The test has no one watching you at all its just a preliminary to see if your a competant writer or not. Lots of officers fail in this aspect.

  9. Marylu said

    How long do I have to wait for
    the results?

  10. Marylu said

    What are some essay questions that may ask?

  11. Jorden said

    Took them about 2 to 3 weeks to get it mailed to me.

  12. Marylu said

    The parking in that area is kinda expensive. Do they have a parking lot to park?

  13. Jorden said

    There is several locations to test for it/

  14. Marylu said

    I’m taking the PQE for the first time. Do I have to take the multiple choice on the same day?

  15. lmarteljr said

    Can someone please tell me in what format does the essay have to be written???? Like thew MLA format with an intro, 3 paragraphs, and a outro?

  16. jorden said

    no format just write clearly and legible. Sentence structure must make sense.

  17. lmarteljr said

    Thanks Jorden I just took the PQE like 3 hours ago. I am soooo nervous :/

  18. jorden said

    I wouldn’t worry about it to much its pretty simple as long as you took your time and re read it. If it made sense to you it will be good. They just take forever in background investigation though.

  19. lmarteljr said

    Thanks Jorden I hope I passed. I will be devastated if I didn’t. But I am really scared of the lie detector test :/ lol

  20. jorden said

    Have nothing to worry about on the lie detector as long as you dont lie. Just don’t try to hold anything back tell them everything. As a police officer all you have is your integrity.

  21. joshua said

    For the essay do you have to write excactly in essay format

  22. janet said

    I currently took the PQE but I didnt pass it im planning on taking it 6 months from now. Can someone give some advice of how the essays should be. I tought I did good bt I didnt. Im reslly looking forward for this career and I would really appreciate it the support

  23. Eric said

    Janet get a book called Rules For Writers by Diana Hacker. Everything you need to know about essay writing. This will help you pass next time. Good luck. 🙂

  24. Joanna said

    Hi Janet, I’m schedule to take the PQE at the end of the month. Any advice to prepare myself for the essay. Thanks…

  25. Sammy said

    I used the test prep at
    It’s a good test prep for the LAPD essay and interview! I recommend it if you are trying to join LAPD or other California based Police/Sheriff dept. Good luck!

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