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One of the first exams you'll take when applying to become a police officer, deputy sheriff, state trooper, highway patrol officer, or federal law enforcement agent is a physical fitness exam. The exam has many names, such as:

  • The Physical Agility Test, or PAT
  • The Physical Fitness Qualification Test, or PFQ Test
  • The Physical Training Test, or PT Test
  • The Physical Abilities Test

Most police physical fitness tests consist of two portions; The first portion measures strength, agility, and endurance, while the second portion measures aerobic capacity. Physical fitness tests in the past consisted of items such as a long-distance run, push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, and maybe an obstacle course.

West Coast

Here is a sample of a typical California law enforcement agency's physical agility test:

  • 1 1/2 mile run in 15 minutes (Pass/Fail)
  • Complete a 99 yard obstacle course consisting of turns, curb height obstacles, and 34" obstacle which must be vaulted
  • Lift and drag a 165 Lb lifelike dummy 32 feet
  • Run 5 yards to a 6' chain link fence; climb over the fence, run another 25 yards, then climb over a solid fence, run 5 yards to a 6' solid fence, climb over the fence and continue running another 25 yards
  • Complete a 500 yard run

All the tests, with the exception of the 1 1/2 mile run, are timed. The times are converted to points, and a minimum of 384 points are necessary to pass.

East Coast

The following timed event consists of six stations that together, must be completed in 4:28:

  • Barrier Surmount: From a kneeling, weapon-ready position, the candidate sprints 50 feet to surmount a six-foot barrier.
  • Stair Climb: The candidate proceeds from the Barrier Surmount to a six-stair climb system, and completes three over-and-back traverses.
  • Physical Restraint Simulation: The candidate proceeds from the Stair Climb to a tactics-and-training device that measures an applicant's ability to resist or control force in a physical restraint situation.
  • Pursuit Run: The candidate proceeds from the Physical Restraint Simulation to a 600-foot run around a pattern of cones.
  • Victim Rescue: The candidate proceeds from the Pursuit Run to a simulated victim rescue involving a 35-foot drag of a 176 pound mannequin.
  • Trigger Pull: The candidate proceeds from the Victim Rescue to a trigger-pull station, picks up an inoperative firearm, holds the firearm within a nine inch diameter metal ring and pulls the trigger 16 times with the dominant hand, and 15 times with the non-dominant hand. Once inserted, the firearm must remain within the metal ring for the completion of the trigger pull cycles. Timing is stopped upon completion of the final trigger pull.


One agency requires candidates to meet the 50% mark using the Concept 2 rower and rowing 2000 meters in a time determined by your age and weight. For example, a 20 to 29 year old male, weighing 185 Lbs., needs to complete the test in 9 minutes and 25 seconds.

New Jersey

The Common Denominator

You'll notice that every police physical fitness test consists of some type of high-intensity cardio work. In law enforcement, you can go from sitting in a patrol car typing a report to fighting a suspect weighing heavier than you do, in a matter of seconds. Literally.

Law enforcement officers do not have the ability to warm up or stretch prior to being called into action. In the above example, you could be typing a report behind a business, and a subject suddenly approaches your vehicle, acting suspiciously. It happened to Officer Bob Henry of the Newport Beach Police Department in California, on March 12, 1995. Officer Henry made contact with a mentally deranged subject, and subsequently lost his life when the subject murdered him and then turned the weapon on himself.

We share with you the story of Officer Henry as a reminder that this profession can change in a second for you. It is imperative you are completely committed and prepared for what awaits you, either known or unknown.

How We Can Help

Our trainers here at Team Fit For Duty can help you prepare for the physical agility test through either our Academy Prep Program or our individual training packages.