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  • Writer's picturePatrick Littorin

The scandal with the Police selection

The media here in Sweden has recently commented that the Police have lowered the aptitude requirements for logical aptitude in order to be admitted to the Police Training. Already in 2016, the requirements were lowered from a 4th to a 3rd on a nine-point scale (Stanine scale), where 5 is average. Now it has also been established that the requirements are actually even lower. But what does it really mean?

The police use a normative aptitude test. This means that the candidate's results are compared with a comparison group, i.e. how other people have previously performed based on a normal distribution curve. When comparing different people's test results in this way, it is therefore important to know which group the individual is being compared with. The police's selection experts do not seem to have been aware of this, which is a problem in itself.

But the problems are bigger than that. The test company used by the Police had not updated their comparative data in 19 years! In practice, this means that you no longer know against whom the candidate's results are being compared. Are they academics, Swedes, students or "ordinary" citizens? When the test company finally updated its comparison data, the level of results had dropped so much that the tested candidates would not even be allowed to do military service in Sweden. The level is so low that 84% of the normal population would perform better on their intelligence test. If it is now ordinary, normal people of working age you are compared with.

How important is it then that a police officer has some form of logical intelligence? Even though there are different definitions of intelligence and even if you can measure intelligence in different ways, researchers still agree that it is an important characteristic for success in working life.

At Psykometrika, we define logical intelligence as the ability to make rational decisions under uncertainty and strong time pressure. Of course, this is an important characteristic at managerial level or when one must be able to make rational decisions in the profession under strong external pressure. In the same way as the Police, we use a nine-point comparison scale and we use approximately the same type of test to measure intelligence.

But to be as relevant as possible, we update our norm data every year. Nowadays, therefore, the candidates' test results are compared with just over 12,000 other people of working age who have applied for a job. The police's limit score for being admitted to their education is so low that at that level we only recommend more routine jobs, which a superior can also check. When we have made surveys in various organizations, we have unfortunately been able to state that there seems to be a “minimum level” even for less qualified professions. Transferred to our comparison data, the Police aspirants would thus get a 2nd, on the verge of a 3rd!

Unfortunately, there is still so much ignorance about what testing really is. And unfortunately, many customers are not interested enough. We can only hope that the scandal with the police's intelligence test means that as a customer in the future greater demands will be placed on the test suppliers.


Svenska Dagbladet, May 21, 2022. Aftonbladet, May 18, 2022. TT, May 20, 2022. Psykometrika, scientific bakground 2021.

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