Police sergeant’s exam results update

Promotional Testing Report 

Author’s note: This article shares some important and factual information regarding the appeals and results being issued. All of this information is from various NJ Civil Service Commission (CSC) documents and the recent past administration of the police promotional exams by the NJ CSC (as of the date this issue went to press)

Thousands of NJSPBA members took the police sergeant’s promotional exam administered by the NJ CSC in February. While preparing for the exam can be a long and tense process, waiting for the results to be issued is no different. Add a little “guess” here as to what is taking so long, and — bingo, you guessed it — this waiting period just gets more complicated and more tense. Unfortunately for those waiting on results, it is very hard to ignore any information that is circulating. So, what does a candidate waiting on results do? Take in any information they receive and then try to make sense of it.

What is the delay?

I am willing to bet nobody waiting for the list wants to hear this answer…there is no delay. That is correct: There is no delay.

Relax, take a breath and finish reading the article so that you understand why this answer is accurate. Although the exam was 85 questions and a Scantron answer sheet was utilized, the NJ CSC does not just run them through a machine and post the results. Instead, an opportunity to appeal the administration of the exam and an opportunity to appeal the questions on the exam have to play out first. While the appeal procedure does take a considerable amount of time, it allows the NJ CSC to review all properly filed appeals and make appropriate decisions.

What can be appealed? 

Almost anything. There are many types of appeals that can be filed, and the NJ CSC does provide relief for candidates when it is appropriate.

Candidates who receive notice of ineligibility can file an appeal. This usually occurs when the hiring date is not properly recorded. Candidates also receive notice and can file an appeal about the administration of the exam at their exam site on the day of their exam. These appeals include “the room being too dark,” there was “no clock on the wall,” it was “too noisy” and an approved “ADA accommodation was not provided.”

Candidates also have an opportunity to file for a makeup exam if specific criteria apply. Finally, candidates can appeal the items on the exam and the keyed answers. To ensure fairness with respect to this type of appeal, the NJ CSC allows all candidates the opportunity to review the exam and answer key. After the review, candidates have a deadline by which to appeal and challenge an item or keyed response on their exam.

With more than 4,000 estimated candidates taking the exam this year, the period of time allotted for candidates to review the exam alone is lengthy. For this cycle, more than 50 individual examination appeals were filed. Add up all the other variables with a candidate pool this large, and you can conclude why it does take a lot of time for the process to play out. Remember, each appeal receives a docket number and is thoroughly reviewed by the NJ CSC’s staff. A decision is then issued before the lists are published.

Are results released as soon as appeals are resolved?

Not normally. In 2017, the sergeant’s exam was administered in late October, with more than 2,000 candidates taking the exam. More than 70 individual appeals were filed and were ultimately resolved in April 2018. Most of the results were released on May 16, 2018. However, some results were not released until June 20, 2018.

In 2018, the sergeant’s exam was administered in late February, with approximately 1,000 candidates taking the exam. More than 20 individual appeals were filed and were ultimately resolved in September 2019. The results were released on Nov. 13, 2019.

In 2021, the lieutenant’s exam was administered in late October, with more than 900 candidates taking the exam. More than 10 individual appeals were filed and were ultimately resolved in late March 2022. The results were released on April 13, 2022.

The past time frame of when appeals are resolved and when results are released is relatively consistent when you consider the size of the candidate pool and how many appeals are filed.

What appeals filed this year have delayed the results?

To date, none. First, to be clear, there is no credible information that the NJ CSC is doing anything other than what it has done in the past — allowing candidates the opportunity to appeal and then issuing the exam results afterward. I have heard many rumors with a variety of twists as to what was allegedly taking place with the exam. I have seen some interesting posts, as many of you may have too. However, what I have not seen is any documentation from the NJ CSC supporting the rumors and posts.

Remember, this exam cycle for police sergeant was a particularly large group because of the delay caused by the pandemic. That being said, the NJ CSC did issue its decision on the examination appeals within the normal time frame for such a large promotional exam cycle. That decision was issued on Aug. 24. In fact, the NJ CSC was probably ahead of schedule if you compare this year to 2019, especially considering that exam cycle only had about 1,000 candidates.

There were two additional appeals regarding the administration of the exam that were decided by the CSC on Sept. 21. Additionally, four requests to revive expired certifications were heard by the CSC on the same date. While these issues were all addressed by the CSC on the same date, there is nothing in any of the decisions that indicates the pending results will not be issued.

How much longer?

Obviously, anything can happen. However, the exam results are typically issued around six to nine months after the exam is administered and after all of the appeals are resolved. As of press time, we expect the NJ CSC to release the results in two groups.

Oct. 19 was the tentative date for results to be released for agencies that have expired, incomplete, or exhausted lists and Nov. 16 is the tentative date for results to be released for all other agencies.