About the Exams

The reading and writing tests consist of several areas: detail, spelling, word usage, clarity, and grammar. The reading comprehension portion of the tests consists of reading a passage and then answering a series of questions on the passage. There is also a behavioral component to each exam.

These examinations are designed so that test takers without any specific training can score as well as those with extensive training or experience in law enforcement/corrections. These tests are commonly referred to as reading and writing tests, or cognitive abilities tests. While there is no requirement to have knowledge of law enforcement or corrections to pass this cognitive ability exam, it is helpful for a candidate to understand the concepts and philosophies of the criminal justice system in other parts of the hiring process (i.e., interview, etc.).

The Corrections test is called the National Corrections Officer Selection Inventory.

The Deputy Sheriff test is called the National Criminal Justice Officer Selection Inventory2.

The tests are computer-administered. At the test site, practice items will be provided to allow you time to acclimate yourself to the computer-based test environment.

For the Corrections Officer test you will be given one-and-one-half (11/2) hours to complete the actual test.

For the Deputy Sheriff test you will be given two-and-one-half (21/2) hours to complete the actual test.

To protect the integrity of the Reading and Writing Tests and the substantial investment in the tests, the MSA does not permit the review of individual test questions. Requests may be made in writing for a verification of the accuracy of the scoring of an individual test.

Minimum Qualifications

Each Sheriff’s Office has different hiring criteria. However, all require at least 18 years old, high school graduate or GED, have a valid driver’s license, and have a clean criminal history. Many Sheriffs have additional minimum criteria including training and education. You should search individual Sheriff's websites to determine the hiring criteria for the Sheriffs for which you are interested in working.

Qualifying for Positions

Those Sheriffs’ Offices you have selected and whose minimum qualifications you meet will automatically see your profile and score. Sheriffs will only see your most recent passing score.

Participating Sheriffs Offices require you to take and pass this written test. There is no substitute for these tests with participating Sheriffs.

There is no need to take any action after you complete the tests, unless a specific Sheriff’s Office wants you to turn in a written application prior to the deadline (but this is not required by most Sheriffs). Sheriffs will contact you when they have an interest in talking to you. When they contact you, they will ask you to enter their formal recruiting process. This process could include an application, interviews, background check, physical, physiological and drug examinations and other traditional steps in the hiring of a Corrections Officer or Deputy Sheriff.

Test scores for the National Corrections Officer Selection Inventory and the National Criminal Justice Officer Selection Inventory2 are valid for twelve months from the test date. For those who pass the exam, a numerical score is reported (0% - 100%, 70% is passing for most Sheriffs). A score reported as FAIL on the Deputy test indicates that you did not achieve the minimum passing score of 70%. For deputy tests, any score of 69.99% and below will read as FAIL only. Empco does not provide a percentage score if the minimum is not reached. 72 hours after taking the test, you and participating Sheriffs have access to your scores on this website. Some Sheriffs certify eligibility lists for longer than 12 months. If one of these Sheriffs certifies their eligibility list during the 12 months you are active on this website's master list, you could be an active candidate on their list for longer than 12 months.

It is not possible to determine your rank on the master list because Sheriffs use the list in different ways. Some Sheriffs use the lists as they are generated and stored on this website. Many Sheriffs will print a list only when they are going to certify an eligibility list. This printed list is static and will not change during the duration of the Sheriff's eligibility list. Since this list is not online, we have no control over how slow or fast the individual Sheriff's eligibility list is being exhausted. For example, you could be ranked as 43rd on the master list and 3rd on one Sheriff's list and 15 on another Sheriff's list. In addition, after one year on the master list, candidates are automatically dropped from the list. This moves you up on the eligibility list. Also, newly tested candidates will be added to the master list.

There may be additional tests in the hiring process administered by the interested Sheriff. These additional tests include, but are not limited to, oral interviews, background investigations, drug tests, psychological and physical examinations.

Study Guides

Study guides are available from IOS Recruitment. Click here for the study guide for Deputy Sheriff. Click here for the study guide for Corrections Officer. Additional preparation materials can be found on the IOS Recruitment website.

The Corrections Officer test is called the National Corrections Officer Selection Inventory.

The Deputy Sheriff test is called the National Criminal Justice Officer Selection Inventory2.


While scores are valid for one year, candidates may take an examination up to two (2) times in a 12 month period. To retake an examination, simply login to your Candidate Home Page, Review and Manage Test Schedule using your email address and password, and select a new test date and pay a new fee. It should be noted that you will not take the same test when re-testing, but a similarly reliable and valid test. In the event you re-test, all scores will appear in your record. Your ranking on the master list will be determined by the last score you received on this test.

Please note, if you have already taken the exam twice, the system will still allow you to register and pay for an exam. However, you will be prevented from testing when you arrive at the test site. Do not register to retest if you have already taken the exam the allowed number of times. You will not be given a refund.

Day of Test

To be admitted to the test center, you will need to present your driver’s license and the email confirmation you received upon completion of your registration. You will also need to know your Social Security number

Candidates are required to be on time for all tests. Candidates who are not present at the scheduled start of the test will be denied entry. No refunds or credits will be issued for candidates who arrive late to an exam for any reason. They will need to sign up and pay for another time. Be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to get to the test site and find the testing room to avoid this situation.

Making Changes

Cancelling/Re-Scheduling Exams

You must cancel/reschedule at least 24 hours prior to your test time to receive a credit. Log in using your email address and password. In the box Scheduled Tests, click on Review and Manage Test Schedule. In the Action column next to the test you are scheduled to take, click Cancel. This removes you from the test roster and gives you a credit for the fee you paid. When you are ready to take the test at a different time, simply return to this page and schedule the new test. Your fee credit will be applied to the new test. There are no refunds.

Updating an Email Address

If you entered the wrong email address or have changed email addresses, you must put in a request for Empco to change your email address (which is also your username). Send an email to The email should include your name, phone number, old/incorrect email, and the new/correct email address.

Correcting a Social Security Number

Your complete social security must be entered correctly in the system in order to link your test score to your profile. If you enter your social security number into the system incorrectly, you will have difficulty signing into the test at the test site. The test site can help you take a test, but in order for that test score to be linked to your profile, you will need to correct your social security number with Empco. To do so, call the office at 866-367-2600. You will need to be prepared to fax, or email, a copy of your driver’s license and social security card.

Special Considerations

To request an ADA accommodation, please contact Empco at 866-367-2600. Requests must be made two weeks prior to scheduled test date to ensure accommodations can be made. Proof of ADA necessity is required.

The Maryland Sheriffs' Association will grant a very limited number of scholarships to cover the fee for this test. Requests for a scholarship must be directed to The request must include: your name, the test you are looking to take (Deputy or Corrections), the state you will be testing in and a brief paragraph stating compelling reasons for your request. Requests must be received at least two weeks prior to the test date you want to sign up for.

Submitting a request for a scholarship does not guarantee a scholarship will be awarded to the applicant. Determinations will be made based on availability of funds and the number of requests received. Failure to follow instructions for requesting a scholarship and requests that do not follow basic spelling and grammar rules will result in an automatic denial of the scholarship request.

If you have any questions concerning the pre-employment test program, please contact Empco at 866-367-2600.