Advice for Police Officer and PCSO Applicants: Spelling and Grammar

Both the police officer application form and police assessment centre are designed to test your ability to use correct spelling and grammar.

In the competency section of your police / PCSO application form, you must not exceed 10 errors or more, while in the assessment centre this is limited to no more than 5 spelling / 4 grammatical errors in each written proposal.

If you exceed this amount in your application form, or you exceed this amount in both written proposals, this will result in rejection. To help candidates I have compiled the following advice:

Let’s have a look at when to use capital letters

Which is correct?

  • I attended School between the ages of four and eighteen
  • I attended school between the ages of four and eighteen

Answer: I attended school between the ages of four and eighteen

The word ‘school’ only needs a capital letter at the start when it is part of a name of a specific school. It does not need one when it appears on its own. The same is true for other places, institutions, organisations, and buildings.

When using capital letters in titles (for a film, book, ‘role’, period or event) however, be careful only to use them for the start of the first and key words, and not for small words within the title.

Which is correct?

  • an Officer and a Gentleman
  • An Officer And A Gentleman
  • An Officer and a Gentleman

Answer: An Officer and a Gentleman

The above examples throw up a few additional points to remember. People’s titles should always have capital letters, for example: Prime Minister, Princess Royal.

Periods have titles, and begin with a capital letter: Gothic, the Renaissance, the Depression.

Countries begin with a capital letter, but so too do languages and nationalities, for example: English, Kurdish, Chinese, Arabic, French, Polish. Note that all words that are formed from, or are connected to, these base words also begin with capital letters, for example: Frenchman, Arabia, Chinese lantern.

Which is correct?

  • It is far warmer in the south, especially in the summer
  • It is far warmer in the South, especially in the summer
  • It is far warmer in the south, especially in the Summer
  • It is far warmer in the South, especially in the Summer

Answer: It is far warmer in the south, especially in the summer

Note that although capital letters are used for days of the weeks and months of the year, they are not needed for the points of the compass, or for seasons.

Let’s have a look at when to use commas

Commas should be used in a sentence to indicate where someone reading the sentence would pause (for a fraction of a second only), perhaps to take a breath. As a rule, longer and more complex sentences are more likely to need commas than short sentences.

i.e. While teaching my recent assessment centre training course, a client whom I never met before, kindly introduced themselves on arrival as Julie Smith.

Did you like this? If so, please bookmark it,
tell a friend
about it, and subscribe to the blog RSS feed.

Published by

David Vidgen

David Vidgen is a former police recruitment manager responsible for overseeing all police recruitment marketing including application form and assessment centre practice days, recruitment website, adverts and community outreach programmes such as Gay Pride.