Almost everyone who applies to become a Border Patrol Agent must complete the border patrol entrance exam. Passing the border patrol entrance exam is the only way that human resources will even take your application seriously, so it is crucial to take a successful exam.
The border patrol entrance exam is not created to be a difficult test. If you lack some of the skills needed to be successful at the test – logical reasoning, critical thinking, etc. you may find it somewhat difficult. Mental endurance is also important as the test takes about 1.5-2 hours to complete.
To ensure you have a successful test-taking session, it is important to make sure you are prepared. There are many resources provided to you by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Agency. Continue reading to learn more information about the exam and how to take advantage of the resources available to you.
What is the Border Patrol Entrance Exam?
After submitting your application through the USAJobs website, you will be invited to complete the border patrol entrance exam. The exam is administered to test to see if you have the basic skills necessary to complete the job as a Border Patrol Agent (BPA).
There is a high volume of applicants that submit applications to become a Border Patrol Agent on the USAJobs website. The border patrol entrance exam is used to weed out individuals who do not meet basic standards. Human resources will not even take a look at your application until you pass the exam.
The exam is broken up into two parts:
- At Home Section: This is where you will complete a CBP Record of Experience on your personal computer at home.
- At Testing Center Section: This is where you will schedule a time to go into a testing center near you and take an exam on the computer. There is a BPA System Functionality Navigation Preview that will take you about 5 minutes. Then about 2 hours for the logical reasoning portion of the exam.
Now that you have a general understanding of what the border patrol entrance exam is and why it is administered, let’s dive into the details of the logistics reasoning section of the exam.
How Many Questions is the Border Patrol Entrance Exam?
The CBP Experience Record is exactly what it sounds like. It is a record of your experience, more specifically concerning the duties performed as a law enforcement officer and the daily duties of a BPA. Having experience with making arrests, conducting investigations, patrol and surveillance, etc. will allow your experience record to stand out from others.
The majority of your decisions as a BPA will have to come from logical reasoning. Only a handful of information you will use as a BPA will be memorized. Therefore, being able to reason logically is a critical skill needed to be a successful BPA.
The purpose of the logical reasoning section of the border patrol entrance exam is to ensure you will be able to meet the academic expectations during the academy and daily duties of a BPA. It consists of 31 questions which you are given 2 hours to complete.
How Can You Prepare for the Border Patrol Entrance Exam?
Even though the border patrol entrance exam is not meant to be an exam that is hard to pass. You still need to take it seriously and be prepared. Here are a few ways that you can ensure you will have all your bases covered:
- Make sure you are on top of scheduling the second section of your exam at a testing site near you – check your email (even your spam folder) regularly. More on scheduling your exam in the next section.
- The earlier you are at responding to the invitation to schedule your test, the more available options you will have as far as testing days and times
- Review the Border Patrol Agent Study Guides and Practice Tests
- Here is another link to a Pre-Test that you can register to take online
Knowing what to expect from test questions and the structure of the exam will significantly help you in passing your exam. Just knowing what to expect when you log on to the computer at the testing site, will give you an extreme boost of confidence to help you pass.
You also have access to Border Patrol Agent Recruiters. They are there to help you through the application process. They can assist you with any questions you may have about the exam and provide guidance to you throughout the rest of the application process, should you pass your exam.
How Does Scheduling Your Border Patrol Entrance Exam Work?
As mentioned previously, the second logical reasoning portion of your border patrol entrance exam must be completed at a testing center. It is important to keep a lookout for the email from USAJobs inviting you to schedule your test after you’ve submitted your application.
Once you receive the invitation you will make an account and enter your home address. They will then provide you a list of testing centers near you and available test dates/times. The earlier you get on and set up your account after receiving your email the more options you may have for available test slots.
If something comes up and you are no longer able to make your appointment to take your entrance exam, then you have up to 24 hours before your exam to reschedule or cancel. You can reschedule or cancel via your confirmation email.
What Happens if You Pass the Border Patrol Entrance Exam?
About 2-3 weeks after you complete the second section of your border patrol entrance exam you will receive an email from human resources letting you know your results. To pass your exam, you must receive a score of 70 or above.
Once you pass your exam the next steps in the application process are as follows:
- Qualifications Review – someone from human resources will read through your federal resume to ensure that you meet all the qualifications for the position
- Background Check
- Medical Exam
- Physical Fitness Exam
- Polygraph and Drug Test
If you are one of the lucky individuals who pass through the rigorous application process, then you are then considered to be selected for the 19-week training academy in New Mexico.
What Happens if You Fail the Border Patrol Entrance Exam?
If you do not meet the qualifications to pass the border patrol entrance exam, score below a 70, you are eligible to retake the exam at a later date. Although, there is a 6-month waiting period before you may apply to retake the exam.
In addition to holding out the 6-month waiting period, you must wait for a job position to become available on the USAJobs’ website to re-submit your application. Below is some information if you are to pass your entrance exam, but fail another area of the application process. If you fail the:
- Physical fitness test you may still reapply. There is no 6-month waiting period, but you do have to wait for another job opportunity to become available on the USAJobs’ website.
- Polygraph exam you may still be able to continue through with the hiring process. Your failed polygraph exam will be taken into account during your background check and examination.
Whether you failed your entrance exam or other areas of the application process, it is important to get into contact with a BPA Recruiter, if you have not done so already. They will be able to provide you with all the rules and limitations based on your unique situation.
Click here to find a BPA Recruiter near you.
Do All Applicants Have to Take the Border Patrol Entrance Exam?
Whether or not you have to take the border patrol entrance exam is dependent on what federal pay grade you are planning on entering the career as. The federal pay grade system can be a bit confusing for those who have not held a federal job before. Here are the two pay grades that will determine if you take the exam or not:
GL-7: This is the standard entry federal pay grade level you would enter in with no prior law enforcement experience or federal job experience.
GL-9: This is a federal pay grade that is higher up than the latter. You qualify for GL-9 pay if you have prior experience in law enforcement. You must provide documentation at the time of your employment to prove that you have at least 1 year of full-time job experience in a similar federal field as the GL-7.
Individuals who qualify for GL-9 level pay are not required to take the border patrol entrance exam. Your previous job history demonstrates that you have the basic skills necessary to complete the job as a BPA.
Check out more on border patrol HERE.
Is the Border Patrol Academy difficult?
The Border Patrol Academy that you attend after being selected through the application process is one of the toughest and most rigorous training programs in the law enforcement career. The 19-week long program is made up of a total of 940 hours of instruction – firearms use, immigration law, etc.
Do you get paid during the Border Patrol Academy?
During the 19-week Border Patrol Academy, you will earn the regular salary at which you were hired – G-7 or G-9 federal pay grade. While at the academy you will receive free housing and all your meals are provided to you at no cost. You will also receive an additional per diem pay daily.
What is the starting salary for a Border Patrol Agent?
Most agents will enter into the career field as either a GL-7 or GL-9 federal pay grade. As of 2021, GL-7 federal pay grade BPAs make about $49,000-78,000 annually and GL-9 federal pay grade BPAs make about $55,000-89,000 annually.
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Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.
Border Patrol Agent Career Page
Border Patrol Agent Entrance Exam Information
Border Patrol Agent Job Information and Outlook
Reapplying to be a Border Patrol Agent
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