Preparing for Your Exam and Other Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How much does a professional polygraph examination cost? Fees vary depending on the type of exam and location where it is administered. Private examinations conducted in our office start at $500. A deposit, or credit card, is required to calendar an appointment. Remember that the Psychophysiological Detection of Deception via the polygraph is a technical skill requiring extensive training and specialized digital instrumentation. Qualified examiners with more experience, training, and professional certifications will likely have higher fees than inexperienced interns, self-taught operators, or others who are less competent.
As an employer, can I have prospective employees screened with the polygraph . . . . . or current employees tested? Employee polygraph testing is regulated by the Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA 1988) and is allowed under only certain circumstances. Pre-employment testing (screening) is prohibited by private employers, and testing of current employees can be complex, expensive, and expose employers to potential liability if improperly conducted. Employers should always consult with an attorney before scheduling a polygraph exam for any employee.
Scheduling and General Polygraph Information
Can I get a test done today . . . when is testing conducted? Examinations require an appointment, and can rarely be done the same day you call. Getting an appointment may take a few days, or longer, depending upon availability. Appointments are scheduled in our office Monday through Friday, from 7:00 AM to 3:00 PM, and some weekends. Weekend appointments are occasionally available. A surcharge may be applied to examinations conducted on weekends, holidays, and evenings.
How long will the examination take? A typical polygraph examination appointment will take from about 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours; clinical exams may take longer. Much of the appointment time is spent discussing the issues associated with your exam, and explaining the polygraph process. Actual test time is considerably less.
How many questions can be evaluated for truthfulness on the exam? The polygraph process is a focused approach on issues of concern, and scientifically validated techniques allow for up to three questions. The best, most accurate, exam concentrates on a single or specific issue (e.g. infidelity.)
What if someone is a 'really good' liar? Some people are naturally charismatic, and come off as being very believable when they lie. Fortunately, the polygraph instrumentation measures objective physiological changes that occur inside of the body when a person lies, which that person cannot control, making the polygraph a very effective tool in detecting incidents of dishonesty.
Can someone 'cheat' the test? The internet is full of information on how someone might try to defeat the polygraph exam; to try and appear truthful when they are in fact deceptive. Some websites will even sell these outdated methods developed in the 1970s to unscrupulous examinees, who are so desperate to hide the truth, that they will believe anything that a stranger over the internet might try to sell them. The examiners at Abacus Forensic Polygraph have been trained to identify these methods. Additionally, modern computerized polygraph instrumentation routinely exposes these people.
If I am nervous, will that cause me to 'fail' the test? Whether or not this is your first examination, you will naturally be a little nervous. This is normal and should not affect your ability to complete the examination as long as you can sit still and follow the examiner's instructions during the test.
Are there surprise or trick questions asked? All the questions asked during your examination will be carefully reviewed with you before the test begins. No surprise questions are ever asked in a properly administered polygraph examination.
Is there any physical discomfort during the exam? You should not experience any physical discomfort during the examination other than some tightness from a blood pressure cuff worn on your arm, which records changes in cardiovascular activity. The examination also requires you to sit still in five-minute increments until the exam is completed.
Will the test always show an examinee to be 'truthful' or 'deceptive'? Although there are various types of tests, certain validated polygraph examination formats have been shown, through research, to have very high accuracy rates in detecting deception. Occasionally the data from an exam yields an 'inconclusive' result, from which no opinion on probable truthfulness will be offered.
Can I bring children to the appointment? DO NOT bring children to the examination. We do not have day care facilities, and for their safety you cannot leave children younger than 18 years of age unattended in our waiting room, or in your car, while you take your examination.
Can other adults accompany me to the appointment? If you are taking an exam to reassure another adult of your honesty, that person may accompany you to your appointment at their option. However they will have to wait in the lobby, and will not be allowed to sit in on the pre-test interview or examination. In some cases the examiner will meet with them prior to the exam, to ensure the issues in dispute are properly identified.
What if I am sick? If you have a cold, the flu, severe seasonal allergies/hay fever, or have some other illness which can be passed on to others through normal social contact, please call to re-schedule your appointment. We cannot test you if you are ill.
What else I can do to prepare myself?
- Get a good night's sleep and eat something before the examination. Do not schedule your test at the end of a long, hard workday; you want to be fully rested for the examination. If possible, schedule the test on your day off, or at the beginning of your day.
- Do not consume any alcoholic beverages or illegally use any drugs for 24 hours prior to the examination.
- If you are taking a prescribed medication, continue to take the medication according to your doctor's instructions. If you are worried about the effect of any drug on your ability to take the examination, call before the test and discuss the matter with an examiner.
- If you have any injury, illness, or physical condition that you feel could affect your ability to take a test, call and discuss the matter with an examiner.
What should I wear? Dress comfortably for private polygraph examinations, but please do not wear: tank tops, gym shorts, sweats, bathing suits, baggy shirts, bulky sweaters, or soiled clothes. All polygraph sensors will be donned on the outside of the clothes you wear. If you are taking an exam for pre-employment or other professional purposes, a suit and tie are not required; 'business casual' attire is recommended for those situations.
Should I bring a list of questions I want asked during the test? You do not need to write specific questions down for the examiner to ask; once the issues have been identified the examiner will develop the questions with you prior to the exam, to ensure they meet your needs.
What do I need to bring to the appointment? Please bring your driver's license or another form of government issued identification bearing your photograph. A list of medication you are taking at the direction of a physician may also be helpful. Payment for professional services rendered at the time of your appointment is accepted in the form of cash, Visa, MasterCard, or American Express.
When will I receive the test results? In most cases you will receive the results the day of the exam, and occasionally on the following day. At the conclusion of a private exam, you may request to receive a written report detailing the examination and results. Your examination and the results are considered confidential, and will not be discussed with, or disseminated to, any third party without your consent in writing.
Do you offer Voice Stress Testing as well? Absolutely not! Scientific research has repeatedly shown that voice stress for lie detection is only about 50% accurate (i.e. like flipping a coin.) Some unprincipled polygraph referral services try to sell these phony tests in conjunction with a polygraph exam, or as a cheaper alternative. For more information on research about this click HERE.
If you have other questions, please do not hesitate to CONTACT US.