How to Pass a Polygraph Test: 15 Steps

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How to Pass a Polygraph Test: 15 Steps
How to Pass a Polygraph Test: 15 Steps

The infamous polygraph test, also known as the "lie detector", is often seen as a cause of anxiety and fear, even among totally innocent people who should be able to pass the test without cheating or manipulating the results. If you need advice to pass the polygraph test one way or another, you've come to the right place.


Part 1 of 4: Before the Polygraph Test

Pass a Polygraph Test Step 1
Pass a Polygraph Test Step 1

Step 1. Understand how a polygraph works

A polygraph cannot detect a lie on its own, but it does track physiological changes in your body, such as your blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and perspiration, thus detecting physiological reactions that occur when you lie.

Once you arrive for the appointment, the equipment and the process will be verified. It's not difficult for you to familiarize yourself with the fundamentals, but avoid polygraph horror stories on the internet or you'll just feel more nervous than you need to be

Pass a Polygraph Test Step 2
Pass a Polygraph Test Step 2

Step 2. Try not to think too much about the test before the time comes

If you spend too much time worrying about the polygraph test before taking it, you run the risk of turning the test against you, as you will find things that condemn you.

  • To save yourself unnecessary worry, don't ask anyone who has taken the polygraph test how it went, don't spend time wondering before the test, and don't try to anticipate what questions they will ask you.
  • Try to avoid spending a lot of time reviewing web pages that are against polygraphs, because they often mix reality with sensational conspiracies and can cause undue panic.
Pass a Polygraph Test Step 3
Pass a Polygraph Test Step 3

Step 3. Take care of your body the night and the day before

You must be comfortable during the polygraph test in order to provide accurate physiological responses. In order to feel comfortable, you need to make sure that you have rested well and are as physically comfortable as possible.

  • Follow your usual routine as precisely as possible. Even if your routine includes activities that affect your heart rate, like drinking coffee or going for a morning run, you should stick with your routine because your body is already used to these physiological conditions.
  • Try to get seven to eight hours of sleep the night before the test.
  • Make sure you're not hungry, and that you wear loose, comfortable clothing.
Pass a Polygraph Test Step 4
Pass a Polygraph Test Step 4

Step 4. Complete any form they give you

Depending on the reason for taking the polygraph test, you may have to fill out some permits or forms that ask for your authorization. Take your time to fill out these forms. Read them carefully and sign your name only when you are ready.

Pass a Polygraph Test Step 5
Pass a Polygraph Test Step 5

Step 5. Inform the examiner of any illnesses or medications you are taking

If you are currently ill, the examiner may ask to have the test rescheduled. Some types of medications, such as those for blood pressure, may affect the results, so you should also inform the examiner if you are taking these medications.

  • An illness can make you uncomfortable and therefore skew your results.
  • If you take prescription drugs, you should continue taking them as prescribed by your doctor before the test.
  • Contrary to popular belief, most antidepressants cannot alter a polygraph test, nor do they guarantee you to pass it successfully. You should also inform your examiner about these medications, if necessary, as they can also produce abnormal results.
Pass a Polygraph Test Step 6
Pass a Polygraph Test Step 6

Step 6. Review the questions and take your time to understand them

The polygraph examiner should tell you the questions ahead of time. Take as much time as necessary to review them, and feel free to ask the examiner about any confusing or uncertain questions.

You should ask for any doubts about the questions to be clarified before taking the test. In most cases, they won't allow you to do this during the test. In fact, you will simply answer "yes" and "no" during the polygraph test, so you should discuss any questions about the test questions before you begin

Pass a Polygraph Test Step 7
Pass a Polygraph Test Step 7

Step 7. Find out what type of test they will take

The standard polygraph test is the CQT, or "Control Questions Test." However, in some cases they may give you a "Direct Lie Test" (DLT) or a "Awareness of Guilt Test" (GKT).

  • With a CQT polygraph test, they will mix control questions with relevant questions. A control question is one that generally everyone will have to answer "yes", although many people are tempted to answer "no." Such questions include questions like, "Have you ever lied to your parents? Or" Have you ever stolen or borrowed something without asking for permission? "
  • With a DLT polygraph test, the examiner will ask you several questions and directly ask you to lie when answering. By doing so, the examiner will be able to measure your physiological responses to lying when reviewing the questions they knew you answered by lying.
  • With a GKT polygraph test, you will be asked multiple-choice questions about various facts that only you and your examiner will know. Many of these questions will be about the case. Your verbal responses will be compared to your physiological responses.

Part 2 of 4: Taking and Passing the Polygraph Test Normally

Pass a Polygraph Test Step 8
Pass a Polygraph Test Step 8

Step 1. Don't worry about feeling nervous

Today, no one is expected to remain perfectly calm during a polygraph test, even if the person in question is perfectly innocent and has nothing to hide. By allowing yourself to be nervous, you can provide the polygraph examiner with an accurate representation of your physiological statistics when you tell the truth and when you lie.

  • The lines on the polygraph screen will never be straight and homogeneous, even if you are telling the truth.
  • Oddly enough, only a person who is nervous when answering every question will appear the most honest on a polygraph test.
Pass a Polygraph Test Step 9
Pass a Polygraph Test Step 9

Step 2. Answer truthfully

If you have nothing to hide or be ashamed of, then answer every question they ask you truthfully. This includes the control questions, with which many people are expected to lie. The more often you tell the truth, the more accurate the results will be. This is a good thing as long as you are innocent.

  • Although people often believe that there will be "tough" questions designed to show them guilty, the current state of ethics surrounding the administration of polygraph tests demands that the questions remain direct. No surprise questions will be asked either.
  • Listen to the entire question and answer accurately. Don't just listen to half the question or answer according to what you think was asked rather than what was "really" asked.
Pass a Polygraph Test Step 10
Pass a Polygraph Test Step 10

Step 3. Take your time

You can ask the examiner to repeat the question two to six times, depending on who is taking the test. Make sure you find out how often you can ask to have a question repeated before starting the test. Don't rush to answer the questions, as this rush can turn the results against you.

The interrogation usually lasts five to ten minutes, but it could take longer depending on how often you ask questions to be repeated, how long it takes you to answer, and the type of test and its objective

Part 3 of 4: manipulate the polygraph

Pass a Polygraph Test Step 11
Pass a Polygraph Test Step 11

Step 1. Be tense when answering the control questions

If you feel the need to cheat or tamper with the test, what most people recommend is causing yourself mental or physical tension when answering the control questions. This will give you a better reference point, so when you lie about the case or problem, your answers will show smaller peaks than those you already created during the control questions.

  • Think of something scary or exciting when you recognize an obvious control question.
  • You can also increase your heart rate and perspiration by trying to solve a difficult math problem in your head. Try dividing 563 by 42 or some other similar problem.
Pass a Polygraph Test Step 12
Pass a Polygraph Test Step 12

Step 2. Calm down when you answer the relevant questions

When asked something relevant about the case or problem, keep a calm state of mind when answering. By staying as calm as possible, you can prevent your physiological responses from showing many high peaks.

  • Basically, a "lie" is only considered as such if it generates a physiological reaction greater than the one you had when you were telling "harmless lies" when answering the control questions. If your physiological reaction and your response to a question elicit a less noticeable reaction than any other reaction you had when answering the control questions, they probably won't count against you.
  • Maintain the normal rhythm of your breathing and keep in mind that the polygraph is not infallible and that you are in control of your own physiological reactions.
  • They fantasize about something relaxing, like snuggling under a warm blanket with a cup of hot cocoa on a cool night or taking a relaxing bath or shower.
Pass a Polygraph Test Step 13
Pass a Polygraph Test Step 13

Step 3. Avoid tricks that are easy to spot

If the examiner becomes aware that you are trying to cheat, he or she may request that another test be scheduled or may take steps to prevent further acts of manipulation. Additionally, attempts to tamper with the test may cause the examiner or verifier to judge your results more harshly when you're done.

  • For example, don't put a thumbtack in your shoe and try to stomp on yourself to alter your vital signs during control questions. Often times, the examiner will have you remove your shoes during the test to avoid these tricks.
  • In reality, although physical pain will alter your vital signs, it is usually easier to detect than psychological stress. Biting your tongue, tensing your muscles, or other similar tactics can be easily detected if you deal with a professional trained in the operation of the polygraph.

Part 4 of 4: After the Polygraph Test

Pass a Polygraph Test Step 14
Pass a Polygraph Test Step 14

Step 1. Talk to the verifier after the test

After taking the polygraph test, a verifier will examine your results and determine if you need to be questioned further or if some points need clarification.

  • The verifier will likely ask you about your answers only if the results are inconclusive or if they suspect you have lied.
  • When verifying your results, the examiner and verifier will also consider your state of mind, your mental and physical condition, and the details of the case or the circumstances for which the test was necessary.
Pass a Polygraph Test Step 15
Pass a Polygraph Test Step 15

Step 2. Wait for the official results and other instructions

Your results should be professionally and officially analyzed before any judgment is made on them. If it is suspected that you lied or if your results did not provide accurate conclusions, you may be asked to take another polygraph test.

The policies of the American Polygraph Association and the Ethics Committee require the examiner to give the final results to the examinee upon request, so even if the results are not delivered automatically within a week or two, you can call or contact your examiner to request them


Schedule your time appropriately. It usually takes between 90 minutes to 3 hours to complete the polygraph test procedures from start to finish


  • Determine if you should not take the test. Don't take the test if:

    • they force you to do it;
    • you have serious heart disease;
    • you have been declared mentally incompetent;
    • you are pregnant;
    • you have a respiratory disease;
    • have suffered from nerve damage, paralysis or stroke;
    • you have pain;
    • you have epilepsy.
  • Avoid resorting to manipulation. If you are innocent and have nothing to hide, your best bet is to simply be honest and tell the truth during the test.

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