What Should I Do to Get Ready for a Polygraph Test?


Polygraph exams, also known as lie detector tests, are widely used in various fields, including law enforcement, government agencies, and employment screenings. These exams aim to detect deception by measuring physiological responses such as heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration. Preparing for a polygraph exam is crucial to ensure accurate results and minimize stress during the process. In this article, we will discuss the routine you can follow to prepare effectively for a polygraph exam.

Understanding the Polygraph Exam

Before delving into the preparation routine, it’s essential to understand the basics of a polygraph exam. A polygraph machine records physiological responses while a series of questions are asked. These questions typically fall into three categories: relevant questions about the specific issue being investigated, control questions used for baseline comparison, and irrelevant questions to create a context for the examination.


During a polygraph exam, the machine measures various physiological responses, including changes in blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, and skin conductivity. These responses can indicate the examinee’s level of stress or anxiety, which may suggest deception. It is important to note that a polygraph exam does not provide conclusive evidence of truth or deception, but rather serves as a tool for further investigation.

Preparing for a Polygraph Exam

Preparing both mentally and physically for a polygraph exam can significantly impact the accuracy of the results. Here are some essential steps to follow during your preparation:

Mental Preparation

The mental aspect of preparing for a polygraph exam is crucial. It is essential to stay calm and relaxed throughout the process. Anxiety or stress can affect your physiological responses and potentially lead to inaccurate results. Consider the following techniques to manage anxiety and promote mental preparedness:

Deep Breathing Exercises: 

Practice deep breathing exercises to help calm your mind and regulate your body’s stress response. Slowly inhale through your nose, hold your breath for a few seconds, and then exhale slowly through your mouth.

Visualization and Positive Affirmations: 

Visualize yourself being calm and confident during the exam. Repeat positive affirmations to reinforce your belief in your honesty and integrity.

Meditation or Mindfulness Practices: 

Engage in meditation or mindfulness exercises to cultivate a state of calm and focus. These practices can help you maintain composure during the exam.

Physical Preparation

Your physical state can also affect the outcome of a polygraph exam. Consider the following factors to ensure optimal physical readiness:

Sufficient Rest: 

Get a good night’s sleep before the exam to ensure you are well-rested. Fatigue can increase stress levels and negatively impact your performance.

Avoid Substances: 

Refrain from consuming substances that can affect your physiological responses, such as caffeine and alcohol, as they can interfere with the accuracy of the exam.

Eat a Light and Healthy Meal: 

Prioritize a balanced meal that includes lean protein, fruits, and vegetables before the exam. Avoid heavy or greasy foods that can make you feel sluggish or uncomfortable.

Familiarizing Yourself with the Process

Becoming familiar with the polygraph exam procedure can alleviate anxiety and help you feel more prepared. Take the following steps to familiarize yourself with the process:

Research the Polygraph Exam Procedure: 

Gain a comprehensive understanding of how a polygraph exam is conducted. Learn about the types of questions that may be asked and the significance of each category.

Understand the Types of Questions: 

Familiarize yourself with the different types of questions, including relevant, control, and irrelevant questions. This understanding will help you navigate the exam more confidently.

Ask Questions and Seek Clarification: 

Reach out to the examiner or the organization administering the exam to ask any questions you may have. Seeking clarification beforehand can ease concerns and ensure you have a clear understanding of what to expect.

Establishing a Routine for Preparation

To optimize your preparation for a polygraph exam, it is beneficial to establish a routine that includes mental exercises, physical relaxation techniques, and mock interviews or practice sessions. Here’s how you can incorporate these elements into your preparation:

Mental Exercises and Techniques

Mental exercises and techniques can help you maintain composure and minimize stress during the exam. Incorporate the following practices into your routine:

Deep Breathing:

Practice deep breathing exercises regularly to train your body to relax in stressful situations. This technique can help regulate your heart rate and respiration during the exam.

Visualization and Positive Affirmations: 

Spend time visualizing yourself successfully navigating the polygraph exam. Repeat positive affirmations that reinforce your honesty and integrity.

Meditation or Mindfulness: 

Engage in daily meditation or mindfulness practices to improve focus and promote a sense of calm. This will assist you in staying present and composed during the exam.

Physical Relaxation Techniques

Physical relaxation techniques can help reduce tension and promote a relaxed state during the polygraph exam. Consider the following techniques:

Progressive Muscle Relaxation:

Practice progressive muscle relaxation by tensing and releasing each muscle group in your body. This technique promotes overall relaxation and can help alleviate physical tension.

Yoga or Gentle Stretching: 

Incorporate yoga or gentle stretching exercises into your routine. These activities can help release physical tension and contribute to a sense of calm.

Relaxation Activities: 

Engage in activities that promote relaxation, such as listening to calming music, taking a warm bath, or engaging in a hobby you enjoy. These activities can help reduce stress and create a positive mindset.

Mock Interviews and Practice Sessions

Conducting mock interviews and practicing answering potential polygraph questions can simulate the exam experience and boost your confidence. Consider the following tips for effective mock interviews:

Find a Trusted Friend or Family Member: 

Seek the assistance of someone you trust to conduct mock interviews. This person can help you practice responding to various types of questions in a realistic setting.

Practice Answering Potential Questions: 

Research common polygraph questions and practice answering them. Focus on providing clear and concise responses while remaining truthful.

Seek Feedback and Identify Areas for Improvement: 

After each practice session, ask for feedback from your mock interviewer. Identify areas where you can improve, such as clarity of responses or body language, and work on refining those aspects.

Final Tips and Considerations

As you prepare for a polygraph exam, keep the following tips in mind to enhance your chances of success:

Remain Truthful: 

The most crucial factor in a polygraph exam is honesty. Trying to deceive the polygraph will likely be detected and can lead to adverse consequences. Answer all questions truthfully to ensure accurate results.

Follow the Examiner’s Instructions: 

Listen carefully to the instructions provided by the examiner before and during the exam. Following their guidance will help ensure a smooth process.

Avoid Unnecessary Movement or Fidgeting: 

Minimize unnecessary movement during the exam. Fidgeting or excessive motion can interfere with the accuracy of the polygraph readings. Remain as still and comfortable as possible.

Trust the Process: 

Have confidence in the polygraph examination process. Trust that your honesty and preparation will yield accurate results.



Preparing for a polygraph exam requires a comprehensive routine that encompasses mental and physical readiness, as well as familiarizing yourself with the examination process. By following the outlined routine, incorporating mental exercises, physical relaxation techniques, and engaging in mock interviews, you can enhance your preparedness and improve your chances of success. Remember, maintaining honesty and integrity throughout the examination is paramount. Stay calm, trust the process, and approach the exam with a positive mindset.