Just 30% of NYPD department lieutenants decided to take the captain test this year—the rest deciding it wasn't worth the effort. But of those who did take the time (between 456 and 537), just 68 passed. Those who failed are claiming the test wasn't fair and abused the English language to trick test takers. One claimed a lengthy question used the word "irregardless" to confuse the test taker into marking "none of the above" as the right answer, since "irregardless" isn't a word. (Lexicographer battle!) Another said, "The questions were disgustingly obscure and were ridiculously long, only to lead to answers that were hideous."

About 70 failed applicants filed formal complaints about specific questions on the test, but the Department of Citywide Administrative Services spokesman Mark Daly said, "Promotion tests have a variety of technical material, and [it] is not uncommon for challenges to be filed." About 33% of applicants passed the last test in 2006, and 30% passed in 2002. The average score on this year's test was 58 out of 100, with the highest score at only 88. Many eligible lieutenants opted not to take the test because the captains position comes with too much stress at not enough of a pay increase.