All firefighter and firefighter recruit examinations will begin with a test of your knowledge. This is usually the first of at least three to five examinations you will have to take and successfully complete or pass to be allowed to continue with the examination process. Failure to qualify or pass the written examination will mean that you must either wait until their particular examination is given again or you must search out and apply to take another examination with another department.
The written can be graded as pass fail, it can be scored from 0-100% or it can simply be used as a qualifier to allow you to get to another part of the examination process.
The written examination is a crafted elimination tool. It will eliminate poor learners, people who don't study and people who don't prepare. Because of the format of most written examinations, it will be unlike any examination you have taken.
The examination is often comprised of many different sections testing many different things. It is designed to test your mental as well physical awareness. It tests you memory and your ability to reason and think. Most examination are from 100 to 225 questions in length.
Some of the examination may be given visually in a video format requiring you to see and memorize information to correctly answer a questions. Other parts of the test might be an audio recording requiring you to listen and remember factual information that will appear as a test question.
A separate examination, given on the same day, will test your knowledge in 8 different categories.
How then does one overcome failure in taking these written tests? Repetition is one tool. It isn't uncommon that a person takes their first firefighter written examination and passes it successfully. But there are more stories of candidates that have taken two or more examinations before they became familiar with the format and types of questions asked. This is one reason you are urged and reminded to not only search out firefighter employment opportunities but also to take each and every written examination you can.
Each time you take a examination you become familiar with the testing process. You become familiar with the orientation before, the preparations prior to taking the examination. You pay attention to instructions more clearly and you are aware of your pacing or the time you need to take the test vs. the time you are given.
The other is study. The material that is tested in many fire department written examinations covers a wide degree of knowledge and experience. There are many excellent firefighter examinations study books available that give step-by-step guidance to candidates wishing to improve their knowledge and increase their chances of being successful in passing the written examination. These resources will also help you identify your weaknesses and give you tips and exercises to help you become proficient in testing in these areas.
The Examination Process
Most fire department written examinations are timed. Most allot a candidate anywhere from one to one and one half hours to complete the examination.
You will usually be given a test booklet, a sheet of scratch paper (to work out math problems), a #2 pencil which has been sharpened and a ScanTron answer sheet.
The ScanTron is a mint green and white two sided card with many numbers and circular bubbles after each number. Each bubble has a letter from A-E preceding each individual bubble. The ScanTron is used to mark your answers that you read from the test book.
The test book will usually have a number or code on the front of the cover which you will most likely be instructed to transfer somewhere onto your ScanTron. These numbers will be counted to ensure that no test booklet is taken from the testing site. If one is missing the testing agency may invalidate the test requiring candidates to take the test over. Be sure to notify the proctor (person overseeing the testing process) if you are missing any pages from the test booklet before you begin!
You will usually print your name (last, first, middle initial) your social security number and the date as well the test name and series number on the ScanTron.
You will be instructed not to write on or in the test booklet. And they are usually examined when you turn in your completed test and if you have marked in the test booklet you may be disqualified from the examination.
The scratch paper is the only piece of paper you can make notes on or work your math problems. You will be instructed to turn that in with your completed examination at the conclusion also.
When you have completed the record keeping part of the test you will be instructed not to talk or cheat. Remember, this is another test of integrity and there are some people that do flunk this part of the test. You will then be instructed to open your test booklet, you will be told the time as well you will be told the time the test ends.
Some Examination Tips
Now there a few rules to help you along the way while you take the examination.
Most examinations are multiple choice because they are easier to grade (yet very difficult to write). So you will only have to pick one of four of five answers as the correct one.
Be sure to fill in each bubble completely to answer a question. If you have to erase an answer, erase the mark out of the bubble completely.
If you don't know the answer NEVER leave the question unanswered. You have an 18% - 25% chance of getting the answer right if you fill in ANY bubble.
Read each question carefully. If you don;t know an answer, you can use a "?" next to the question and move on to another question. When you are finished you can then return to the one or other answers with question marks to spend more time and complete them. Be sure to completely erase the question marker.
** Further information to help you is available in one or all of the four websites below in the study guides if researched and provided you from online sources.
Types of Examination Questions
Most all fire department written examinations will have questions relating to the following topics:
** Further information to help you is available in one or all of the
four websites below and provided you
from online sources.
Preparation For The Examination
- Reading Text, Table, Charts, and Graphics
- Spatial Relations
- Verbal Expression
- Judgement and Reasoning
- Map Reading
- Memory and Observation
- Mechanical Aptitude
- Math including algebra and geometry
Chances are you have never seen what types of questions are written into a firefighter entrance examination. Therefore, buying and studying one or more of the different fire fighter examination preparation books is a worthwhile investment. Although it cannot guarantee that you will pass the written but it will give you insight that you didn't have before.
Again repetition is another key to success in taking firefighter entry examinations. If you are fortunate in your first efforts, congratulations. But if not do not be dismayed or discouraged. You have gained valuable insight that you can use to your benefit. It is experience that your competition may or may not have. It is experience that will allow you to be calm and concentrate more effectively on your next examination. it is a familiarity with the types and format of questions you will commonly find on firefighter entrance examinations.
There are websites available that offer you a series of questions, for a fee, that you can use to prepare for firefighter entrance examinations. They can be studied in a series of like questions or you can format various types of tests using various types of questions. Some free websites do exist with some of the types questions you will see on tests that may be of help to you if you are short on cash.