Firefighter exams are no easy drill. One might think that it’s all about fitness and physical abilities — but a firefighter exam is a lot more than that.
The exam is divided into three parts that include a written test, a number of physical tests, and finally, an oral test to figure out if a person is good enough to be a firefighter or not.
Now we can’t give you a firefighter exam study guide on the physical and oral assessments, but what we can do is take you through the whole process of the written exam.
These exams include memory-based tests, mechanical aptitude, comprehension, reasoning, and many other tests.
You don’t have to be a firefighter to do well in these exams — all you need to do is to take proper preparation.
We’ll help you out with that.
How to Prepare for a Firefighter Exam?
It’s true that there aren’t a lot of test dates available for rookie firefighters. If you’re only starting as a firefighter, you might not get a lot of chances to.
So you’ll have to capitalize on whatever chance you get and complete the preparation accordingly.
Now in order to prepare well for the exam, you’ll have to get exam preparation books.
These books are quite essential in the sense that they will give you a brief overview of the question patterns and their difficulty levels.
You’ll get course material before you begin, but online tests can be even more beneficial for you as they’ll provide you with instant feedback.
As for the physical and oral tests, you can simply check youtube or other video sites to get an idea about the physical tests, a study guide won’t really help you out there.
Before you pick the study guide for you, do ensure that it’s written by a professional, preferably a certified firefighter. Making preparation for the exam can be very easy if you follow the guidelines properly.
General Test Format
The written test format differs from one fire service company to another, but you’ll find a lot of common patterns in all of them.
In general, written exams have 100-150 questions, all of them being multiple-choice questions (MCQs). The reason behind this is that open-ended questions often create a lot of controversy regarding the marking.
Also, open-ended questions leave a chance for biasedness and objective grading- hence MCQ is considered the best way of assessment there.
A written test shouldn’t take longer than 2/3 hours, but it depends on how many questions you’ll be answering.
As usual, there won’t be any extra time to recheck the answers, so you’ll have to answer very carefully and utilize the time wisely.
Types of Questions to Expect in a Firefighter Exam
There can be many different types of questions in a written exam. You’ll have to complete your preparation in such a way that you get to cover all aspects of the exam.
Also known as the memorization test — this is where you’ll be given a diagram or image to view for some time to memorize them as well as you can.
Once that’s done, you won’t get to see the image anymore, and you’ll have to answer questions based on the pattern or data. There will be a time limit for memorizing the diagram fully, and again, there won’t be any extra time.
People often get freaked out whenever they come across math tests but worry not- the math questions in a firefighter test are usually quite straightforward and simple.
Can’t say that they’ll be as easy as doing addition or subtraction, but they won’t mess with your brain.
They won’t include trigonometry or calculus, just basic IQ-based math questions should be there.
The most common types of math questions include rudimentary Algebra, Percentages, Decimals, and Fractions.
This is a very important section as it directly tests your ability to identify and locate a person in a difficult scenario.
These questions will check if you can follow directions well and have a certain amount of spatial awareness while following a drawing, diagram, or map.
Example questions of this section can be ‘ways to get from point B to point A’ while following all the guidelines or going through mazes to find an endpoint.
Here’s another crucial sector in all the firefighter exams.
This sector will evaluate your mechanical knowledge and check if you’re able to recognize certain mechanical properties in different situations.
You’ll most probably be shown pictures of sample machines, and you’ll have to write exactly what they are and how they function.
Questions might also revolve around the usage of levers, wedges, screws, and the ratios of gears and gear.
Can you read a passage well? Can you go through a whole passage and figure out the meaning in a given time?
This is what the comprehensive section is all about. The examiners will check your reading ability and see how well you can summarize a passage in a limited timeframe.
You might be asked slightly complex questions regarding the passage — but if you read it properly, you should be fine.
Situational tests are mandatory for anyone who aims to be a firefighter, mostly because situational reasoning is all they’ll have to do when there’s a large fire going on.
In order to answer these questions, the examinee needs to do an extensive analysis of the situation and then give his judgment accordingly.
Also called deductive reasoning, these questions will check if you have a proper insight into a crisis situation and how well you can use common sense and logic to find an immediate response to the crisis.
According to many, this is by far the most complicated test in all of the written test parts.
While they’re quite complex, it’s a prerequisite for a firefighter to act fast in critical situations, so they’ll have to take this test. Inductive reasoning includes questions where you’ll have to make an inference from the given data and act accordingly.
Examples of inductive reasoning include figuring out similarities between two different situations and coming up with a proper conclusion.
There is no standard cut-mark for these tests, as the exam format and questions differ from one company to another.
That being said, in most instances, you’ll have to pass the written test before moving on to the physical exams. In general, the passing score for written tests is 80%, but the percentage varies.
While it’s true that an 80% score will surely qualify you for the next round, you should target for more, because extra marks might cover for your lacking in the next parts of the exam!
You’ll have to understand that being a firefighter means risking your lives to save others on a regular basis — so we’ll suggest you think the decision through before sitting for a firefighter exam.
If you’ve decided and you’re determined to be a firefighter — then you’ll have to start practicing right away. Waste no time, go through the firefighter exam study guide, put on a good effort, and you’ll surely reach there!