DOING YOUR BEST ON THE FIREFIGHTER WRITTEN TEST

The written test is made up of two test parts, Parts 1 and 2. Only when passing Part 1 will Part 2 be scored. A passing score in both test parts is valid indefinitely. If candidates fail Part 1 or 2 of the written test, they may take the entire written test again two years from their last written test date.

WHAT IS THE TEST ABOUT?

Part 1 of the test measures mathematics such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, ratios, square roots, and the use of decimals, fractions, and percentages. Part 1 also measures reading comprehension. Part 2 measures job-related personal characteristics that have been demonstrated to be indicators of success as a firefighter.

CAN YOU STUDY FOR IT?

The test is not intended to be one you have to study for. Your high school education and personal experiences have given you training in reading and mathematics. If you feel you need improvement in these areas, you can study to improve. We strongly urge:

*When you read, concentrate on what you are reading. Try to understand its full meaning and implications.

*Read articles or books on practical subjects. Exactly what you read is not nearly as important as how well you use it to sharpen your reading skills. So choose a subject that interests you.

*After reading a paragraph or section, put it aside and test yourself on it. Ask such questions as:

  • How can I state the main idea using different words?
  • Why is the statement true?
  • How could I make practical use of this information?
  • *Review and practice mathematics computations and applications.

    *Of course, you can't "study for" your personal characteristics. The best thing to do on this part of the test is to answer the questions honestly. Your experiences, attitudes, and interests have built up over a lifetime and would be difficult, if not impossible, to change. Any attempts to "fake" the right answer may not be correct. So, again, the best advice we can give you is to answer these questions honestly.

    QUESTION FORMAT

    Questions in the Firefighter written test may be either multiple-choice or true/false. This means that each question gives you a set of answers from which to choose. You are to choose the one answer that is the best one, the one most nearly or most often correct, or the one usually true for you. Here is an example. It makes a very important point, so pay special attention to it.

    The number of days in a year is
    A. 365
    B. 366
    C. 367
    D. 368

    The answer you should choose is choice A, because it is the one which is most often correct. Choice B is true for leap years, but most years have 365 days. Therefore, choice A is the best answer.

    STRATEGIES FOR ANSWERING QUESTIONS

    1. Read the entire question carefully.

    Be sure that you know what the question asks, and what the choices say. On every test, people choose wrong answers simply because they failed to read the question or answers carefully, or because they chose an answer before reading all answers.

    2. Choose the answer that is GENERALLY best.

    Answer according to what is generally or usually true, not by what would be true in some particular case. Remember the question about the number of days in a year. The right answer was the one that was true for most years, not the one that was true for leap years. To keep the questions short, they cannot go into a lot of detail. Sometimes there is no answer that is complete, or exactly correct, or always correct. The best answer is the one that is right, under ordinary conditions.

    For example, look at this question: In reading this information, it is most important that a person
    A. read it more than once
    B. understand what is read
    C. read slowly

    Some people will read this information slowly, and some people may benefit from reading it more than once. However, what is most important is that a person understands what he or she reads. Therefore, choice B is the right answer.

    3. Use your time efficiently.

    The Firefighter written test is not a speed test, but it does not give you unlimited time, either.

    *Read at your normal speed. Don’t slow down just because you are taking a test.

    *Eliminate choices you know are wrong. When you have trouble deciding on the best answer but have decided one or two answers are definitely not best, avoid further consideration of those, and concentrate on the answers you think might be correct.

    *Move right along so that you finish the test and have time to go back and do more work on the questions that need it. Numbers 4 and 5 (below) will give you a good plan for handling questions that are hard for you, helping you not to get bogged down elsewhere on the test.

    4. Make decisions. When you first read a question, decide SOMETHING about it.

    Your decision should be one of the following:

    a. You may decide you know the answer. You have little or no doubt about it. Mark your answer on the answer sheet. Spend no more time on that question.

    b. You may decide that figuring out the answer is possible, but will take you a lot of time. Don’t mark down an answer. Simply skip the question for now and come back to it later. (In answering the next question, make sure you are at the right place on your answer sheet).

    c. You may decide you don’t know the answer and that all you will ever be able to do is make a guess. Make the guess. Mark the answer sheet to show your guess. Don’t waste any more time on that question. There is no penalty for guessing and sometimes you will guess correctly. If you can narrow down your guessing to the two or three most likely answers, you can increase your chance of guessing correctly.

    5. Don’t give up.

    Many people give up too easily on test questions. If the question looks hard, they don’t even try. Here are some of the kinds of questions people give up on that they could answer if they just tried harder:

    a. Mathematics questions may appear difficult because of the symbols or letters used, but remember, they all test for these basic operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, ratios, squares and square roots, the use and conversion of decimals, fractions and percentages, and the use of algebraic formulas.

    b. Questions testing your ability to read, understand and use what you have read. Sometimes people give up on a question because it looks technical, when all the information needed to answer it is right there in front of them! Sometimes the reading material looks long and complicated. Look for the main idea. Look for the specific information you need to answer the question. Make reasonable inferences.

    c. The personal characteristics questions will be very difficult if you try to figure out the “right” answer, but they will be very easy if you simply answer honestly.

    In a test like the one for Firefighter, some questions are easy and some are hard. Probably no one will make a perfect score. If it is hard for you to figure out an answer, it is probably hard for other people too. Keep your mind on the test and try!

    6. Don’t change answers too much.

    When people change answers, they more often change from a right answer to a wrong one, than from a wrong answer to a right one. The reason seems to be that people concentrate on a special case. This results in choosing the answer on the basis of facts that are not given in the question. Or people concentrate on one part of a question and forget about the rest of the question. Remember, the best answer is the one that is usually or generally right.

    7. Be at your best the day of the test and be on time.

    Be well rested. Get a good night’s sleep before the test. Allow plenty of time to get to the test site. Plan to get there early.

    FOR REVIEW

    Take the short quiz below on what you have learned about taking the Firefighter written test. See if you can answer all four questions correctly, without looking back at any prior material.

    1. The Firefighter written test may include questions to test your ability to:
    A. give first aid
    B. develop fire fighting strategy
    C. solve arithmetic problems
    D. do all of the above

    2. The best way to prepare for the test is:
    A. study the Fire Code
    B. do nothing, because you already either have or don’t have the required abilities
    C. learn many facts about science
    D. sharpen your skills in reading

    3. All except one of the ideas stated below have been described in this booklet as good ideas. Which one is the exception?
    A. stay up late studying the night before the test
    B. when you finish reading a question carefully the first time, make some decision about it
    C. if you absolutely cannot figure out which answer to a question is best, make a good guess and mark it on your answer sheet
    D. if you decide to skip a question for the time being and come back to it later, be careful to answer the next question at the right place on the answer sheet

    CHECK YOUR ANSWERS:

    1. – C
    2. – D
    3. – A

    If you missed any of the answers, review all the material presented thus far. When you can answer all the questions correctly, go on to the next section.

    FIREFIGHTER SAMPLE TEST QUESTIONS

    These sample questions have been put under examination factors to show you the kinds of questions that will be used for each factor.

    MATHEMATICS

    1. 5/8 – 1/2 is equal to
    A. 4/5
    B. 2/3
    C. 5/6
    D. 1/8

    2. Two ingredients are mixed in a ratio of 3:1 to make 40 gallons of a solution. How many gallons of the lesser ingredient are in this solution?
    A. 3
    B. 4
    C. 10
    D. 20

    READING COMPREHENSION

    The appearance, texture, weight, cost, insulation, ease of fabrication and availability of wood and wood-based products have long contributed to their wide use in housing and building construction. The combustibility of untreated wood has limited its application in some types of construction. However, the use of proper fire safety design (for heating and electrical systems), the combination of wood with fire retardant materials and the slow charring rate and good strength retention of large wooden members in fire situations, have led to the general acceptance of untreated wood as a relatively safe building material. Considerable data is available on methods for treating wood to reduce flammability and initial rate of heat release and to render it self-extinguishing of flame and glow. These treatments have not been applied widely because improvements in fire safety have not been sufficient to warrant the additional cost. Also, such treatments can adversely affect some non-fire related properties of wood.

    3. What is the advantage of large wooden members in a fire situation?
    A. retention of strength
    B. diffusion of heat
    C. contraction of fire spread
    D. low toxic emissions

    4. Which of the following statements could be made based on the information in the passage?
    A. Wood has been determined to be the best overall building material.
    B. If the costs of many fire improvements were reduced, these improvements would be more prevalent.
    C. Proper fire safety design can eliminate the threat caused by using flammable, untreated wood in construction.
    D. Self-extinguishing wood used in construction provides insulation comparable to untreated wood.

    If you want your tools to be in good repair, you will need to develop good maintenance habits. These, like all other habits, are formed by repetition. Remember: 1) Cleaning and lubricating tools makes them last longer and work better; 2) sharpening tools makes your work easier; and 3) storing them in the proper place lets you find them when you need them and helps prevent safety hazards.

    5. According to the above paragraph, tools will last longer if
    A. sharpened regularly.
    B. stored in a cool place.
    C. cleaned regularly.
    D. replaced at set intervals.
    The Supreme Court was established by Article 3 of the Constitution. Since 1869 it has been made up of nine members, the chief justice and eight associate justices, who are appointed for life. Supreme Court justices are named by the President and must be confirmed by the Senate.

    6. According to the above paragraph, the Supreme Court
    A. was established in 1869.
    B. consists of nine justices.
    C. consists of justices appointed by the Senate.
    D. changes with each Presidential election.

    JOB-RELATED PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS

    7. Most places don't care much if employees take a few things home with them from work.

    A. True
    B. False

    8. You have never been fired from a job.

    A. True
    B. False

    9. You are completely optimistic about your future.

    A. True
    B. False

    10. You work steady and hard at whatever you undertake.

    A. True
    B. False

    11. When you make a mistake, it's natural for you to try to cover it up.

    A. True
    B. False

    12. You are completely honest with people, even if they might feel hurt.

    A. True
    B. False

    13. You are willing to meet someone "halfway" even when you are right.

    A. True
    B. False

    14. You almost always push yourself to your limits.

    A. True
    B. False

    15. You do very well when you are being pressured to achieve results.

    A. True
    B. False


    16. How often do you set difficult goals for yourself?

    A. Rarely
    B. Occasionally
    C. Often
    D. Very Often
    E. Constantly

    17. I like to spend time thinking about what might be said in meetings before I go to them.

    A. Strongly Disagree
    B. Disagree
    C. Neutral
    D. Agree
    E. Strongly Agree

    18. People can serve as excellent tools for getting what you want or need.

    A. Strongly Disagree
    B. Disagree
    C. Neutral
    D. Agree
    E. Strongly Agree

    19. I don’t mind changing plans at the last minute.

    A. Strongly Disagree
    B. Disagree
    C. Neutral
    D. Agree
    E. Strongly Agree


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