APTITUDE TEST PREPARATION GUIDE

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1 APTITUDE TEST PREPARATION GUIDE The Fire Service Aptitude Test measures your skills and aptitude to become a firefighter. You do not require prior firefighter knowledge or experience to pass the aptitude test. This guide is meant as a tool to help you prepare for the written test and to give you an idea of what to expect. You could take the test and do well without reading this guide; however, you will be better prepared and possibly less nervous if you review the information before your test date. SKILLS AND ABILITIES MEASURED ON THE TEST The test covers a broad range of skills and abilities that have been identified as important to the fire service: Practical Skills refer to the ability to handle everyday challenges and situations. Firefighters must be able to use good judgment and common sense, think clearly, quickly, and logically, and identify, analyze, and solve problems in complicated situations. Interpersonal Skills refer to the various abilities required to relate well and get along with others. Firefighters should demonstrate empathy, courtesy, a customer service orientation, and an ability to interact effectively with supervisors, co-workers, and others in daily work and communal living situations. Firefighters must be able to work cooperatively with diverse groups of people within the department and in the area in which they serve. Emotional Outlook refers to the ability to recognize and deal effectively with the emotions of one s self and others, handle problems and challenges with appropriate emotional responses, and act confidently and effectively in situations that are challenging, stressful, or dangerous. Firefighters must be committed to maintaining high standards of ethical conduct and be dependable in meeting commitments and work hard to complete assigned tasks. Basic Educational Skills refer to measures of acquired knowledge including mathematical skills, grammar, spelling, and reading comprehension. Firefighters must have these abilities to succeed in an academy and on-the-job training, and must be able to comprehend, learn, retain, and present the information necessary for performing the job. Mechanical Aptitude refers to the ability to understand and learn physical and mechanical concepts. Firefighters must be able to conceptualize these principles in order to carry out the technical aspects of the job. TYPES OF QUESTIONS ON THE TEST Background These questions are designed to gather information about your educational and professional experience. ISC: UNRESTRICTED PAGE 1

2 Situational These questions will be related to an event or subject and will ask you how you or the person in the scenario should respond or what you think about the situation. There may be many correct answers and/or perspectives to these questions. Therefore, you should choose the response which is closest to how you would respond, even if it is not exactly what you would do or think. The situations contained in the questions are based on ordinary, everyday experiences that are typical across regional, age, gender, ethnic, religious or other backgrounds. Not all experiences will be common to all test takers. If you are unfamiliar with a situation, try to place yourself in the situation as much as possible by thinking of related scenarios that you have experienced. The goal of situational questions is to represent a selection of actual life scenarios. Although you may believe the questions have emotional content or trigger an emotional reaction, the questions are not intended to make you feel uncomfortable or to offend you. A firefighter must deal with many different issues and types of people, often under difficult circumstances. The situational test questions will represent a complex world with many difficult issues to reflect the type of job for which you are applying. While you may not totally agree with the provided answer choices, you are to select the answer that is the closest to how you would want to respond. Mathematical The questions in this category test your basic mathematical skills, including measurements of time, distance, weight, volume and angles. These questions also involve calculating fractions and percentages, and conversions between metric and imperial units of measurement. Grammar and Spelling This section covers basic grammar, spelling, punctuation and word usage. Reading Comprehension In this section, candidates must read a passage of several paragraphs in length, then answer questions, or make inferences, related to the content of the passage. Questions about you - This series of questions will ask how you feel or what you think about a specific topic or will ask you to describe yourself in various ways. Not all situations will be the same; some may even seem a little vague. Depending on the circumstances, you may act or respond differently to each scenario. You will need to select the response that is the closest to representing you the majority of the time. If you have not experienced the situation, it is helpful to imagine yourself in similar situations to choose what your most likely response would be. Answer the questions honestly and thoughtfully. Mechanical Aptitude These questions may cover a wide variety of physical and mechanical concepts such as use of leverage and force, workings of gears and pulleys, and reading gauges. ISC: UNRESTRICTED PAGE 2

3 APTITUDE TEST FORMAT The entire aptitude test contains multiple choice questions that are numbered sequentially. For most questions you will be asked to select the one best answer to each question. The different types of questions may not be listed in the order in which they appear above. In some cases, it will likely be difficult to identify what skills and/or abilities are being measured by a particular question. You will be provided with a numbered test booklet and an answer sheet that is in a machine readable format with numbered bubbles. You are to completely darken the numbered bubbles on the answer sheet that indicates your answer choices. If you wish to change your answer, you must thoroughly erase changes or stray marks. You are not allowed to mark/damage the test booklet. You will be responsible for a replacement cost if you do. APTITUDE TEST LANGUAGE The aptitude test uses standard, conversational English which doesn't contain slang or unfamiliar words. Traditional grammar usage has dictated the use of masculine pronouns for the third-person form such as he, his and him. In the interest of avoiding the use of awkward alternatives such as he/she and he or she, the questions will alternate referring to he or she. For example, a question may refer to "your boss...he said" whereas another question may refer to "your boss...she said". To create a more accurate context or realistic situation, a question may refer to racial or ethnic groups; the terms used on this test are Asian, Black, White, Hispanic, and Native American. The test language and these terms were developed in consultation with people from many different groups, including current fire service experts. TEST PREPARATION TIPS TIP #1 Conduct a self assessment of your strengths and weaknesses Read through the skills and abilities measured on the test and the types of questions on the test. Make a list identifying your strongest and weakest areas. This may help you determine which areas you need prepare for and study more than others. TIP #2 Plan and Prioritize Plan what it is that you want to study and determine how long you will spend on each area. Develop a schedule to ensure you cover off all material. Prioritize areas to study based on the assessment of your weakest abilities. TIP #4 Develop your reading skills Assessing and improving your reading skill level will prove highly beneficial. The aptitude test takes typically two three hours to complete. If you are not accustomed to reading for long periods of time, you will be at a disadvantage. A recommended amount of reading is a minimum of 30 minutes every day. You can read newspapers, magazines, books or other materials that are of interest to you. Practice active reading. Ask yourself questions as you read such as "What do I think about this?", "What is the point of this article/story?. Try ISC: UNRESTRICTED PAGE 3

4 to relate what you are reading to your own personal experiences by thinking of a similar situation that has happened to you or someone you know. It may help to visualize the event or story as you read to try to place yourself in the situation. When reading the material in an aptitude test, it is very important that you read each question thoroughly to understand it before you begin to answer it. The Fire Service uses written tests to predict a candidate's likelihood of success during recruit training. A strong reading ability is beneficial when training for the position, as you will be able to comprehend and retain large amounts of theoretical and practical information. Additional resources to developing reading skills are to seek help from special reading programs, adult education courses or your local college and/or library programs. TIP #5 Brush up on basic writing and mathematical skills The aptitude test will measure your basic competence in these areas. There are many different types of practice tests or study guides available at the library or your local bookstore. Choose one that has a sufficient number of practice questions covering mathematical skills. Alternatively, adult education classes may help you build or refresh your abilities if you feel you need more in depth training. TIP #6 Determine your best study methods Developing a regular study routine now will help you create effective study habits for future learning opportunities (i.e., recruit training). Set aside a specific time and length of time every day, away from distractions for studying. Identify your learning ability to utilize your strengths and make the best use of your time. You might consider forming a study group or asking a friend or loved one to help you study. If you are a visual learner, write out exercises on paper or flash cards. If you are an auditory learner, read out loud as you go through the exercises or use a tape recorder. Determine what methods work best for you and practice them regularly. TIP #7 Practice taking tests Some people do not perform well on written tests, as the procedure can be unnatural, unfamiliar or intimidating. You may have negative expectations or poor past experiences that prevent you from doing well now. Other people find it difficult to pace themselves during the test-taking process and don't make the best use of the time available. Local college learning centres or advisors often offer different types of sample tests. Libraries and bookstores offer books which contain sample reading, writing and math drills/tests. Replicate a "test-like" environment by reading and studying in a library or other such quiet institution to prepare for writing the test. Limit distractions and exterior noises. Use an extended, uninterrupted period of time to practice your test drills and establish a comfortable pace. ISC: UNRESTRICTED PAGE 4

5 SUGGESTIONS FOR THE DAY OF YOUR APTITUDE TEST TIP #1 Be prepared, rested and calm Make sure you have had plenty of rest, are well-nourished and well-hydrated on the day of your test. An early morning work-out or a quick walk before arriving at the test site may help burn off excess energy and allow better focus. To avoid needlessly increasing your anxiety, arrive 15 minutes early. While waiting to write the test, some people find breathing or relaxation exercises helpful. Others find meeting and chatting with other applicants helps them relax. Listening to and following instructions is a vital component of the firefighter profession. These skills are also vital to success on the aptitude test. Failing to follow directions is often the main cause for lower scores. When you are to write your aptitude test, there will be verbal information and instructions provided to you by test administrators as well as written instructions in your test booklet. Active listening and strong reading comprehension are key elements to success. Read through the written instructions thoroughly to ensure you understand what is being asked. You may be asked to choose more than one answer for a particular section. TIP #3 Read each question thoroughly Often, we scan a question quickly and think we know the answer. To be successful on this test, read every question fully before formulating your answer. Many of the test questions will describe situations or scenarios. Visualize the situation and try to place yourself in the scenario. Think about a similar situation you have had and remember how you responded. Next, read all of the possible answer choices. If you find an answer you think is correct, mark it with your finger, however continue to read all of the choices before making your final decision. TIP #4 Match the question number on the test with the answer sheet You will be provided with a multiple-choice Test Answer Sheet where you are to record your chosen answers. In order to receive credit for the test question, you must find and record your answer(s) on the correct line (i.e., question #1, answer line #1). Check frequently as you are writing your test to ensure that you have not skipped a line or placed your answer in the wrong spot. TIP #5 Choose the correct number of responses Each question may have varying number of answer choices; there may be as few as two or up to ten answers to choose from. Although most of the questions will ask you to choose one answer, there may be questions that ask for two or three answer choices. If you provide fewer answers than the question asks for, you will lose points. Ensure you record all answers on the appropriate line on the Answer Sheet. TIP #6 Keep an even pace The test administrator will announce the time at regular intervals throughout the test. Providing you do not become stuck on any one question or section of the test, you should have plenty of time to answer all of the questions. If you find yourself reading the same question over and over, unable to understand ISC: UNRESTRICTED PAGE 5

6 it or to find an appropriate answer, skip it and return to it later. Remember to bypass that line on the Answer Sheet as well! If you find that others are finishing the test more quickly than you, avoid feeling pressured to finish faster. You will cause undue anxiety to yourself which can have an effect on how you choose your answers. Although this is a timed event, there are not any additional points given for finishing the test more quickly than others. TIP #7 Stay calm and don't give up Some questions will be more difficult than others, as we all have individual strengths and weaknesses. It's important to keep going even if you believe that you are not answering the questions correctly nor are not sure how to answer certain ones. Remember to keep calm and to refocus if you find yourself becoming anxious about a question or a series of questions. If you find yourself struggling to complete the question(s), skip them for the time being and return to them after completing the rest of the test. Ensure that you bypass those lines on the Answer Sheet as well. TIP #8 If none of the answers seem right, pick the one answer that is more right than the others Some of the questions will ask "What would you do?" or "What do you think? In these scenarios, there are many acceptable ways to think and to respond. If you try to guess what the question is measuring, you will likely be wrong. You will need to choose the answer that seems the best even if you do not agree with any of the options or think you would not perform those actions. Choose the answer that seems the best of the alternatives, even if it isn't exactly how you think you would react. It simply isn't feasible to list every possible action. TIP #9 If you are unsure of an answer, guess according to your first impulse In order to gain a correct score, you must answer the question. If you cannot determine the correct answer for the Reading, Writing or Mathematical questions, select the answer that is your first impulse. You will likely be able to eliminate one or more choices that you know are definitely wrong. This will give you fewer responses to guess between. If you are not sure how you would respond in a situational or self description question, determine what you would likely do and select your first impulse. TIP #10 Be yourself and be honest The test is designed to measure many different skills and abilities that have been identified as important for a firefighting career. It's important for you to present an accurate representation of yourself in response to this test. Choose your answers based on what you would do, not what you think or believe is expected of you. Misleading or misrepresented answers will have a negative effect on your test score. ISC: UNRESTRICTED PAGE 6

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