How to Study for the Firefighter Exam 

Before starting your new career as a firefighter, there are multiple steps that you need to take before you can be hired by your potential fire department. One of these essential steps includes passing the firefighter exam. Studying and preparing for the firefighter exam can be a stressful part of the hiring process since the exam is critical for your career. You can take the stress out of studying for the exam by following all of the advice we’ve gathered. 

You can study properly for the firefighter exam by understanding why the exam matters, knowing what to expect to see when you take the exam, setting aside an adequate amount of time to study for the exam, reaching out to your potential fire department, and making flashcards to prepare for the firefighter exam. By taking the time to prepare, you will feel confident on exam day and will be thrilled with your score! 


Why the Firefighter Exam Matters for Your Career 

To help you understand the importance of why it’s essential to study properly for the firefighter exam, you first need to understand why the firefighter written exam is crucial for your new career. Once you understand why it matters, you will likely have a new sense of motivation to ensure that you study and prepare for the exam properly. 

The major reason why the firefighter exam is essential for your career is that you will need to pass the exam in order to continue your career as a firefighter. The firefighter exam is generally one of the first steps you’ll take during the hiring process to become a firefighter. If you fail the exam, you will not be able to continue throughout the remaining steps of the hiring process. Passing the exam is critical to becoming a firefighter. 

The firefighter written exam showcases your knowledge and your ability to succeed in your future career. Your potential fire department will review the scores that you receive on the exam when it comes to determining if they want to hire you for their department. If you do not prepare for the exam properly, they may select other candidates for the position. 

This means that if you do poorly on specific areas of the exam and still pass, it may still negatively affect your ability to work for the fire department that you’re applying for. It is very likely that your fire department will be able to see what categories of the exam that you struggled with the most.  

If you missed questions in an area that the department largely values, they may select another candidate. Simply passing the firefighter exam doesn’t mean that you will automatically be hired to work for the fire department of your choice. It is important to prepare enough to not only pass but to also fully understand the material and get an excellent score. 

How to Study for the Firefighter Exam 

Some people question why you need to take a written exam to become a firefighter in the first place. On the outside, being a firefighter seems like a very physical job where your physical ability would come into play more than your ability to take a written exam. Although your physical ability is very important for the job, there are still concepts and ideas that you need to be confident with in order to fulfill your job responsibilities as a firefighter. 

When you work as a firefighter, you will need to operate important tools and equipment. You need to be able to fully operate the equipment and understand how it works. You also need to be able to read floor plans and know-how to safely navigate a burning building. There are also times when you need to read information and be able to process what you’re reading. Basic math can even come into play when you’re a firefighter. 

Overall, the firefighter exam matters because it acts as the foundation for your career as a firefighter. It sets the tone for the rest of the hiring process, but it also can continue with you as your career develops. Your scores don’t disappear once you’re hired. The exam showcases your knowledge and shows your potential fire department how ready you are to work as a firefighter, along with showing how serious you are about your new career. 


What Will Be on the Firefighter Exam? 

In order for you to be able to properly prepare and study for the firefighter written exam, you need to know what exactly you should expect to see when you take the exam. Without knowing the subjects, you won’t be able to make sure you study the right information. First, you need to also understand that every area is different when it comes to how they create and manage the exam. It is unlikely that the two areas will use the exact same exam questions.  

Although each area can vary on the specific questions they use on the exam, many areas will cover similar subjects and topics. The common subjects for the exam to cover include reading comprehension, verbal expression, observation and memory, mathematics, reasoning, mechanical aptitude, and spatial orientation.  

When it comes to reading comprehension, this area is included in the exam because you will likely need to read the information when you work as a firefighter. You may need to read previous reports about a previous house fire or read instructions. It’s important for you to be able to fully understand the information you read and then apply it to your job. There are parts of your job you will have trouble performing if you aren’t able to read the information properly. 

The verbal expression refers to your ability to be able to write using proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation. When performing your job responsibilities as a firefighter, there is the chance you will be required to fill out paperwork or write descriptions of what happened in a previous situation. If you have trouble writing properly, your paperwork may be hard to read or may not get filled out correctly. Therefore, questions on the exam will test your verbal expression. 

How to Study for the Firefighter Exam 

When you work as a firefighter, it is essential that you are able to fully observe a situation. Without being able to observe the complete situation, you may make a bad judgment that could end up hurting you and your fellow firefighters. On the exam, you will be tested on both your ability to observe and then also your ability to remember what you observed. Memory can become into play as a firefighter as well, like if you need to remember exactly what steps you took when you were inside a burning building. 

Mathematics may seem like an odd part to be included in a firefighter exam, but there are situations when you may need to know basic mathematic equations when you work as a firefighter. You may not use it as regularly as you use your ability to observe or make proper judgments, but it’s still important to freshen up on this area of the exam. You should expect to see mathematical equations on exam day. 

Reasoning and judgment are similar to your ability to observe properly. Using mindful reasoning and making correct judgments is absolutely vital to your job as a firefighter, which is why it is included in the written exam. When you are about to go into a burning home and get people out safely, you need to be able to use your reasoning and make the correct judgment calls. By making wrong judgments, you could put lives in danger, including your own.   

Equipment is essential for fighting fires properly. When you work as a firefighter, you will be using various different equipment and tools to put out fires. For example, You can’t put out fires without your fire hoses. It’s important for you to know how to use the equipment and tools properly. For the mechanical aptitude part of the exam, you will be tested on your knowledge of using tools and machines that you may be using when you work as a firefighter. 

The last subject you should plan on seeing on your exam is spatial orientation. This is a subject you don’t want to oversee. It involves understanding and knowing how to read maps, floor plans, and illustrations. Many of the fires that you will be a part of putting out are burning buildings. You need to be able to read floor plans and maps properly in order to know what routes to take into the building and knowing your plan on how to get out safely too. 

For the firefighter written exam, all areas of the exam are important. We recommend ensuring you have fully covered each area until you feel confident in the material. There isn’t any area that is less important when it comes to scoring well on the exam. 

 What happens if you fail the exam? Read this article to find out:

Setting Aside Time to Study for the Firefighter Exam 

Without putting in the proper amount of time to study for the firefighter exam, it is much more likely that you will not pass the exam. This is not an exam that you can attempt to just wing it and still excel at every question. This exam does require preparation and studying in order to truly thrive and stand out with your scores. 

When you are deciding on how much time you should set aside to study, it is important to remember that everyone’s schedule will allow for different amounts of preparation. You want to stick with a time frame that is realistic for the commitments that you already have. If you set an unrealistic goal on how much you should study per week, it is more likely that you will get overwhelmed with the commitment and then put off studying entirely. 

Even though everyone’s amount of studying time will vary, it is still important to make sure that you are getting the minimum amount needed to prepare for the exam day. Your minimum amount per week will largely vary on how far out your exam day is. For example: If your exam is scheduled in 2 weeks, you need to increase your studying time per week as much as possible. If your exam isn’t for another 4 weeks, the amount of hours you spend studying can be less because you have a larger amount of time to prepare. 

Typically, we recommend aiming to spend a minimum of 3 hours per week studying. Of course, you can study more than this, but 3 hours per week should be the absolute minimum no matter how far out your exam day is. Without devoting 3 hours a week to studying, it is unlikely that you will be able to fully review all of the subjects on the exam and will feel confident walking into your testing room on exam day. 

If your exam is scheduled within the next 2 weeks, we recommend increasing your studying session to a minimum of 6 hours per week since you have significantly less time. You can’t do any harm by studying more than that, but 6 should be your minimum. If you’re not able to commit to 6 hours per week before your exam day, we recommend asking if you can get an exam day that is farther out, which will ultimately give you more time to prepare. 

To help you ensure that you spend a proper amount of time studying, we recommend creating a studying schedule. This will help you keep track of the exact days and times that you plan on preparing for the firefighter written exam. If you have a schedule that makes sense with your current time commitments, you will be more likely to not procrastinate or put off sitting down to prepare for the exam. 

When you are creating your studying schedule, you want to find the times when you can plan on studying for at least one hour. If you don’t have an hour available, we recommend looking for another time slot for studying. In  order for your brain to really retain the information and get focused on the exam material, it is highly recommended to study for an hour at a time.  

At the same time, you want to make sure to break up your studying times. Studying for more than two hours at a time can cause your brain to start to feel fatigued. This will make it much more difficult to ensure you’re retaining all of the information you’re reviewing. It is better to study in one-hour sessions than try to cram all of your studying in a long studying session. If you are studying for longer periods of time, give your brain time to rest by taking small breaks after each hour of studying that you complete. This will help you recharge. 

When you are picking the days and times you want to study for the exam, you also want to ensure that you will be free from distractions during these times and can study in a quiet atmosphere. If you are consistently being distracted when you are studying, you will likely not retain the information as well as you would if you were free from distractions.  

If your home is full of distraction and people getting your attention, we recommend completing your studying sessions outside of your home. You can find a quiet place to study where people won’t be talking to you like a public library or a coffee shop. You can also try using noise-canceling headphones to help you study if you find noise distracting. 

You will generally be assigned an exam day, which is why ensuring that you study enough before the exam is crucial. Your time to study is not unlimited since you can’t keep putting off taking the exam until you feel ready. You need to be ready by a certain day. Creating your own studying schedule can help you study for a proper amount of time. 

How to Study for the Firefighter Exam 

If you notice you’re having trouble sticking to your own studying schedule, we recommend having a trusted friend or family member help. They can text you before your scheduled study time to help ensure that you are accountable and stick to your commitment. We recommend doing everything you can to ensure you get enough studying time. 


Reaching Out to Your Potential Fire Department 

One important factor about the firefighter written exam is the exam itself can vary depending on the specific area that you live in. Therefore, reaching out to your potential fire department that you want to work for is critical for ensuring you prepare correctly for the exam and also for the remaining steps in the hiring process. 

By reaching out to your potential fire department, you will be able to ask the person in charge of hiring questions regarding the exam. We recommend asking how long you should plan on being at the exam center, what the average follow up time is to get your scores, what they consider a passing score, and what other requirements they have to become a firefighter at their specific station. This person may even be able to clarify what subjects will be important for you to understand the exam. 

By reaching out to the specific fire department you want to work for, you also show the people that oversee the hiring process that you are taking it very seriously and that you are determined to do everything you can to work for their fire station. It gives the recruiters a chance to get to know you and become familiar with you as well, which will only help you during the remaining parts of the hiring process. 

When it comes to reaching out to your potential fire department, it’s also important to keep in mind how many times you reach out. We recommend reaching out no more than once or twice. If you are regularly asking questions and taking up their valuable time, it can do you more harm than good in the long run. 

Along with reaching out to your potential fire department, you can also reach out to anyone you may know who has previously taken the firefighter written exam in your area. If you do know someone, they will likely know what types of specific questions you should be prepared for, along with knowing how long you should plan on being at the exam center and how long it takes to receive your scores. 


Making Flash Cards to Prepare for the Firefighter Exam 

To help you retain the information and study in a beneficial way for the firefighter written exam, there are multiple tools that you can use to help you review the information. Making flashcards is an excellent way to help you review the information and test your knowledge as you are studying. 

How to Study for the Firefighter Exam 

In order to make the flashcards, you will want to purchase index cards. Most major discount or grocery stores will offer some sort of index cards that will work for this. On each index card, you will want to write down a piece of information that you are studying for the written exam. Once you’ve made your flashcards, you will be able to review the information easily and quickly when you have spare time. This is an excellent way to take your studying to the next level and ensure you retain the information. 

Our favorite part about using flashcards is you can easily take them with you and review the information on the go. If you are waiting at a doctor’s appointment, have extra time at lunch at work or find yourself with any other small amounts of extra time, you can take out your flashcards and quickly review the information. Flashcards shouldn’t replace your scheduled studying time but simply add to the time you’re reviewing the information. 

Another way you can use your flashcards is by having someone test your knowledge. You can find a family member or friend that is willing to help you study. Then ask this person to go through the flashcards and ask you a question related to each of the flashcards. The person can then tell you if you got the answer correct or incorrect. 

Once you know what questions you missed, you can put extra focus on preparing around these topics to ensure that you thoroughly understand the information. By continuing to review your flashcards on a regular basis, you will only be increasing your knowledge and becoming more prepared for the firefighter written exam.  

Taking the firefighter written exam is a critical part of your journey of becoming a firefighter. Although this exam is crucial for your career, you don’t have to be stressed out the entire time before the exam. You can even make the studying process fun by following our recommendations and using tools like flashcards! By knowing what subjects are on the exam, sticking to your studying schedule, and taking advantage of study tools, you will feel prepared and ready by the time your exam day is here! 


Related Questions

What are the physical requirements to become a firefighter? 

Becoming a firefighter requires you to be in great physical shape. You need to have the physical stamina to be able to work for long shifts and in demanding situations. If you want to be a firefighter and aren’t in good shape, you can always put in the effort to improve your physical stamina in order to qualify as a firefighter! 

Before you qualify to become a firefighter, you will have to pass a physical ability test. During this test, you will likely have to perform various physical activities to show how well you are able to keep up with the demands of being a firefighter. Some activities may include a stair climb, carrying large amounts of equipment, performing forcible entry, etc. 


Do I need a college education to become a firefighter? 

Most fire departments do not require their firefighters to have a college education. Many departments actually only require you to have a high school diploma. In order to become a firefighter, you will need to go through extensive training and education that is more specific to working as a firefighter.  

If you want to advance in your career as a firefighter and move up in your department, then we recommend investing in a college education. Many more advanced positions will require at least two years of college education before you can be considered for such positions. 


How much will I earn as a firefighter? 

The specific amount that you will earn as a firefighter will ultimately depend on where you live. Each area will provide different salaries and pay rates for its firefighters. In many areas, you will earn around $45,000 or more starting as a firefighter. In some areas, the starting salary can be higher than that as well. 

You can also increase your potential salary by getting a higher-level education and taking any additional firefighter related classes as well. By increasing your amount of knowledge, you may qualify for a higher salary. Plus, you will also stand out when there are advancement opportunities at your fire department. 

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Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.