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Written Exam Assistance

Written examinations are usually given by a neutral third party other than the fire dept. hiring. The written examination generally takes approximately 1-3 hours & includes questions on: Reading comprehension, Basic mathematics, Basic science, Mechanical aptitude, & Communication skills. The amount of fire service knowledge depends on the dept. Passing scores are generally 70-80%, however successful candidates are generally in the 90% plus range. If a candidate has served active duty in the armed forces and has been discharged under honorable conditions, they might be eligible for veteran's preference points. These points are generally added to the final score.

TIPS ON IMPROVING READING COMPREHENSION

Reading comprehension is required so one can improve his/her knowledge base. From the time a candidate begins the fire academy through each promotional step, a vast amount of material will be studied, interpreted, & applied to the job. Much of this material is technical & requires sincere effort to retain the information. Therefore, in most firefighter exams, reading comprehension is an expected element. Candidates have stated this is the most difficult of all parts of the exam. Verbalizing what you're reading helps in retaining that information.

A recent survey of firefighter examinations given nationwide indicates that there is a wide variation in the subject matter of these exams. The single topic that is common to all exams is reading. Some exams include classic reading comprehension questions that present a passage & then ask questions on the details of the passage &, perhaps, on its meaning. Other exams require candidates to indicate proper behavior based on their reading of printed procedures & regulations. Still another type of reading-based question requires candidates to reason & predict next steps on the basis of information presented in a reading passage. Of course, questions of judgment in emergency and non-emergency situations rely heavily on reading as well. Actually, there are nearly as many variations of the reading-based question as there are test-makers. Before you begin to devote attention to strategies for dealing with reading-based questions, give some thought to your reading habits & skills. How well do you read? Do you concentrate? Do you get the point on your first reading? Do you notice details? Reading comprehension on exams is different than most normal daily skimming reading, speed reading or relaxing reading. Things taught in high school may not apply. Reading comprehension as tested on exams is concentrated, focused, understanding fully what is being said. It requires questioning the author meaning of what is being said. Between now & the test day, you must work to improve your reading concentration & comprehension.

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Your daily newspaper provides excellent material to improve your reading. Make a point of reading all the way through any article that you begin. Do not be satisfied with the first paragraph or two. Read with a pencil in hand. Read with a goal! What is this writer trying to say. Underscore details & ideas that seem to be crucial to the article. Notice points of view, arguments, & supporting information. When you have finished the article, summarize it for yourself.

Do the following: 1. Do you know the purpose of the article? 2. The main idea presented? 3. The attitude of the writer? 4. The points over which there is controversy? 5. Did you find certain information lacking? 6. As you answer these questions, skim back over your underlining. 7. Did you focus on important words & ideas? 8. Did you read with comprehension? As you repeat this process day after day, you will find that your reading will become more efficient. You will read with greater understanding, & will "get more" from your newspaper. The only way you can build up on your reading skill is to practice systematically. The gains you make will show up not only in an increased score on the test, but also in your reading for study & pleasure. Reading to comprehend requires practice. Trying to change reading habits that you have had for a long time can be difficult & discouraging. Do not attempt to apply all of the suggestions we have given all at once.

There are some misconceptions regarding reading that may affect your ability to read. Speed reading courses do not help in reading comprehension examinations. Look at this type of reading as technical material which you must know, even though it may not be technical. Again, the reading is comprehensive, hence the word "comprehension." In this testing method, the moving of your lips or other parts of your mouth & throat as you read silently, helps in comprehension. Seeing & saying (without vocalizing) what you read increases learning. This is a basic learning technique. If you see & say something, the learning process increases exponentially. Read word for word, rather than groups of words. When you sub-vocalize the reading, you will be forced to say words you normally would scan past. Reread if necessary, the sentence to fully comprehend what is being said. Verbs & linking nouns can dramatically alter the tenor, "flavor", or meaning of the material being studied which could easily be taken out of context. Although some of the above paragraphs may be against some reading instructors concepts on how to read, statistics have proven many of the above concepts to be valid reading comprehension techniques.

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