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  1. #1
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    Default Advice on Psychological Written

    I took my first FD test about two weeks ago for my home town FD dept in Glendale, AZ. I threw this situation of mine at some firefighters when I went riding today, but few of them have had experience with this type of examination. Have any of you had experience with a 80% psychological written exam (o/ 20% was math and english/reading comp)? I didn't pass (missed the cut-off by about about 3% - a fail is a fail). I was definetly not concerned w/ the math, reading, and english. This is something that the actual FD didnt have much to do with, and was strictly an HR decision (according the the firefighters). The smaller departments in AZ are starting to use this type of examination quite a bit, and I'm sure that it's been used elsewhere in the US. And the fact that other AZ cities are using this type of exam concerns me - simply because I want a blue shirt, ANYWHERE.

    I'm most concerned because if I try to take the test again next year, is my personality REALLY going to change??? Or even 5 years from now - I could still be giving the same answers, and well . . . still failing. I'm one of those complex thinkers that tends to analyze without even realizing that I'm doing it. Many of the questions that were situational, didnt have an answer that appealed to me. The captain I road with today said - "I bet if we took some of the FFs that are on now, and tested them for ****s and giggles, that they wouldnt even come close to passing" -
    I know from a few other firefighters I've talked to that the test looks for consistency (they'll give similar question/situations and are looking for you to answer the same way, rather than overanalyzing to 'answer the test the way you think it SHOULD be answered). I don't feel that I did that, but then again, I didnt pass. . .
    Anyway, can I get help from someone/somewhere on exams like these? Should I see a shrink (<-- just kidding)? Anyhelp would be appreciated here - How do these tests work??


  2. #2
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    Default Advice on Psychological Written

    I took the same test in Glendale, AZ, and I feel the same way you do. I really wish there was a way to get feedback on this type of test because I am sure I will be taking the CWH exam again, but I am not really sure how I need to approach the questions differently. I think I must have over-thought many of the situautional questions, but like you, I didn't always find an answer that appealed to me.

    The next time I take this test, I am going to try to approach it with a much simpler mind. I think one of my problems is that I have a lot of life experience, and I tended to read more into the situational questions than I should have based on my past experience. So, when I take it again, I am going to try to "forget" a lot of my past and approach it with clear mind. The only problem is that if I am wrong with my new approach, I could get a worse score. If I don't change, however, I feel like I am going to keep getting the same score.

    Looking at the results, there were people that scored in the 90s, so either they simply match the firefighter profile perfectly, or they have figured out something that I haven't. If anyone out there has some insight into the CWH exam, I would like to hear it, as well!

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixMatt
    I took the same test in Glendale, AZ, and I feel the same way you do. I really wish there was a way to get feedback on this type of test because I am sure I will be taking the CWH exam again, but I am not really sure how I need to approach the questions differently. I think I must have over-thought many of the situautional questions, but like you, I didn't always find an answer that appealed to me.

    The next time I take this test, I am going to try to approach it with a much simpler mind. I think one of my problems is that I have a lot of life experience, and I tended to read more into the situational questions than I should have based on my past experience. So, when I take it again, I am going to try to "forget" a lot of my past and approach it with clear mind. The only problem is that if I am wrong with my new approach, I could get a worse score. If I don't change, however, I feel like I am going to keep getting the same score.

    Looking at the results, there were people that scored in the 90s, so either they simply match the firefighter profile perfectly, or they have figured out something that I haven't. If anyone out there has some insight into the CWH exam, I would like to hear it, as well!
    Matt,

    Your thought process does seem very similar to mine. One thing that I thought about as I was reading your schpeal was your "state of emotion" at the time of the test. It is a personality test and those answers are strictly based on how you would react given the situation. Could it be that if you 1) Didnt get enough sleep the night before 2) Something bad happened just before the test (i.e. your dog died, or you had a stomach ache, someone made you angry) that your answers would be completely different if you 1) Had 8 hrs of sleep 2)Had a perfect week and day of the exam?

    Just a thought. . . . but I like how you plan to approach it next time.

    I'm going to give Human Resources a call tomorrow, or sometime this week and find out where this test is from, and where we can figure out how they grade it. There has to be someone out there that knows these answers, and we just need to track them down before next year. Ideally, they'll track us down on here!!!!

    - Kyle

  4. #4
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    Kyle,

    Let me give you an example of a question that I think I over-thought. I don't remember the exact wording, but the question went something like this:

    You are working in your office on a project with a deadline. While you are working two of your co-workers stand outside your door and disctract you by discussing a hot office topic. What should you do?

    1. Close your door
    2. Try to ignore them
    3. Ask them to leave and discuss somewhere else
    4. Join the conversation for a couple minutes and ask them if you could discuss it with them at a later time

    There may have been more choices, but I don't remember. So, I picked #4 because I have worked in an office environment, and #1 and #3 seemed a little confrontational based on my past experience. #2 didn't seem like it solved the problem. In hindsight, I think I should have picked #3 because it most directly solves the problem even though this wouldn't have been entirely appropriate based on the offices that I have worked in.

    So, like I said, I think the key for me is to forget about my past experiences and treat each question as a new situation. At least, that's my plan unless someone has some insight into these types of questions!

    Matt

  5. #5
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    Straight from the CWH website- to me, its a bunch of grey matter - no clear-cut/black & white info.


    Selection Solutions Firefighter Written Test Candidate FAQ

    We occasionally receive questions regarding the development, use, scoring, and validity of the Selection Solutions examination. While we are not able to respond individually to every concern, we hope that this general information answers your questions.


    How was the test developed and validated?

    As an analogy, think of how the FDA approves a new drug or food product. Test after test has to be conducted before the drug is finally approved. Our process is very similar. First, we do extensive research. Part of this research involves reviewing tests and research that has been done by other test developers. Part of the research involved interviews with current Firefighters and Subject Matter Experts. As part of the job analysis, we developed extensive questionnaires that detail all the duties and skills required for the position. These questionnaires were answered by 100's of current incumbents in the jobs in many departments nationally. The questionnaires were statistically analyzed so that we can base the test development on what current and successful incumbents say are the most important skills and abilities required for the job.

    After the test was developed, it was "pre-tested" on 100's of current Firefighters. Again, this information was statistically analyzed and the test was revised based on our analysis.

    The entire process followed a scientifically rigorous and professional process as recommended by the field of Industrial/Organizational Psychology, as well as all related professional testing standards and laws required.

    What is this test measuring?

    The test measures all kinds of abilities related to the Firefighter profession. The test is designed to look at an applicant's overall strengths and weaknesses and how that will fit with the job. The test measures basic skills such as reading comprehension, math, and writing because these are required to learn and perform the job functions. The test does not attempt to measure specific skills that are taught on the job, such as firefighting techniques, methods, or knowledge. However, the test measures a person's aptitude or ability to learn the technical aspects of the job, as well as the other human aspects, such as communication skills and getting along with others.

    The test does not determine your personality "type," and we do not make any attempt to find the "right" personality. Many personality types can be successful in the Firefighter profession. However, certain skills and abilities, such as the ability to handle stress, the ability to communicate with people, the ability to get along with others and handle conflict, the ability to be flexible and adapt to changes in the profession, and other skills are all important to being successful as a firefighter.

    How was the cutoff score determined?

    Each department sets its own cutoff score. Some departments use a 70% cutoff score. Other departments base the cutoff score on business necessity, such as how many applicants can be hired. There are a variety of acceptable methods of setting cutoff scores. You will need to check with the department to determine how it determined the cutoff to use.

    I know I can do the job! Why didn't I make the cutoff?

    We understand how frustrating the process of applying and testing can be. Some candidates are prepared and qualified, but do not "pass" the exam. Try to keep the following points in mind.

    The selection process is a competitive process. There are many more applicants than can be hired. Not all good applicants can be hired. Even if you did not make the cutoff score, this does not necessarily mean that you could not do the job. It does mean that you were testing with many other qualified applicants who scored higher than you on the test.
    The selection process is imperfect. No test is a perfect predictor of future performance on the job. As test developers, we are aware of this. However, this test has been professionally developed and validated, and exceeds all professional standards and legal requirements. While no test or selection process is ever perfect, this test is a more fair and reasonable approach than alternative selection methods.
    If your scores are lower than you expected, this could point out potential weaknesses that you may be able to improve. You may want to do a self assessment to determine what skills or abilities you would like to develop or improve in yourself. This can help you in any career.
    What if I don't think my test score is correct?

    We follow very strict procedures for handling test materials and scoring the tests. The tests are scored by computer, with manual hand checks and reviews built into the process.

    Why can't I review the test to see what questions I missed?

    As a test developer we have both a duty and the right to maintain the confidentiality of the test. As test developers, we are required to maintain the integrity and security of the test for several reasons. One, for our clients' protection, so that the test is not invalidated. Two, for the protection of the individual applicants who apply for the job, so the test is fair to all and no applicants have an advantage in the testing process. Three, for our own copyright protection because this is our business.

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