Firefighter Exam Test-Taking Tactics - Part III

July 14, 2003
When answering fire exam questions, you must base your answer on the information provided.

Answer on the basis of the information given in the question. When answering test questions, you must base your answer solely on the information contained in the test question. The test for a firefighter requires no previous knowledge of the job. The test questions do not have to reflect the way the job is really done or the actual procedures of the fire department.

Problems arise when a person who is familiar with procedures of the fire department encounters a test question based on something which contradicts actual practices. It is in this kind of situation which you must ignore actual practices and answer on the basis of what the test question says. For example, you might know that kitchen stove fires are usually extinguished with a portable fire extinguisher; but a test question might describe a stove fire being put out with a fire hose attached to a hydrant. In this kind of test situation, never mind the actual practice; go by the information in the question.

Tell yourself the answer to a question before you look at the answer choices. Sometimes the question is too vague for you to anticipate the answer ahead of time. But often the question stem is a question precise enough for you to answer it before you look at the answer choices. For instance, suppose you had studied the diagram of an apartment and then the question asked, "The most direct route from the dining room to the fire escape is...." You should be able to answer this kind of question in your head before you look at the four answer choices. If you answer the question in your head before you look at any of the four answer choices, you are more likely to get the right answer.

Remember that part of the test maker's job is to provide three false answers for every correct one. It is a multiple choice test, not a true/false test. A skillful test maker will offer you some false choices which seem pretty good in order to distract you from the correct answer. Among test makers these false choices are called "distractors." But if you have already decided what answer you should be looking for, you will not be distracted so easily by bad answers which might look pretty good and which come before the correct answer. A seductive (A) and a half-true (B) will not prevent you from reaching a correct answer (C) if you know what you are looking for.

Sort answers into three categories. As soon as you read a particular answer choice, decide if it is True, False, or Uncertain. If you are quite sure that an answer choice is True, use your pencil to write a "T" in front of that answer choice. But continue to read the other answer choices because you might find another True one and then have to make a final choice.

If you are quite sure that an answer choice is False, use your pencil to write an "F" in front of that answer choice. You may find that an answer is False even before you have finished reading the whole answer. Stop reading it as soon as you are sure it is false and mark with an "F".

If you are uncertain about whether a particular answer choice is correct, use your pencil to put a question mark (?) in front of that answer choice.

When you have finished reading all four answer choices, each one should be preceded by a "T" or an "F" or a question mark (?). If there is only one with a "T", that is probably your answer. If you have more than one with a "T", or a question mark, you may need to think a bit before choosing your final answer. But you should not have to bother any more with answers you have already given an "F".

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