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Most Valuable Examination Strategies by Brent Collins

1. Read the directions very carefully or listen closely to the moderator or instructor if directions are given orally. If at any time you are unsure of any of the directions, raise your hand and a test monitor will come over and explain your question to you. Many types of these examinations differ from one section to the next. You should pay particular attention to the instructions for these types of examinations.

2. Before you begin, make sure you have all the pages in the examination. In most examinations you will be told the number of pages in your booklet; check to make certain that you have all the pages or sections. If any page is missing, immediately raise your hand and inform the test monitor.

3. Make sure that you are marking the right answer to the right question. All it takes is skipping one question and not skipping the corresponding number on the answer sheet, to cost you the examination. Every five questions or so, it is a good idea to take a look at the number in the test booklet and the number on your answer key to insure they match. Also pay strict attention to whether the answer key numbers are vertical or horizontal. You dont want to find out that you have been answering the questions on the wrong numbers.

4. When marking your answers, make sure that you mark only one answer for each question. Do not make exceedingly large markings on your answer sheet; most of these examinations are graded by computer. If the marking is too close to another marking, it will be double keyed and you will lose credit for that question.

5. If you need to erase an answer, be sure you erase it completely. Do not leave any shadows that could possibly show up when the computer is grading the examination.

6. If you come across a question during the examination that you find difficult and you are spending too much time on it, skip over the question and leave a mark on your answer key. Do not mark in the area where you will be answering; mark to the left of the number so that you know to come back to this number. It is also a good idea, if you are allowed to mark in your test booklet, to mark out choices you have eliminated as being incorrect. This allows you, when you come back at the end of the test, to go back to only the choices remaining when you are seeking the best answer. If you come across a question on the examination that you find difficult, don�t allow any more than two minutes on the question. If you don�t know the answer, mark it, skip it, and return to it after you have completed the remainder of the test.

7. Check the time during the examination. For example, if there is a 200 question test and a three hour time limit, you should be on question 100 with 1-1/2 hours left. You should check the remaining time every 10-15 minutes to ensure you are on an appropriate time frame.

8. Do not change answers unless you are absolutely positive. Time after time, studies have shown that when you change answers, 75-80% of the time you change it to a wrong answer. The only time you should change an answer is if you are absolutely positive or if you have miskeyed an answer. (For example, you intended to mark �C� and you inadvertently marked

9. Don�t be afraid to guess at an answer. Most firefighter examinations are scored based on the number of correct answers. On most examinations, there is no penalty for a wrong answer. If you have three minutes remaining on the examination and 15 questions to answer, try to answer as many as possible, but if time does not allow, at least put an answer down for every question.

About the author: Brent Collins is currently Assistant Fire Chief, Cleveland Fire Department and President of Don McNea Fire School. He is a very generous and helpful person and is always available to help with your goal to become a firefighter. Visit his website for more information on test taking strategies and advice.


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