Your Complete Guide to Acing the CPS Entry-Level Firefighter Test

by Sarah Duncan

Did you know that in order to become a firefighter, there is an exam that you first need to pass? Many potential candidates do not know about the CPS Entry Level Firefighter test and are surprised to learn that it is a crucial part of their journey to becoming a firefighter.

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Some can find this test to be very overwhelming to study for – after all, what could a firefighter exam possibly test for?

To help prepare you as well as possible, we have put together this handy guide of all the information you need to know about the CPS Firefighter test which will allow you to not only pass the test but ace it.

Understanding the CPS Firefighter Test

The CPS (Cooperative Personnel Service) Entry Level Firefighter test is a test administered to candidates for entry-level firefighter positions across the United States and Canada.

The test is designed to test the candidate’s skills, as well as their behavioral and cognitive abilities to gauge whether they are the right fit for a firefighter’s job.

Being a firefighter is no easy task, and it is not suited to everyone. As a result, the CPS firefighter test is widely considered to be very challenging so that candidates are accurately screened, and only those suitable for the job can progress with their applications.

The test is made up of 100 questions and must be completed in two hours. Additionally, a grade of at least 70% is usually required to “pass” the test.

Passing this test is a key step in becoming a firefighter, as without a passing grade you are unlikely to move forward with your application.

This means it is important that candidates take this test seriously and prepare accordingly in order to give themselves the best chances of passing.

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Application and Hiring Process

The CPS Firefighter test is a key part of the application and hiring process for prospective firefighters.

Typically a fire department will review applications for the role, and select which candidates they wish to move forward.

From there, candidates will be administered the CPS Firefighter test to assess whether they have the right cognitive and behavioral abilities.

The test is typically taken in person at the fire station in question and all materials will be provided.

However, some stations prefer to administer the test digitally, so it is a good idea to check in with the station you are applying for to see how they provide the test.

If successful, candidates move into a physical aptitude test, where their fitness, strength, and physical decision-making skills are assessed.

While the practical test is important, it is arguable that the CPS entry-level test is more important, as it is the first key step in a successful application to become an entry-level firefighter.

Key Areas Covered in the Test

There are several key areas assessed in the CPS entry-level firefighter test.

The first key area is the oral information section. This is made up of 20 questions read out loud.

Candidates will then need to select the best answer that resolves the question posed in the oral passage.

The purpose of this section is to test quick thinking skills when faced with verbal information.

Often, firefighters will be given verbal instructions and required to act and make a decision quickly. This section is designed to test whether candidates can successfully carry this out in the field.

The next section is made up of mathematical equations.

Firefighters are often required to correctly apply mathematical reasoning while out in the field, so it must be ascertained whether candidates have enough mathematical knowledge and ability to do so.

Common problems faced in the field include calculating the correct hose or ladder length, so the questions in this section will reflect these issues.

The section is also made up of 20 questions, which means that these equations will need to be performed under strict time pressure.

The following section assesses the candidate’s mechanical aptitude.

A firefighter is required to use a wide range of machinery during their day-to-day activities, so potential candidates must have a good understanding of the basic systems and mechanics.

These questions are designed to gauge the level of knowledge the candidate already has.

Don’t worry – a lot of the required skills and information regarding mechanical systems are learned on the job, so these questions are designed to test your basic knowledge and ability to understand mechanics.

Another key section of the test is the reading comprehension portion. This is designed to assess whether the candidate has the right level of comprehension skills and can pick out crucial information and apply it to a question.

This portion involves reading a long passage before answering a question about its content.

You can also expect some questions assessing your ability to read and judge maps and diagrams.

Map and diagram reading is a key part of a firefighter’s role, so candidates must have enough knowledge and ability in this area before going into the job.

Finally, there is a situational judgment section. This section can be likened to a personality test, as it is designed to assess your reactions and opinions when faced with certain situations, as well as your judgment.

How you answer these questions will help the markers to determine whether you have the right behavioral patterns and inclinations to successfully carry out a firefighter’s role.

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Preparing for the CPS Firefighter Test

To ace your CPS Firefighter test, you will need to adequately prepare.

The main focus of your preparation should be identifying each section or topic within the test, and figuring out where your weak spots are.

Perhaps you are someone who struggles with math, or maybe you don’t have a good knowledge of mechanical systems.

If you can identify a struggle area, this is a good place to start with your preparation, as you can start by getting this section up to scratch.

Once you have mastered the trickier areas of the assessment, you can focus on brushing up on the remaining sections that you don’t find as hard.

One of the best ways to do this is by taking practice tests. Practice tests allow you to understand the type and style of the questions asked, as well as what kind of knowledge you might be required to know to successfully pass the test.

Additionally, you can answer the questions while under time pressure, which will help you get your speed up and prevent you from freezing and running out of time on the test day.

I recommend the CPS Firefighter practice test pack from JobTestPrep as it covers all the sections and has a vast question bank that covers a lot of the material that will come up in the test.

Sample Questions and Answers

To help you have a better understanding of what to expect in the CPS Firefighter test, here is a breakdown of some of the questions you can expect.

For example, the reading comprehension section may contain a passage with the following information:

If your clothes catch fire don’t run around; you will fan the flames and make them burn faster.

The correct thing to do is to lie down as this makes it harder for the fire to spread and reduces the effect of flames on your face and head (flames burn upwards), smother the flames, and cover the flames with heavy material, like a coat or blanket; this blocks the fire’s source of oxygen. Roll around – rolling smothers the flames.

Following this, there will be a question that looks like this:  True or false:

When your clothes catch on fire, the best thing to do is to run around until the flames are extinguished?

Based on the information in the passage above, you know that the answer is false, as the passage informs us that the best thing to do when clothes catch on fire is to roll around to smother the flames.

Most of the other sections follow a similar pattern to this, where you will be given a paragraph or scenario, and asked a corresponding question.

However, there is some variation in the mathematical reasoning section, as here you will also find straightforward numerical equations.

For example, a question you could expect may be; What is the value of X if  x/2 = (x+1)/3?

The correct answer here is two, as you would need to follow the simple process of finding the common denominator between the two sides of the equation, which is 6, multiplying them out, multiplying the brackets, and then subtracting 2 from each side.

Final Words

The CPS Entry Level Firefighter test does not have to be overwhelming, and you are sure to ace it provided that you do some preparation beforehand.

By enlisting the tips and tricks in this guide well before your test date and approaching the assessment with a positive attitude, you will be on your way to passing the test with flying colors and showing your future employer why you would be an amazing firefighter!

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