What Maths or English qualifications do you need to be a firefighter?

One of the most common worries people have when applying to be a Firefighter is that they might not have the required formal qualifications.

Do Firefighters need formal qualifications in Maths and English? You’d be amazed at how often we’re asked this question!

While applications will state that they expect you to be educated to GCSE level, having the ‘paper’ qualifications isn’t a necessity.

The FRS you apply to will take other elements such as your character, skills gained from previous employment, and work and life experience into consideration too.

However you will be expected to have a certain level of competency in Maths and English in both in order to pass the psychometric ability tests in the application process and to fulfil the Firefighter role.

“I don’t have a formal Maths or English qualification. Can I still apply to be a Firefighter?”

In short the answer is yes, you can absolutely still apply to be a Firefighter!

 

The Psychometric Tests

The psychometric tests consist of questions in the following areas:

  • Verbal reasoning – This is to see how well you interpret written information. You’ll usually be given a short passage to read, then be asked to answer questions on the text.
  • Numerical Reasoning – This looks at what level your maths skills are currently at, and how you manage numerical information. The questions will cover addition, subtraction, simple multiplication and division.
Firefighters need to do basic calculations in their everyday job, which is why the numerical section of the test is in place. They also need to be able to quickly interpret written information, which is where the verbal reasoning side comes in.

The chances are you already have the required level of competency in these areas! But if you’re unsure you can try some practice questions to see how you do.

How can I Improve my Skills?

There are various things you can do to improve on your existing skills:

  • For maths, try to practice doing simple arithmetic in your head, for example when you’re adding up a shopping bill, rather than pulling out the calculator on your phone.
  • If you have children of school age get involved with their homework. While it might be at a much simpler level explaining things to them can help reawaken abilities in these areas you thought you’d forgotten!
  • Try to read a little every day – some people seem born to reading while others don’t. But it’s like building a muscle, the more you practice the stronger your abilities will get in both reading speed and interpreting information.
  • Download an app to help build your skills. There are ones for all ages, from interactive learning games to the more traditional ‘brain training’ types.
  • Complete a qualification online, or via flexible study options at a local higher or further education centre.

During, or in the run-up to recruitment drives many FRSs offer potential applicants with non-traditional qualifications the chance to sit a Firefighter Maths and English entry exam, to prove their competencies are of the required standard.

These will be advertised by your local FRS, and we also publish details of these kind of events on our Facebook page.

One final point – if you have any difficulties such as Dyslexia then please do communicate this to the FRS you’re applying to before the testing process, as you may be eligible for extra time allocation in the psychometric testing!
If you’d like to practice more of the kind of questions you’ll find in the psychometric tests why not take a look at our Pass Your Firefighter Ability Tests eBook. Designed exclusively for the Fire & Rescue Service, our eBook is full practice questions (and answers) in all the areas that you could be tested in!
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