Firefighter Ability Tests

Another important stage of the recruitment process are the psychometric or ability tests.

There are likely to be up to four different tests which you need to pass to move onto the next stage.

The Working with Numbers Test

Firefighters need to be able to do basic numerical calculations to do their job properly. This test looks at how well you can manage numerical information. The calculations cover addition, subtraction, simple multiplication and division. The more practice you have of doing these sorts of calculations, without a calculator, the more prepared you will feel for the test.

This test will give you information in various formats i.e. tables, graphs, pie charts etc. All the information you need to answer the questions is somewhere within this information. You will be asked several questions for each section of information presented and the answers will be in a multiple choice format.

Try to use mental arithmetic every day by doing calculations in your head. This could be in the supermarket by adding up your bill as you go or at a bar when you order a round of drinks.

Understanding Information Test

This type of test examines how well you interpret written information. They are also known as verbal reasoning tests. You will be given a number of information extracts and asked to choose a correct answer from four options. Read the extract carefully. It may be presented as an article or leaflet. The format will vary but each extract will be a similar length.

Get into the habit of reading every day if you don’t usually tend to, just a couple of pages of a magazine or book and build it up. It will help you increase your reading speed and the way you take in information.

Remember not to jump to conclusions or guess at the answers. The answers are in the extract, you just have to read all the sentences carefully to be sure which answer is right.


Situational Awareness and Problem Solving Test

This test looks at how well you solve problems, recognise risk and promote safety in different situations. Situational Awareness and Problem Solving are both PQAs which are defined here.

The test will give you an extract to read then provides you with four options. You have to select which you feel is the correct one. This test is really about what you think is the right thing to do. You don’t need any specialist knowledge, just use your common sense and best judgement. You won’t be expected to get 100% of the answers right. This is often the test that seems most relevant to the role of the Firefighter as it will pose the sort of dilemmas you are likely to face in your new role. How you answer shows how closely your decisions match what the FRS expects from you.


National firefighter questionnaire.

The National Firefighter Questionnaire (NFQ) is used to assess how closely your attitudes match those which are considered important for a Firefighter. The closer your attitudes match, the better you will do on this test.

The attitudes which are important for a Firefighter are detailed by the PQAs. The PQAs list the types of attitudes and behaviours Firefighters must demonstrate to do their job well. The PQAs are about personal beliefs, attitudes and ways of dealing with problems.

You will be given a list of statements, such as “I always work hard to get things right” and asked to indicate how much you agree with that statement. You will have 5 answers to choose from, from ‘Strongly Disagree’ to ‘Strongly Agree’.

You cannot be a successful Firefighter unless you understand and support the standards upheld by the PQAs.

The assessment consists of 127 questions. You won’t need specific experience or knowledge of the Fire Service to be able to answer the questions. Seven PQAs are examined by this test:

  • Working with Others – works effectively with others both within the Fire Service and the community.
  • Commitment to Diversity and Integrity – understand and respects diversity and adopts a fair and ethical approach to others.
  • Confidence and Resilience – maintains a confident and resilient attitude in highly challenging situations.
  • Commitment to Excellence – adopts a conscientious and proactive approach to work to achieve and maintain excellent standards.
  • Commitment to Development – committed to and able to develop self and others.
  • Situational Awareness – maintains an active awareness of the environment to promote safe and effective working.
  • Openness to Change – is open to change and actively seeks to support it within the Fire Service and in the community.


Next Page: Ability Test Practice Questions

The best way to improve how well you do on these tests is to practice them in advance of the real thing…

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