Most entry level firefighters do not do any writing on the job which can make the written assessment portion of the firefighter promotional exam a difficult one. Here are some simple tips to remember as you work on your firefighter promotional exam prep.
It is Timed
Just like your firefighter promotional exam, the written assessment will be timed. Having this portion of the assessment be timed adds another level of pressure when you’re taking the test. As a firefighter you are no stranger to pressure though, so just be aware of how much time you have when you begin and keep track of the time as you go. You want to be sure you have enough time to go back and review your work and aren’t writing so fast your handwriting is illegible.
Content is Critical
Going into the writing assessment you will have no idea what the prompt will be so you will need to be well versed in fire service topics, leadership topics, department policies and procedure and so on. It is in your best interest to be well versed in any possible topic that could come up on the written assessment. Even if you have perfect spelling and grammar, you will not pass this portion of the firefighter assessment if you have no content to offer your reviewers.
An easy way to save time and make sure you turn in a clean copy of your written assessment is to make an outline before you start writing. The outline will vary depending on what the writing prompt is and what you are writing about. The first thing you will need to do is be sure you know what the correct format for the assignment is such as a written proposal, a department memo, or an essay on leadership in the fire service. After the formatting has been figured out, take a few minutes before you start writing your final draft to jot down your main points you want to put in your writing assignment. If you are writing an essay you will first come up with a thesis, which is one sentence stating what you will be talking about or proving throughout your essay. You will then want to come up with three main points to support your thesis, one for each body paragraph. That is the basis for your essay outline.
Save Time For Review
Once you have written your essay, memo, proposal or so on, you need to go back and review it. You want to be sure there are no spelling or grammar errors, but also that it makes sense and is easy to read. Even if your content is perfect, you will lose points for spelling and grammar errors. Spelling and grammar errors come across as unprofessional, something the department does not want. You also want to be sure what you wrote makes sense and is cohesive so the reviewers have no issues figuring out what you are saying. Remember though, this is all timed so be sure to save enough time at the end of the writing assessment for review.
If you are not a fan of outlines, and write relatively fast, you can just start writing and create a rough draft. If you do this though you will be doing a lot more writing than if you did just a simple outline. Once you have finished with the rough draft, or if you just wrote a very sloppy document, you will need to review your work and go back and rewrite it so your work is clean and cohesive. If your essay looks sloppy with pen marks all over the place it will make your essay much harder to read and you will likely lose points because of it, so you will have to completely rewrite your work.
Even if writing isn’t your forte, you can still pass the firefighter promotional exam written assessment. Dedicate some time in your study sessions to practice your writing and use these methods. Also remember, the higher the rank you are applying for the harder the writing prompt will be.