7 Tips for Better Guessing on Firefighter Promotion Tests


No matter how much you study for your fire service written promotional exam, chances are good that you’ll end up with at least one question that you can’t answer. Hey, it happens. You aren’t going to leave it blank, but before you close you eyes and take a random stab, read on. There’s an art to guessing, and part of your preparation for this promotional exam should include a guessing strategy. We’re making it easy with these seven tips for better guessing on firefighter promotion tests.

7. Use facts to eliminate wrong answers.

Direct knowledge of the material is always the best policy. And don’t assume you can’t answer a given question if it doesn’t immediately spring to mind. The key is to think laterally — which answers can you eliminate based on the knowledge you do have? By cutting out at least one potential answer, your odds of guessing correctly go up.

6. Eliminate answers that are essentially the same thing.

It’s a safe bet that any answers that are phrased differently but mean essentially the same thing are incorrect. This knocks your options down to two possible answers, so apply step seven to what’s left and see if you can pin things down further.

5. Carefully consider the most comprehensive option.

Test writers typically make correct answers completely correct. That tends to be reflected with the use of more qualifying words. When you’re guessing, carefully review the possible answers and consider which ones fully answer the test question. Then use steps six and seven to make your most educated guess.

4. Look at answers to surrounding questions.

Correct answers aren’t often repeated consecutively, so it can be helpful to look at how you answer the questions before and after the one on which you’re stuck. Fair warning — this strategy is only helpful if you’re certain of your answers to those other two questions. If you are, and there is any repetition in answers to the question you’re debating, it could be safe to eliminate those duplicates.

3. Pay close attention to other questions as you move through the test.

Sometimes the answer to a question you don’t know will show up in a different question. That’s why it’s a good idea not to stress over a given question for too long — skip it and make a mental note about it as you move on. You may luck into the answer as you work through the test, or a question may trigger some study memory. Just don’t forget to go back to any questions you’ve skipped after you’ve run through them all.

2. Stick to the information from your study materials.

If a possible answer is completely unfamiliar to you, and you prepared for your exam with comprehensive practice tests and study materials, you can probably safely eliminate that answer. Test writers tend to source the same material as the recommended study guides for exam questions.

1. Trust yourself.

Research published in Metacognition and Learning showed that the rate of correctly answering a test question is dependent on the test taker’s level of confidence in the moment. These experiments had two interesting findings. First, when students chose to stick to an original answer, they were correct more often than not. And second, when students chose to make a revision to their first instinct, they were also correct more often than not. The upshot is simply to trust yourself.

The Takeaway

There is no substitute for properly preparing for your fire department’s promotional exam, but a guessing strategy will likely improve your chances if and when you’re forced to guess. Keep these strategies in mind, but be very clear that knowledge of the material will serve you far better than the very best guessing strategy. FiredUp Firefighter Study Software is the perfect tool to complement your study program, and you can start right now for free.