Putting out fires the day of your fire department promotional test in not what you want to be doing. Testing for a promotion at your fire station is a big deal, and you’ll probably feel nervous on the day itself. That’s just part of the process, and it’s fine, as long as it doesn’t interfere with your ability to focus on the task at hand. The truth is, managing nerves on test day actually begins before test day. The goal is to reduce the stress and anxiety that comes from anticipation or the “unknown,” and we have five tips to help you make that happen.
You probably know exactly where your fire department promotion test is being held. You may have already been there hundreds of times for training over the course of your career. This isn’t like testing to become a firefighter, when you may have traveled to a new city or state for the first time, and you may be thinking this is a waste of time. It’s not. Make the drive around the same time you’ll be leaving on test day. Not only will you confirm to yourself that there’s no construction or closures that could make you late for your test, you’ll find it calming. It’s another way you’re preparing as completely as you can.
Clearing your schedule is a given, but have a plan B just in case things come up. If you have kids and your partner wakes up feeling sick on test day, who’s on deck for childcare? If your car is 20 years old and not particularly reliable - one of your motivations for testing, as it happens - what’s your plan for getting to your test in the event it won’t turn on?
You’ve heard the saying, plan for the worst and hope for the best. Spend some time working through the possible scenarios that could impact your ability to get to your test, and then come up with a few solutions. Odds are good you won’t need them, but it’s calming to know you have options if you do.
Seriously! Give yourself the gift of a clean, orderly environment on your way to your test. It can help you find a calmer mindset, and it’s a great alternative to exiting a vehicle filled with gum wrappers, empty water bottles, and crumbs. A shiny, tidy car can give you the mental space you need to start focusing your thoughts in preparation for your test. And again, the goal is reducing stress. For many of us, a clean car goes a long way.
Get up early on test day, and drink your morning coffee as it’s meant to be enjoyed - in a mug, in your favorite place, without rushing. Don’t take the risk of dumping scalding coffee down your dress shirt or uniform because you’re trying to multitask on the road. Being forced to go full Tide Pen mode as you are walking into your test isn’t going to calm your nerves.
Knowing what you need and making sure you have everything with you is obviously the most important thing on this list. Read the instructions that were sent to you ahead of time. Then reread them. Then print them out and highlight everything you need to bring with you on test day. If you can get back ups of anything, do it and keep the spare in your car so you have what you need just in case.
Be very clear on what you need to wear, whether you need your driver's license or a calculator, if you can bring your phone in or not, if watches are allowed, and anything else that may be required for r entry into your test site. You don’t want to be the one they won’t let through the door because you forgot your ID. Don’t waste months of preparation for something so avoidable.
Reducing stress on the day of your fire department promotional test starts with preparation. These tips will help, but the best way to ensure you’re ready is by truly being ready for the test itself. Start with an effective learning strategy from the get-go - a study tool like online practice test software is a strategy proven by science to help firefighters learn the material they need for their fire department promotional exam. Start with that, and you’ll be in good shape come test day.