Four Things You Can Control To Help You Pass Your Fire Department Promotional Exam


To only spend time worrying about what you can control — and not what you can’t — is solid advice for life, but it’s also a philosophy that applies perfectly to getting promoted in the fire service. Focus on what is within your power instead of stressing over the elements that are outside your control during the promotional testing process, and you’re in a much better position. To get you started, here are four things you can control during your fire promotion exam.

1. Your Strategies for Learning

You have the ability to choose which study methods you use in preparation for your promotional exam. So why not use methods that have been proven to be more effective learning strategies? Forget the methods that don’t work and won’t help you retain what you’re learning. It’s a waste of your precious time and effort, so take control and opt for study strategies that have been proven to be effective for learning material. Space out study sessions over time, experience material in different formats, test yourself on the material as part of study practices, and elaborate on material to make meaningful connections.

2. Your Interest in the Subject Material

Sure, you’ll probably need to study some amount of boring, dry, or technical material to get promoted. But overall, you must have some level of interest in what you’re studying to promote because you’re hoping to be working in that position soon. Look at it this way — if you want to be a lieutenant or captain, then you should probably have an interest in learning about that rank.

3. Your Personal Goals

You have the ability to set big goals every year, but you should also be setting short-term goals that can move you closer to the big ones. The practice of setting goals is used by successful people in all walks of life to make amazing things happen. So put it into practice. Set goals to help you get promoted. Set a daily goal of what you want to accomplish with your studies and do what you can to make it happen.

4. Your Background Knowledge

Over the course of your career, you’ve been actively learning what it means to be a firefighter. The knowledge and skills you’ve gained thus far in your career will help you succeed on your promotion test. And the more familiar you are with the fire service and firefighting in general, the easier it will be to learn some of the material you’re studying. We all have different background knowledge and experiences. But what’s in your direct control is what you’re learning every day as a firefighter. If you don’t read periodicals, listen to podcasts, attend training conferences or take free NFA courses, it’s time to start. These things will help you begin building your background knowledge sot that you’re more prepared to promote in the future. 

Chasing a fire department promotion is never easy. But success is always possible when you set yourself up for success by controlling what you can and letting go of what you can’t.