The CritiCall test is administered in the US for those wishing to apply for a position as a 911 handler/dispatcher. It assesses a number of the key skills required to effectively handle the position and the pressure that comes with such an important role in the safety of the public. This is not a metric of specialist skills or abilities; rather, it is a measure of an applicant’s overall capability.

What is the purpose of the CritiCall Dispatcher Test?

Those working as handlers/dispatchers for the emergency services play a pivotal role in ensuring public safety. As such, a number of fundamental key skills are required in order to effectively carry out this job. The CritiCall tests were developed in order to quickly and efficiently screen applicants in order to check for these key skills prior to any training they might receive if they are hired as a dispatcher, so that unqualified individuals may be filtered out prior to the application process.

The test itself measures a variety of skills, each particular skill having a section dedicated to it. In order to become eligible to apply for a 911 dispatcher position, one must achieve the CritiCall ‘pass’ score.

CritiCall Test Content

The CritiCall Dispatcher Test covers a range of subjects assessing particular skills relevant to the 911 dispatcher position. Questions are delivered in a variety of formats; some questions are interactive, some use audio and some use multiple-choice.

The main subjects of this test are:

Basic Skills – Reading, Writing & Math

1

Call Summarization – In this section, the candidate is to listen to either short stories or call simulations, summarize what happened, and then enter the correct information into given data fields.

2

Vocalization Summary – The candidate listens to a simulated call and is then required to answer questions based on their memory of the call.

3

Reading Comprehension – The candidate will be faced with a number of reading materials akin to those which a dispatcher would face on the job.

4

Spelling – Administered in a regular written format with an option for the involvement of audio, the candidate’s correct spelling is assessed in order to eliminate the possibility of unclear communications with different emergency services.

5

Sentence Clarity – A number of sentences conveying the same meaning are presented, and the candidate is required to identify which makes the most sense.

6

Math – As a dispatcher, it is necessary to keep track of responding units, how many units are in each district, the number of people in each emergency and the total number of emergency responders that are at a scene. The candidate’s mathematical ability is assessed in order to ensure the appropriate management of these factors.

Dispatcher Skills

1

Decision Making – The candidate is tested on their ability to send the correct units to a specific scenario. A vocal component is involved in this portion of the exam, where the candidate speaks into a microphone.

2

Memory Recall – Phrases, letters or numbers are shown to the candidate, and the information is recalled from the candidate’s memory. This may be delivered in a written or audio format.

3

Prioritization –The candidate is presented with a number of scenarios and required to rank the urgency of the calls in order to assess their ability to prioritize based on the severity of emergencies.

4

Probability – As there are instances where a caller is not being heard correctly or is not making perfect sense, this section assesses the candidate’s ability to decipher between a variety of potential answers.

5

Map Reading – In order to correctly dispatch emergency units to the proper scene, a dispatcher needs to be able to read maps and plan out a legal and efficient route for said units.

Attention to Detail

1

Data Entry – The candidate is given addresses, phone numbers, names etc. and is required to correctly enter them into a number of data fields. Throughout this process, the candidate may be asked to answer decision-making questions in order to gauge their decision-making skills. There is an additional audio section with simulated calls, in which the candidate must enter the data into the correct tables. The data may not always be given in the same format, however.

2

Cross Referencing – The candidate is required to enter data gained from address books into the correct table, and may be asked to verbally enter data via audio recordings or tests.

3

Character Comparison –Character Comparison – The candidate will be given two tables of similar data, almost identical in appearance, and will be required to find dissimilarities hidden in the data.

CritiCall Passing Scores

As the CritiCall exam consists of different sections corresponding to different skills, each section comes with its own passing requirement. When preparing for this exam, it is important to bear these requirements in mind; one cannot simply do exceptionally well at half of the exam and flunk the other half expecting to scrape a passing grade. Proficiency in all components is essential.

Basic Skills

Test Name Passing Score
Call Summarization70%
Call Summarization with Multi-Tasking70%
Reading Comprehension60%
Spelling70%
Sentence Clarity70%

Dispatcher Skills

Test Name Passing Score
Memory Recall70%
Numeric Memory Recall with Audio70%
Suburban-Rural Map Reading70%
Prioritization70%

Attention to Detail

Test Name Passing Score
Data Entry with Multi-Tasking60 KPM
Audio Data Entry with Multi-Tasking28 KPM
Keyboarding35 WPM
Cross-Referencing70%
Cross-Referencing with Audio70%
Character Comparison70%

How to Pass the CritiCall Dispatcher Test

The CritiCall exam covers a variety of question formats, all delivered on a computer set up to mimic computerized dispatcher systems. There are a number of good practices to observe throughout this examination in order to avoid any unnecessary problems:

General tips

  • Follow all instructions provided during the test.
  • Before each section of the test, practice items will be offered to help the candidate understand the appropriate response in that section. Scores from the practice items are not included in the final score. These practice items are entirely optional and the candidate is given the option to skip them during the test if desired.
  • The candidate will be required during the test to listen to spoken information heard over a headset, which will be then used to answer questions or input data. It is likely that the candidate will have the ability to adjust the volume on said headset.
  • It has been observed that a number of test takers find it helpful to turn on the keyboard “Num Lock” for ease of data entry; however, this is wholly contingent upon personal preference.
  • In a simulation of a computerized dispatcher system, the computer will only allow the input of information in UPPER case letters.
  • A penalty is incurred for any questions which are skipped during the test unless the candidate is informed otherwise during the instructions for that portion of the test.

As far as specific preparation is concerned, it is highly advisable to undergo practice tests in order to familiarise oneself with the format and content of the CritiCall test. As the test is quite dissimilar to others you may have previously encountered, it is highly recommended to make sure that you are familiar with the exam.

Prepterminal has prepared a wide range of resources in order to appropriately prepare you for the CritiCall test. Making use of both text and video tutorials, our expert team has composed content so that you may be prepared to pass your CritiCall test in just a matter of hours.