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March, 2002

Are you interested in obtaining the competitive edge required to be successful in your goal of becoming a firefighter?'s entry-level newsletter is about YOU BEING THE BEST THE BEST PREPARED AND BEST INFORMED!  This periodic newsletter will concentrate on the complete firefighter examination testing process.  Future newsletters will also include strategies and tips for the fire promotional process.  We suggest that you start a notebook or 3-ring binder of our newsletters so that you can periodically review them in your examination preparation.

By receiving this newsletter, you will also receive periodic notices of firefighter examinations being held across the country.  We will also enroll you in our weekly drawing for a free copy of our Encyclopedia of Firefighter Examinations and Psychological Exam Preparation Audiotape or CD and Workbook.

Web site:


Fax:  440-572-5971

Please forward or recommend this Fire Prep newsletter to anyone you know who wants to be the best prepared and the best informed!

If you are receiving this issue as a forward and would like to get your own free subscription, click here to visit

PRIVACY STATEMENT:  We will not distribute your address to anyone.  Period.


    1. Reading Comprehension Test-taking Strategies I

    2. Additional Entry-Level Preparation Tips

    3. Fire Prep Topics of Interest Psychological Testing

    4. Recruiter's Information

    5. Upcoming Fire Examinations and Seminars

    6. Entry-Level Products

    7. Fire Promotional Prep Products

    8. Valuable Web Sites for Candidates

    9. E-mail

    1. Reading Comprehension Test-taking Strategies I

During our seminars, one of the most frequent areas in which our students ask for additional help is the reading comprehension portion of the examination.  For some of you, reading comprehension is a natural ability and you have little difficulty.  For most, this portion causes many candidates to not score well and miss out on their dream job.  The following are some strategies to help you improve in this area (additional strategies will be included in upcoming newsletters):

Reading comprehension measures your ability to read and understand the types of written materials that a firefighter might be expected to read on the job.  You will be presented with a reading passage and then asked to answer questions about the passage. 

In answering the questions based on the reading passage, it is important that you answer the questions only according to the information given in the passage.  If you have information from your own experience and knowledge, you should not use it to answer a question of this type.  Even if you think that there is a mistake in the reading selection, you must still answer the question on the basis of the information given in the reading passage.

The kinds of reading comprehension questions that appear on a civil service exam tend to be somewhat different from the reading comprehension questions on a school-related exam.  That is because there are different kinds of reading skimming, reading for general understanding, reading for details, etc.

There are certain techniques that will help you do well on reading comprehension questions.  The following are a few of the most important techniques.  Additional reading comprehension techniques will appear in upcoming newsletters.

Use your pencil.  To begin with, use your pencil as a pointer.  Using the pencil to guide your eye along a line of text helps you to focus on the details in the reading; it holds your attention to the precise words in the passage.  In a long test, attention may weaken.  Fatigue may blunt your attention to details.  But using your pencil as a pointer will help to preserve your attention to details.

Another benefit of using the pencil as a pointer is that it will probably speed up your reading.  The steady flow of the pencil across the page with each line of text draws the eye along at a steady pace.  Do not go faster than you can grasp the text, but do try to keep your reading going at a steady pace set by the pencil. 

For additional reading comprehension test-taking strategies and tips, click here:

    2. Additional Entry-Level Preparation Tips

  • To determine when examinations are given in your area, subscribe to your local newspaper, especially the Sunday edition which usually includes examination test dates and information.  These editions and other local newspapers can also be found in the newspaper section of your local library.  The sports section of newspapers sometimes carries examination information also.
  • You need to make sure that you have current testing date information.  You don't want to miss out on an examination where 5-100 firefighters will be hired from a single test.  Many departments have a recruitment section.  You may contact these departments and have your name placed on their recruitment list to be notified of examination dates.
  • 3. Fire Prep Topics of Interest Psychological Testing

The following question was emailed to us:

Dear Don McNea Fire School:  One of the questions I am never sure how to answer on a psychological exam is whether a question should be answered "uncertain" or "not sure."  There are questions that I have encountered during testing that I feel should be answered that way.  My scores are not reflective of the individual I am and I was wondering if you have any insight into whether these questions could be making a difference in my score.   Jim from California

Answer:  This is one of the most frequently asked questions from fire candidates taking psychological examinations.  When you encounter a question that you aren't sure how to answer, we strongly urge you not to answer "uncertain" or "not sure."  Doing this gives the impression that you are a fence-rider and not sure of decisions you make.  In a psychological profile of a firefighter (on which many of these questions are based), they are looking for an individual who is very confident of the decisions they make.

In upcoming issues, we will be addressing different CWH test questions that have been emailed to us.  For more information on psychological testing, click here:

    4. Recruiter's Information

With the increasing amount of computer use by fire applicants and departments, we highly suggest that you include the applicant's email address when obtaining information from them.  This way, the department can quickly inform applicants of examination dates, testing requirements, extra points for paramedic, EMT or degree, physical agility requirements, and a host of additional information that can keep the applicants informed.

Departments can easily maintain interest in their department by using this established email database to inform interested individuals of current information.  This helps departments increase the quality and quantity of high-quality applicants for their firefighting positions.  We suggest as a source to use to assemble these emails and be able to distribute newsletters to your fire applicants.  They are reasonably priced - under $50 for up to 5,000 applicants.

Each of our newsletters will include information directed to fire applicants and firefighters involved in the recruitment process.  If you would like to discuss additional recruitment strategies or information about seminars conducted by Don McNea Fire School, please email us at  or call us toll-free at 1-800-989-FIRE.

    5. Upcoming Fire Examinations and Seminars

Los Angeles County When this exam is announced (anticipated in Summer/Fall 2002), Don McNea Fire School (in conjunction with Capt. Bob) will be conducting an in-depth, one-day seminar for this examination.  We will inform you by email of the class dates and times.  Los Angeles Job Hotline:  323-881-2433.

Chicago An examination is anticipated in Summer/Fall 2002.  Don McNea Fire School will be conducting an in-depth, one-day seminar to prepare you for this examination.  Don McNea Fire School conducted preparatory classes for the last Chicago Fire Department examination that were extremely successful.  Chicago Police and Fire Job Hotline:  312-474-0175.

Massachusetts's Open Competitive Firefighter Exam Don McNea Fire School will be conducting an in-depth seminar and will also be offering a preparatory package for this examination.  We will email you in the future with specific information.

Periodically you will receive updates for examinations being given across the country.

    6. Don McNea Fire School's Entry-Level Products

Don McNea Fire School's Encyclopedia of Firefighter Examinations

Lieutenant and Captain In-basket Preparation Each of these examinations include two, 50-question practice examinations, each over 80 pages in length, with in-depth explanations for each question and corresponding behavior dimensions.  Also included in this package are:  Elements of an In-basket, Behavior Dimensions, and our Top-Scoring Performance Strategies that have been proven extremely successful.  Log on to to order these products!

    8. Valuable Web Sites for Candidates

Learn how entry level and promotional candidates are improving their interview scores up to 15 points and nailing that badge!

Click here:

Fire "Captain Bob"

    9. E-mail

Have you recently been hired by a department?  Do you have any questions?  E-mail us at 

We hope this newsletter and upcoming editions will assist you in obtaining the best job in the world a firefighter.  We wish you luck!

Don McNea Fire School


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