Battling Firefighter Test Anxiety

05 March 2020
Chief Brent Collins, President,

Battling Firefighter Test Anxiety

Knowing what to expect and being prepared for it is the best defense against text anxiety.  Practice and preparation keep you from succumbing to test anxiety.  Even the brightest, most well-prepared test-takers may suffer from occasional bouts of test anxiety.

Relationship between Anxiety and Peak Performance:

  • Low anxiety = low performance
  • Moderate anxiety = high performance
  • High anxiety = low performance

The key to success will be to control the level of anxiety.

How to control your level of anxiety: 

  • Being adequately prepared for the exam. Just like in sports, you practice before the game.  It’s the same for preparing for a firefighter exam.  You want that confidence that comes from being prepared and ready to take the exam.
  • Try to relax yourself before the exam
  • Deep breathing (usually 4-5 slow, deep breaths)
  • Do easy questions first to give you confidence

Have a Positive Attitude - Keep reminding yourself that you are prepared.

  • I've prepared for this test.
  • I know exactly what to do.
  • I know that I am going to score high on this exam.

If you freeze as you begin the test, here's what to do: 

  • Take a little time to look over the test.
  • Read a few of the questions.
  • If there is a section you feel confident in completing; for example, if you are good in math, do that section of the exam first. However, if you do this be careful to mark your answer in the appropriate spot on the answer key.

If you lose your concentration during the exam, put your pencil down, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths.  These 10 or 15 seconds is really all the time your brain needs to relax and get ready to focus again.  Try this technique several times in the days and weeks before the test when you feel stressed or anxiety.  The more you practice, the more confident you will be on test day. 

The Final Element:  Confidence.  It is essential to develop unshakable confidence that if you follow these steps, the level of anxiety will be controlled with best possible performance resulting.

Good luck in your pursuit of the greatest job on the face of the earth!  Remember – luck goes to the prepared!