Cooperative Personnel Services (CPS)

07 March 2020
Chief Brent Collins, President,


CPS is one of the top test consultants and give hundreds of entry-level firefighter exams across the country each year. 

Normally, the exam is comprised of 100 questions.  You will normally have 2-1/2 to 3 hours to complete the test.  The testing subjects are typically the following:

  • Understanding Written Information – This portion of your exam will test your reading comprehension skills.
  • Mathematic Skills - You will be tested on your knowledge of basic addition, multiplication, subtraction, division, percentages, ratios, decimals, square roots and word problems.
  • Mechanical Ability – This portion will test your knowledge of basic mechanical principles such as levers, pulleys, gears.
  • Teamwork/Public Relations/Community Living – These questions will deal with your interpersonal skills around the firehouse and dealing with the public. This portion of the exam will test whether or not you possess the personality characteristics of a successful firefighter.
  • Interpreting Maps/Diagrams/Graphs – This section of the exam will test your ability to read maps to determine the quickest route from Point A to Point B. You will also be asked to read and answer questions on diagrams and graphs, such as floor plans.
  • Written Communication – This portion will test your grammatical, punctuation and spelling skills. Some of the questions will require you to find those errors from a list of sentences.
  • Understanding Oral Directions – This is a very unique testing subject and 99% of applicants have never taken a test with this testing subject. In this portion of the exam, there is an approximate 4-5-minute audio passage read to you.  You are not allowed to take any notes during the audio portion.  Immediately after the reading, you begin the written examination.

One key strategy for this exam is to make sure you go through your exam book and look for the questions based on the audio passage.  Answer those questions first while the material is still fresh in your mind.

Many times, the tester will have 2 or 3 different subjects before you reach the Understanding Oral Information portion.  By then, you may have forgotten many of the key points in the material you listened to.

Don McNea Fire School has developed 5 very in-depth practice examinations specifically to meet the challenges of this difficult portion of the examination. 

Go to the link below to review our in-depth, custom-designed, 450-question Cooperative Personnel Services (CPS) Exam Prep: