Free CritiCall Practice Test & Prep: Typing, Map reading & More

The research and writing of this page were contributed by HL Contreras, a former Public Safety Dispatcher who worked for six years at NCSO and MCCCD, four of them as a trainer of new 911 dispatchers and operators.

If you have a question about your upcoming CritiCall test, feel free to send an email to our CritiCall test expert. We usually respond within 24 hours.


What Is the Purpose of the CritiCall Test?

The CritiCall's purpose is to determine the likelihood of you being a successful dispatcher or call-taker. As most candidates arrive with zero experience, the assessment is used to weed out applicants who don't reach the pre-determined minimum scores on every module.

Is the CritiCall Test Hard?

The CritiCall test is a difficult exam, especially if you've never done anything similar before. It simulates the challenging day-to-day tasks that any dispatcher is required to do and it does so under immense time pressure.

Despite these difficulties, it's definitely possible to train yourself, improve your skills, and increase your chance of passing the exam. And the CritiCall preparation pack that’s on this page will be your best companion in this process.


What to Expect on the CritiCall Test?

The CritiCall test consists of multiple "modules." Each module is designed to assess specific skills and every agency can choose the modules that are most important to them.

Additionally, every agency and department can choose its own passing scores for each module.

(More on the passing scores later on this page)

The company that made the CritiCall exam, Biddle Consulting (administered by Test Genius), created 25 different modules. However, most agencies choose to use up to 10 modules only, and they are usually similar across departments.

JobTestPrep's CritiCall practice tests cover the most common modules and their test format, so you can rest assured that you'll be fully prepared for anything.

Now, let's go over the most frequently used modules so you'll start to get the hang of them.

Use the quick navigation table below to jump to a section that interests you:

 

CritiCall Typing Test (Keyboarding)

  • Measures your typing speed (Words-Per-Minute or WPM) and accuracy.
  • Unless otherwise instructed, you'll be allowed five minutes to complete the test.
  • You may use the Backspace key but you won't receive credit for the Backspace keystrokes.

The ability to type fast is essential during the CritiCall dispatcher test and in your future dispatch job.

The minimum typing speed required from a 911 dispatcher candidate is set by the agency you’re applying to. That said, it’s recommended to reach a typing speed of 35 WPM and above, and to be able to type at this speed for at least 5 minutes.

The CritiCall practice pack includes a unique typing software that follows you as you type and shows your accuracy, WPM, and more. This will help you track how your typing speed and accuracy improve the more you practice.

Here's how it looks:

CritiCall Typing Test Practice JobTestPrep

 

CritiCall Decision-Making Test

  • Determine which appropriate emergency agency to send to a scene - Fire Department, Police, EMS, or Utility.
  • There will be specific instructions to help you decide which appropriate agency you should send (each department might have its own policies).
  • This section usually has a 30-minute time limit.

Here's an example from the actual test:

CritiCall Decision Making Example


And here's how it looks in JobTestPrep's prep pack that includes dedicated decision-making practice simulations:

CritiCall Decision Making Practice JobTestPrep

The emergency messages on JobTestPrep's CritiCall practice resemble the different scenarios on the actual test and have the same time limits. This allows you to practice with realistic conditions and sharpen your decision-making skills under time pressure.

 

CritiCall Data Entry Test

  • The Data Entry test evaluates your ability to correctly enter data, such as names, license plate numbers / VIN numbers, addresses, telephone numbers, and other alphanumeric characters into their appropriate fields.
  • There are two Data Entry versions: (1) Split screen with the data on one side and empty fields on the other one. (2) An audio recording of an emergency call with a person who says all the details. You’ll need to fill out the boxes only with what you hear.
  • You'll be graded on the speed and accuracy of the data you enter into the correct boxes.
  • You'll also need to respond quickly to any emergency messages that appear at the bottom of the screen (similar to the Decision-Making section).
  • Failing to respond to a decision-making message within 15 seconds after the message appears will result in a lower score.

Here's how the first Data Entry version (non-audio) looks in JobTestPrep's practice pack:

CritiCall Data Entry Test Practice JobTestPrep


And this is how the audio Data Entry sounds in the prep package (will open in a new tab): Data Entry with Audio

JobTestPrep’s CritiCall preparation pack includes thorough practice for the Data Entry part, which is one of the most important modules of the exam. This practice will help improve your data entry skills and your multitasking abilities (multitask between data entering and responding to emergency messages).


CritiCall Call Summarization Test

  • This section includes listening to short stories and/or details about certain people, summarizing the calls, and entering the relevant information into the appropriate fields boxes.
  • This section comes in three types and every agency might choose one or more of them:
  1. Short stories followed by a single multiple-choice question per story about the information heard.
  2. Personal info of the caller and a short story, followed by several multiple-choice questions.
  3. Same as the second type, plus you’ll need to respond to emergency messages that appear at the bottom of the screen (similar to the Decision-Making section).
  • Failing to respond to a decision-making message within 15 seconds after the message appears will result in a lower score.
  • You’ll be able to write notes on your computer while you listen to the recording. These notes will be helpful afterward when you answer the questions.

Ready to try a Call Summarization sample question?

Listen to this recording, taken from JobTestPrep’s CritiCall practice tests, and then answer the following question. Try to listen to it only once, as on the real test you’ll have only one shot as well.

Listen to the recording above and then click to see the question:

How many kids are inside the vehicle?

Was not mentioned
None
Just one, Larry Brickman
Just one, Stevens da Backer
Correct Answer
Incorrect Answer

The caller's answer to the question "do you have kids inside the vehicle?" is "no, just me and my friend Larry Brickman here." Therefore the answer is B.

The Call Summarization is a vital section on the CritiCall test and appears almost on any agency’s test. That’s why JobTestPrep gave extra focus to this module and created 5 dedicated practice simulations and a thorough study guide. These practice materials have been vastly updated in March 2022.


CritiCall Cross-Referencing Test

  • Tests your ability to use information from an address book list (names, addresses, phone numbers) or VIN numbers.
  • You’ll need to enter the correct information about a person into the appropriate boxes.
  • Data entered will be scored for accuracy.
  • You’ll need to respond to emergency messages that appear at the bottom of the screen. Failing to respond to a decision-making message within 15 seconds after the message appears will result in a lower score.
  • There are two versions for this module - non-audio and audio. In the audio version, you’ll hear the person’s information instead of reading it.

Here’s how the practice questions look on JobTestPrep’s prep kit:

CritiCall Cross Referencing Practice Question JobTestPrep


You’ll find six Cross-Ref. practice simulations (three written and three audible) in JobTestPrep’s prep package.

 


CritiCall Memory Recall Test

This module assesses your short term memory and is considered one of the hardest modules on the CritiCall test. It can appear in three types:

First Type:

In the first type, you’ll need to memorize a list with three pairs of words for 15 seconds. Then, you’ll be asked to match one word from the list with the word it was previously paired together.

For example, you may see the following list:

PENNY
GUM

NICKEL
CANDY

DIME
SUCKER

And then might be asked, “The word paired with NICKEL is…”

Second Type:

The second type is audio recall. For example, you may hear “5-B-3-6-G-1”. Then, there will be a 2-second pause and you’ll need to type what you’ve just heard.

Third Type:

In the third type, you’ll hear a series of 7-digit phone numbers (e.g “476-9472”) and you’ll need to type what you’ve heard in the exact same order.

* JobTestPrep’s CritiCall prep course includes practice simulations for all three versions.

Important: you must not write down any information or take notes on this module. You must recall the information using your memory only. Writing down anything during this portion of the test will result in immediate failure for the entire test.

 

CritiCall Prioritization Test

  • This module assesses your ability to place information in order of priority based on rules provided in the alternatives.
  • You’ll see a factual statement and you should choose the BEST priority category for that statement.

See this example, which resembles questions from the real test:

Report of teenagers throwing rocks at parking cars.

Priority 1 - an immediate threat to life or healts
Priority 2 - an immediate threat to property
Priority 3 - a routine report or incident
Priority 4 - a public service or public education
Correct Answer
Incorrect Answer

 In the CritiCall practice kit, you’ll find 5 Prioritization practice simulations that simulate the question types seen on the actual test.

 

CritiCall Map Reading Test

  • The CritiCall map section is designed to test your ability to use a map to determine direction of travel as well as the fastest route to reach a destination.
  • Each of the maps contains a compass that shows the directions of the map (north, south, east and west.

Try the following map reading question from the CritiCall practice kit, which resembles questions from the actual test:

CritiCall Map Reading Practice Question JobTestPrep


What is the most direct route from the west entrance of the cafe to the intersection of Third Downhill street - while obeying traffic signs?

Turn north on Low street, and then turn east on Third street.
Turn south on Low street, then turn east on First street, and then turn north on Downhill street.
Turn south on Low street, then turn east on Second street, and then turn north on Downhill street.
Turn south on Low street, then turn west on First street, and then turn north on Downhill street.
Correct Answer
Incorrect Answer

From the west entrance of the cafe to the intersection of Third and Downhill street, the most direct route would be to turn left (south) on Low street (1-way street), then turn left (east) on First Street (1-way street), and then turn left (north) on Downhill street (2-way street).

JobTestPrep’s map reading questions strive to replicate the real test’s questions. Practicing them will improve your map reading skills, calculate routes and follow directions.

 

CritiCall Sentence Clarity Test

In this module, you’ll see two passages and you must choose the passage that is more clearly written.

See this example that resembles questions from the actual test:

Choose the passage below that is most clear:

A. Growling and barking, the dog tore up the coat while the man watched helplessly.
B. Growling and barking, the man watched helplessly as the dog tore up the coat.

JobTestPrep’s practice includes 6 sentence clarity practice simulations to help sharpen your grammar skills and score higher on this module.


CritiCall Reading Comprehension Test

  • The Reading Comprehension section assesses the candidate's ability to comprehend written information and basic reasoning skills.
  • Each question includes a 100-150-word passage followed by a multiple-choice question with four answer choices.
  • The passages may include two types of content: incoming calls recordings, manuals, training materials used by emergency communications personnel or descriptions of tasks, protocols, assignments, and memos.

Check the following reading comprehension practice question taken from JobTestPrep’s CritiCall test practice:

Reading Comprehension Sample Question

Last year, road fatalities decreased by 9%. According to the latest figures published by the Department of Transportation today, this year has seen the lowest number of deaths in road traffic since records began.

However, road deaths are only the tip of the iceberg, because for every death on US roads there are 10 serious injuries such as damage to the brain or spinal cord. Country by country statistics show that the number of road deaths per year still varies greatly across the US with the countries reporting the lowest number of fatalities being California, Oregon, Washington, Vermont, and Maine, with only 30 deaths per million inhabitants.

Vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, and users in certain age groups, notably the elderly, are particularly affected by serious road injuries.

Which of the following statements is correct?

Cyclists should be banned from riding on the roads.
More animals are killed by cars than by pedestrians.
Road deaths are on the rise in Vermont.
There are more serious injuries than deaths.
Correct Answer
Incorrect Answer

Option D is correct. This is what the text states: "for every death... there are 10 serious injuries".

JobTestPrep’s CritiCall Reading Comprehension prep includes 10 practice simulations, ranging from basic to advanced level to ensure you master any Reading question on the test.

 

CritiCall Spelling Test

In the Spelling section, you’ll be presented with a sentence that has a missing word. An audio recording will read the full sentence and you will have to type the missing word based on what you heard.

Try the following practice question from the CritiCall prep package, which resembles questions from the real test:

Click here to listen to the audio. Then complete the missing word:

Workers should wear gloves while working with __________ chemicals.

hazzardous
hazardous
hazzardos
hazardouse
Correct Answer
Incorrect Answer

JobTestPrep’s CritiCall prep package includes 12 Spelling practice simulations to help you pass this section with no sweat.

 

CritiCall Character Comparison Test

  • This module is designed to assess your accuracy and attention to detail.
  • In each question, you’ll be presented with a string consisting of letters and digits. You must choose from four alternatives a string that is EXACTLY the same as the target string.

Try the following practice question taken from the prep package, which highly resembles questions from the actual exam:

From the alternatives below, choose the one which is exactly the same as:

2C4GM68475R65969

2C4GN68475R65969
2C4GM68475R65696
2C4GM68475R65969
2C4GM68475R95969
Correct Answer
Incorrect Answer

JobTestPrep’s CritiCall prep pack includes 10 Char. Comparison practice simulations with dozens of questions similar to the above.

 

CritiCall Math Test

  • The CritiCall Math section is designed to assess your math abilities (mainly basic skills) and your ability to solve job-related problems dealing with numbers and amounts.
  • It includes three question types: (1) basic arithmetics, (2) percentage word problems, and (3) distance, time , and speed word problems.
  • Calculators are not allowed.

Check the following practice question that resembles questions from the actual CritiCall test:

Maria started to read the newspaper at 4:24 p.m.
The reading took her 57 minutes.
Nine minutes before she finished reading the newspaper, the phone rang.
What time was it when the phone rang?

4:33 p.m.
5:12 p.m.
5:15 p.m.
5:21 p.m.
Correct Answer
Incorrect Answer

The CritiCall prep package includes 8 Math practice simulations to help sharpen your numerical and basic math skills, even if you haven’t touched math for years.

 

Try more CritiCall sample questions in this free CritiCall practice test.

 

How to Prepare for and Pass the CritiCall Test?

As you’ve just seen, the CritiCall consists of numerous modules, many of which are challenging and require you to think on your feet.

From our experience with thousands of job candidates, the best method to ensure you're fully prepared to ace this test is by using accurate practice.

That’s why we offer you a comprehensive prep pack that includes dozens of practice exams that simulate the actual exam and give you hands-on experience.

Plus, it’s backed up by an ironclad money-back guarantee in case the real exam is different from the practice simulations.

Get Accurate CritiCall Test Prep That Simulates the Actual Exam, and Increase Your Chances of Scoring High on Test Day.

 

CritiCall Test Administration & FAQs by Candidates

What's the Difference Between the CritiCall Tests and Other 911 Dispatcher Tests?

The CritiCall assessment is used as a major screening tool as part of the application process, but it’s not the only one. There are a few other popular 911 emergency dispatcher tests or 911 operator tests throughout the United States and Canada, such as the Dispatcher Selection Tool (DST™).

Nevertheless, the CritiCall and other dispatcher skills tests share several common sections, like the keyboarding test, call summarization test, data entry test, and more.

How long is the CritiCall exam?

The CritiCall test normally takes between an hour to an hour and a half, but in some cases might extend to up to three hours. The length depends on the modules the agency chooses to use, in addition to other factors such as your typing and reading speed.

What to wear to the CritiCall test?

You should dress comfortably for sitting. Business casual would be the best option. The people who administer the test will be most likely your supervisors, managers, or co-workers. So, it’s always best to make a nice impression.

Can I retake the CritiCall test If I fail?

Every hiring department has its own retesting policy with no one-size-fits-all policy for the number of times you can retake it. In some agencies, you can retake the CritiCall after six months, and in others it’s possible only when they’re re-opening a position.

Where to take CritiCall test?

Your CritiCall test location will be given by your hiring agency or department. As of 2021, some agencies administer an online CritiCall test, due to social distancing reasons.

CritiCall Test Scores Explained

How is the CritiCall test graded?

Your CritiCall test score is graded using three metrics: Keystrokes-per Hour (KPH), Words-per-Minute (WPM), and percentage scores (%) of each section. These are accumulated into an overall score shown in percentages.

What is the passing score on the CritiCall test?

The average CritiCall passing score for most portions ranges between 70% to 75%. Some agencies raise the bar to 80% and even 90% in the most competitive ones. The cutoff scores are usually determined by testing existing dispatchers and setting the benchmarks according to their scores.

How do you know if you passed the CritiCall test?

It depends on the hiring department. Many agencies will send you a failure message on the test day. Others will send you an invitation to the next hiring stage. And the minority will show your exact score at the end of each section.

How long does it take to get the CritiCall test results?

The results’ processing time depends on every agency’s hiring schedule. Some hand the results immediately to candidates, while others send out the results only several weeks after all testing dates have been completed.


CritiCall Test Tips

Use the following tips and prep strategies to increase your chances of scoring high:

  • Practice for the exam using a PC and a regular keyboard with num pad. Avoid practicing with a laptop, Mac, or Macbook. On the real test, you’ll have regular PCs and keyboards so you should feel comfortable using them.
  • Practice using “Tab” and “Shift Tab” on your keyboard. On the real test, these keys will help you move quickly between boxes and speed up your typing.
  • To practice your typing speed and accuracy, type along to an audiobook. Let it get a few words ahead of you and see if you can keep up with good accuracy.
  • Practice your multi-tasking by typing a conversation you hear on the news or radio while holding a conversation with someone in the room.
  • Learn CritiCall’s decision-making rules in advance. There are pre-determined rules for choosing the right emergency services to dispatch to a scene. Knowing them in advance can help you choose the right option quickly and avoid losing points on the test.


What to Expect After You Pass the CritiCall Test

Test takers who pass the CritiCall test will face a rather lengthy hiring process. It may slightly differ between departments, but the road to becoming a 911 dispatcher is usually the same.

Here are the hiring stages after completing the CritiCall dispatcher test:

  • Oral Board Interviews
  • Background Investigation
  • Polygraph Examination
  • Psychological Examination
  • Medical Examination
  • Conditional Job Offer
  • Dispatcher Training Process & Dispatch Academy

 

 

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