Ultimate 911 Dispatcher Test Guide: Access 140+ Practice Tests
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What Is the Dispatcher Test?

The dispatcher test is a selection procedure used by public safety agencies to screen candidates for the position of a 911 operator. Its goal is to hire people who have both the knowledge and ability to help someone in an emergency situation.

What Does the 911 Dispatcher Exam Consist of?

The Dispatcher exam consists of more than a dozen of test sections that evaluate four different areas of aptitude. The tests include typing, listening, reading, setting priorities, speech recognition, memory, spatial orientation, and more.

Is the Dispatcher Test Hard?

The 911 Dispatcher test is hard because it requires both a comprehensive job-specific knowledge of info related to emergency situations and the ability to work under pressure. Without proper preparation, only those candidates with prior experience in similar positions will be able to pass it successfully.

Get to Know the Most Common 911 Dispatcher Tests

CritiCall Test

The CritiCall test is the most popular 911 dispatcher exam in the United States. It is used to test candidates' ability to understand and handle emergency calls in order to predict their future performance as an operator.

Get more information and test prep for the CritiCall on this page and try a free CritiCall practice test to get a feel for the exam.

POST Dispatcher Test

The POST Dispatcher test is used to assess the candidate's verbal and written communication skills, ability to follow instructions, conduct basic computer tasks, and more.

See what to Expect on the CA POST test and how you can prepare for it.

National Dispatcher Selection Test (NDST Exam)

The National Dispatcher Selection Test (NDST) is used to evaluate the candidate's abilities in handling emergency calls, prioritization, decision-making, and teamwork. It consists of four sections designed to measure different aspects of telecommunicators' performance.

NYPD Police Communications Technicians Test

The Police Communications Technician (PCT) exam is used to screen the candidates for a position of operator that provides communication services between members of NYPD and the public.

Find out what to expect and how to prepare for the NYC PCT test on this page.

What If I Don't Know What Test Is Used By My Agency?

If you don't know what agency you're applying to and what test is used by it, we encourage you to contact your potential employer. Ask them for a detailed description of the selection process, including the pre-employment tests and other test administration info.

Nevertheless, the prep pack found on this page covers all topics and question types appearing on most of the dispatcher tests in the U.S. and Canada.

What Sections Appear on Almost Any Dispatcher Test?


To work as a public safety dispatcher, you have to possess a typing speed of at least 35 words per minute (WPM). On some tests, applicants are given one or two typed sentences and asked to type them accurately within 45 seconds or 60 seconds respectively.

In addition to these timed typing tests, you may be also asked to type a portion of text from memory in a certain amount of time.

There is also an audio typing test you might encounter. It works in the same way, except that instead of typing on the computer keyboard, you listen to an audio recording and type everything you hear.

Data Entry

The Data Entry section of the test is used to assess the candidate's dexterity and speed in handling data. Usually, it takes 10-30 minutes and the entries might include the caller’s name, the location of the incident, and the type and severity of the emergency.

Memory Recall

When testing your memory and recall abilities, the examiners want to see if you're capable of remembering details in crisis situations. This section of some tests may include a story with several parts or a set of instructions that you have to follow correctly.


During the multitasking section of a 911 operator exam, you'll be asked to perform several tasks simultaneously. You might have to answer multiple calls, type and listen at the same time and understand what's being said without missing any information.


In addition to typing speed, spelling is also tested during the selection process. Some tests may include a list of basic spelling errors you have to find and correct in a given time.

Some tests might also require that you enter information into a database or query system by providing exact or partial matches for certain keywords.

Spatial Orientation / Map Reading

Another useful skill for 911 operators is the ability to read a map and figure out where an incident takes place.

On some tests, you may be given a large, detailed map of your area or state with several red dots that represent calls. To pass this section of the test, you have to find all the call locations and type them correctly on a computer keyboard or verbally into a phone.

Learning how to become proficient at reading large-scale maps can help you improve your score in this specific section of the dispatcher exam.


Public safety dispatchers have to make critical decisions about where they are going to send emergency units and how they're going to organize their teams and resources.

Some tests may include a series of incidents, each with several steps or solutions you should select from. You'll be expected to prioritize the most important tasks and follow proper communication protocols.

Reading Comprehension / Written Comprehension

It's very likely that one or more reading comprehension tests will be administered during your selection process. These written tests are designed to measure how well you understand what you read and determine if you can make quick decisions based on the information provided to you.

Listening Comprehension

Listening comprehension tests can be administered in several ways, but the most popular format is to listen to a recording or a call that represents an actual emergency situation. As you listen, you'll have to answer questions and type your answers into the computer.

Deductive Reasoning

Dispatcher deductive reasoning tests assess how quickly you can make sound judgments based on the information provided to you. The questions may require you to follow a series of steps and answer them in the correct order.

Character Comparison

Character Comparison questions are used as another important tool to assess your decision-making skills. You'll be shown several pairs of characters and have to figure out which of the elements in each pair does not match.

How to Prepare for the 911 Dispatcher Test?

The best way to study for the Dispatcher skills test is by practicing the same question types you'll face on the real test together with the same tight time limits. This will ensure you know how to work fast while making as few mistakes as possible.

JobTestPrep has created a complete 911 Dispatcher test preparation kit to help you prep for almost any Dispatcher exam in the country.

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Dispatcher Exams FAQs

How long is the hiring process for 911 dispatchers?

On average, you can expect the recruitment process to take several months, as getting hired as a 911 dispatcher is very competitive. You'll need to apply, pass all parts of the exam and then wait for a department to select you. The application fees are also not refundable, so be sure this job is absolutely what you want.

What disqualifies you from being a 911 dispatcher?

There are several reasons why you might be disqualified from being a 911 dispatcher or a public safety telecommunicator. Most of the time, these revolve around criminal records, such as assault or drug charges – particularly those with intent to harm others.

What's on the 911 dispatcher's psychological evaluation?

The psychological evaluation that you will be subjected to during the hiring process is used to determine whether you are mentally and emotionally equipped for the 911 dispatcher job.

The tests usually focus on your personality, such as how good you are at dealing with stress and pressure, as well as how you make decisions under extreme circumstances.

What is the dispatcher personality test?

The dispatcher personality test is a set of questions that you will be asked during the hiring process. The reason for these questions will be to determine whether your personality fits the job description.

You may also be subjected to similar types of tests while employed as a 911 dispatcher, such as surveys and questionnaires designed to rate your performance and behavior in high-pressure situations.


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