FCTC Test Prep - Full Guide & Free Sample Questions

What is the FCTC Written Test?

The FCTC Written Test consists of 100 questions divided into four sections: recall and understanding technical information from written materials, comprehension of verbal and visual information, application of mechanical reasoning, and solving mathematical problems. You will have 2.5 hours to complete the assessment. 

The FCTC Test is tailored for aspiring firefighters in California, testing your ability to process information and think critically. With a focus on reading comprehension, recall of visual and verbal details, basic mathematics, and mechanical reasoning, this test is designed to measure your knowledge in areas essential to the firefighting profession.

Each section of the FCTC Written Test measures your proficiency in cognitive skills that will be crucial to your success as an entry-level firefighter and evaluates your ability to perform the following four types of tasks:

The FCTC exam is administered in person at designated locations and is a timed test that takes approximately 2.5 hours to complete. In case you do not pass the exam, you have the option to register for a retake. However, you must wait for 30 days before retaking the test.

Let's dive deeper into the FCTC test and what to expect in each part.

Pre-test 30 Min Reading Task

The testing process begins with a 30-minute period during which candidates are provided with essays to read and study without taking notes, simply attempting to remember the information.

Once the reading period ends, the essays are collected, and the exam promptly begins. Candidates then have two hours to complete 100 multiple-choice questions.

After completing the first part of the test (Visual and Video section), test-takers can answer questions related to the essays they read.

To provide you with a realistic test-taking experience, our FCTC written practice test includes three essays followed by dozens of questions. By practicing with these materials, you can improve your ability to memorize and recall important information, ultimately helping you ace this test section.

Sample Essay - From Our FCTC Written Test Prep

Please read through this page, which is similar to the essays you'll encounter on the real exam. Afterward, we'll provide two sample questions related to the essay to test your recall and comprehension. Remember to wait a few minutes before attempting the sample questions to ensure an accurate evaluation of your abilities.

Let’s dive into more details about each of the four sections, where a candidate starts answering questions with the remaining two hours of the test.


Part #1: Recall and Comprehend Verbal and Visual Information

After the essays are collected, candidates move on to the first section, which is about visual and video recall and comprehension. In this section, you'll watch two short videos without taking any notes, and your task is to answer 20 questions from memory alone.

This section evaluates your ability to recall and comprehend visual information and is the first part of the exam you will take after the reading period.

Why is this important?

As a firefighter, you will often have to rapidly analyze and understand the situation at the scene of an emergency, making critical decisions that could potentially save lives. Therefore, the ability to recall and comprehend visual and verbal information is essential for success in this field.


Our training and practice platform offers three modules for this part, each containing two short videos, followed by questions related to each video. Practicing in this way is important as it reduces stress and helps you become familiar with the unique types of questions asked in the exam. It also improves your ability to recall and comprehend information, which will positively impact the way you approach the test.


After completing the video component, candidates will be instructed to open their test booklets and answer the remaining eighty questions.

These questions cover pre-test essays, additional essays in the test booklet, mechanical reasoning, and math concepts.

Part #2: Recall and Comprehend Technical Information from Written Materials 

This section of the test assesses your capacity to recall details and comprehend the content of some of the essays you read during the initial 30-minute period, along with others included in the test booklet.

It is crucial to keep in mind that you cannot refer back to the essays provided at the start of the exam, so make sure to pay attention and retain as much information as possible during the reading period.

To evaluate your recall and comprehension skills, try answering these sample questions after waiting for at least 5-10 minutes since reading the essay we provided. You can access the essay again through this link.

FCTC Written Test Practice Question:

The reason the southern route to the summit could no longer be taken is that:

A - The climbers’ map was outdated and useless.

B - The glacier had melted completely.

C - The snow had melted and only bare rock was seen.

D - Ice was blocking the path and preventing passage.


Reveal The Answer


The correct answer is (D).

Answer (D) is the correct answer because the passage states: "The leading edge had broken off and melted, leaving a towering wall of ice to block the way." 
Answer (A) is incorrect because even though the map was outdated, it did not cause the blocking of the path.
Answer (B) is incorrect because the passage does not state that the glacier disappeared, but that it had shrunk: "the glacier had shrunk by half its size." In addition, ice was blocking the passage, so it did not melt completely.
Answer (C) is incorrect because the paragraph does not mention snow.

FCTC Written Test Practice Question:

An appropriate title for the second passage is:

A - Who was Right: Geoffrey of Monmouth or Maistre Wace?

B - How King Arthur’s Saga Came to Be

C - The Surprising French Angle of King Arthur’s Tale

D - King Arthur: Historical Figure or Legend?

Reveal The Answer


The correct answer is (D).

Answer (D) is the best answer because this idea appears both in the opening and closing paragraphs of the passage, with the middle paragraphs discussing the development of Arthur’s story.

Answer (A) is incorrect because there is no discussion in the passage as to whether Geoffrey of Monmouth or Maistre Wace were right, and no comparison is made between the two.

Answer (B) is incorrect because while the middle paragraphs tell us how the story came to be, the beginning and end of the passage anchor the information in the question of the validity of Arthur’s story: "Whether King Arthur ever really existed or was created by poetic imagination is still debated by historians," and "So, what is true? Establishing the facts is virtually impossible."

Answer (C) is incorrect because the passage does not present the French contribution to the tale as surprising.


Why is this important?

The ability of firefighters to recall technical and text-based information quickly and accurately is essential in emergency situations. Failure to do so can lead to critical errors that put both lives and property at risk.

For instance, understanding and recalling the building's layout and hazardous materials stored within can help firefighters make safer decisions when navigating through a fire scene.

In addition, having knowledge of emergency medicine and being able to recall it under pressure can help save lives. That's why it's important to test firefighter candidates on their ability to comprehend and recall technical and text-based materials.


How To Ace Your FCTC Test

Mastering the skills required from you in the FCTC Test without accurate practice materials can be tough. That is why we've created the ultimate FCTC  practice test package, specifically designed to help you ace every element of the test.

 Don't leave your success to chance - our FCTC Prep Test package will help you achieve your dream of becoming a firefighter today!

Next, let's explore the final two topics, Math and Mechanical Reasoning, by providing sample questions for you to attempt and evaluate your skills.

#Part 3 Firefighter Mechanical Reasoning Test 

 This section determines if a candidate has the mechanical aptitude for working effectively as a firefighter. You will need to demonstrate your knowledge of fluid dynamics, levers, belt and pulley systems, rope and pulley systems, gears, and interpreting diagrams.

Why is this important? Firefighters frequently encounter situations that require them to use mechanical aptitude, such as operating equipment or performing rescues. Without a good understanding of these concepts, firefighters may struggle to perform their duties effectively and safely.

Firefighter Mechanical Reasoning Sample Question 

Cogwheels Question 

In which direction will the swing tilt?

1. Up

2. Down

3. Won't Move

4. Impossible to answer



Reveal the Answer

The Correct Answer is - Up.

Explanation When a cog wheel comes in contact with another cog wheel, the spinning direction changes (i.e the direction of the second cog wheel will be opposite to the first). When 2 cog wheels are connected via a chain or a belt, the spinning direction remains the same.  

In this question the red cog wheel comes in direct contact with the next cog wheel. Therefore, the spinning direction changes from counter-clockwise to clockwise. The next cog wheel is connected via a belt, so the spinning direction continues to be clockwise.

Next, there is a direct contact with the last following cog wheel and therefore it spins in a counter-clockwise direction.

The movement of the last cog wheel tilts the swing in an upwards direction.

Firefighter Mechanical Reasoning Sample Question

Cogwheels Question

In which direction will the swings tilt? 

1. A-Up, B-Down

2. A-Down, B-Up

3. Both-Up

4. Both-Down



Reveal the Answer

The correct answer is 3 - Both Up.

When a cogwheel meshes against another cogwheel, the spinning direction changes. In this question, there are 2 contact points leading to the cogwheel adjacent to swing A.

Therefore, this cog wheel spins in a counterclockwise direction, which in turn tilts swing A upwards.

When the left hand side of swing A goes up, the right hand side goes down, pushing the cogwheel to its right (the one between the swings) in a counterclockwise manner. In turn, this cogwheel tilts swing B iupwards. Thus, both swings will tilt upwards.


Firefighter Mechanical Reasoning Sample Question

Mechanical Fluid & Hydraulics - Sample Question 

Two firemen are using hoses with the same diameter and length. The hoses are fed by water tanks which are identical in all aspects except for the height.

According to the image below, the water of which fireman will reach further away?


1. A

2. B

3. The Same

Reveal the Answer

The correct answer is A.

Answer Explanation:

As can be seen, the difference between Figures A and B is the height of the water tower.

Therefore, the solution to the question: the water which firemans hose will reach farther is dependent on the height of the water tower (as the only variable).

The water in the taller tower stores a larger amount of energy. Therefore, it travels through the hose with more force, thus flowing at a higher pressure and speed, ultimately causing the water to reach farther. Since in Figure A the tower is taller, the water in Figure A will reach farther.

Therefore, choice A is the correct answer.



Section #4 Mathematical Problems

The FCTC Written Test includes twenty (20) mathematical word problems that are equivalent to a high school education level. Candidates are not permitted to use calculators during the test and must show their work on the provided scratch paper, not in the test booklet. If you run out of space on the scratch paper, simply raise your hand and a test administrator will provide a new sheet.

The FCTC math questions are designed to evaluate a candidate's ability to perform basic mathematical operations and solve problems related to firefighting scenarios. This section covers a wide range of mathematical concepts and areas, including:

1. Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division: Candidates may be asked to perform calculations involving these basic mathematical operations. 

2. Angles: identify angles, such as acute, obtuse, or right angles.

3. Area and volume: calculate the area or volume of objects, such as rooms or storage containers.

4. Algebra: solve basic algebraic equations, such as linear equations or inequalities.

5. Decimals, fractions, percentages, and ratios: perform calculations using these types of numbers, such as converting between decimals, fractions, and percentages or calculating ratios.


Why is it important: Being a firefighter involves a diverse range of responsibilities, and many of them require basic math skills. While specialized formulas for tasks like hydraulics are taught on the job, it's crucial to have a solid grasp of basic mathematical concepts for routine tasks.

As a firefighter, you never know what challenges you may face, but having a good foundation in math can help you effectively navigate any situation that comes your way.

FCTC Written Test Practice Question - Math Sample Question


Basic Math Calculation

Which of the numbers below is closest to the correct answer?

8946 / 279 ~

A. 32

B. 61

C. 6.7

D. 4.5


Reveal the Answer

The correct answer is A


8946 is a large number and can be rounded up to 9000. 279 can be rounded to 300. 9000 / 300 = 30. The closest number to 30 is 32.

The correct answer is 32

Firefighter Math -  Sample Question #2


Convert 7/8 to a decimal.

A. 0.75

B. 0.78

C. 0.875

D. 0.8

E. 0.785


Reveal the Answer

The correct answer is C

Solution :

1/8 = 0.125

7/8 = 7 times 0.125


x        7

An alternative solution:

1 equals 8/8.
7/8 = 1 - 1/8 = 1 - 0.125

-  0.125

Firefighter Math -  Sample Question  #3

Math Word Problem

 Two computer keyboards cost $22, how much will seven keyboards cost?

A. 55$

B. 66$

C. 70$

D. 77$

E. 89$


Reveal the Answer

The correct answer is (D) - $77

If two keyboards cost $22, than one will cost:

Therefore, seven will cost:

Our FCTC practice test, designed to help aspiring firefighters in California improve their chances of passing with success, includes twenty-three math practice tests with hundreds of questions as well as study guides for this topic. 

Interested in trying out more sample questions? Visit our Free Firefighter Practice page.

Start Practicing Today!

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FCTC Passing Score

To pass the FCTC written test, candidates must achieve a passing score of 70% or higher. Scores are based on the number of questions answered correctly, each question is weighted equally, and there is no penalty for guessing.

FCTC CPAT - Candidate Physical Ability Test 

Physical fitness is a crucial element of the job, and therefore the FCTC will want to ensure that you can maintain the highest levels of physical ability. 

The FCTC test consists of eight different physical ability tests, which are designed to simulate real-life firefighting tasks. These tests include the stair climb, hose drag, equipment carry, ladder raise and extension, forcible entry, search, rescue, and ceiling breach and pull. The candidate must complete all eight tests within a total of 10 minutes and 20 seconds.

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