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Test Content & Information

There are five main sections on the NDST (National Dispatcher Selection Test), but each section contains multiple types of questions that are designed to assess different job related skills and aspects. The five sections are as follows:

Reading Comprehension

Assesses a candidate's ability to read and understand written information. The structure of this section is primarily composed of short excerpts which is then followed by a set of questions. Information and answers can be found in the excerpts. However, there will also be questions that have been designed to have candidates draw conclusions based off of the information. This section has 20 items and candidates will be given 20 minutes to complete them.


Measures a candidate's ability to listen and recall verbal information. In this section, candidates listen to simulated conversations between dispatchers and callers and then answer questions based on the information they heard in the simulated call. After each call, candidates will be given 4 minutes to answer questions and then the next simulation will play.

It is highly encouraged that candidates take notes on each listening passage as the questions are based on the details and information from the simulated call. Additionally, it is a good idea to take notes because each simulation lasts between 3 or 3.5 minutes. This section has 20 items and candidates will be given about 30 minutes to complete them.

Problem Solving

Assesses a candidate's ability to evaluate information and follow through with the necessary actions. This section is composed of 2 types of questions; for the first, candidates will be presented with scenarios and then make logical conclusions based off the information in the scenario.

For the second part, candidates will delegate emergency units to various calls. Each question will have four pieces of information: where units are needed, type of call, number of units needed, and the status of the units. This section has 7 items and candidates will be given 15 minutes to complete them.


Measures a candidate's ability to assess and evaluate information and prioritize calls.Candidates will receive a set of calls simultaneously and then need to rank them based on priority. Each call can only receive one rank, but the rank is based on three criteria.

First, if a call involves the loss of life or physical injury (i.e. a car accident). Second, if the call involves loss of property (i.e. a fire). Third, if a call involves harm that is in progress or is likely to occur, or even occurred in the past. M This section has 6 items and candidates will be given 10 minutes to complete them.


Assesses a candidate's ability to accurately manage and organize information which will be presented in writing and audio form. The primary topics within this section are name identification and data checking. This section requires candidates to compare and assess data while simultaneously identifying names (which will be said aloud at different intervals) on a separate list.

Name identification will have 30 items and data checking will have up to 60 items, candidates will be given 10 minutes to complete this section. It is important to note that most candidates will not complete the data checking items in the time allotted.

Test Scoring

Most of the time, the passing threshold is determined by the agency. This is because each state, county, and city has different standards that they want their future employees to meet. However, there are times where an agency will ask the test vendor to help them determine a passing score.

Prepare for the NDST

For those looking to become an emergency dispatcher or public safety operator, JobTestPrep provides a customized Dispatcher practice pack. This pack has been designed to help you succeed on the NDST Exam by giving you job information, practice tests, test information and content, and more.

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