Occasionally, dispatcher applicants ask questions about the CritiCall software. To protect the security of the test, we absolutely cannot give out the demo to the applicants or reveal test details. However, we do understand the applicant’s desire to study and to have more information about CritiCall.
Here are the answers to our most asked questions:
“How can I best prepare for taking the CritiCall tests?”
We’ve written a CritiCall Test Preparation Guide for candidates.
- Download the CritiCall Candidate Test Preparation Guide (PDF)
“Is there a practice version of CritiCall? Can I download the demo?”
There is no “practice test” for CritiCall and the software is ONLY available to actual emergency response agencies or verified private dispatch companies. However, there are free applicant practice tests available at: /dispatcher-testing/applicants/.
Also you may want to try the Data Entry Practice Test created by Karen Freeman-Smith. Ms. Freeman-Smith developed this for her personal use and as a resource for her blog readers. While CritiCall or Biddle Consulting Group did not participate in it’s development, applicants may find this to be a helpful practice tool.
“What is the CritiCall test like?”
CritiCall is what is known as a work sample test, in that it simulates a generic dispatch environment, but does so in a way that does not require job specific knowledge. In other words, CritiCall software puts you into situations that require the same knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary for success in the modern dispatch environment. The CritiCall software contains over 20 different tests, however each agency will select only the most appropriate tests for their positions. Successful completion of the CritiCall tests requires mastery of skills and abilities such as:
• map reading
• memory recall
• data entry
The CritiCall testing process will take, on average, between one and three hours to complete. Many people find that the test gives such a good, realistic job preview that—if they are not truly skilled enough for the job—they realize they simply are not cut out for this kind of work. The CritiCall program allows agencies and applicants to find the best match. Due to the stressful working environment, and the multitasking demands of the position, many agencies have found that new dispatchers quit the first week on the job after completing an in-depth and costly training academy. By offering the CritiCall tests not only are agencies able to determine whether or not the applicants are sufficiently skilled, but also applicants—themselves—are able to determine whether or not dispatching would be a satisfying career for them.
Also, take a look at this video.
“Do you have any recommendations on how to study for the Map Reading portion?”
One suggestion is to practice giving instructions to someone else from a very simple map. For example, using the terms “left” and “right,” as well at “North,” “East,” “South,” and “West” (as shown in the legend below), describe the quickest route from Point A to Point B on the map shown below. You can make up additional maps to practice at http://maps.google.com/maps.
Note that the maps in the CritiCall test contain only very basic elements, such as streets, intersections, bridges, rivers, and railroad tracks. They do not contain more complete features such as contour lines (showing elevation).
“Where can I find out more information about becoming a dispatcher?”
For training and industry information, we recommend you investigate the websites and offerings of the industry’s leading associations:
- APCO International – Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials
- NAED – National Academies of Emergency Dispatch
- NENA – National Emergency Number Association
- The Academy – South Bay Regional Public-Safety Training Consortium