911 Dispatcher Test Practice: Typing, Listening & More Skills
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What Is the 911 Dispatcher Test?

The 911 dispatcher test is a selection procedure used by public safety agencies to screen candidates for a 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 knowledge of information 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 Exam

The CritiCall 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 practice for the CritiCall on this page.

POST Dispatcher Test

The POST Dispatcher exam 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.


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 telecommunicator's performance.

EMD Exam

The Emergency Medical Dispatcher (EMD) exam is designed to assess the candidate's communication skills, teamwork abilities, ability to handle stressful situations, and problem-solving skills in an emergency situation. It consists of three sections and 60 questions.

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 or the one that's offering you the position. Ask them for a detailed description of the selection process, including the tests that are administered and their duration.

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 911 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 phone 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.

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.

Try to answer the following Map Reading sample question:

A happy camper at campsite 44 is looking at campsite 1.

In which direction is she looking?


911 Dispatcher Test


Correct Answer
Incorrect Answer

Correct! She is looking East.


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

It's very likely that one or more reading comprehension tests will be administered during your selection process. These tests are designed to measure how well you understand what you read and determine if you can make fast 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 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 that will help you prep for almost any Dispatcher exam in the country.

Here's what you get once you sign up:

  • Practice tests that accurately cover the subjects being evaluated on the real Dispatcher tests
  • Step-by-step explanations showing the quickest & easiest solving methods for every question
  • Focused exercises to strengthen specific dispatch skills that demand improvement

Instant Access & Money-back Guarantee


What Skills Do You Need to Be a 911 Dispatcher?

Public safety dispatchers are expected to have extensive knowledge of geography and the ability to draw a map in their heads.

They need to be able to prioritize calls and organize teams according to what needs addressing first, given the resources they have available.

911 operators must also be able to communicate with clarity and without hesitation even when events are unfolding rapidly around them. It's a mentally and physically demanding job that requires the utmost concentration.

Want to test your Dispatcher skills in action? Try this free CritiCall practice test to get a feel for the real exam.

Dispatcher Exams FAQs

How long is the hiring process for 911 dispatchers?

On average, you can expect the hiring 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.

How long does it take to become a dispatcher?

There is no set time frame for becoming a dispatcher; each applicant will be evaluated on the merits of their individual cases. However, the training can take anywhere between 3 to 5 months after you've been accepted into the program.

What does it take to be a dispatcher?

To be considered for the job, you must have at least a high school diploma or GED. Also, you need to have excellent people skills and the ability to stay calm under pressure.

Other required abilities are map-reading and comprehension skills, as well as advanced computer knowledge. You will also be expected to study on your own, outside of work hours in order to keep updated on new emergency situations.

How hard is it to be a 911 dispatcher?

Being a 911 dispatcher is challenging, but rewarding work. It's not an easy job and it does come with its share of risks. But if you are able to stay calm in high-pressure situations, work well under pressure, and learn quickly from mistakes, then you'll probably be able to handle the responsibilities of this job.

How to be a good 911 dispatcher?

Being a good dispatcher requires you to be adept at problem solving and communication, so be sure that your personality fits the job description. Also, make sure that you're physically capable of doing this job for long periods of time – it can get demanding and stressful quickly, especially under the pressure of emergency situations.

What disqualifies you from being a 911 dispatcher?

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

Do they drug test police dispatchers?

Although there is no single set standard, most police departments will test potential dispatchers and continue random or scheduled drug tests during the course of employment. If you are offered a position as a dispatcher, be prepared for your employer to ask you to take a drug test.

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.

What is the 911 dispatcher medical exam?

The main purpose of the 911 dispatcher medical exam is to ensure that you are physically able to do this job. It's not a requirement, but the vast majority of employers do require dispatchers to pass a physical in order for them to be hired.

The most common issues found during these exams relate to hearing and vision (due to the time spent on the phone), as well as back problems (from sitting for long periods of time).

Do 911 dispatchers have to take a polygraph?

Most police departments do require all potential 911 dispatchers to pass a polygraph test. However, some agencies choose not to use them at all and they're becoming less popular among employers.




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