Everything You Need to Know

If you’ve ever dreamed of dispatching firetrucks to put out a four-alarm blaze in a crowded downtown neighborhood or sending an ambulance to someone in trouble, you’ll need to pass the CritiCall public safety dispatcher pre-employment test first (aka 911 CritiCall).

The CritiCall test measures your ability to make decisions in the moment, summarize calls, and communicate with public safety officers clearly. It screens out applicants who don’t have what it takes and can highlight your unique ability to maintain a cool head under difficult circumstances.

Free CritiCall Practice

Your hearing, reading, writing, spelling, map reading, and memory skills may all be put to the test. You’ll also be challenged to come up with the right solution after being given a challenging problem. 

Each CritiCall test is customized for different roles a job might require. For example, a dispatcher’s test might focus more heavily on map reading, mathematics, and giving directions, while a call takers test might put more emphasis on call summarization, memory recall, and prioritization.

Your dream of becoming an emergency services dispatcher depends on you passing the CritiCall test. It’s time to get ready!

Question Types Explained

You’ll be facing a number of different types of questions while taking the CritiCall test. Throughout the test, you’ll also have emergencies pop on your screen which require you to click on the correct agency (police, fire, EMS, or utility) to handle.

There are a number of data entry modules, where you are required to type information into a field that either appears on screen or is said to you through your headphones. Some sections test your memory by not allowing you to type anything for five seconds.

Because the modules in your test are picked by the agency you want to work for, not all tests will include all of these types of questions. The test may contain the following:

Decision Making – You will see a scenario on screen and have to decide which agency should handle the emergency. You have 15 seconds to read about the emergency and make the decision.

Source: CritiCall

Decision Making (Audio) – Listen to a call, type relevant information, and choose which agency needs to be sent to handle the call.

Data Entry – You will see information on the screen and need to type it into another field on the screen. 

Source: CritiCall

Data Entry (Audio) – Listen to information through the headset and type that information into fields while you are listening.

Memorization – You will see a group of 6-9 numbers and need to type it into a field after it disappears.

Memorization (Audio) – You will hear a series of 6 numbers but will not be able to type them in to the computer. When the list of numbers is finished being read, you will have to wait five seconds before typing the numbers into the field.

Map Reading (Multiple choice) – You will see a map with two points on it, and have to select the fastest route to go from point A to point B.

Source: CritiCall

Reading Comprehension – Read a short paragraph that is 2-3 sentences long and answer questions relating to the main idea of the passage.

Spelling – You will fill in sentences with a correctly spelled word. The words may be confusing, like illicit, or be homophones like there and their. 

Cross Referencing – You’ll be asked to find information in an address book, where you may be given someone’s name and have to find and enter the correct address.

Prioritization – The system will present several scenarios. You need to decide which is the most critical.

Math – You will need to demonstrate basic math skills, as you keep track of the number of units involved and total responders at a scene.

Vocalization Summary – You will listen to a call and answer questions based on your memory of the conversation.

Probability – You will listen to a call where it is difficult to understand what is being said, and you must do your best to guess what was said.

Character Comparison – The test will present two similar tables and require you to carefully go through the data to find any differences.

Preparation Strategies

Passing the CritiCall test can be challenging. Here are some strategies you can use as you get closer to test day. Being prepared for the types of questions you will see on test day will help you feel at ease while taking the exam, and give you the confidence you need to pass the test.

  1. Read CritiCall’s test preparation guide before taking the test, which contains their test preparation hints. 
  2. Create different scenarios to prepare for the test. If possible, wear a headset to simulate testing conditions; or have someone read addresses to you and accurately type them into your computer; or work on building up your speed and accuracy.
  3. Enlist family members to read phone numbers, names and addresses to you. Once they have finished, type them into a computer, and check to see if you entered the information correctly. 
  4. Study maps and practice giving directions using both right and left as well as north, south, east, and west. Find the quickest routes from point A to point B.
  5. Practice using the number pad on your keyboard for faster typing.
  6. Utilize test prep activities like those offered by iPrep.

Test Features

CritiCall has developed 23 different modules, which can take up to 3 hours to complete. Employers choose which modules to include on the test.

Over 600 public safety agencies use CritiCall software testing to screen dispatchers and call takers.

The CritiCall test measures your abilities in the following: 

Decision makingMulti-tasking Data entry
Using a computerListening and using information heardUsing alphabetical lists
Comparing and contrasting dataPrioritizationMemory recall
SpellingSentence clarityReading comprehension
Map reading Basic mathKeying a microphone and speaking clearly 

The test is typically administered by the hiring agency. You’ll sit at a computer with a headset and respond to items that are on-screen and come in through the headset. Some elements may also include your verbal responses.

Results Scale and Interpretations

Every agency can divide the test differently, and each one decides on their own Pass/Fail scores, but the average overall passing score is usually 70-75%. Based on our research, many agencies require passing scores in the following ranges. Please be aware that some agencies may require higher passing scores in some sections.

Attention to Detail

SectionPassing Score
Data entry with multi-tasking55-60 keystrokes per minute
Audio data entry with multi-tasking28-40 keystrokes per minute
Keyboarding35 words per minute
Character comparison70%

Dispatcher Skills

SectionPassing Score
Memory recall61%-70%
Map reading62%-70%

Basic Skills

SectionPassing Score
Call summarization57%-70%
Reading comprehension57%-60%
Spelling and sentence clarity68%-70%

Your score report will provide you with the following information:

  • Your overall score
  • Your score on each module
  • The minimum score you needed to achieve to pass the module
  • Your typing speed. Some agencies may tell you your keystrokes per minute, while others report your keystrokes per hour.
  • The modules included in your test
  • A Pass/Fail report
Source: CritiCall

iPrep: Concise. Focused. What you need.

Sign Up
Immediate access
Online self-paced
Ace that Test!

CritiCall Test FAQs

What is the CritiCall test?

The CritiCall test is used to screen candidates for 911 call centers and dispatchers. It presents different scenarios to test takers to test their likelihood of success in these roles. According to CritiCall, Washington County 911 in Oregon saw their employee retention rate increase from 15% to 86% in just two years.

How long is the CritiCall test?

The CritiCall test takes between 1-3 hours, depending on the number of modules included in the test.

How do you pass the CritiCall test?

Being prepared is the best way to pass the CritiCall test. Know what to expect, and practice using test prep tools like those provided by iPrep, as well as using the tips included in our Preparation Strategies section.

Can I retake CritiCall if I fail?

Every department has their own policies. However, the test is part of the hiring process, so you will typically have to wait until the next round of hiring before you can try again.

What does the CritiCall Test measure?

The CritiCall test measures the likelihood of your success as an emergency dispatcher or call taker. The different modules measure your ability to react under pressure, transcribe information, and recall numbers, as well as basic math and reading comprehension.

Can I take CritiCall from home?

No, the CritiCall test is typically administered at the agency location where you are applying for a job. It requires a computer, headset, and recording device to complete the test, which are all available at the agency.

Free CritiCall Practice


  • Test Location: The CritiCall test is administered by the hiring agency, usually in their office.
  • Test Schedule: It generally takes place early in the hiring process, as a way to screen out candidates who will be unable to complete the job tasks or who will feel the nature of the job is not for them.
  • Test Format: Computerized simulation
  • Test Materials: You will take the test on a computer, and wear a headset. You may also have a microphone connected to the headset if the test includes verbal responses. 
  • Cost: The fee of the test is usually included within the job application fee ($0-$100)

Test Provider

The CritiCall test was created by Biddle Consulting Group and administered by the organization hiring the employee. It is used by public safety agencies to screen potential employees, as well as show candidates what the job as a dispatcher is like.

Disclaimer – All the information and prep materials on iPrep are genuine and were created for tutoring purposes. iPrep is not affiliated with Biddle Consulting Group.

Get a taste of the CritiCall Test by practicing with these sample questions: