CritiCall Test: The Definitive Guide [Examples, Tips & Test Prep]

The research and writing of this page were contributed by HL Contreras, a former Public Safety Dispatcher who worked for six years at NCSO and MCCCD, four of them as a trainer of new 911 dispatchers and operators.

May Gilon

May, CritiCall Test Expert at JobTestPrep.

Have a question? Contact me at:

What to Expect on the CritiCall Test?

The CritiCall test is a competitive assessment for aspiring emergency service professionals designed to filter candidates looking to become 911 dispatchers. It is a computer-based cognitive assessment that evaluates crucial skills related to the job  like multi-tasking, typing speed, exceptional communication, and more. 

The CritiCall test consists of multiple "modules." Each module is designed to assess specific skills, and every agency can choose the modules that are most important to them.

Additionally, every agency and department can choose its own passing scores for each module.

(More on the CritiCall passing scores later on this page)

The company that made the CritiCall exam, Biddle Consulting (administered by Test Genius), created 25 different modules. However, most agencies choose to use up to 10 modules only, and they are usually similar across departments.

To try your hand at sample questions that will give you a taste of what the CritiCall exam is like, check out our free CritiCall practice test or learn more about how to become a 911 dispatcher. If you are interested in other positions, learn about Civil Service Exams.


Check out our CritiCall tutorial video, where we go over the fundamentals of the test:

Play Criticall test video
Criticall test video

JobTestPrep's CritiCall practice tests simulate the most common modules and their test format, so you can rest assured that you'll be fully prepared for anything.

Is the CritiCall Test Hard?

The CritiCall test is a difficult exam, especially if you've never done anything similar before. It simulates the challenging day-to-day tasks that any dispatcher is required to do, and it does so under immense time pressure.

Despite these difficulties, it's definitely possible to train yourself, improve your skills, and increase your chance of passing this 911 dispatcher test. And the CritiCall preparation pack that’s on this page will be your best companion in this process.


Now, let's go over the most frequently used CritiCall modules so you'll start to get the hang of them.

Quick Navigation Table:


CritiCall Typing Test (Keyboarding)

The CritiCall Typing Test is designed to examine your ability to accurately and efficiently input data, which is a crucial skill for 911 dispatchers. 

This is what you can expect from the test:

  • The most important thing to practice is your typing speed.
  • You'll be allowed five minutes to complete the test.
  • You may use the Backspace key but you won't receive credit for the Backspace keystrokes.
  • You will also recieve content other than letters, like numbers and symbols.

The minimum typing speed required from a 911 dispatcher and 911 operator candidate is set by the agency you’re applying to. That said, it’s recommended to reach a typing speed in the CritiCall typing test of 35 WPM and above,  and to be able to type at this speed for at least 5 minutes.

Our practice pack for the CritiCall typing test includes a unique typing software that follows you as you type and shows your accuracy, WPM, and more. This will help you track how your typing speed and accuracy improve the more you practice.

Here's how it looks:

CritiCall Typing Test Practice JobTestPrep

Full-Size View



You can find more typing test practice on our Employment Typing Test Pack or the Kenexa Typing Test.

CritiCall Decision-Making Test

  • Determine which appropriate emergency agency to send to a scene - Fire Department, Police, EMS, or Utility.
  • There will be specific instructions to help you decide which appropriate agency you should send (each department might have its own policies).
  • This section usually has a 30-minute time limit.

Example from the CritiCall Test:

CritiCall Decision Making Example

Example from JobTestPrep's Practice:

CritiCall Decision Making Practice JobTestPrep

The emergency messages on JobTestPrep's CritiCall practice resemble the different scenarios on the actual test and have the same time limits. This allows you to practice with realistic conditions and sharpen your decision-making skills under time pressure.


CritiCall Data-Entry Test

  • The CritiCall Data Entry test evaluates your ability to correctly enter data, such as names, license plate numbers / VIN numbers, addresses, telephone numbers, and other alphanumeric characters into their appropriate fields.
  • There are two Data Entry versions: (1) Split screen with the data on one side and empty fields on the other one. (2) An audio recording of an emergency call with a person who says all the details. You’ll need to fill out the boxes only with what you hear.
  • You'll be graded on the speed and accuracy of the data you enter into the correct boxes.
  • You'll also need to respond quickly to any emergency messages that appear at the bottom of the screen (similar to the Decision-Making section).
  • Failing to respond to a decision-making message within 15 seconds after the message appears will result in a lower score.

Here's how the first Data Entry version (non-audio) looks in JobTestPrep's practice pack:

CritiCall Data Entry Test Practice JobTestPrep


JobTestPrep’s CritiCall preparation pack includes thorough practice for the Data Entry part, which is one of the most important modules of the exam. This practice will help improve your data entry skills and multitasking abilities (multitasking between data entering and responding to emergency messages).

CritiCall Call Summarization Test

  • This CritiCall test section includes listening to short stories and/or details about certain people, summarizing the calls, and entering the relevant information into the appropriate fields boxes.
  • This section comes in three types and every agency might choose one or more of them:
  1. Short stories followed by a single multiple-choice question per story about the information heard.
  2. Personal info of the caller and a short story, followed by several multiple-choice questions.
  3. Same as the second type, plus you’ll need to respond to emergency messages that appear at the bottom of the screen (similar to the Decision-Making section).
  • Failing to respond to a decision-making message within 15 seconds after the message appears will result in a lower score.
  • You’ll be able to write notes on your computer while you listen to the recording. These notes will be helpful afterward when you answer the questions.

The Call Summarization is a vital section on the CritiCall test and appears almost on any agency’s test. That’s why JobTestPrep gave extra focus to this module and created 5 dedicated practice simulations and a thorough study guide.

CritiCall Cross-Referencing Test

  • This CritiCall test section measures your ability to use information from an address book list (names, addresses, phone numbers) or VIN numbers.
  • You’ll need to enter the correct information about a person into the appropriate boxes.
  • Data entered will be scored for accuracy.
  • You’ll need to respond to emergency messages that appear at the bottom of the screen. Failing to respond to a decision-making message within 15 seconds after the message appears will result in a lower score.
  • There are two versions for this module on the CritiCall test - non-audio and audio. In the audio version, you’ll hear the person’s information instead of reading it.

Here’s how the practice questions look on JobTestPrep’s prep kit:

CritiCall Cross Referencing Practice Question JobTestPrep

You’ll find six Cross-Ref. practice simulations (three written and three audible) in JobTestPrep’s prep package.

CritiCall Memory Recall Test

This module assesses your short term memory and is considered one of the hardest modules on the CritiCall test. It can appear in three types:

First Type:

In the first type, you’ll need to memorize a list with three pairs of words for 15 seconds. Then, you’ll be asked to match one word from the list with the word it was previously paired together.

For example, you may see the following list:




And then might be asked, “The word paired with NICKEL is…”

Second Type:

The second type is audio recall. For example, you may hear “5-B-3-6-G-1”. Then, there will be a 2-second pause and you’ll need to type what you’ve just heard.

Third Type:

In the third type, you’ll hear a series of 7-digit phone numbers (e.g “476-9472”) and you’ll need to type what you’ve heard in the exact same order.

* JobTestPrep’s CritiCall prep course includes practice simulations for all three versions.

Other tests like the Police written exam also has a memory skills test.


Important: you must not write down any information or take notes on this module. You must recall the information using your memory only. Writing down anything during this portion of the test will result in immediate failure for the entire test.

CritiCall Prioritization Test

  • This CritiCall test module assesses your ability to place information in order of priority based on rules provided in the alternatives.
  • You’ll see a factual statement and you should choose the BEST priority category for that statement.

Prioritization Sample Question:

Report of teenagers throwing rocks at parking cars.

Priority 1 - an immediate threat to life or healts
Priority 2 - an immediate threat to property
Priority 3 - a routine report or incident
Priority 4 - a public service or public education
Correct Answer
Incorrect Answer

In the CritiCall practice kit, you’ll find 5 Prioritization practice simulations that simulate the question types seen on the actual test.

CritiCall Map Reading Test

  • The CritiCall test map section is designed to evaluate your ability to use a map to determine the direction of travel as well as the fastest route to reach a destination.
  • Each map contains a compass that shows the map's directions (north, south, east, and west.

Map Reading Sample Question:

CritiCall Map Reading Practice Question JobTestPrep

What is the most direct route from the west entrance of the cafe to the intersection of Third Downhill street - while obeying traffic signs?

Turn north on Low street, and then turn east on Third street.
Turn south on Low street, then turn east on First street, and then turn north on Downhill street.
Turn south on Low street, then turn east on Second street, and then turn north on Downhill street.
Turn south on Low street, then turn west on First street, and then turn north on Downhill street.
Correct Answer
Incorrect Answer

From the west entrance of the cafe to the intersection of Third and Downhill street, the most direct route would be to turn left (south) on Low street (1-way street), then turn left (east) on First Street (1-way street), and then turn left (north) on Downhill street (2-way street).

JobTestPrep’s map reading questions strive to replicate the actual questions. Practicing them will improve your ability to read maps, calculate routes and follow directions.

CritiCall Sentence Clarity Test

In this CritiCall test module, you’ll see two passages, and you must choose the passage that is more clearly written.

Sentence Clarity Sample Question:

Choose the passage below that is most clear:

A. Growling and barking, the dog tore up the coat while the man watched helplessly.
B. Growling and barking, the man watched helplessly as the dog tore up the coat.

JobTestPrep’s practice includes 6 sentence clarity practice simulations to help sharpen your grammar skills and score higher on this module.

CritiCall Reading Comprehension Test

  • The Reading Comprehension section assesses the candidate's ability to comprehend written information and basic reasoning skills.
  • Each question includes a 100-150-word passage followed by a multiple-choice question with four answers.
  • The passages may include two types of content: incoming calls recordings, manuals, training materials used by emergency communications personnel or descriptions of tasks, protocols, assignments, and memos.

Job Testprep's CritiCall Reading Comprehension prep includes 10 practice simulations, ranging from basic to advanced level to ensure you master any Reading question on the test.


CritiCall Spelling Test

In this CritiCall test section, you’ll be presented with a sentence that has a missing word. An audio recording will read the full sentence and you will have to type the missing word based on what you heard.

JobTestPrep’s CritiCall prep package includes 12 Spelling practice simulations to help you pass this section with no sweat.


CritiCall Character Comparison Test

  • This CritiCall test module assesses your accuracy and attention to detail.
  • In each question, you’ll be presented with a string consisting of letters and digits. You must choose from four alternative strings that is EXACTLY the same as the target string.

JobTestPrep’s CritiCall prep pack includes 10 Character Comparison practice simulations with dozens of questions similar to the above.


CritiCall Math Test

  • The CritiCall Math section is designed to assess your math abilities (mainly basic skills) and your ability to solve job-related problems dealing with numbers and amounts.
  • It includes three question types: (1) basic arithmetics, (2) percentage word problems, and (3) distance, time , and speed word problems.
  • Calculators are not allowed.

CritiCall Numerical Sample Question:

Maria started to read the newspaper at 4:24 p.m.

The reading took her 57 minutes.

Nine minutes before she finished reading the newspaper, the phone rang.

What time was it when the phone rang?

4:33 p.m.
5:12 p.m.
5:15 p.m.
5:21 p.m.
Correct Answer
Incorrect Answer

The CritiCall prep package includes 8 Math practice simulations to help sharpen your numerical ability and basic math skills, even if you haven’t touched math for years.


Firefighter Exams also include math and numerical reasoning questions.


CritiCall Test Scores Explained

How is the CritiCall test graded?

Your CritiCall test score is graded using three metrics: Keystrokes-per Hour (KPH), Words-per-Minute (WPM), and percentage scores (%) of each section. These are accumulated into an overall score shown in percentages.

What is the passing score on the CritiCall test?

The average CritiCall passing score for most portions ranges between 70% to 75%. To pass the CritiCall test at some of the most competitive agencies, you'll often need to reach a cutoff score of 80% and even 90%. The cutoff scores are usually determined by testing existing dispatchers and setting the benchmarks according to their scores.

How long does it take to get the CritiCall dispatcher test results?

The results’ processing time depends on every agency’s hiring schedule. Some send the results immediately to candidates, while others send out the results only several weeks after all testing dates have been completed.

Can I retake the CritiCall test If I fail?

Every hiring department has its own retesting policy with no one-size-fits-all policy for the number of times you can retake it. In some agencies, you can retake the CritiCall tests after six months, and in others it’s possible only when they’re re-opening a position.

How do you know if you passed the CritiCall test?

It depends on the hiring department. Many agencies will send you a failure message on the test day. Others will send you an invitation to the next hiring stage. And the minority will show your exact score at the end of each section.


CritiCall Test Preparation Tips

Use the following tips and prep strategies to increase your chances of scoring high on the CritiCall tests:

  • Practice for the exam using a PC and a regular keyboard with a num pad. Avoid practicing with a laptop, Mac, or MacBook. On the real test, you’ll have regular PCs and keyboards, so you should feel comfortable using them.
  • Practice using “Tab” and “Shift-Tab” on your keyboard. On the real test, these keys will help you move quickly between boxes and speed up your typing.
  • To practice your typing speed and accuracy, type along to an audiobook. Let it get a few words ahead of you and see if you can keep up with good accuracy.
  • Practice your multi-tasking by typing a conversation you hear on the news or radio while holding a conversation with someone in the room.
  • Learn the CritiCall decision-making rules in advance. There are pre-determined rules for choosing the right emergency services to dispatch to a scene. Knowing them in advance can help you choose the right option quickly and avoid losing points on the test.


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