Firefighter Aptitude Test – NFST (OFAI), OS (Gledhill Shaw), CPS

The firefighter aptitude test can sometimes seem overwhelming but once you break it down and practice each individual section, you will soon see that the fire exam can usually be passed with little effort. 

On this page we will break down:

  • The most common firefighter aptitude test questions
  • Explain the different types of firefighter aptitude tests
  • Teach you what to expect on test day
  • Provide you with suggestions on how to pass the firefighter aptitude test
  • Give you a Free Sample Firefighter Practice Exam (PDF format) to download and practice

Types of Firefighter Aptitude Tests

There are three types of commonly used firefighter aptitude tests in Canada. They are as follows:

  1. CPS - Cooperative Personnel Services Test
  2. OS - Occupational Skills Assessment
  3. NFST - National Fire Select Test (Used by OFAI - Ontario Fire Administration Inc.)
Cooperative Personnel Service Test

Cooperative Personnel Services Test

The Cooperative Personnel Service Test (CPS) is a multiple-choice firefighter aptitude test. You will find a total of 100 questions on this test and you are given a time limit of 2-hours to complete the examination.

This test assesses your knowledge, skills, and aptitudes necessary to succeed as a firefighter in today's environment. 

The test is a series of questions, divided into sections to gauge your understanding of written and oral information, arithmetic reasoning, maps, diagrams, and mechanical drawings.

A passing score of 70 or higher is usually required.

The CPS test contains the following components:

  • Listen to passage (Oral Information passage) - 20 Questions
  • Mathematics - 20 Questions
  • Mechanical Aptitude - 20 Questions
  • Reading Comprehension - 25 Questions
  • Work Relations (Dealing with People) - 15 Questions
OS Firefighter Aptitude Test – NFST (OFAI), OS (Gledhill Shaw), CPS

Occupational Skills Assessment (OS)

The written assessment test (Occupational Skills Assessment) is also commonly referred to as the Gledhill Shaw OS Firefighter Test or the Occupational Specific Firefighter (OSFF) Test.

Gledhill/Shaw Enterprise Ltd. is the provider for firefighter tests of different Canadian Fire Departments.

The three tests Gledhill Shaw provides are:

  1. The Written Aptitude Test
  2. The Written Assessment Test
  3. The Physical Test

A majority of these tests consist of emergency response scenarios and workplace-related questions, which makes it slightly different than the CPS testing process.

The Written Assessment Test is a computer-based test. It serves as a functional characteristics readiness assessment on functional characteristics that are essential for firefighter performance.

A series of questions are asked relating to specific emergency scenarios and workplace environments, as well as basic mathematical and logical reasoning.

The OS Firefighter Aptitude Test has a time limit of 2 hours and 15 minutes, where you will have to answer 250 questions.

NFST Firefighter Aptitude Test – NFST (OFAI), OS (Gledhill Shaw), CPS

National Fire Select Test (NFST)

The National Fire Select Test (used by OFAI - Ontario Fire Admininstration Inc.) is a pass/fail type test designed for an entry-level firefighter. It consists of two sections:

  1. General Aptitude Test
  2. Personality Inventory

The General Aptitude Test includes the following categories, similar to the CPS firefighter aptitude test:

  • Reading Ability
  • Mathematical Reasoning
  • Map Reading
  • Writing Ability
  • Human Relations (includes interpersonal skills, teamwork, commitment, honesty, integrity, and emotional stability)
  • Reasoning Skills (includes reasoning, vocabulary, mechanical aptitude, and spatial rotation)

The Personality Inventory portion of this firefighter aptitude test measures your work attitude, ethics and morality and looks to catch various anti-social behaviors (theft attitudes, anti-social admissions, drug attitudes, etc).

Here are some details on taking the National Fire Select Test specifically with Ontario Fire Administration Inc (OFAI):

  • The National Fire Select Test is completed in a computer lab environment.
  • You are given two hours and thirty minutes to complete the test.
  • If passed, the results are valid for 24 months.
  • If failed, you can re-take the test after fifteen days (if it's your first attempt).
  • If failed and it's your second attempt, you can re-take the test after thirty days on all of your following attempts.

What To Expect The Day Of Your Firefighter Aptitude Test

On the day of your test, it's highly recommended you arrive one hour prior to ensure adequate parking and to complete any extra paperwork required at sign in. 

You should plan to be there to complete the assessment for the next 2-4 hours (depending on the type of test) including sign in and sign out. 

Always bring some water, snacks, and dress appropriately - business casual is always recommended as there may be chiefs in the area.

All cell phones must be turned off and jackets and hats placed underneath your chair prior to the testing start.

As mentioned above, the NFST is a test that takes place on a computer while the CPS is usually on scantron cards. 

What Types of Problems Can I Expect On The Firefighter Aptitude Test?

Listed below are the types of questions you might encounter on your firefighter aptitude test.


Listen to passage (Oral Information Problems)

The listen to passage section asses your ability to comprehend and remember the information being provided to you. It's a necessary skill as you must have the ability to understand one another and the public.


Mathematics Problems

Mathematics allows the fire department to see your ability to manipulate data represented by symbols to produce information in a form that is more useful than the original data. This is important because we are constantly called upon to make decisions based on mathematics.


Mechanical Aptitude Problems

Mechanical Aptitude tests your ability to understand the principles of mechanics. There are two basic types of machines. These are simple and compound machines. Both very important to understand.


Reading Comprehension Problems 

Reading comprehension asses your ability to read a passage and identify relevant information from that passage. For example, they may ask you to put items in the passage into some order or to express the original idea in a clear format.


Work Relations Problems (Human Relations)

Work relations is very important to understand when taking the firefighter aptitude test. In your career, you will interact with many people. This section checks to see how you would react in certain situations.


Writing Ability Problems

Writing Ability tests how effectively you can communicate your ideas and formulate an appropriate response in a given time.


Map Reading Problems

Map reading problems tests your ability to make judgments about how to traverse areas in the most direct route without breaking the laws or rules.

How Can I Prepare For The Firefighter Aptitude Test?

In order to properly prepare for the firefighter aptitude test, you must first develop good study habits.

While everyone has different study habits, here are some helpful tips:

  1. Study without interruption for at least 30-60 minutes.
  2. Simulate examination conditions when studying.
  3. Read, study, and take practice examinations.
  4. Make sure you understand every answer to your firefighter sample questions.
  5. Establish a schedule for studying, and stick to it.
  6. Hire a professional coach. (You can find one here.)
  7. Follow the recommended techniques for answering multiple-choice questions.

Career coaches can assist you on your journey to become a firefighter by helping you navigate the various practice tests, firefighter aptitude study manuals, and guide you through the specifics of each style of firefighter recruitment testings.

You might find the best way to get better at the firefighter aptitude test is through experience in writing them, by applying to various fire departments and participating in different recruitment process' to help to increase your odds of getting hired.

This allows you to get a better understanding of the types of questions asked and become aware of the time constraints for each style of tests.

On the other hand, due to the cost of applying to various departments, it should be noted that this can prove to be expensive. It's recommended you take the time to practice before using this method.

Free Firefighter Practice Exam PDF Download