This page will walk you through the dispatcher typing test, a section that appears on almost any 911 dispatcher test, such as the CritiCall.

Typing quickly and accurately is vital to pass the exam AND to being successful in the dispatcher job (more on that later on).

That’s why mastering this skill prior to taking the dispatcher test can multiply your hiring chances.

Below, you’ll find useful info and practice tips to ensure you reach this goal and get one step closer to a job offer:

We compared four CritiCall test prep sites to find the ultimate resource that provides the most accurate, reliable, and comprehensive practice experience. Check the in-depth review on this page.

What to Expect on the Dispatcher Typing Test?

The dispatcher typing test (sometimes named the “Keyboarding” test) is a section of the 911 dispatcher test that measures your typing speed and accuracy. The typing speed is counted as words-per-minute (WPM) and to pass this section, you must reach a minimum WPM that’s determined by your hiring agency.

On this page, the focus will be on the CritiCall, which is the most common dispatcher test in the U.S. and Canada.

Once the CritiCall typing test begins, you’ll see two windows. The left one will be the text you need to type, and the right one will be the editing window (empty at the beginning).

Here’s how it looks on the real CritiCall test:

criticall-dispatcher-typing-test-example

You may use the Backspace key to correct errors, but it won’t be counted as a keystroke for the WPM calculation. The only things that are being measured are the typing speed and the number of errors.

Note that in most cases (unless otherwise instructed), you’ll have five minutes to complete this typing test. There will be a timer on the top corner of the screen showing the remaining time.

How Fast Do You Have to Type to Pass the 911 Dispatcher Typing Test?

Most departments and agencies require a minimum typing speed of 35 to 45 WPM. Some agencies list their typing speed (and even typing accuracy) requirements in the job posting. In these cases, you’ll know the exact speed you must reach.

Failing to reach this speed will usually fail the whole test, as this skill is crucial for the dispatcher’s job.

On the other hand, if you’re able to type at a speed of 90+ WPM, it can help you get noticed by your recruiters and leave a good impression. This may come in handy later on in the hiring process, especially in more competitive departments.

Why Is Typing Fast and Accurate So Important for Dispatch?

Almost any task that a 911 dispatcher or 911 call-taker must complete involves typing.

Some of these tasks include data entry, call summarization, writing reports, sending information to police officers and other emergency services, etc.

When you’re working in a fast-paced environment in which every minute can cost or save lives, it’s crucial to be able to get things done quickly and accurately.

That’s why candidates who can’t reach the minimum typing speed and accuracy get rejected immediately – although in some departments you’ll be allowed to retake the test.

What Matters Most for Dispatching – Typing Speed or Typing Accuracy?

Many test-takers find themselves asking this question. So, should you slow yourself down to be more accurate or should you type as fast as you can and then backspace your errors?

On the dispatcher test as well as on the actual dispatch job, accuracy is paramount.

If you type fast but with some errors here and there, you’ll still need to go back and fix these errors. And while you’re fixing them, the testing software will keep recording your WPM (backspace doesn’t count) and keep giving you information to type, thus slowing down your WPM.

Additionally, on the actual job, you first must be accurate, as the mistakes you make can potentially put the lives of your officers and civilians at risk.

Once you get hired, don’t worry about your typing speed. That’s because you’ll learn common and approved abbreviations to save time and type faster (but don’t use them on the dispatcher test even if you know them beforehand!).

Can Your Typing Form Hurt Your Chances of Passing the Test and Getting Hired?

Every person has a unique typing form. In fact, some typing forms have formal names, such as hunt and peck and touch typing.

The question is – can your typing form reduce your chances of passing the dispatcher typing test?

As a general rule, the only thing that matters on the CritiCall typing test (and other dispatcher typing tests) is the WPM and accuracy.

The recruiters don’t care at this point if you type with only two fingers or if you do it like a seasoned typist.

However, if you use a typing form in which you constantly need to look at the keyboard (like hunt and peck), it may slow your WPM significantly.

So, to pass this section and excel at your future job, it’s better to adopt a more efficient typing style, such as touch typing (also called blind typing).

People who master touch-typing can keep their eyes on the screen all the time, while relying on their muscle memory to find the correct keys without having to take a glance at the keyboard.

4 Free Websites to Level Up Your Typing Skills

To get practice questions for other CritiCall sections (other than the typing test), visit the free CritiCall practice test on this page.

Here’s a list of four free websites to help you practice and improve your typing skills.

TestGenius Typing Test

  • Typing practice tests straight from the CritiCall test provider (TestGenius)
  • The closest thing to the real test but only has two very short tests
  • You can’t use it to improve your skills, but only to get a feel for the actual platform

typing.com

  • Has several levels: beginner, intermediate, advanced
  • Shows your WPM and accuracy
  • Teaches you proper hand position and typing techniques
  • Combines typing tests and games

typingtest.com

  • Tests, lessons, and games to practice your typing tests
  • Gives your WPM and accuracy
  • Includes typing contests against typists from around the world

typelit.io

  • Practice typing by retyping entire classic novels
  • Shows your WPM and accuracy

Fail-Proof Practice for the Dispatcher Typing Test (and Other Test Sections)

Typing is a crucial aspect of the CritiCall and other dispatcher tests, but it’s not the only one.

There are usually 10+ additional sections you must pass with a certain score to pass the whole test. So, just mastering your typing skills is not enough.

From our experience, the best way to prepare for these sections is by using practice tests that feel like the real thing and target the same dispatcher skills. This will enable you to practice under realistic conditions, improve the abilities needed to master the exam, and reduce the stress levels on test day.

We recommend using JobTestPrep’s CritiCall practice as it’s the most comprehensive prep kit available right now. It includes dozens of CritiCall practice tests (including for the typing section) that mirror the actual exam.

It also comes in handy if you’re taking other 911 dispatcher tests, as many of the CritiCall test parts resemble sections of other dispatcher tests.

Get accurate and realistic practice for the CritiCall Dispatcher typing test (and 13 other test sections).

Quick Useful Tips to Enhance Your Performance

  • Don’t practice typing using your laptop’s keyboard, because on the actual test you’ll have a desktop keyboard with a Num Pad. You want to be as comfortable as you can when using a desktop keyboard, or it might reduce your WPM. So, if you don’t have one, we recommend getting a cheap $10 keyboard, connect it to your laptop, and practice using it.
  • To be on the safe side, you can call you hiring agency and ask what kind of keyboard they’re using. This way, you’ll be able to get the same one for practicing purposes. For example, several agencies use Apple computers that have keyboards with smaller keys and a different layout, so you should be ready for that.
  • Practice your alphanumerical typing as this is where many people make mistakes. That’s because most people aren’t used to typing numbers in the middle of letters, such as VIN numbers and license plates.
  • The most efficient way (according to dispatchers) to type alphanumeric characters is by putting your right hand on the Num Pad and your left hand on the main keyboard. Don’t bother using the top row numbers as they’ll probably slow you down.

Conclusion

This was a thorough overview of the Dispatcher typing test, the most common module on the CritiCall and other dispatcher tests.

You’ve learned why strong typing skills are vital to being a successful dispatcher, saw what things can hurt your typing speed or accuracy, and more.

Additionally, we recommended a few practice sites to improve your overall typing skills as well as to get prepped for other CritiCall modules.

To access more information and practice tips for the CritiCall, make sure you visit these pages on our site:

How to Prepare for the CritiCall Test (5 Unique Tips)
In-depth Overview of the Hardest CritiCall Question Types
Review of the Best CritiCall Test Prep Options
CritiCall Test Results Guide
CritiCall Map Reading Practice Guide