The CritiCall is considered a hard exam since it simulates some of the difficult tasks that dispatchers need to do on the job.

Test-takers with no dispatch experience will likely find the test harder, but prior preparation can help improve your performance and test score.

Below, we’ll go over the things that make this test challenging, so that you know exactly what you’re up against. This includes:

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 CritiCall test?

The CritiCall is a pre-employment test that agencies use to determine if you have the necessary skills and abilities to start training to become a 911 dispatcher or 911 call-taker.

To evaluate these skills, agencies use multiple test sections, also known as “modules,” that simulate the tasks and duties of a typical public safety dispatcher.

Originally, the company that invented the CritiCall (Biddle Consulting / Test Genius) created 25 different modules. But today, almost all agencies and departments use up to 10 modules on a single test.

Here’s a list of the most common test sections:

  • Typing (Keyboarding)
  • Decision-Making
  • Data Entry
  • Call Summarization
  • Cross-Referencing
  • Memory Recall
  • Prioritization
  • Map Reading
  • Sentence Clarity
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Spelling
  • Character Comparison

Out of this long list, several modules are objectively more challenging than others and will probably keep you on your toes.

Below, we’ll cover them one by one:

What Are the Hardest Sections of the CritiCall?

To get additional CritiCall practice questions that resemble the actual test, visit the CritiCall sample test on this page.

Data Entry MT (Audio)

In this module, you’ll need to correctly enter data you hear through your headset into the proper boxes. This data includes names, addresses, phone numbers, license plates, VINs, and more.

Here’s how the data boxes look:

CritiCall Data Entry Fields Example
Source: JobTestPrep

What makes this section challenging:

  • The information you hear will frequently change in its order. So, in some questions, you’ll have the phone number before the name and address, and in other questions, it will be the opposite. This means that you must stay attentive to the details you hear.
  • This module has a multitasking feature (MT means “Multitasking”), in which you’ll need to respond to emergency messages that appear in the bottom corner of your screen.

Here’s an example of a multitasking question:

A couple got stuck in an elevator of a building. What agency should you dispatch?

CritiCall Decision Making Example
  • You’ll be graded on two parameters: (1) your ability to enter the data quickly and accurately and (2) respond to the emergency message correctly within 15 seconds from its appearance.

Call Summarization MT

In this section, you’ll hear recordings of short stories and personal details of 911 callers.

While listening to the recording, you’ll need to fill out the caller’s details as well as notes about their story.

After each recording, you’ll see multiple-choice questions about the information you’ve just heard.

What makes this section challenging:

  • Often, you’ll have a lot of details to write in your virtual notepad and you might miss some of them if you don’t pay close attention and type fast enough. The questions that follow the recording are based on your notes, so failing to write them may cause you to answer the questions wrong.
  • This module includes a Multitasking (MT) feature that will “interrupt” while you’re listening to the audio and taking notes.
  • You’ll be graded on three parameters: (1) entering the correct details into the proper boxes, (2) answering the questions accurately, and (3) responding to the emergency messages correctly and within 15 seconds.

Memory Recall (Audio) – Alphanumeric

This section measures your ability to remember combinations of letters and numbers (alphanumeric), such as license plates or medical identification numbers.

You’ll hear a recording of the combination once, then there will be a short pause, and you’ll need to type what you’ve just heard.

What makes this section challenging:

  • The combinations may be as long as 9 letters and numbers, which make them tough to recall.
  • You’re not allowed to take notes or write down anything in this section. Test-takers who get caught doing so will fail the whole test.

Cross Referencing (Audio)

In this module, you’ll hear questions about personal details that appear in a long address book. These details include names, addresses, and phone numbers.

Your task is to quickly locate the correct person in the address book and enter the required detail into the right box.

Here’s an illustration of this section:

CritiCall Cross Referencing Practice Question Sample
Source: JobTestPrep

What makes this section challenging:

  • It takes time to scroll through the long list and find the details you were asked about. While you’re searching for them, you’ll have emergency messages that pop up and distract your attention.
  • Some of the questions are tricky since they give you only partial details of the person you need to find in the address book. Also, some details are intentionally similar (John/Johnson, Queen St./Queen Rd.)
  • You’ll be graded on two parameters: (1) your ability to enter the data quickly and accurately and (2) respond to the emergency message correctly within 15 seconds from its appearance.

Prioritization

In this section, you’ll be tested on one of the most important dispatcher skills – the ability to prioritize incidents.

You’ll see statements describing emergency situations or incidents and you’ll need to choose how to prioritize them.

What makes this section challenging:

Some questions could be a real head-scratcher and you’ll find it hard to choose between two of the answer choices. See these two questions for example:

Report of teenagers throwing rocks from a bridge over a freeway. Choose the priority of this situation.

A. Priority 1 – An immediate threat to life or health
B. Priority 2 – An immediate threat to property
C. Priority 3 – A routine report or incident
D. Priority 4 – A public service or public education

A store owner suspects that an absent worker has been stealing money and expensive supplies from his store.

A. Priority 1 – An immediate threat to life or health
B. Priority 2 – An immediate threat to property
C. Priority 3 – A routine report or incident
D. Priority 4 – A public service or public education

Map Reading

The CritiCall map reading section evaluates your ability to use and interpret a map to find the direction of travel as well as the fastest route to reach a destination.

What makes this section challenging:

  • Some of the maps are packed with details, making them quite overwhelming to analyze under time pressure.
  • Some questions are very long and you must pay close attention to their details so that you get the question right.
  • The answer choices can be tricky as they resemble each other with only small differences between them.

Best CritiCall Practice Resources to Master the Exam

To increase your chances of acing these difficult sections (and the rest of the CritiCall modules), we recommend practicing with test simulations that resemble the actual sections.

This will ensure that you know exactly what to expect on each question and improve the specific dispatcher skills needed to pass these portions.

Currently, the most comprehensive and accurate CritiCall preparation is JobTestPrep’s CritiCall practice.

It includes 100+ practice tests divided into 14 modules that simulate the most common modules of the exam (including the sections we covered on this page).

Get 100+ CritiCall practice tests simulating the real exam to help you pass the test.

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)
CritiCall Map Reading Practice Guide
Review of the Best CritiCall Test Prep Options
CritiCall Test Results Guide
CritiCall Typing Test Prep Guide