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Dispatch - Written Exam Requirements

9-11 Dispatcher & Communications Officer

The Dispatcher Selection Tool (DST™) was designed to measure numerous areas that are related to successful performance as a dispatcher. The DST™ contains cognitive ability questions that are presented in two formats: oral and written. It is important to note that the DST™ does not measure job-specific knowledge or any specific skills that require specialized training. You will not need any specific dispatcher knowledge or skills to succeed on the DST™.

In order to better familiarize you with the diversity of questions you will experience in the cognitive section of the DST™, the following table will describe each cognitive ability area and the manner in which it might be demonstrated on the job.

  • Deductive Reasoning: Deductive reasoning is the ability to apply rules and principles to make decisions about what to expect from a specific situation. Dispatchers often use this skill when they apply certain procedures (e.g., CPR, Poisoning, etc.) to aid victims in a situation.
  • Inductive Reasoning: Inductive reasoning is the ability to combine specific pieces of information to arrive at a conclusion about what the causal relationship is between those pieces of information and the resulting outcome. Dispatchers frequently exercise this ability when they take in multiple pieces of information and then make decisions about how to react to a scenario based on that information.
  • Information Ordering: Information ordering is the ability to identify the best or proper order of given actions or steps. This ability is fundamental to understanding the proper order of steps in performing a specific task safely. Dispatchers must piece together the proper order of events from information provided by caller.
  • Oral Comprehension: Oral comprehension is the ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences. Dispatchers use this ability as a primary source of acquiring information from callers.
  • Selective Attention: Selective attention is the ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted. Dispatchers must be able to focus on the information provided by the caller in the presence of background noise and static.
  • Spatial Orientation: Spatial orientation is the ability to understand how to navigate within spaces or how to get from one point to another. Dispatchers require this ability to assign proper units to incidents based upon their proximity, and need to be able to provide responding units with information of how to get to an incident scene.
  • Speech Recognition: Speech Recognition is the ability to identify and understand the speech of another person. Dispatchers interact with callers as their primary job and must be able to understand the speech of callers.
  • Written Comprehension: Written comprehension is simply the ability to read the English language and understand what is being communicated. This involves an understanding of vocabulary, grammatical structure, punctuation and literary style. Dispatchers are required to read and understand a vast amount of training materials and are confronted with on-going professional training throughout their career that is presented in a written format. Dispatchers also have to read and understand policies, procedures and other written material.
  • Written Expression: Written expression is the ability to communicate intended thoughts using the English language. This ability requires an understanding of vocabulary, grammatical structure, punctuation and syntax. Dispatchers are responsible for taking notes from callers and creating reports of incidents, as well as communicating information through logs and records; therefore, dispatchers must be able to communicate intelligently and professionally via the written word. It is necessary to understand how to spell common words, properly use and pair parts of language (e.g., nouns, verbs, articles, etc.), punctuate sentences properly, and compose meaningful sentences.

Once your payment is received for your testing fees, you will be emailed an Introductory Test Guide for the written examination.

You must score at least 70% on the written examination to be considered "Passing" on this portion of the exam process.

Typing Test

The typing test is a critical component of your written test score and you are required to complete the online typing test before the day of your exam. You will be allowed four (4) attempts at the typing test every seven (7) days and are responsible for selecting the score that you want PST to forward to the agencies you have applied with.

You must complete this step by choosing "Typing Tests" from your drop-down menu when you are logged into your PST account. Failure to complete the typing test may result in an automatic disqualification from the hiring process, as there will be no score to report to the agencies.

Most agencies require a minimum of 35 WPM, 90% accuracy, unless the department you are applying to requires a higher or lower WPM score. You can view individual agency requirements on the agency profile pages.

Study Guides

Study Guide

Once you complete your test registration process, you will be provided a free basic introductory guide to review prior to your test date. 

A Preparation Guide, seeks to provide critical information about the DST™ that will allow you to prepare for the test-taking experience, hone your cognitive skills, minimize test-related anxiety and is available for purchase.