The National Firefighter Selection Inventory (NFSI)

The NFSI firefighter test has been designed by I/O Solutions to measure abilities that are important in a successful career as a firefighter. The test is divided into two sections, the first section assess non-cognitive traits and includes a measure of personality attributes, and the second section is an assessment of cognitive abilities. The full NFSI has a time limit of 2½ hours.

While the NFSI include job-related questions you will not require any firefighting experience or knowledge to pass the test.

Other than pen and paper, no aids are allowed during the test. No dictionaries, spelling aids and web-enabled devices are allowed, and most importantly no calculators.

Non-cognitive Traits

The NFSI measures three personality attributes:

  • Stress tolerance
  • Team orientation
  • Motivation/attitude

The behavioral characteristics section consists of a five-point scale format, from “Strongly Disagree” to “Strongly Agree.” This section contains 50 items.

You cannot prepare for the non-cognitive traits section because this section requires the most simple answers from you: the honest ones. Make sure that you answer truthfully to these questions, do not answer what you believe they want you to answer. If you try to cheat in the test by answering untruthfully it may damage your chances of passing the test. Personality tests are build in such a way that untruthful answers will result in inconsistencies in your personality report.

Cognitive Abilities

The second section of the NFSI measures eight different abilities. The test is laid out in a multi-choice format, consisting of four answer options. The test consists of 105 questions.
The eight abilities measured can be divided into the categories below:

  • Deductive Reasoning: You are presented with a set of rules or procedures. You have to apply these rules/procedures to a given situation to answer the question. I.E. selecting the most suitable firefighter equipment to use in a given situation.
  • Inductive Reasoning: From a list or paragraph of information you are to find and combine specific details that will help you arrive at a conclusion in order to answer the question. I.E. drawing a conclusion from a list of witness statements.
  • Information Ordering: Rearrange a list of instructions, procedures or statements in order to sequence the list correctly. I.E. the list of steps on how to operate a fire hose has been shuffled, you have to rearrange the list again.
  • Mathematical Reasoning: Your ability to perform basic arithmetic calculations and ability to choose the correct mathematical formula to use in a given situation. You will see charts, tables, simple text questions, and complex test questions.
  • Number Facility: Calculate to find the answers to numerical word problems by using addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, percentages, ratios, decimals, averaging and square measures.
  • Problem Sensitivity: Your ability to recognize a problem in a given scenario is tested. You are not asked to solve the problem, only to identify it.
  • Written Comprehension: You are to read a passage of text and answer questions based on this text. The questions may require you to simply recall or to extract specific facts from the passage or to draw conclusions based on the text.
  • Written Expression: Your grammar, spelling, vocabulary and general English usage is assed. I.E. a short sentence with missing word(s) is provided; you have to select the answer that correctly completes the sentence.


Preparing for the Cognitive Abilities section of the test will lead to a dramatically improved chance of passing the NFSI. One way of preparing is simply by completing as many aptitude tests as you can and try to find your weak areas in order to improve them. However, focused preparation is far more effective and less time consuming. Our preparation software not only include test questions specifically designed for the NFSI, but also preparation tools that will make your training more efficient and focused.

NFSI Scoring

In the non-cognitive traits section a score is given in the two sub-sections and a combined score for the full non-cognitive section is calculated based on the score from the two sub-sections. In the cognitive abilities section a score is given in each of the eight categories and a combined score for the full cognitive section is calculated based on these scores.
Finally each of the two sections will be combined into one overall score given on a 100-point scale. Each individual section and sub-section of the NFSI will be considered in the assessment of your final score

Scores are based on the number of correct answers, there is no penalty to incorrect answers. Therefore, it is very important that you answer all test questions, even at a random guess will have a 25% chance of hitting th correct answer.


NFSI Test Preparation

Preparation is important in order to obtain a good score on the Cognitive Abilities section of the NFSI test. In reading our information about the test, you have already covered the first point on our list of tips for preparation in advance of the test day.


Well in advance of the test day

  • Know what to expect on test day.
  • Familiarize yourself with the type of test questions in the NFSI.
  • Practice sample NFSI questions. Use the sample questions to find your weak areas and make sure you brush up your skills within these areas.
  • A healthy body is important for a healthy mind. Eat well, get enough sleep and make sure you get regular exercise; this will make a positive difference not only in your everyday life, but also in your test results.


The day before the test

  • The day before your test, make especially sure that you eat well and avoid alcohol.
  • Arriving late for the test or even just in time can cause nervousness and bad results. Make sure you have everything ready the day before and that you know exactly where to go and how to get there.
  • Get plenty of rest the night before the test.


Tips for taking the NFSI test:

  • On the day of your test, eat a good breakfast, even if you normally skip it. You need to keep your mental focus on your test and not on your hunger. If you really cannot stomach food, then try having a protein shake or smoothie. Eat brain-boosting food, this includes protein-rich foods which can lead to greater mental alertness. Good food choices include eggs, nuts, yogurt, and cottage cheese.
  • Listen carefully to the instructions given by the test administrator.
  • Take note of the start and end times of the test as given by the test administrator.
  • Read the directions for each test carefully before you begin the test.
  • Read each question carefully before selecting your answer.
  • Pay attention to the time. Avoid spending too much time on one question, if that means you won’t have time to answer later questions. Remember you can always skip a question and return to it later.
  • When you don’t know the answer to a question, try using the method of elimination: rule out as many incorrect choices as you can, and then make an educated guess from the remaining answers.
  • If your time is running out it is better to guess the remaining questions instead of leaving them blank, there is no penalty for a wrong answer.
  • If you have spare time, make sure to revisit all test questions, in an exam situation it is easy to make small mistakes such as misreading a question or choosing a wrong option by mistake.


Preparation can make a huge difference on your test results. We strongly believe that our software offers the best NFSI preparation on the market. Click below to read more about our preparation software here.