The S P A C E Technique
S Select key information. You probably do not have enough time to memorize every word or every squiggle on the page. Memorize what seems to be important. Memorization questions will focus on what would be important in a real job situation. For instance, at a fire scene the number of firefighters on the scene, number of firefighter apparatus, number of hoselines going into a building, direction of wind, address and street location of the incident, location of the fire (what floor, what section of the building) are important.
P Picture things and events and persons in your mind. Close your eyes for a few seconds and form a mental picture of things, people or events which are being described. The brain works more efficiently with pictures than with words. If you are memorizing some kind of scene, imagine yourself taking a walk through it from one end to the other.
A Arrange things and events in some order in your mind. Information which is grouped in some way or in some order is easier to remember. Count things, e.g., 5 firefighters, 3 engine companies, 2 ladder companies, 4 hoselines. For picture material, draw two mental lines through the picture to divide it into quarters, then note what is in each quarter. Notice what is next to what, what is above or below.
C Compare things. For a picture or diagram, compare the contents of each quarter of the drawing. If there are several items you may have to distinguish from one another (like rooms in a floor plan, or faces or diagrams of two different pieces of equipment) compare them to one another as you are memorizing. Making comparisons helps you become more conscious of details.
E Exercise your memory. Go back to a section of a picture you already memorized. Repeat items to yourself. Repeat them. Repeat. Go back and repeat again.
Technique: Test your memory continuously. As you memorize more information, keep checking that you remember what you already worked on. Keep testing yourself. You can test yourself by asking over and over something like the 4 W’s if it is a story: Who? What? When? Where? If it is not a story, you may be asking yourself: What? Where? How many?
Fingering the Information. During the Memorization part of the exam you will not be permitted to hold a pencil in your hand. But your fingers will be not taken away from you. Your index finger will assist you in remembering.
Use your finger to circle, trace, underline, poke at, or emphasize in any way the important details. Information in picture form should be literally traced with your finger. With a floorplan or diagram of a building layout, ’walk through’ it with your finger, taking note of important items. Fingerwork will reinforce what your eyes see. When you are doing this sort of fingerwork on a test, it may look weird to somebody else, but being odd in this way may help you get the job.
About the author:
Brent Collins is currently Assistant Fire Chief, Cleveland Fire Department and President of Don McNea Fire School. He is a very generous and helpful person and is always available to help with your goal to become a firefighter. Visit his website for more information on test taking strategies and advice.
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