So I hauled my little self down to my favorite place on the planet, The Salmon Creek Coffee Company, for a little study time. I mean, look how cute my coffee and muffin look:
Anyhow, it's the hippest little place in O-town:
And I go there every morning before work. Today I just wanted to get out of my house, and be all trendy and noir like the nursing students I see huddled around these tables every day, so I went to the coffee place for my study time.
My study time began with an overview of the CPAT, which stands for "Candidate Physical Ability Test." Unlike other physical fitness tests, like you might have in boot camp or something, the CPAT is a series of events where you simulate fire activities - a stair climb, dragging hoses and carrying equipment, ladder raise/extension, forcible entry, and ceiling breach and pull, to name a few. It involves a lot of pulling, twisting, climbing, obstacle courses in enclosed spaces. I kid you not - just looking at the sketches of the test SCARED ME. The thought of crawling through a dark tube, which is stuffed with obstacles and dangerous scary things, while wearing 75+ pounds of gear makes me throw up in my mouth a little. Seriously.
It all goes back to boot camp. (Yes, 90% of my phobias originate from my time in the military. Deal with it.) One day we all had to go into a gas chamber. Presumably the reason is, when we are exposed to mustard gas FOR REAL, we won't panic - we'll get all nostalgic about our boot camp days when we were 17, and rather than falling over dead, we'll just back-slap the person next to us and stroll off into the sunset, swapping stories from our old Navy days. Anyhow, the procedure is - you put on this gas mask (which was probably manufactured during the Truman administration) and huddle into this chamber filled with chlorobenzlyidene gas (non-lethal, lucky for us), stand there for a bit, remove your mask, say your name and social security number, and then run out into the fresh Orlando air. Well, Kat's mask had issues. I had a bad seal. So I got to suck CS gas for, like, 5 years longer than I should have. Or maybe it was only 30 seconds, but still. Have YOU ever been in a gas chamber? Thirty seconds=5 years. By the time I got out into the fresh Orlando air, I was pretty sure my lungs had imploded and to this day I still have no nasal hair.
Of course, the master of the human intellect being what it is, my brain didn't associate the near-death experience with the gas; it blames the MASK. So since that day I absolutely panic if I have any kind of mask covering my face. This, dear reader, is reason #80 on the list of "WHY KAT WILL NEVER ACTUALLY BE A FIREFIGHTER". I can't do the SCBA, and without the SCBA, I would die a horrible, oxygen-deprived fire death.
I tell you all this because this CPAT test overview was chock-full of sketches showing little firemen with air packs strapped to their back as they climbed, pulled, twisted, and obstacled their way around. Just SEEING a little DRAWING of those masks made my pulse race. Pathetic, I know.
So I moved on to the "diagnostic test". This little 100-question gem tests your knowledge of a set of categories at the beginning of your study process, so you know where to focus your energies when you do start studying. The idea being, I guess, that you aren't wasting your valuable time on the areas that you've already mastered.
Listening and Recall
Judgment and Decision Making
Mathematics and Science
Tools and Equipment
Dealing with People
The scoring scale rates you as "Excellent," "Good," "Fair," or "Poor." Anything less than "Excellent" indicates a weak area, according to Mr. Barron, Test Prep Book Writer Extraordinaire.
Before I tell you my scores, in my defense, let me say that in order to score "Excellent" you have to get a perfect score in every category except Reading Comprehension. In that one, you are allowed to miss 2 and still be "Excellent." I'm thinking, no sweat. Then I got out the score key.
I was not Excellent at anything.
I was "Good" at Dealing with People. I got a 90%. (stop for back pat here).
I was "Fair" at Mathematics and Science and Reading Comprehension. 80% on those 2. (insert awkward shuffle here).
I was "Poor" at EVERYTHING ELSE. The big loser was "Mechanical Devices," which featured a number of schematics involving pulleys and fulcrums and other stuff I probably learned, and ignored, in the military. I got a 50% there.
So basically, do not have to worry about wasting my time by over-studying ANY PORTION of the exam prep book. What a relief. I'm so happy I don't have to keep track of what NOT to study.