Foreign Service Exam

Foreign Service Exam: The Definitive Guide

– Everything in your FSOT test registration will be used in further steps towards the FSO selection process.

– Those who pass the FSOT exam will be asked to send a Personal Narrative.

– The pass rate for the exam is less than 25%.

The Foreign Service Exam, or the FSOT is an exam that is required for anyone that has an interest in working for the U.S. State Department. The FSOT is important to the selection process to become a Foreign Officer and determines whether or not you will move on to the next step in the hiring process. The exam covers job knowledge, English Expression, a Biographic Questionnaire, and a Written Essay.

While this seems like a lot of information that you’ll need to remember and can be stressful, take a few minutes to look over our tips on how you can ace the FSOT!

1. Learn the basics about the Foreign Service Exam
Understanding what is on the exam and what you can expect can help you go a long way. Take time to understand how many questions are in each section, how each section is scored, how much time you have on each section, etc. To learn more about the FSOT exam, read through the Test Information and Selection Process on the official website.

Here’s what you need to know about the FSOT exam:

• The first three sections of the FSOT exam contains multiple-choice questions.
• You MUST choose a career track before registering for the FSOT exam.
• The Writing section of the FSOT allows you 30 minutes to write an essay over an assigned topic.

FSOT Secrets Study Guide
FSOT Secrets Study Guide

2. FSOT Study Guide
When you’re preparing for any exam, it’s always important to have a study guide. While the FSOT exam is not exactly an easy exam to study for, you still need to do it and a study guide can help you along the way. You need to have a study guide that has a good layout of the information that you’ll need to know for the exam. While an FSOT study guide won’t teach you about the current economics or international relations, it will give you a brush up on the English Expression section where you’ll be asked to find grammatical errors and draw conclusions.

3. Create a Study Plan
The FSOT exam is more than just English knowledge and economics. You’ll also be given questions over other areas such as statistics, world history, pop culture, and technology. You’ll need to know a lot of information. Because you’ll need to remember a lot of information, it’s best to create a study plan. You should start by making a list of the subjects that will be on the exam and list them from your weakest to strongest. Maybe your strong point is with Geography and your weak point is in pop culture. Use this as a guide to know which areas you should study more of.

4. Know Your Current Events
Part of the written exam on the FSOT will ask you about political structures and modern world conflicts. Because you’ll be asked about these subjects, its best that you know your current events, so it’s important that you keep up with the news. The best way to keep up with the news, other than watching it on television, is to read a daily newspaper and content that you can find online. The New York Times and The Washington Times are two good resources that you should read when you’re preparing for the FSOT. You don’t necessarily need to read them from cover to cover, but you do need to understand what is going on in the world.

5. FSOT Practice Test
A major part of passing the FSOT is getting as much experience with answering FSOT type questions as much as possible. Taking a practice test will help you with this. Plus, if you’re not sure if you’re ready to take the actual exam, this is the best thing to do. Not only will you be able to see if you’re ready or not, but you’ll also know a little bit more about the formatting and details about the exam. You’ll also be able to see which areas of the FSOT exam you will need more work on.

FSOT Flashcards Study System
FSOT Flashcards Study System

6. Read Carefully
You’ll probably have the urge to read the directions and the questions quickly, but that is not a good idea. You will need to make sure to take your time to carefully read both the directions and the questions. Reading fast will only make you miss keywords or concepts that you’ll need to know and this can lead to making a mistake and answering the question incorrectly.

7. Skip if You’re Not Sure
There may be times that you’re not sure of the answer to a question. If that happens, you can simply skip that question and move on to the next. As long as there is time remaining and you have no exited the exam, you can go back to the questions you skipped and answer them. Once you have exited the exam, you will not be able to go back in to answer those questions.

8. It’s Okay to Guess
The Job Knowledge and English Expression sections contain multiple-choice questions and it’s to your advantage to answer each question. However, if you come across a question that you’re not sure what the answer is even after you’ve skipped and gone back to it, it’s okay to take a guess at the answer. On the FSOT, there is no penalty for guessing. The number of questions that you get correct determines your test score. So, instead of leaving the answer blank, take a guess.

If you need more information about the FSOT exam, visit the U.S. Department of State career page.

FSOT Test Dates

FSOT Test Dates

Foreign Service Exam FAQ

What is the FSOT exam?

The Foreign Service Exam is required for anyone that has an interest in working for the U.S. State Department.

What does the Foreign Service exam determine?

The exam determines whether an individual has the knowledge in order to move on to the next step of the hiring process to become a Foreign Officer.

How many times can I retake the FSOT exam?

You can retake the test once a year.

How often is the exam offered?

The exam is offered three times a year.

What is on the Foreign Service exam?

The FSOT contains four components: • Job Knowledge • English Expression and Usage • Biographic Information • Essay

Are the questions on the test multiple-choice?

Yes. The questions on the exam are multiple-choice.

How long does it take to complete the Foreign Service exam?

The FSOT exam takes 210 minutes to complete.


Published by

Jay Willis

Jay Willis joined Mometrix as Vice President of Sales in 2009, and has developed several key strategic relationships that have enhanced the distribution of Mometrix products. With nearly 20 years of sales experience in the publishing industry, his dedication to providing the highest quality experience for customers, coupled with his sales and marketing expertise, has resulted in significant growth of the Institutional Sales division. Learn more