If someone is considering working for the U.S. State Department, they may consider learning how to pass the FSOT, or Foreign Service Officer Test. This exam consists of questions related to many subjects: geography, history, math, economics, culture, English, and even a biographical report section. In addition to passing the exam, applicants may need to take an Oral Assessment, obtain a medical or security clearance, and more. The exam itself is offered for free around the world in February, June and October.
It takes a certain type of person to succeed in the Foreign Service. You must possess composure, resourcefulness and adaptability to difficult situations and unfamiliar cultures. You must have excellent information retention and evaluation skills. Useful skills from previous experience is also a plus. You must be a natural leader with excellent communication skills, as well as a team player. You must also have the proper motivations for joining the Foreign Service and you will be asked to write a biography during the FSOT test to tell about your motivations.
The U.S. Department of State has 270 embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions worldwide and is based in Washington, D.C. Many members of the United States’ diplomatic missions hold the prestigious title of Foreign Service Officer. Of the almost 12,000 Foreign Service personnel, all of them had to take the Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT).
Read on to learn how to pass the FSOT exam. You will find links to valuable information, helpful breakdowns of the written and oral sections of the FSOT test, as well as tips and hints to help you ace your FSOT test.
How to Pass the FSOT Exam
Basic eligibility to becoming a Foreign Service Officer includes being a U.S. citizenship, between the ages of 21 and 60, and willing to take international assignments as well as domestic assignments in Washington, D.C. You will also be required to take a medical test and a security test.
Mometrix can offer you assistance in preparing you for the FSOT test. Visit Mometrix.com where you can find tools to help you practice for your FSOT test. These tools include an FSOT study guide, an FSOT practice test, and FSOT flashcards. You can also visit the Mometrix Academy for free FSOT video tutorials.
The U.S. State Department provides plenty of information to potential Foreign Service Officers. The Department offers an eight-step program to help you choose the right FSO career path. The first step is picking one of five career paths to choose from: consular, economic, management, political, or public diplomacy. Once you start on your chosen FSOT path you cannot change your career path.
The U.S. State Department also provides test preparation advice. This includes the Foreign Service selection process, an FSO phone app, and a suggested reading list and course list. The Department also provides contact information for Diplomats in Residence who can provide you with guidance and tools, and are willing to share their experiences and insights to help you on your path to becoming a Foreign Service Officer.
The FSOT test has a written section and an oral section. You must pass the written section before you can take the oral section. The FSOT test can only be re-taken once a year; however, the number of times you can take the FSOT is unlimited.
The Qualifications Evaluation Panel (QEP) is made up of Foreign Service Officers who took the same career path as you. The QEP will be assessing your background experience and education, personal narrative responses, English usage, and FSOT test scores.
The U.S. State Department is looking for Foreign Service Officer candidates who are well-educated and well-informed. Your knowledge base must consist of a broad spectrum of topics and you must have an in-depth understanding of these topics. Know your current events by following information sources such as CNN, Time magazine and The Economist. The FSOT will test you on U.S. and global government, politics, economics, conflicts, society, culture, history, and geography. Take courses in different subjects including history, geography, literature, science, and music. Study management, math, statistics, English, communications, and computers.
FSOT Test – Written
There are three parts to the written section of the FSOT test: English Expression, Biographic Information Questionnaire, and Job Knowledge.
English Expression will test your English usage and grammar knowledge. You will be required to write an essay on an assigned topic within a short period of time. Practice writing by picking a topic, perhaps something from current events, and make your point quickly, efficiently and clearly. Also be sure to use proper grammar as well as sentence and paragraph structure.
Biographic Information Questionnaire covers your life experiences, your job history and other activities that will benefit your future career as a Foreign Service Officer. Experience and education in any form of international relations or law is very important and should be highlighted. This could include education in another country, a second language, or a degree in international relations or law.
Job Knowledge is considered the toughest part of the FSOT test. You will be asked about your knowledge you on U.S. and global government, politics, economics, conflicts, society, culture, history, geography, literature, science, music, management, math, statistics, English, communications, and computers.
Once you have passed the written FSOT test you will be asked to submit a Personal Narrative to the Qualifications Evaluation Panel (QEP). You will write about your past experiences and the QEP will evaluate skills such as leadership, communication and management. Go to the U.S. Department’s Personal Narrative outline for a more detailed description.
FSOT Test – Oral
There are two parts to the oral exam: a group exercise and a formal interview.
The oral section takes place in Washington, D.C. It is a day-long exam and you will be tested on your composure, resourcefulness and adaptability to difficult situations and unfamiliar cultures; your ability to retain and evaluate information and data; and your skills in leadership and communication; as well as your ability to be a team player.
The U.S. Department has put together 13 Dimensions for you to use as a guideline to be successful in the FSOT oral exam. The Department has also prepared a Study Guide and an FAQ to provide you with a detailed outline of what to expect during the oral exam and answers to questions about the oral exam.
The group exercise consists of a hypothetical situation. Some foreign posts are in dangerous war zones where living conditions are harsh, there is isolation from family, inclement weather, poor sanitation and healthcare, high pollution, civil unrest and crime. In the group exercise, you will be tested on your responses to negative situations and your ability to lead and to be a part of a team, and on any skills you can bring to the situation.
The formal interview is conducted by two interviewers. You will be expected to talk about additional hypothetical situations, your background, skills and experiences, what kind of Foreign Service Officer you want to be, and why you want to be a Foreign Service Officer.
Mometrix can help you study for your FSOT test with our bevy of advice and tools including an FSOT study guide, an FSOT practice test, FSOT flashcards and well as free FSOT video tutorials.