The U.S. Department of State Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT) is one of eight integral steps in selection as a foreign service officer (FSO). The full eight-step process is as follows:
- Choose your career path between the foreign service career tracks of consular, economic, management, political and public diplomacy
- Register for the FSOT
- Take the FSOT
- Submit personal narratives
- Take an oral assessment
- Achieve medical and security clearances
- Pass review of suitability
- Get on the register
The FSOT is computer-based and consists of four sections: a job knowledge test, a biographic questionnaire, an English expression test and a written essay test. The first three sections consist of multiple-choice questions. Each section is timed separately.
How Can I Register to Take the FSOT?
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Prospective participants can register for the FSOT during a registration period that opens about five-weeks before and closes three days before each testing window. Registration, which includes application submission and seat selection, takes place through Pearson VUE, an international, computer-based testing agency.
Prospective participants must fill out an application in order to register. This includes the completion of seven sections:
- About yourself
- Military service
- Career track
- Work experience
- Additional personal information
Once an application is submitted, it cannot be changed. Candidates are charged a $72 fee if they do not show up to an exam appointment and fail to cancel it at least two days in advance.
What Items Are Needed and Prohibited During the Department of State’s Foreign Service Officer Test?
Participants in the FSOT are advised to arrive at the testing center at least 30 minutes before their scheduled appointment time. They must bring with them a current, government- or state-issued ID (and those testing overseas must provide their U.S. passports). Participants will be required to have their photos taken at the testing center.
Cell phones and other electronic devices are not permitted in the testing center. Sunglasses and hats are prohibited, as are food and drink.
Participants should dress comfortably to take the exam and keep in mind that they will not be interacting with any interviewers during their FSOT testing period.
What Specific Content Appears on the FSOT from the U.S. Department of State?
As noted above, the FSOT consists of four sections, each of which is timed. Participants are not allowed to return to a previous test section if they finish a later section with extra time.
The specific content on the exam was determined based on job analysis of practicing foreign service officers and the knowledge and aptitudes that were critical to them. The specific content areas that appear as questions on the test are as follows:
- Geography and world history: Understanding historical events, developments and issues and how they have impacted U.S. foreign policy
- Economics: Understanding basic economic foundations and issues, as well as the U.S. economic system
- Statistics and mathematics: Understanding statistical and mathematical procedures, including some calculations
- Human behavior, management principles and psychology: Understanding basic management and supervisory techniques and methods
- Communications: Understanding effective communications and public speaking, including public media, media relations and the goals of public diplomacy
- The internet and computers: Understanding word processing, databases, spreadsheets, e-mail and the internet
- Aptitude with grammar, writing, sentence structure and punctuation for writing and editing reports (including English expression and language usage skills)
- U.S. Government: Understanding the composition and functioning of the federal government, Congress, the Constitution and the U.S. political system
- U.S. history, customs, culture and society: Understanding the major institutions, movements and events in national history
How Can I Get a Great Score on the U.S. Department of State’s FSOT?
Because the FSOT is the critical testing knowledge component of selection as an FSO, and because it covers such a broad range of knowledge, it is recommended that prospective participants create a study strategy that includes a general overview of knowledge as well as repetitive drilling of specific information.
To achieve such a combined approach, it is best to leverage a study guide and a set of study flashcards created specifically for the FSOT. Mometrix Test Preparation offers both such a study guide and set of flashcards.