Taking the FSOT exam can lead to a life of adventure, travel, intrigue, and much more. The United States of America currently has over 260 diplomatic missions, such as consulates and embassies, all over the world. These are staffed by members of the Foreign Service.

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These people have the responsibility of representing America and her interests, promoting US foreign policy, and coming to the assistance of American citizens abroad who need help with various matters. Foreign Service officers also work in Washington, DC, at the State Department, the United States Agency for International Development, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Agriculture.

All told, there are nearly 12,000 Foreign Service personnel, and every single one of them got started on the pathway to their prestigious job by taking the Foreign Service Officer Test, or FSOT.

The FSOT is one of the most difficult tests a person could ever take. Those who are successful on it are then asked to write several Personal Narrative Questions, or short essays. Only about a fourth of the people who take the FSOT will pass both parts of the process up to this point, and there are several more hoops to jump through before receiving an offer of employment in the Foreign Service.

This demonstrates just how difficult the FSOT exam is. One of the main reasons the exam is so difficult is the fact that it is so wide ranging.

There are four parts to the test. One section will require writing an essay in 30 minutes on an assigned topic. With many standardized tests, the essay is considered to be the hardest part of the exam. However, many of those who have taken the FSOT have said that the essay portion is one of the easier sections.

Make no mistake; it’s still very difficult to write a high scoring FSOT essay, because the grading standards are so high. So, if many consider the essay the easiest part of the exam, you can imagine how difficult the other parts are. The other sections are English Expression and Usage, Biographic Information (where you answer questions about your life experiences), and Job Knowledge.

The last section is the one that most people consider to be the most difficult. On this part, the test taker will answer questions about US history, world history, US politics, world politics, and more. These questions can span centuries, and require a broad, but in depth knowledge of history and politics both here and abroad. With a test as difficult as this as the initial barrier to employment, it’s no wonder that Foreign Service jobs are considered so prestigious.

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by Enoch Morrison | Last Updated: January 9, 2019