Preparing for the FSOT – Part Two

Can you prepare for the Foreign Service Exam?  It’s such a quirky, weird exam that wants to see if you know subjects ranging from Voltaire and Kant to Windows 7 and PERT charts.  How can one really study such varied and disparate subjects.

But I do believe that you can study for the FSOT.  And pass it.

My previous advice hasn’t changed — find the areas that you need help and focus your study there.  And just as important practice writing every day (seriously).

But in February the Board of Examiners has recently given applicants a wonderful present.  If you haven’t checked out the careers.state.gov website in awhile, go there right now.  The gift is a full-length practice test, compliments of a Midwestern HR firm, Campion Consulting.

The State Department encourages you to take this test in one sitting when you are rested and won’t be disturbed.  The Examiners want you to prepare for the Exam ahead of time.   This is where I disagree.  To prepare as efficiently as possible, you should take the test without studying.  This will pinpoint your weaknesses.  When you review your results you’ll know whether you need to bone up on economics or British literature or the Cold War.

The Department also gives you a reading list to help you in studying.  Of course, the State Department cannot endorse these texts, and some of them are weak, but nevertheless it’s a good starting place.

I would also add the following books on general knowledge and on writing:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Full-Length FSOT Online Now

The State Department has recently announced that they’ve made available a full-length Foreign Service Exam online.  This is a great way to time yourself and avoid running late on the various sections.  You’ll receive your score after completing the test as well as an “estimate of your probability of passing an actual FSOT.”  Don’t worry […]

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New Requirement in the Oral Assessment

The State Department announced today that a three to four minute “Ambassador’s Debrief” will be added to the FSOT for each applicant right after the Oral Assessment’s discussion exercise.  The change will come into force March 3. No great surprise and nothing to lose sleep over.  You will be doing a lot of this in […]

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Consular Work

I wrote this response to someone who emailed me about the Consular Track.  I was a Consular officer during my career, I tried to give her an idea from what I experienced in the field.   I joined the Foreign Service as a consular officer in 1988. I worked in consular sections in Guayaquil (Ecuador) […]

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Foreign Service Exam: The Most Important Language

Folks, I hear from a fair number of people and see questions on the various forums about the Foreign Service Exam. One of the top questions is how do your abilities in foreign languages help you get into the Foreign Service. Unfortunately, except for a slight bump on the registers at the end of the […]

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Apologies for My Absence

Sorry for my long absence. I’ve started working on a telecoms start-up — Vanu-Africa.com — and it has sucked up all of my time. But in a good way. We at Vanu-Africa (all five of us!) have the passion to provide access to cell phone and data service to rural Africa. In addition, the technology […]

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Foreign Service Exam: First Conference Call; Here’s the Link

Thirty-five callers joined the first ForeignServiceExam.org conference call last night, Thursday, September 26.  The call lasted about nearly two hours minutes, and the questions were excellent, ranging from how will the sequester affect hiring in FY2014 to how is the culture inside the Foreign Service. You can find the recording here — https://archive.org/details/26Sep2044RecordingOfConfCall I am […]

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Free Conference Call with 24-Year Veteran of the Foreign Service

Hi Folks– I’m back again and am curious to know how many people are interested in joining me on a conference call to talk about the Foreign Service as a career.  I’m willing to field all questions, including those from anyone with questions about the October FSOT. I have some free time later in the […]

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Changes to ForeignServiceExam.org

Folks– Thanks very much for being patient while I — a determined, yet clumsy WordPresser — make some overdue changes to my blog. I will be adding more photos, start a monthly newsletter and publishing more content. Let me know what you think of the website’s new look. Cheers, Bill      

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Department of State: Internship Applications for Summer 2014

Folks– The State Department has opened its application season for internships — domestic and foreign — for Summer 2014.  As I’ve said before, an internship at an embassy abroad is the best way to see if you really do want to work as an FSO.  You will have 10 weeks serving in a various capacities […]

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