Archives for November 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!


Happy Thanksgiving to you all. It’s a big holiday at U.S. missions overseas, and it brings together a lot of the American community, including expats, Peace Corps volunteers, teachers and many from the local community. I’ve found that Thanksgiving is sometimes a difficult concept to get across, but at least host country nationals leave knowing that it’s a very important U.S. holiday.

I’m attaching a video on diversity that the State Department produced recently – The Foreign Service: In Search of Diversity. It’s worth watching.

Why is the FSOT So Hard?

Is it, really? Is it tougher than say the MCAT or GRE?

I think it is for a variety of reasons: exams stretch over two days, require you to submit a personal narrative, overcome hurdles that can knock you out of the running.  Also many of you have been dreaming about becoming a Foreign Service officer for years. The emotional pressure is huge

The tests themselves also stretch you in so many ways from multiple choice on a range of subjects (Econ, history, computers, literature, grammar, etc) to writing two or three essays on varying topics. And, yes, the time pressure is intense.

Back in the old days, you’d look around you to see hundreds of others competing for the maybe 2000 slots for the Oral Assessment. And at the Oral Assessment you wonder which of the applicants sitting at the round-table exercise were going to cross all the hurdles to make the cohort of 200 or so who will be put on registrars. You know too that recent Washington buzzwords like sequestration and 0% budgeting mean that there could be even fewer slots open.

Similarly, for the past 10+ years there has been a huge push to hire more minorities, especially Hispanics and Asian Americans who are woefully underrepresented as ELOs and Senior Foreign Service officers. African Americans continue to be underrepresented, but not as much. Women have nearly caught up with men in entering classes, but lag under the Senior Foreign Service glass ceiling.  These hiring goals will affect hiring and promotion; some will be helped, others hurt.

The FSOT is a strange test, I can’t deny that, and there are so many things that come together to decide whether you’ll get on a register and whether you’ll get hired.



FSOT-Like Test Questions to Boost Your Skills


There’s a great website that goes over English grammar, usage, and vocabulary.  Even better, there are scads of test questions that are very similar to those on the FSOT.

Check it out here.

I’d like to give a shout-out to the owner of the blog, but I lost his email.  If he or she does see this, I want to thank you again for alerting us to such a rich resource.