Foreign Service Exam: Don’t Try to Game the System, Just Take the Test

The Foreign Service Exam is a difficult test to pass.  Don’t make it any harder.  It’s difficult, even a waste of time, to try to game this test.

During the past couple of weeks, I’ve seen arguments put forward on forums that the State Department wants to build up the ranks of the Consular Corps or the Political Cone or the PD Career Track.  So, as the advice goes, it’s a good time to make Consular, Political, Public Diplomacy your choice of career track.

 The problem is the system doesn’t work that way.

Yes, the Department does make an attempt to estimate Foreign Service personnel needs, but it’s a snapshot at that moment.  I’m not convinced that because State HR believes there will be a shortage in Pol officers, for instance, they will increase the hiring numbers of political officers in one year’s time; that is, when you pass the written and oral tests.  Remember too that all career tracks are in a constant state of change — attrition at all levels, out-of-cone assignments (e.g., DCM jobs, Cons to Pol, staff assistants and so forth).  If the Department needs more political officers, are they really going to increase hiring for the Political career track in when you reach the register. I think not.  What they will do is take more poloffs who have already passed the exam and are on the registers right now.

In the end, stop overanalyzing the process, gaming the system and believing you have an edge. Ultimately, it comes down to you and the Exam so crack the books, work on your writing (you should be writing for 30 minutes every day) and get ready to take the FSOT.  


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