How Would I Prepare for the Exam Today – Economics

I’m starting a series of posts that I think will help you prepare for the Foreign Service Exam, especially the areas that will likely be important to passing.

If I were to take the written Foreign Service Exam this October, I would focus nearly all of my study efforts in areas where I feel I don’t know enough – economics, management theory, project management and English grammar.

I took some economics classes when I was an undergraduate far too long ago. Over the past 24 years as a Foreign Service Officer, it was rare for me to discuss economic theory, even when I was managing Economic Officers.  Nevertheless, the Foreign Service Test will have a lot of economics questions.  I myself would be at a disadvantage and spend too long trying to decipher the questions, much less know the answer.  I’ve put together some free Wikipedia articles in case you’re in the same spot.  I would also re-read the book I mentioned in my last post – Basic Economics, A Common Sense Guide to the Economy basic economics: a common senseas well as crack open a basic text, like Paul  Samuelson’s EconomicsEconomics

I’ve gone ahead and pulled all of the Wikipedia entries for economics  that I think are most useful:


Economics ( – do a deep dive on this – micro- and macroeconomics

Outline of Economics (

I know this is a lot of material, but you’ve got more than two weeks before the exam.  Just reading these articles will help you do better.  Focus on the key theories in each, understand them, and you’ll be able to answer most, if not all, of the questions.  There will be some outlier questions, of course. Questions that no matter how much you prepare, you need to have a PhD in economics to answer.  Accept that and move on.

Good luck; it’s a helluva career!

I’ve put this together relying on Wikipedia articles.  I’ve contributed to this website in the past.  If you use it as much as I do, I encourage you to give what you can afford here.




  1. Hello! Thank you for your blog and suggestions- your site is excellent.
    I’m taking the FSOT in three weeks, and econ is where I need to brush up the most.
    My two questions are based on your post here and some of your other posts: Beyond just reading these resources, how would you suggest compiling and “studying” this material?
    Secondly, considering the above question, should I be reading resources like the “Economist” cover to cover?

    • Sorry for the delay in responding. It’s tough to ‘study’ a broad subject like economics for the Foreign Service Exam. You could pick up a general review guide for econ, but there’s no guarantee that it will cover or go into the depth that the FSOT does. Sorry, if this differs from one of my previous posts. I think if you’ve taken an economics class before brushing up on topics (macro, micro) could help.

      Yes, The Economist is something that you want to read every week. For both it’s use of economics in covering a story, but just as importantly the excellent writing.


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