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How to Become a Foreign Service Officer

How to Become a Foreign Service Officer

Barcelona Market | flickr | creative commons | mishkabear

Chris McConnell | GovCentral

Step Three – Take the Foreign Service Officer Test

The Foreign Service Officer Test will measure writing skills and like other government applications, leans heavily on responses describing knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA’s). The FSOT is broken into three multiple-choice parts.

The first part covers “job knowledge”, which means a wide array of topics about the U.S. government, world affairs, history, U.S. culture, finance and economics and more.

To study for the foreign service officer test you need to be whip-smart about a lot of different things. Not only will you need to up to speed about the goals of the Obama Administration, but also be keenly aware of the wider cultural ramifications that Miley Cryus or those Jonas Brothers may have in Bangladesh.

I picture the ideal study session for the FSOT is flipping channels between ESPN and the History Channel, reading the Economist, Wall Street Journal, or the Financial Times, while visiting TMZ.com and Politico.com on your computer.

Read the State Department’s guide about preparing for the FSOT

The FSOT also tests your ability to write well in English. While you may be sent to a far-away culture, speaking a foreign language will not give you an automatic advantage, but it certainly won’t hurt if selected for the next round.

Lastly, the FSOT looks asks for biographical information: what makes you, well, “you”. The State Department is looking for you to describe your work style, how you interact and communicate with others, as well as your approach to interacting with other cultures.

Because the Foreign Service is the face of America abroad, it’s critical that it’s officers don’t offend local cultures. While a thumbs up here may be a good thing, in Iraq it’s the equivalent of the middle finger.

There is also an essay portion to the FSOT on an assigned topic.

Step Four – Personal Narrative and Qualifications Evaluation Panel


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