How to become a Foreign Service Officer: Part II--how to prepare for the FSOT
In the ensuing circus, all family members took their due part--I was confusedly trying to figure out how to stop the bleeding, alternating between barking orders at the even more disoriented Diplomat, and cooing at the crying Son trying to stuff some cotton in his nostril while he was trying to take it out. The Diplomat was running back and forth between the kitchen, the bedroom and the bathrooms fetching cotton balls, paper towels, books on child rearing filled with super useful advice, water, ice packs, ice cubes without a plastic bag, ice cubes wrapped in saran wrap (???), more paper towels. Son kept on screaming clearly frightened by the blood running into his mouth. And finally, Fat Cat decided it would be in every one's best interest and well being if he just tried to sit in my lap along with the frantic Son and purr demurely. After 10 mins of pure chaos, we finally read what to do--here it is for your benefit:
How to stop a toddler (and assuming everyone else's) nose bleed:
1. Press both sides of the nose bridge with your fingers
2. Tilt the head forward so that the blood does not flow into the throat (but will drip happily onto the white polyester carpet never to be washed off again)
3. Try to apply ice (which the child will desperately try to get rid of)
4. Keep telling the child how great he is doing, what a hero he is, how tomorrow you will tell everybody how awesome he has been--anything to stop his crying as that will tend to increase the blood flow
5. Read a book for him or put him up to watch a movie--anything to keep him upright
6. Go crazy for the next two hours as he refuses to go back to sleep and demands more books to be read, more water to be drank and more mommy sleeping in his bed while he grins widely in your face all night long.
7. Collapse half-unconscious in your own bed at 5.30 am.
8. Go late to Bangla class.
We still don't know why his nose bled--whether he fell from the bed or something else. It was a really scary experience. He is 100% a-ok today.
Now, as promise, detailed information on How to prepare for the FSOT:
I was almost as scared when I took the FSOT as I was last night. The exam has 4 sections: so-called Job Knowledge, English reading comprehension and grammar, a behavioral interview equivalent and an essay.
1. Job Knowledge--this section tests your knowledge of American society, politics and political system, government, culture, health care system and some current events; world geography and history, economics and math and stats.
(a) The math and stats are really easy and I think all you need to do to prepare is revise how to do averages and percentages mostly.
(b) I spent a huge amount of time learning world history using the AP World History prep book. Big mistake. There were about 3 questions on the subject and none had anything to do with Alexander the Great or the Mogul Empire. Most of the them dealt with fairly recent (past 50-60 years) events. Know major world political events and currents and you will be fine.
(c) I found the American part the most difficult--it tended to ask obscure questions from all areas mentioned above. I strongly suggest knowing the Constitution including ALL amendments by heart, and read some commentary on its content. Use also the following books
American Government, Cliff's Notes, CLEP American Government, Barron's AP U.S. Government and Politics, and whatever else you find in you friendly Barnes and Noble. All of these books have practice tests in the back--take them all and time yourself! As far as American culture goes--well, you either know it or not! My test had questions on jazz, art and popular trivia even. Go figure...
(d) World geography--it is highly likely that a question in this category will be placed in a historical context (like, what is Siam?). Facebook has a cool application where it gives you world geography quizzes, which helps you learn some obscure capitals. Do this for fun while you cram the unpalatable chunks of American governmental system.
2. Biographical section. I cannot stress enough the importance of this section. People tend to overlook it. DON'T! Know your professional and educational history by heart; prepare numerous examples to standard behavioral questions. Practice writing them out under time pressure. Shocking amount of people fail this part of the test. Some of the questions are odd--think outside the proverbial box!
3. English. I found this section to be the easiest. I did not prepare at all for it as I felt that my command of the English language was stupendous (do NOT feel at liberty to post some snarky comments on this subject, please!). I actually thought I had aced the section, I thought it was really easy. I had not. I remain puzzled. For those who are less full of themselves, some suggestions for prep are: Barron's AP English Language and Composition, Cracking the AP English Language & Composition Exam and the like. Read only the reading comprehension part, and practice, practice, practice!
4. The Essay! Dreaded, feared, badly prepared for, underrated essay. The sad truth is that many conquer the rest of the test and fail miserably the essay for lack of proper prep. The essay will be on a random, although fairly relevant subject. Wiki FSOT had a great site for this section, which also gives you 18 sample topics for practice. It also recommends using the "Five paragraph essay" style, with which I wholeheartedly agree. The most important advice I can give you on the essay is PRACTICE UNDER TIME PRESSURE UNTIL YOU DROP UNCONSCIOUS. Time is the biggest enemy in this section and you can master it only if you practice for at least 2-3 weeks every day prior to the exam. Unless you are awesome, in which case more power to you. Thanks to practicing obsessively, I managed to finish with time to spare and managed to spellcheck. Please, keep in mind that sometimes ACT (who administers the test), will make you write two essays (who knows what they are experimenting with). Only one gets graded.
In conclusion, I can tell you that you can do this! Many people ask how much time one needs--clearly, it depends on your prior knowledge, commitment and attention span. For the average committed person, whose attention span is not that of a fruit-fly, I think 2-3 months of intensive study is good enough. Department of State sells a guide to the test for $2o, which you can download immediately in a PDF format. I strongly suggest buying it.
Also, sign up and be a part of the FSOT yahoo group, where you can bite your nails and have collective nervous breakdowns with a slew of other test takers.
You will be taking the test on a computer, where the spell checking programs will be turned off. There have been plenty of cases where the PC dies, loses info, what have you. Complain. Not sure what you can achieve that way but do complain. On the multplie choice sections (Job knowledge and English), you can go back and forth between questions within the respective section. So, if you are stumped, guess and move forward, then come back to it if you have time.
Stay tuned for the next installment, which will deal with the QEPs and interim SCNL testing. As usual, if you have questions, ask and I will modify the info accordingly.
The Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT) is taken as part of developing a career as a Foreign Service Officer (FSO). In order to be chosen for this career, candidates need to go through the selection and testing process, in this order:
- Complete a registration package, including the application, and answers to personal, anecdotal queries.
- Take the Foreign Service test.
- Wait for the Qualifications Evaluation Panel to review your information and test.
- Get invited to take the Foreign Service Oral Assessment.
Candidates have to be at least 20 years old to test, and a candidate cannot become an FSO until he or she is 21; additionally, a candidate cannot be older than 59. Candidates must be U.S. citizens who can work anywhere in the world. When a candidate registers, he or she will be asked to choose a career path. Once a path has been chosen, a candidate cannot change it during the selection of candidates. The choices are: management career track, consular career track, economic career track, political career track or public diplomacy career track. After registration, candidates have one year to take the test. After the year is up, candidates need to re-register if they still want to take it. Per regulations, a candidate cannot become an FSO if he or she has been separated, resigned or retired from the FSO in the past. There is no educational or foreign language prerequisite.After registration, candidates will get an e-mail invitation to schedule testing. If a candidate claims on registration that he or she knows Arabic, Chinese-Mandarin, Hindi, Persian-Dari, Persian-Farsi or Urdu, he or she will also be requested to make an appointment for a telephone assessment regarding fluency in that language. Candidates will receive an e-mail with directions on how to proceed with this portion of the test.
The FSOT takes about three hours. Candidates are assessed in writing, life background, experience and level of instruction, English, and other areas that are pertinent to a career as an FSO. The test Foreign Service test includes a 30-minute written essay on a given subject matter and three sections with multiple-choice items, including:
- General job knowledge
- English expression
- Biographic information – This assesses proficiency and capability in areas like integrity, problem solving and cultural sensitivity
Candidates must pass the three multiple-choice sections before the essay is graded. All four sections must be passed in order to move on to the next step in the process.
FSOT Exam Practice Questions
1. What is the most efficient way to send another person a copy of an e-mail without letting the intended recipient know?
A. Add a cc.
B. Forward it.
C. Add a bcc.
D. Send it through postal mail.
2. An instructor lists all student grades on a particular test. The most popular grade is an 86, attained by 13 of the 22 students. What is 86 considered?
A. The mean
B. The average
C. The range
D. The mode
3. Where is the U.S. banking system regulated?
A. On the local level
B. On the state level
C. On the federal level
D. On both the state and the federal level
4. During which president’s administration were Medicare and Medicaid started?
A. Lyndon Johnson
B. Franklin Roosevelt
C. Herbert Hoover
D. Theodore Roosevelt
5. What is the main way the U.S. government controls our money supply?
A. Changes in interest rates
B. Raising taxes
C. Striving for high economic growth
D. Regulating inflation
DIRECTIONS: In the four passages that follow, words and phrases are underlined and numbered. Read the alternate suggestions for each underlined part and choose the one that seems to work best with the style and tone of the article and is grammatically correct. The original response is always listed as the first option. Read each passage through before reviewing the questions and responses.
Questions 1 and 2 pertain to the following excerpt:
About fifty years ago, most of the public schools in the United States (1) were segregated, that is, the schools were racially unbalanced. This situation was apparent throughout the country but was especially prevalent in the South. There, neighborhoods were dotted with “black” schools and “white” schools. It would have been (2) practically unusual to find a white student in a “black” school, and the reverse was true too.
A. were segregated, that is; the schools were racially unbalanced
B. were segregated that is, the schools were racially unbalanced
C. were segregated, that is the schools were racially unbalanced
D. were segregated that is the schools were racially unbalanced
1. C: “Bcc” means “blind carbon copy.” When an email is sent this way, the original recipient does not know who else may be getting it. Sending a cc means that all recipients know who is getting a copy. Forwarding an email is a way to send it to someone else without letting the intended recipient know, but it is not the most efficient way.
2. D: The mode is the value that occurs most often in a listing.
3. D: The U.S. banking system is one of the most regulated banking systems in the world, with regulations within each state and the federal government.
4. A: Although many programs were introduced under Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, the Medicaid and Medicare programs were started by Johnson.
5. A: The Federal Reserve System raises and lowers the prime rate to regulate the nation’s money supply.
6. A: The phrase “that is” continues with the same thought as what precedes it, so it belongs in the same sentence, but it begins a new independent clause, which requires a semicolon rather than a comma.
7. D: Both B and C mean “logically.”
FSOT Test on YouTube | FSOT Study Guide and Practice Questions