The Foreign Service Officers Test, F.S.O.T. is one of the first steps to starting a career in foreign service. Once you’ve signed up for the test, it is possible to reschedule, however; you will need to provide a valid reason for rescheduling.
Can you reschedule your F.S.O.T? Yes, you can. But it’s not as simple as clicking a button or making a phone call. The F.S.O.T. is part of an application that will follow you for your entire career in foreign service and rescheduling a date to which you previously committed isn’t always the best idea.
Add in the fact that the F.S.O.T. is only given three times a year and you’ll soon see why rescheduling this important exam is something that will delay your application and hiring process with the State Department.
There are a few scenarios for rescheduling your exam – if the registration window is still open, you can change or cancel at any time. If the registration window has closed, well that’s a different story. If you need to reschedule your exam after the registration window has closed, you will first need to contact the test administrators, Pearson Vue, and provide documentation about any extenuating circumstances which are preventing you from taking the test on the scheduled date.
If you decide to simply not show up for the scheduled exam, you will be assessed a no show fee (currently $72) before being allowed to register for another exam. It’s very important to register for a date that you can make and avoid the need to cancel or reschedule at all!
What is F.S.O.T?
If you’ve decided that a career in foreign service is for you, passing the F.S.O.T. is one of your first steps towards a career overseas in one of the many United States embassies around the world. As a Foreign Service Officer, you could be working in political settings, alongside political allies or in an embassy, helping U.S. citizens or foreign nationals with issues abroad. Any way you look at it, you’ll have unparalleled opportunities to see the world and interact with people from all over the globe.
The F.S.O.T. is offered only three times per year, at various State Department locations and U.S. embassies overseas. For the current list of locations, check www.careers.state.gov. In 2020, the test is being offered in February, June, and October. Registration for these dates starts approximately 5 weeks before the exam date and closes 3 days before the testing window begins.
The F.S.O.T. takes approximately 3 hours to complete and is a timed exam with four major components: job knowledge; situational judgment test; English expression and a written essay. The exam is a computer-based test and each portion is allotted a certain amount of time to complete. Time management is crucial – once you complete a section, you cannot return to it later, even if you had time remaining in the section.
Something to note, when taking the test, is that you’re not penalized for wrong answers. So, if you’re not sure of an answer, it doesn’t hurt you to take your best guess. If you have to guess, be cautious of choosing answers based on the assumption that there’s a pattern to the correct answers. The tests are randomly generated and do not follow a specific pattern.
But what’s on the test and how do I get the best possible score, you ask? The short answer is that it doesn’t hurt to be well-read in a variety of subjects. What’s that mean exactly? It means you should be well-rounded and able to discuss topics such as U.S. Government; U.S. History: U.S. Customs and Culture; Economics; World History; Mathematics, Statistics; Geography; Management Principles; Human Behavior; Computers and the Internet and Communications. The State Department wants to see well-rounded individuals with a wide variety of backgrounds and life experiences.
The F.S.O.T. will examine your critical thinking skills, management skills, and examine how you approach and solve problems. During a career in the State Department, you can reasonably expect to be in stressful situations and possibly dangerous situations. It’s important to be able to critically examine a problem and come up with a solution quickly.
If that list of related areas looks daunting, remember the work of a Foreign Service Officer will very likely touch on all of these topics. Working abroad as a Foreign Service Officer requires the ability to act diplomatically and represent the State Department at all times. Having a good understanding of these topics will help you in your future pursuits and will create a well-rounded experience.
The U.S. State Department also offers online practice F.S.O.T. tests for you to experience and become familiar with the expected topics and the testing environment for when you’re ready for the real test. There are also numerous online resources for flashcards and testing prep for the F.S.O.T. If this is the career you want to pursue, make sure you put all your effort into achieving this goal!
Okay, you’ve started working your way through an extensive reading list and spent 3 hours completing the computer-based F.S.O.T. What now? Your results will be provided to you via your Pearson Vue account and should be available within 1-2 days of your testing date. If you don’t receive an email, make sure to check your Spam folder. If you miss the window to register for the next step in the process, your application is voided and you’ll have to wait another 12 months to re-test!
Successfully passing the F.S.O.T. is just the first step in becoming a Foreign Service Officer. During the process, you’ll need to ensure you’re providing accurate information to the State Department, as these records will be kept in your file, long after you’ve completed the hiring process. For more information on the next steps, visit careers.state.gov.
Where do they hold the F.S.O.T?
If you’re looking to take the F.S.O.T., it’s important to know when and where you can take it. The F.S.O.T. is only held three times each year, in February, June, and October. This means you’ll need to do some planning to ensure that you’re registered in time, your application is up to date and submitted with the correct information before sitting for the exam. There are several career paths you can choose in the State Department and you’ll need to make a selection before you register for the exam.
Ok, the registration window has opened and you’re ready to sign up for the F.S.O.T. You’ll need to access your applicant account via Pearson Vue, the company that administers the F.S.O.T. From there, you can follow the steps online to complete registration for the test. During the registration process, you’ll need to select a testing center.
Selecting a testing center is as easy as entering your local address. Pearson Vue will locate the closest testing center in your area. If you are overseas serving in the military, your local base may offer testing services. You’ll need to complete a few more steps on the Pearson Vue site, including confirming that you have access to the proposed military base. If you do not have access and cannot appear for your testing date, your appointment will be canceled and a no show fee penalty assessed.
If you are living abroad and do not have access to a U.S. military base, do not lose hope, there are still options for you! For example, entering the capital city of Honduras, Tegucigalpa, into the search box brings up a couple of options. While there aren’t any centers in Honduras, applicants can travel to El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, or even Mexico to a Pearson Vue testing center. There may also be testing options at the U.S. Embassy, contact the State Department for more information.
Applying to begin a career with the U.S. State Department as a Foreign Service Officer is an exciting and possibly daunting experience. Within the Foreign Service Officer role, you will need to research the different career paths available to you. You could choose to work as a Consular Officer, Economics Officer, Management Officer, Political Officer, or Public Diplomacy Officer.
Each of the career paths offers a different experience and you’ll need to review each to make an informed decision. The U.S. State Department website has several helpful tools to help you make your choice. In one tool you have the option to respond to how a certain responsibility would make you feel (aka is this something you would like to do). Based on your answers, the State Department will provide recommendations on which career path may be best suited to your personality and career aspirations.
Whichever career path you chose, you’re certain to be exposed to exciting life experiences, to which most Americans back home won’t be able to relate. You’ll be serving your country abroad, working with foreign nationals on everything from shaping political policy to helping economic growth. Sounds like a pretty good way to spend your time!
There are countless stories available on the State Department website which demonstrate how Foreign Service Officers have a global impact and make a tangible difference in the world. If that sounds like something you’d want to dedicate your career and time towards, check out the U.S. State Department website for more information on opportunities!
Can you reschedule other exams? Learn more here: https://civilservicehq.com/can-you-reschedule-your-civil-service-exam/
What Should I wear to the F.S.O.T?
While you will likely be taking the F.S.O.T. at a Pearson Vue testing center and not at an actual State Department building, it’s important to dress the part. At any point during your time in the application process, you could be evaluated, whether you know it or not.
The folks sitting at the front watching people check in could very well be State Department employees tasked with evaluating how candidates prepared themselves for the exam. And yes, that means not only how much you studied, but how you present yourself. Remember that if you become a Foreign Service Officer you will be representing the U.S. State Department and the U.S. as a whole!
What Should I bring to the F.S.O.T.?
You may be tempted to bring a lucky pencil, notebook, or rabbit’s foot to the testing site. While you can certainly bring them along, you will not be allowed to take anything into the actual testing room. It’s unlikely that lockers will be available so be sure to stow your valuables in your vehicle or leave them at home. Cell phones must be stowed and turned off completely during the exam.
So, if you can’t bring your lucky pen to the test, what can you bring? A positive attitude, a well-rested mind, and a heart full of determination! Take the time to prepare for the F.S.O.T. and you’ll develop the confidence to conquer the test and move forward in your journey to becoming a Foreign Service Officer!
To learn how to best prepare and study for your foreign service exam click here!
Click here for our free civil service overview guide: https://civilservicehq.com/
Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.
Hi! I’m Shawn Chun and I’m so grateful that you’re here.
Civil servants are some of the hardest working, most generous people I know. I have been passionate about all types of civil service career paths for years now and enjoy sharing everything I continue to learn about them.
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