The Foreign Service Officer Test or – This is Exhausting

Welcome to my first post! If you’re reading this maybe you know me and want to follow me as I (hopefully) hop around the globe. Or maybe you’d just like to know my thoughts on the Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT). I suppose I should start from the beginning.

What is a Foreign Service Officer (FSO)? 

In short, a Foreign Service Officer is a diplomat. What is a diplomat? “The mission of a U.S. diplomat in the Foreign Service is to promote peace, support prosperity, and protect American citizens while advancing the interests of the U.S. abroad.”

What does a Foreign Service Officer do? 

There are five types of FSO Generalist career tracks:

  1. Consular – Consular Officers facilitate adoptions, help evacuate Americans, and combat fraud to protect our borders and fight human trafficking.
  2. Economic – Economic Officers work with foreign governments and other USG agencies on technology, science, economic, trade, energy, and environmental issues both domestically and overseas.
  3. Management – Management Officers are resourceful, creative, action-oriented “go to” leaders responsible for all embassy operations from real estate to people to budget.
  4. Political – Political Officers analyze host country political events and must be able to negotiate and communicate effectively with all levels of foreign government officials.
  5. Public Diplomacy – Public Diplomacy Officers engage, inform, and influence opinion leaders, local non-governmental groups, the next generation of leaders, academics, think tanks, government officials, and the full range of civil society in order to promote mutual understanding and support for U.S. policy goals.

If you’re curious – I’m currently on the Political track.


What does the job entail? 

Every FSO must sign a document agreeing to “worldwide availability” meaning that they are willing to be assigned to any post from Afghanistan to Zambia. FSOs change posts every two to three years.

How does one become a Foreign Service Officer? 

I’m so glad you asked – this is the fun part. The Foreign Service Officer Selection Process is a long journey with several parts. If you fail to make it past any of these parts – you must start again from the beginning and you can only start the testing process once per year. The parts are as follows:

  1. Foreign Service Officer Test – Written Assessment
  2. Personal Narrative Questions & the Qualifications Evaluation Panel
  3. Foreign Service Officer Test – Oral Assessment
  4. Security Clearance & Medical Clearance
  5. Final Suitability Review
  6. Placed on Register based on OA score
  7. A-100 (The FSO Training Course)!

If you’re curious I’m currently going through my security clearance and medical clearance. Also keep in mind that even if you get placed on the register you may not get a formal offer of employment, and if you are not called within 18 months you are required to start the process again from step one.

I won’t get into any other specifics because the topic has been covered numerous times. However, this is the first post I ever read on the FSOT and the advice is still on point.

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