Case Management: FSOA Guide Part 4

Please take the following with a HUGE grain of salt as this is the only section I did not pass on the Oral Assessment. I believe this was due to the following factors:

  1. I wrote too many notes on my notebook paper before typing, much of it was unnecessary in the end
  2. I wrote too much in general on my memo – I ended up having one or two bullet points (that I intended to turn into a conclusion) on the third page of a two page memo. Big no-no. I did not have time to edit down to an appropriate length
  3. I ran out of time. This was my own fault for not writing down the “finish” time at the start of the exam. I was also looking at two clocks which showed different times (my watch, which was correct, and the clock on the computer, which was inexplicably an hour or two behind). I got confused and thought I had another 10 minutes when I totally didn’t. Bummer

Taking all of that into account, I have not FIOA’ed my score breakdown from the OA so I do not know by how much I missed the mark on the Case Memo. I definitely failed when I printed out a “3 page” memo missing a concluding paragraph. Dang.

The following info is what I used to study for the Case Management section of the Oral Assessment. It is, to the best of my knowledge, NDA compliant. Continue reading


After The Fact(s): FSOA Guide Part 3

If you’re a regular reader here (or you happened to glace at the side bar) you’ll notice that it’s been over 4 months since I took my Oral Assessment in Washington D.C.. My apologies for the long gap, I would say I was hoping to avoid any NDA compliance issues by letting the details fuzz a little, but mostly I was just lazy. ūüėõ

First things first, I PASSED MY OA!

I received a score of 5.5, which realistically isn’t going to get me off the wagon any time soon. More on my score, the hiring situation, and my OA recap in my next post. For now, I want to address the two sections of the OA study guide that I didn’t get a chance to write before my actual OA test date. Unfortunately, writing these sections after the fact complicates it somewhat; the following blog post is primarily written from study materials I had accrued before taking the test and is NDA compliant. Hope this helps any of you studying for the next round of OAs! Continue reading

Hypothetically… FSOA Guide Part 2

A few weeks ago, the FSOA Yahoo Group got hacked by a spammer with the typical “get rich” scheme:

I am ROBERT BOILLIN I apologize for the inconvenience and I mention that it is with great sadness and hesitation that I send you this email. My name is Robert Boillin born on 29-07-1942 in Rouvray, in fact I contact you urgently because I have a cancer of esophagus terminally.I was contacted by my bank telling me that The French State would like to recover my funds 27.700.000 ‚ā¨ after my death since I am a widower without children (without heir) .I want to donate this money to any honest person. It is in this perspective I ask you to contact me by e-mail my nataire Mr REGIS BERRUET if this gift interests you. I give you my most sincere respect. R. Boillin

giphy1After getting over my annoyance that this spam bot had managed to post the above plea over a dozen times to the FSOA boards, I decided to get creative. I had been recently practicing my hypotheticals for the Oral Assessment and decided to write my own!

Today we’ll be talking about how to study for the Hypothetical Section of the Structured Interview in the Foreign Service Oral Assessment. Quick disclaimer; I have not yet taken the Oral Assessment. These study guides are created from information gleaned from the internet, State Department guides, and what works for me personally. It may not work for you – but if you feel it does, wonderful! (I’ll be sure to update with my score if I pass: EDIT: Future update! I passed the SI and GE, but not the CM with a total score of 5.5).

So let’s jump in. Continue reading

Changes to the FSOT: Situational Judgement Test

Posting for anyone considering taking the test! I’ll update past study guides accordingly and hopefully have some new info on this section of the test. This is straight from PearsonVUE as posted on the Reddit /r/foreignservice page:

“The Biographic Information Questionnaire section of the Foreign Service Officer Test will be discontinued beginning with the October 2017 FSOT. It will be replaced with Situational Judgement Test (SJT) items. The SJT section will present scenarios (i.e., descriptions of situations) that a candidate might encounter on the job as a Foreign Service Officer. Each scenario is accompanied by possible responses to that scenario. For each scenario, candidates select the BEST response and the WORST response. The SJT section of the test consists of 28 scenarios administered in 42 minutes.”

More info on the PearsonVUE page once you log in:


Hello from the future! I have just taken the SJT during my second FSOT test. I passed this section with a score of 63.93. While I can’t violate the NDA that I signed, I can tell you what I did to study before the test. Continue reading

Hi all,

I have mentioned the virtual study groups a few times on this blog. I have¬†been the organizer for quite a few sessions on the FSOA Study Portal:¬†¬† and I have had a few people ask how to set up their own study sessions. I thought I’d put together a quick guide here for anyone interesting in setting something up that fits their schedule. The more the merrier! Continue reading

Every Day, In Every Way, I’m Getting Better & Better: QEP & FSOA Guide Part 1

Qualifications Evaluation Panel (QEP)

Greetings from the madhouse!

When I left you last, I was in the midst of writing my Personal Narratives. I submitted those in the wee hours of the South Korean Morning, complete at last. They were by far the best essays I could have written and that was in no small part due to all the amazing people who helped me edit and review each and every word. For those of you reading who might be just beginning the QEP process, I cannot stress it enough: Get others to read and review your work!

Continue reading

Getting Personal

When you graduate from university there is this delicious sense of relief that you will never, ever have to write another college entrance exam again. Oh, how wrong you are dear graduate…

Welcome to the Personal Narratives!

img_2657Once you pass the FSOT exam, the next step in the process is the Qualifications Examination Panel (QEP) where you write your Personal Narratives (PNs) so the Board of Examiners (BEX) can review your “Total Candidate” package. They’ll be looking at your initial application*¬†and your test scores alongside 6 short essays. When I say short, I mean SHORT. You have 1,300 characters for each essay. That is less than 10 Tweets!

Your PNs will cover many aspects of your life; they are your one big chance to leap off the page, past your test scores and your resume, to tell a panel of your potential peers how great you are. The BEX panel will consist of a handful of foreign service officers who are in the same career track you are applying for and typically¬†one “civilian.”¬† Continue reading