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Monday, March 5, 2012

Foreign Service Officer Test

Do I have your attention? I certainly have mine. I, honestly, think I'm kinda crazy for having signed up for the Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT). Then again, I'm most likely extending my service in the Peace Corps, so I guess it's not that crazy, huh? Anyhow, about a year ago I had seriously thought about the Foreign Service. I even had an hour-long conversation with the then Country Director of PC/Cambodia to discuss his personal experiences raising a family abroad. Flash forward one year, and on a whim, I decided I would apply for the FSOT and see what would happen. I, honestly, did not study for the test. A K3 PCV had given me a study guide that was dated to 2006, and I merely skimmed through it. I took the test on February 4th of this year and then promptly forgot about it, knowing that I would not receive my results for another 6-8 weeks. Well, only four weeks later, I received an e-mail from the Department of State:


Congratulations! The scores you achieved on your Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT) qualify you for the next step of the Foreign Service Officer selection process, which is your prompt submission of a personal narrative for review by the Qualifications Evaluation Panel (QEP).
As you know, the Foreign Service selection process is a series of evaluations that can lead to an offer of employment as an entry-level Foreign Service Officer. Now that you have received a passing score on the FSOT, you must submit responses...which are known as the Personal Narrative (PN) questions..."

So, there's that. And now that I've moved on to the next step in the process, I'm finding myself taking this application process much more seriously than I had intended to. I have filled out all of my PN questions and am quite happy with them. To be honest, they were incredibly difficult to answer.

Now, this will not affect my extending for a third year in Cambodia. The Department of State actually offers the opportunity to defer the start of your 18-month clock for up to two years if you currently serve in the military or...the Peace Corps. It turns out that you actually get bonus points on the total review of your application (should you get to the end) for having served in the Peace Corps, proving a certain level of language fluency, and/or being an armed services veteran (Sweet! 2 out of 3!).

What's the next step in this process if I pass the PNQs? I would be invited for an Oral Assessment (OA) somewhere (usually D.C., but who knows for me). If I pass that, then I'm placed on a wait list for Foreign Service assignments. This wait-time is good for 18 months (read above about the "18-month" clock). If you're not so lucky, I believe you have to start the whole process again; how terrible!

Talk to you soon,


  1. Best of luck on continuing the process. If you are interested in reading a bit more about Foreign Service life, I have a blogroll with 300+ Foreign Service blogs at http://lifeafterjerusalem.blogspot.com.

  2. Thanks, Digger! I'll be reading those tomorrow for sure.