Taking the Foreign Service Exam
It’s no joke when they tell you it’s going to be a hard exam. I wanted to share with you my experience taking the foreign service exam for those who want to pursue this career path.
It’s going to be a long process so start now if you are even thinking to become a Foreign Service Officer.
First I highly recommend attending an information session. Preferably at a university or by looking online to see if you can watch an online webinar or talk to someone about the process.
I was lucky that I am a graduate student so I just signed up via our career services and attended two informational meetings to learn more about this career path.
Then I looked online on the State Department website to see when is the exam open dates for registration. Because they only have certain times during the year for students to take the exams, it’s good to plan early. It is a free test, with $5 as a down payment. If you show up and take your test, then they will refund you your money but if you miss the exam then you have will have to pay $75 I think for the exam. So do not be late, or oversleep.
You can only take the exam once a year, so make sure to be on your best that day.
What to do to prepare for this exam?
I was not as prepared as I wanted because I only had 2 months to study for my very first time taking it but I recommend studying and read the news every day. It’s good to know your facts and be up to date on international affairs. I downloaded the DOSCareers App from the Apple store and it was very helpful to take the test to see which cone you will be pursuing if you are unsure. You can also view events near you and keep practicing for the test.
I woke up early on my testing day and walked over to my testing center. Bring your state ID or your passport and any documentation that they may need.
Once you arrived, make sure to use the bathroom. Ha-ha. It is because you want to be focused and that just makes it more complicated to ask to use the bathroom. Then you check in with the person at the front desk, read the instructions, and store your items.
You will have about 180 minutes on the exam. It is a computer test and you will have a notepad and pen to write your thoughts. I sat there thinking wow, time fly by really fast! So do not spend too much time on one question.
There are about 4 different sections. I took the test a while ago, so I already forgot much of it, but there is a test on facts. Its multiple choice on history, government, law, news, and a bunch of other things. Then English grammar test. Learn your grammar and punctuations. Then a short answer test on your professional work experience. Lastly, you will have 30 minutes to write a short essay about a topic of your choosing.
Then you wait 3-5 week for them to score and give you the results to move to the next stage. The next stage will be writing narratives, basically, a short answer statement that you write answering their questions.
My experience was very smooth and everyone was nice. So, All the best! Good Luck!