Getting into the Service

April 16, 2010

Below are a few resources relating to applying for the Foreign Service.  Please note that this post only applies to getting in as a Generalist with the State Department, not a Specialist or with USAID, or any other Foreign Affairs agency.  We’ll cover other career tracks in a later blog post.

The official website: http://careers.state.gov/officer/index.html

Almost all relevant information on the application process is found in the official website. All other sites add the “flavor” of what the process is really like.

The officially sanctioned pre-test: http://www.act.org/fsot/index.html

This pre-test is a good indicator of where you might need improvement in order to pass the written exam. This was invaluable to me for identifying where I needed more review on subjects for passing the written test.

An unofficial, anonymous blog that does a very good job of summarizing the whole process: http://thehegemonist.com/2009/02/guide-to-foreign-service-exam.html

This blog is the single best summary of things to consider, all in one place. The message board below is very good as well but takes a few hours in order to filter out the relevant information.

Unofficial Yahoo Groups message board that contains very pertinent, “real-time” information about testing process. This board is invaluable as a source of information as you proceed through each stage in the testing and application process: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/fswe

“This group is for those who are planning to take the U.S. Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT), focusing primarily on the written exam. “

For those lucky ones who passed the written exam, there is:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/fsoa/

“This group is for those who are preparing for the Foreign Service Oral Assessment (FSOA).”

For those who pass the oral assessment, there is:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/A-100-2002/

Contrary to what some believe, passing the written and oral does NOT guarantee you will actually get a job as a Foreign Service Officer.  How well you actually do in the oral assessment will determine that!

“The A-100 group is for people who have passed the U.S. Foreign Service Officer written and oral exams. By connecting to this group we hope to answer questions concerning the process of getting into the A-100 class and once in the A-100 class we hope to help each other in Washington or a foreign country.”

There are many other resources on the internet but I’ve found the above references to be the most complete and reputable.  I have not found any other “for pay” services that have impressed me.

Keep in mind test windows will occur in June and October in 2010 and three more times in 2011.