Still Thinking of Taking the FSOE?

I wrote about this topic in two previous entries. But there were a few queries I received recently about FSO life; that’s why I thought of writing a few tips again. Also, I have an upcoming online career talk in a university, where I will share some insights to students about foreign service as a career choice. It’ll be just be for 40 minutes so I’m thinking what to include and what not so significant matter should be excluded.

I am not an expert on this issue but I hope to share some things which might be helpful to anyone who will take the test or who’s planning to take it sometime in the future.

Hmmm…where do we start?

First, the question, how can you fully prepare for the Foreign Service Officer Exam (FSOE)? There’s no way one can completely prepare for it. The exam has five (5) levels spread in a year-long period and a different set of competency and knowledge is tested in every level. But, it will help a lot if one will do a systematic reading/studying of current events (both local and international), review of English and Math skills, and practice of public speaking principles. Also, it’s useful if you’re fluent in a foreign language or at least familiar with one and knows some basic expressions and a good number of vocabulary terms.

Second, is there a particular field of study that will give the greatest edge in passing the FSOE? I must say, none. To be accepted in taking the FSOE, the major requirements are a college degree and two (2) years of either work experience or graduate studies. Many think that having graduated from a degree in Foreign Service or a degree related to International Relations is the best fit. In some aspects, yes. But it does not guarantee a passing mark. Also, FSOs are known to come from different backgrounds as what this ad illustrates.

Third, what are some helpful examination tips? There are specific advice applicable for each level. But the general tips are: Be prepared. Be on time. Bring all requirements. Make sure to have enough sleep the night before each exam. (I only had two hours of sleep prior to my psych exam so at a certain point, I got so sleepy that it was difficult to concentrate.)

Make sure to bring at least two (2) required pencils plus a sharpener. In level 3 particularly, you’ll be writing essays non-stop. (I narrated how I had to support my wrist at the end of the 2nd and 3rd exam days to be able to keep writing continuously.) Pray for guidance. Believe in yourself.

Thank you for reading. I wish you all the best!

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