The Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT) practice essay simulators were created to help applicants pass the essay section of the FSOT.
If you would like to go directly to the basic practice simulator, the link follows:
If you would like to utilize the pro version, and multiple prompts, please follow this link:
If you would like to know a little more about its creation, and the two versions that exist, then read on.
I created the initial simulator to help solve some problems I was facing when trying to practice the essay portion of the FSOT.
First, knowing the question ahead of time.
When you are taking the FSOT, you have no idea what the question will be. There are subject areas and discussion topics you can prepare for, but there is no way of determining what prompts you will be asked. The only time you know what you are supposed to answer is when the prompts first appear on the screen.
Practicing for the essay portion, you run into the problem of evaluating the question ahead of time. Even if it is just a minute before you begin writing, you are already “cheating the system”. You see, as soon as the prompts become viewable you immediately begin to formulate a plan and an argument – defeating the purpose of the essay portion of the FSOT.
Need: prompts to appear without prior knowledge.
Second, typing up the essay in Word or a plain-text writing document (Notepad, Notes, etc.).
We have gotten so used to using Word (or a similar product) that we take for granted what it does automatically: capitalizing the first letter of the first word after a sentence, checking for spelling mistakes, providing grammar advice, and so forth. During the test, these features are not provided for you. If you do not practice with a program that does not utilize these features, it will slow you down during the testing period as you quickly realize that these helpful shortcuts are not functional.
You could use Notepad to practice, but the interface is too basic.
Need: a way to write without spell check, grammar check, and for the interface to be slightly better than Notepad.
Third, a stopwatch and 2,800 character limit.
When I practiced, I would tell myself I had 25-30 minutes and that I could not go over this time limit. Most of the time, I kept myself honest, but sometimes I bent my rule by a few seconds so I could fix a grammar mistake I had just seen.
Now this doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but the whole point of practicing for the test is conditioning. I want to be prepared as much as possible and bending a rule does not assist me.
Additionally, the timer needs to appear on the screen, so I am aware of the dwindling limit. Using my phone or watch is possible, but phones usually go to standby mode during long countdowns (not to mention they aren’t allowed during testing).
Additionally, a character limit is required. The essay is limited to 2,800 characters including spaces and punctuation.
Need: an auto locking mechanism after 25-30 minutes, a timer to appear on the screen, and for the text area to be limited to 2,800 characters (and for it to show visually).
I took the requirements I listed above and created two essay simulators! They both have similar interfaces, but differ in the testing requirements.
The first simulator parallels how the FSO applicant will be asked to complete the essay section today. Specifically, you are provided with three prompts, have seven minutes to choose one of the three topics and write an outline, and then 25 minutes to write a response.
The second simulator parallels how the FSO applicants was tested on the essay section of the FSOT. Specifically, you are provided with just one prompt, no other choices, and you have 30 minutes to answer.
The simulators are fantastic in that they are very similar to the actual testing experience!
Additionally, I’ve also incorporated a few goodies I think you will enjoy.
First, there are many prompts! There are currently over 25 prompts available for each simulator, but my goal is to have over 50 soon.
Second, the prompts are all random! The likelihood of being asked the same set of prompts is very low. If you do, you just need to refresh the page and you should receive a brand new set of prompts.
Third, once you submit, you can quickly select what you have written and paste it in a grammar checking program. I suggest Word or Grammarly, a powerful spelling and grammar checking online software (seriously this program has caught more grammer mistakes than Word).
Check it out!
Wrapping up and a Special Question!
Overall, the pro version of the simulators are a great tool to study for the essay portion of the FSOT, and I know you find them helpful! If you have any suggestions on how it can improve please write a comment below or contact me!
If you like it, then please share (email and social media buttons to the left) with others and let me know in the comments!
One of my goals is to not only to become a Foreign Service Officer but to also help others accomplish this objective. This is the main reason I created these simulators, to assist other applicants.
Again, after searching online, I did not find a FSOT essay simulator and decided to build it.
There are websites out there that will prompt you with questions you might find on the Job Knowledge section, but not the English Expression section, and not the Essay section, that is until now.
Thank you, and I look forward to your feedback!