I Didn’t Pass the Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT)- But I Have a Plan

I Did Not Pass the FSOT

I was mad, upset, and angry at a test, my abilities, and a system. Three terms that describes the same thing, but all to emphasize:

I was disappointed.

I was disappointed in myself (it almost felt like I experienced a distorted version of the five stages of loss).


I had not passed the Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT) for a second time in a row. I did not pass in June 2013 when I missed the minimum passing score by 5 points, and I had not passed the June 2014 test by less than 1 point. Understandably, not passing the second time had a greater effect on me than the first. Not solely because I didn’t pass, but because of how close I was to passing.

For those unfamiliar with the FSOT, here is the quick breakdown.

  • The exam is made up of 4 different parts
    • Job Knowledge- multiple choice
    • English Expression- multiple choice
    • Biographic Information Questionnaire- multiple choice and short answer
    • Written Essay
  • You only have 30 minutes to complete the essay
  • The essay is only scored if you pass the multiple choice sections with a minimum score of 154
  • To pass the essay section, you need to score a minimum of a 6, in a scale from 0 (the worst score) to 12 (best score)
  • Your scores are calculated on a T-score (imagine a bell curve)

The quick ones will realize that my essay was not assessed as I did not meet the minimum multiple choice score, which is too bad (they were good).

So now what?

Am I defeated? Should I stop trying?

Hell no!

Luckily, or unluckily depending on the situation, I am a persistent bastard and will take the test again around June 2015 (you have to wait 11 months between tests). Until that time, I’ve decided to lay it “all out” with this website/blog (thanks to Nike “risk everything” campaign for part of the inspiration).

Basically, the site will be used to put everything I learn about, and for, the FSOT into a navigable space, interesting articles I find that I want to mention/critique/write about, interesting books, helpful sites, what’s going on in the world, etc.

Furthermore, the name of the site is ‘Path to Foreign Service’. Now, the majority of the content will be all about taking and (hopefully) passing the tests and clearances to become a Foreign Service Officer. However, there are numerous ways one can serve their country abroad, or if you follow social responsibility (specifically overseas), helping others because you believe it is your duty- and not necessarily becoming an FSO. I will also try and mention these when I can.

In the end, this is supposed to be a resourceful site. Comments and questions are welcome and appreciated, but please be respectful.

Let’s see what eleven months will bring!

Thanks for reading! Want to receive guidance on joining the Foreign Service, including recommended preparation resources? Join a community of people interested in the FS and going through the application process. Enter your email now and join us.

Scroll to Top
Daily, actionable advice

Subscribe for guidance

You will also receive updates when new posts are published on pFS.