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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » It's Time to Take the Foreign Service Officer's Test (Now With Results)

   
Author Topic: It's Time to Take the Foreign Service Officer's Test (Now With Results)
BlackBlade
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Well I've prepared for it for the past two years as best I could. I've read the news daily for at least the past 4 years, I've read Time magazine and Newsweek every week for the past 8 months. I've taken a bajillion history/political science courses, and a handful of geography. I studied their woefully thin FSO guide that still cost $20. Now I'm stepping out the door to take the exam, and the results will decide my fate for the rest of my life.

I'd be lying if I said I do not have a lot of anxiety about it right now. But I've got a nice hour long drive to mentally box it up, and prepare to take this exam.

Wish me well.

[ March 17, 2008, 01:09 PM: Message edited by: BlackBlade ]

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rivka
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Good luck!
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Dragon
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How exciting!

I'm sure you'll do well.

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Noemon
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Good luck! Let us know how it goes!
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pooka
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Good luck! My sister did not pass the first time, but she retook it several years later and did pass. So, good luck. A piece of cake it will not be.
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Risuena
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I assume you're taking the written exam? I've taken the exam three times and passed it twice. I have not passed the oral exam, although I came really close. It's for the best though, because I have since realized that foreign service is definitely not the path for me.

What's on the test really depends on what the State Department is looking for - the first time I took it (1999, I think), there were a ton of questions about African history and geography and I bombed. The next time there were a lot of management and economic questions and I don't remember the third time at all.

I will say that the written exam has a reputation for being really hard, but it's not because the questions are so hard, it's because the passing/not passing cut off is so very high. You sound like you're well prepared (more so that I ever was), so I bet you'll do fine.

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Liz B
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Good luck! It's hard not to be anxious no matter how much you've prepared. I wish you for you a test that allows you to show off all of your hard work.
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BlackBlade
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Well the test took approx 2.5 hours. I think I did well, but I KNOW of at least one question I definately got wrong. [Frown]

Surprisingly I think did the best at the English expression component. I wish I had had about five more minutes on my essay, for cosmetic reasons but all in all I think my rationalization and wording were decent.

Now I get to try to not think about this test until February when I find out my results.

I also have to decide when to open up this box of anxiety I put away this morning. [Wink]

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airmanfour
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Hope you did well!
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BlackBlade
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Well I finally got the email with my results today. I've been stressing about getting them for a few weeks now as they said to expect results anytime between 8-12 weeks and here it was week 14 for me.

I won't be progressing to the oral examinations.

As expected they did not inform me as to what I tested well on or what needed work and so I'm left to wonder where I went wrong. I'll probably take the examination again this coming December, but now I really have to figure out what to do once I get my bachelor's in December.

I'm leaning towards business school, but that means lots of GMAT preparation, anybody have any advise on that front? You may also offer your condolences that my intellect apparently is not sturdy enough for government work, at least not yet.

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SenojRetep
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Sorry, BB. Better luck next time.

What'll you're Bachelor's be in? Why B-school over grad school in public policy or international relations or Asian studies or some such?

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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by SenojRetep:
Sorry, BB. Better luck next time.

What'll you're Bachelor's be in? Why B-school over grad school in public policy or international relations or Asian studies or some such?

Bachelors in Political Science. I'm not sure what I could do with a masters in Asian studies, international relations, or public policy. I could be a professor, or write books, but I think I'd end up having a mid life crisis. Whereas if I do business and work hard for 30 years or so I can do all the fun things I want around the age of 55.
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baduffer
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BB, I am sorry to hear that. I did not pass mine when I took it and thought it was because of my lack of business knowledge (there were a lot of business related questions - finance, accounting, etc.) So I changed from a graduate Political Science program to a MBA program. Not sure I am happier but I probably make a lot more money. [Smile]
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Jhai
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I'm sorry to hear you didn't pass, BB. However, if I were you, I wouldn't jump full throttle into applying for an MBA program yet - there are a lot of other options if you're interested in the type of career you'd get in the foreign services.

Most public policy schools have masters programs that lead into a variety of jobs: government, NGO, think-tank, business consulting, etc. Georgetown's Public Policy School, for instance, lists the following as possible occupations:

* Nonprofit (e.g., public interest and advocacy organizations, trade or professional associations, foundations, research organizations and think tanks, international organizations, and education institutions)
* Private (e.g., government or public relations, lobbying, and consulting firms; health, financial, or legal services; media; and applied sciences/technology firms)
* Public (e.g., federal/national, state, and provincial/local governments, and multilateral organizations)

I have a friend who's in his first year at Georgetown's program who I could put you in touch with, if you'd like, He's in the development track there, and has a long-term plan of working in the Middle East/Northern Africa for the UN.

IR masters programs tend to be a little more theoretical, but lead to the same sort of jobs as public policy programs. There's also a few universities around the US with a school of Foreign Service dotted. Here's Georgetown's site , for instance.

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
...
As expected they did not inform me as to what I tested well on or what needed work and so I'm left to wonder where I went wrong. I'll probably take the examination again this coming December, but now I really have to figure out what to do once I get my bachelor's in December.

Really crummy, I think this part would frustrate me to no end. Its bad enough having to wait to get midterms back from a slow prof, never getting them back and never having a chance to verify what you did wrong, or even if they marked the correct one would be completely maddening.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Bachelors in Political Science. I'm not sure what I could do with a masters in Asian studies, international relations, or public policy. I could be a professor, or write books, but I think I'd end up having a mid life crisis. Whereas if I do business and work hard for 30 years or so I can do all the fun things I want around the age of 55.
I'm not sure that being free at 55 to do the fun things you want to do could compensate for 30 years in a job you don't find fulfilling. In fact, I'm sure it wouldn't for me.

You should also consider that most of the people with MBAs don't make enough money to retire at 55. That option is even less likely to happen if you are planning to have children and help pay their way through college.

Its better to invest more time now and end up in a career you find fulfilling. There are a lot of NGO that do foreign service type work. I'd start doing some research to find out what options are available and how people enter those programs.

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