The Qualifications Evaluation Panel

The QEP, the name given to a panel of three Senior Foreign Service examiners, will review the work and education portions of the application form, their personal narratives and the FSOT/essay results to select those candidates who will be invited to the Oral Assessment.

  • The test administrator will forward your FSOT scores, along with your Registration Package minus any proscribed data (age, ethnicity, etc.) to the QEP.
  • The QEP uses a Total Candidate approach to review your:
    1. educational and work background;
    2. responses to the Personal Narrative questions;
    3. self-evaluated and Foreign Service Institute-tested language scores; and
    4. FSOT scores.
  • There is no pre-set cut-off score. The QEP evaluates your file within your chosen career track, looking at how well you demonstrate the precepts outlined above.
  • The best qualified candidates are invited to oral assessments based on the QEP evaluations and State’s anticipated hiring needs in each career track.

Although the QEP is a total file review, with no one element dominating all the factors considered, you have the most control over your responses to the PN. Your responses can be influential in determining your standing in your chosen career track. This is your chance to tell your story to the Foreign Service assessors. Bear in mind that your responses are subject to verification by the Board of Examiners.

Once the QEP is completed, ACT will inform you of the results via an online letter that you can access using the personal login ID and password you chose when registering.  The process typically takes 12 weeks.

The Mystery of the QEP

Before the new system was implemented in 2007, every candidate who passed the written test was invited to the Oral Assessment. No longer.  The Yahoo e-mail groups devoted to the written exam and the orals swirl with commentary and concern about the QEP.  More than a dozen candidates who offered input to the Foreign Service Journal in June 2008 highlighted concerns about the panel. These concerns focus not so much on whether the QEP is a valid screening process (no one seems sure yet), but on what candidates see as a lack of transparency. Many candidates call the process a “mystery.”

The problem is that those who get turned down by the QEP are not told why. This is in contrast to the availability of score breakdowns for the written test, which some candidates try to use to determine what areas to strengthen.

“Many [September test-takers] scored amazingly high on the exam but failed the QEP,” says candidate Chrysta Stotts. “What’s more frustrating is that no explanation was given as to why they were not invited on to orals. Had this been under the old paradigm, they would have been invited without question.” Worse, for some candidates who did not pass the QEP, references had already been contacted, leading them to assume they would be going on to the next phase of the process.

HR officials contend that there is no great mystery to the QEP, explaining that the panels operate under strict guidelines and procedures based on specific criteria, and go through extensive training. Sometimes called the Screening Panel, the QEP is composed of three Foreign Service officers serving on the Board of Examiners. These are the same people who conduct the Oral Assessments. Candidate files are divided up by career tracks, and each panel reviews candidates from a particular track.

Next: Oral Assessments –>


  1. Jason says:

    The QEP doesn’t seem like it makes the process any better imho, if anything, I think it makes people more susceptible to being misconstrued…. wish it was like before where if you passed the test you went to orals…

  2. Brian D. says:

    By changing the system, to the current one, it seems that they are able to pre-screen candidates and save a lot of money (for both the candidates and the government) instead of inviting everyone to the Orals. Just like with “normal” jobs, there are things that you don’t ever know the “why” to. For example, if you were to apply to a private company and didn’t get the interview, even though you would “pass” their initial screening requirements, there’s no “demand” from applicants to know why they didn’t get the interview (nor would that be appropriate.) The common answer that a hiring manager would give would be that the applicant “just wasn’t what they were looking for.” I think the QEP is great because it saves a candidate the agony of going through the Orals only to not get hired because of something lacking in his/her resume, background, experience, qualifications. This way, if you make it to the Orals, you know, that at least on paper, you are qualified for the job and could get hired. Simply passing a test (albeit a hard one) shouldn’t guarantee an interview — there’s much more to a potential candidate than just a test score. Your history of accomplishments, languages, travel and education are an integral part of the application.. those should be considered before offering Oral spots.

  3. Concerned says:

    I have found, through a rather unscientific survey, that those with the same languages, qualifications, and life experiences have been chosen depending on how “conservative” their responses are in the QEP questionnaire an the essay portion of the exam.

    If you want my advise. Pretend to have a more liberal approach to foreign policy (i’m not saying democrat v. republic). Be a little less George Keenan and a little more professorial.

  4. Sally says:


    I took the written test in October and was told I passed. I took the QEP and I’m still waiting. What’s the time frame?


  5. Itana says:

    I would like to run for governor of Pa. I have no pltioical experence. I am currently working in the the field of dialysis as a patient tech. I am unhappy that this state can’t pass a budget but also their is too much govermental power. As governer I would have the voters decide the size and term limits of the state legislature and make them part time just like the stateof New Mexico.

  6. There’s a terrific amount of knowledge in this article!

  7. We need more insights like this in this thread.

  8. That’s not just the best answer. It’s the bestest answer!

  9. Ya learn something new everyday. It’s true I guess!

  10. Well put, sir, well put. I’ll certainly make note of that.

  11. What a joy to find such clear thinking. Thanks for posting!

  12. I told my kids we’d play after I found what I needed. Damnit.

  13. What a pleasure to meet someone who thinks so clearly

  14. Always refreshing to hear a rational answer.

  15. I never thought I would find such an everyday topic so enthralling!

  16. Pangga says:

    Looks like the market can’t set a price on *liberty*.There is NO PLAN to beat the srdwos back into ploughshares, so to speak.I am not talking about disarming, I am talking about stuff like using the technology we hold as a UNITED STATES and build a type of bomb shelter in a place like tornado alley where people have to live only because of the digging out of oil but instead, people are being blamed for procrastinating really? Building a school for kids 4-10 years old without a strong room was the fault of an INDIVIDUAL? Or was it a corp plant in the local school board saying No, too expensive ?As a country, how much more clear is it that we are not being ALLOWED to set a course that adapts to the NOW which part of the country has not been knocked down by forces of nature? Being FORCED by made-up monkey brain *isms* to be stupider than the good lord made us!! WE have the RIGHT to make our lives less miserable and that means telling the vicious apparatchik planted by a corp on the school board to stuff it where it don’t shine it is NOT too expensive. It just means YOU can’t use government to rob Peter to pay Paul the goal for managing the shrinking pool of cash among the working class .Paper 154 of The Urantia Book for a discussion about liberty . Why be ashamed to fly your freak flag instead of pretending that the *economy* has relationship with the human species anymore?The health and well-being (MATERIAL vs liberty ) of the American People is NOT the priority of a federal government that does so much in secret that they say has to be done for national security . Spending trillions to kill 4 people a Saudi did not like, well, THAT’s what’s important.Meanwhile, the IRS story is off the public airwaves and replaced with the speculation and prevarication about who is going to get more guns in Syria. Like THAT matters to 330 million USA citizens with a LOT on our plates in the NOW!Happy navel gazing! Just because there is never an end to being selfish in new and more vicious ways ways does not mean that selfishness is a new idea about liberty Hardly worth the MIT tuition

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