Ok, so you’ve read about the Foreign Service Officer Test, have studied the different career tracks, and think you may know what it is you’d like to do if you get into the Foreign Service, but you’re still left with the task of preparing for the test!  The following suggestions and resources are a good start to getting you prepared:

Links and Resources

Job Knowledge Section
Biographical Info Section
English Expression Section
Essay Section
Language Testing
Oral Assessments

Foreign Service Blogs & Websites

General Tips for the FSOT

  1. Purchase the Official Study Guide from ACT. Its practice tests are good indicators of what to expect.  The Cliffs Test Prep for the Foreign Service Officer Exam is also worth purchasing but in our opinion not as essential as the official guide.  Written in 2005, the book is somewhat out of date (ex. there are no cone-specific questions in the job knowledge section anymore) , but none the less still relevant and worth considering.  Our main reason for suggesting the book is the English Expression practice tests.  It’s worth the $12 on Amazon alone.
  2. Join the Yahoo! FSWE and FSOA Groups.  With over 30,000 messages spanning the past 7 years, it’s a great resource.  Current FSO’s are known to contribute so take advantage of the opportunity to ask questions and contribute yourself to the discussion.  While our forum is in a more readable format, we can’t deny that the extensive archives of messages are hard to compete with.
  3. Sign up for Daily Briefs from Foreign Policy Magazine.  The daily executive-style briefings of the world’s most important news stories every morning will assist you in preparing for potential essay questions.
  4. Get a subscription to the Economist.  It’s expensive, but worth it ( offers a 1 year subscription for $77).  Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy and the NY Times are worth looking at as well.
  5. If you haven’t visited the State Department’s Official Website, be sure to take the time to read over the entire section on Becoming a Foreign Service Officer.  In addition to the info we’ve cited from the site in our own FSOT guide, you’ll find great resources to help you determine what career track is right for you, how much to expect in compensation based on your education and experience, and more.  Don’t forget to download the 13 Dimensions, the Guide to Registering for the FSOT and the free e-brochure.  And oh yeah, the pop up video intro of Secretary Clinton is priceless!
  6. Work on your essay writing skills.  We suggest practicing a timed essay once a week for 6-8 weeks prior to the exam.   The Yahoo! FSWE Group has some files available with essay topics to assist you.  Essay critique groups are routinely organized from within the group as well.