Job Knowledge Fsot Essay

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:

FSOT Essay Simulator Basic

If you would like to utilize the pro version, and multiple prompts, please follow this link:

FSOT Essay Section Pro

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).


The Simulators

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!

FSOT Essay Simulator Basic

FSOT Essay Simulator Pro


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!


The U.S. Department of State Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT) originated in 1932 as a general knowledge test for prospective Foreign Service Officers and traditionally focused on knowledge areas such as geography, history, math, economics, culture, and the English language.[1] As of the mid 2000s, approximately 17,000 to 20,000 candidates were taking the examination each year, of whom less than 25% passed.[1]

In December 2006, the New York Times reported that the Foreign Service Officer recruitment process was being overhauled to deemphasize the knowledge-based "Trivial Pursuit" testing approach and instead place greater emphasis on candidates' other attributes and abilities such as foreign language ability and life experience living and working abroad. As part of this transformation, the FSOT was shortened and converted from a paper-and-pencil examination into a computer-based examination. Its scope was also broadened to assess more elements of a candidate's character and experience.[1]

Most notably, the current version of the FSOT includes not only the traditional exam subjects such as geography, history, math, economics, culture, and English, but also includes a multiple-choice Biographic Information section in which candidates provide a self-assessment of their education, life experiences, and personality. The State Department reports that this section "credits candidates for what they have achieved relative to the opportunities they have had."[2]

Function of the Test

The FSOT is used by the U.S. Department of State as part of the application process for all Foreign Service Officer positions, whether in the career tracks of "Consular," "Economic," "Management," "Political," or "Public Diplomacy."[3] The examination is the first major step of the lengthy Foreign Service application process which also includes the submission of a Personal Narrative to a Qualifications Evaluation Panel; taking an Oral Assessment, typically in Washington, DC; receiving medical and security clearances; and passing a final review panel.

The few candidates who pass all of these steps are placed on a hiring register for their selected career track to be offered positions if any become available. Ultimately, successful placement in the Foreign Service depends on both the candidate's qualifications as well as the availability of positions, so in the end, the State Department must turn down many highly-qualified candidates who pass the FSOT.[2]

Typically, more than 20,000 candidates take the FSOT each year.[4] In 2013, a total of 291 candidates were ultimately hired as Foreign Service Officers, or roughly 1.5% of the number of people who took the FSOT exam that year.[5]

Test Administration

In order to be eligible to apply to take the FSOT, candidates must be U.S. citizens who are at least 20 years old, but less than 59 years old.[6] The Department of State also notes that although there are no formal education requirements, most successful candidates have at least a college degree. Many successful candidates also have advanced degrees in related areas of academic study such as international relations or law, and many have former experience working or attending school outside of the United States.[2] Similarly, although there are no foreign language proficiency requirements and no foreign language sections on the FSOT, candidates with a "demonstrated speaking proficiency" in a foreign language are preferred over those without a foreign language proficiency.[2]

The FSOT is administered for free worldwide, typically at Pearson VUE testing sites or at U.S. embassies and consulates. The full exam takes approximately three hours to complete.[3] It is offered three times per year: in February, June, and October.[3] Each of the three examination windows is about one week long.[3] Candidates may apply to take the FSOT at any time, but registration for any specific examination window closes a few days before the examinations begin. For example, for the testing window of 1/31/15 to 2/7/15, the registration deadline was 1/28/15.[3]

The FSOT may be taken an unlimited number of times; however, candidates may only take the FSOT one time in any given 11-month period.[2]

Candidates who require testing accommodations for a disability must apply directly to Pearson VUE for special accommodations at least 30 days in advance of the testing window in which they wish to take the examination.[2]

Test Format

Test Environment

The FSOT is administered three times a year at Pearson VUE locations. There are also select locations overseas where the test is offered. Test takers are expected to arrive at least 15 minutes early to their exam, and bring identification for admission.[7]

Test Structure

The FSOT is broken down into four main components: Job Knowledge; English Expression and Usage; Biographic Information; and an Essay. There are many topics that test takers are expected to be well-rounded in, including Communication; Computers; Grammar and Writing Skills; Economics; Management; Mathematics and Statistics; United States Government; United States Society and Culture; and World History and Geography.[8]

Test Content

  • Sample FSOT Job Knowledge Questions
  1. Which of these U.S. Supreme Court decisions did not involve discrimination based on race?
    A. Korematsu v. United States (1944)
    B. Loving v. Virginia (1967)
    C. Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co. (1968)
    D. Frontiero v. Richardson (1973)
  2. Which of the following was least associated with actions President Rondald Reagon took against Communism in his administration?
    A. His reinforcement of America's military weaponry
    B. His Strategic Defense Initiative for space defenses
    C. His Reagan Doctrine supporting freedom fighters
    D. His withdrawal of Cuban troops from Angola
  3. Which of the following statements regarding the Branch Davidians in 1993 is not true?
    A. The Branch Davidians were a Seventh Day Adventist sect living on a compound located near Waco, Texas.
    B. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms got a search warrant for the Branch Davidian Compound.
    C. When attempts to look for weapon stockpiles led to gunfire and deaths, the FBI attacked the compound.
    D. The incident at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco developed into a siege that lasted for two weeks.
  4. One of the earliest political parties in the United States was the Federalist Party. Its decline is best explained by:
    A. a failure to organize state political parties.
    B. the enmity of wealthy Americans.
    C. its opposition to the War of 1812.
    D. its advocacy of a strong central government.
  5. Which of the following is the term for someone appointed to a group to argue against the group's position in an attempt to avoid groupthink?
    A. Outsider
    B. Devil's advocate
    C. Mind-guard
    D. Leader
  • Sample FSOT English Expression Questions
  • In the passages that follow, words and phrases are underlined and numbered. Read the alternate suggestions for each underlined part and choose the one that seems to work best with the style and tone of thea rticle and is grammatically correct. The original response is always listed as the first option.
The construction of the Panama Canal began on (1) May 4 1904. The efforts leading up to the start of the canal had been marked by time-consuming frustration and political disagreements. In June of 1902, the United States had begun looking more seriously into a canal across Panama. It was not until January of 1903 that the Hay-Herran Treaty passed, (2) gave the United States government the opportunity to proceed in building the canal.
As it turned out, the process rapidly became complicated. In 1903, Panama was a (3) province of Columbia and while the United States Senate ratified the Hay-Herran Treaty, the Senate of Columbia did not. The debate over the canal also coincided with the Panamanian hopes for (4) independence from Columbia, when Columbian troops tried to block a Panamanian revolt the United States lended its aid. Panama declared independence on November 3rd of 1903. Three days later, the United States signed Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty with Panama to begin work on the canal.
  1. A. May 4 190
    B. May 4, 1904
    C. May, 4, 1904
    D. May 4th 1904
  2. A. gave
    B. was given
    C. giving
    D. have given
  3. A. province of Columbia and while the United States Senate
    B. province of Columbia yet while the United States Senate
    C. province of Columbia, and while the United States Senate
    D. province of Columbia, and the United States Senate
  4. A. independence from Columbia, when Columbian troops
    B. independence from Columbia; when Columbian troops
    C. independence from Columbia, but Columbian troops
    D. independence from Columbia, Columbian troops

More free FSOT practice test questions.


The FSOT comprises three multiple-choice sections and one essay section.[2] The three multiple-choice sections are Job Knowledge, English Expression, and Biographic Information.[2]

The Department of State does not appear to publicly publish any information regarding scoring methodologies, possible score ranges, or pass-fail rates on the FSOT. However, candidates who have taken the examination report that the scaled passing score on the multiple choice portion of the examination is 154 points, and that a score of 6 out of 12 is required on the essay.[9][10][11]

Answers to Sample Questions

Job Knowledge: 1;D 2;D 3;D 4;C 5;B English Expression: 1;B 2;C 3;C 4;B


  1. ^ a b c The New York Times - Rarely Win at Trivial Pursuit? An Embassy Door Opens January 25 2015
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h U.S. Department of State - Becoming a Foreign Service Officer January 25, 2015
  3. ^ a b c d e U.S. Department of State - Test Information and Selection Process January 25 2015
  4. ^U.S. Department of State - Foreign Service - Competitiveness January 25, 2015
  5. ^U.S. Department of State - Foreign Service - How many people are able to get the job? January 25 2015
  6. ^U.S. Department of State - Worldwide/Foreign Service January 25, 2015
  7. ^For FSOT Test Takers 24 March 2015
  8. ^Test Process 24 March 2015
  9. ^The eaubergine... - FSOT Scores Analysis - Foreign Service Test January 25 2015
  10. ^U.S. Department of State Foreign Service Forums January 25 2015
  11. ^DiploJournal - FSOT Score and Advice January 25 2015


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