Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Now on to the PNQ's!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

FSOT Done!

So Mrs. FSOwannabe and I took the FSOT exam yesterday. We even managed to respect the NDA by not talking in specifics to each other about our exams. Impressions: not too bad. I wouldn't be surprised if I failed, nor would I be surprised if I passed. I thought the Job Knowledge was typical of what ACT has provided in their study guide. There were some questions I had no clue about and had to guess. In general, I think I did okay on it. English Expression was easy, I thought. Bio, too, but I think the word limit on the answers resulted in a lot of wasted time since I often had to go back and rework the answers to fit the 200 character limit. I think they should either open up the character limit or increase the time for that section. If I failed the FSOT, I tend to think it was on the essay. I did the typical five paragraph essay (intro, three reason paragraphs and a conclusion). I just didn't feel like the 30 minutes allotted gave me enough time to write a decent essay - I was definitely dissatisfied with the results.

Now we just have to wait 3-5 weeks for the results. Hopefully, I passed. If not, there is always next year.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Studying Continues: 36 Days to Go!

Mrs. FSOwannabe and I took the Dept. of State's FSOT practice test.  We didn't take the essay portion, just the multiple-choice sections on English Expression and Job Knowledge.  All in all, not bad.  Mrs. Wannabe got  35/50 correct on the Job Knowledge section and a whopping 69/70 correct on the English Expression section.   I was not quite as grammatically correct; obtaining a 38/50 on the Job Knowledge and 64/70 on the English Expression.  I have no idea how these results on the practice test might indicate how we might do on the actual exam, since the actual FSOT score is based not only on how well you do, but how well everyone else does.  That being said, I think we're good on the English Expression portion of the exam.

As we are around 5 weeks out from taking the FSOT, we are planning to practice timed exams three times a week; and take practice AP US and World History multiple choice tests.  Based on the practice exam, I definitely have to work on my understanding of management principles.  

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

June 12, 2009

at 10:00 a.m. The final countdown to the FSOT begins!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Studying for the FSOT

So Mrs. FSOwannabe and I have begun to get serious about studying for the FSOT. With two little girls and full-time jobs, finding time to study is challenging. Here's what I'm doing:

Initially, I took the State Department's sample FSOT to figure out my weak points. Unfortunately, I seem to be a generalist as my points in each section were fairly equivalent. So I'll try and do what I can in a broad spectrum.

First, I'm taking daily quizzes (basically at work when I need a break) to bone up on all that history from high school and college I've forgotten. Here are some of the websites I'm using:

I also have some flashcards - these are great since I often only have a couple of minutes to study at a time. For geography, I'm playing around with some of the Facebook quizzes. I continue to read like crazy, focusing on Times and Newsweek periodicals. I'm also flipping through the Cliff Notes on Management and Economics.

I've also joined the Yahoo group on essay writing to practice the essay writing part of the exam. I'm not sure how to 'prepare' for the Bio part of the FSOT. When I work out, I watch history documentaries to supplement my other studies.

As we get closer to the test date, I need to find the time to take full practice exams so that I can build my testing stamina. It's been many years since Mrs. FSOwannabe and I took the California bar, which was three days of eight-hour examination joy. So stamina building it shall be.

I've found some websites/blogs that give fantastic descriptions of the FSOT and provide links to study sources:

The Hegemonist has some great links here as well as a bunch of great posts on the FSOT, the Oral Assessment and the Foreign Service in general. 2 Crabs also has some great suggestions. Tumbleweeds, which sadly no longer seems to be active, has a bunch of posts on the old FSWE and study suggestions, as well as a bunch of great links for the Foreign Service minded.

Lots of study materials and lots to study!

Friday, April 24, 2009

FSOT First Contact

From Mrs. FSOwannabe's email:

"Dear FSOT Candidate:

Our records indicate that you have registered to take the Foreign Service Officer Test. The next test will be offered June 6-13, 2009.

An invitation to schedule your test seat will be issued soon by ACT, the contract test administrator, on a staggered schedule according to the career track you chose when you registered. You may not change your career track choice.

E-mail invitations to schedule a seat will be issued first to Management candidates beginning on April 27, then to Economic and Consular candidates on April 29, and finally to Political and Public Diplomacy candidates on May 5. After those dates, any candidate who registers before the deadline and receives an invitation to schedule a test seat may do so immediately.

Once you receive the scheduling invitation, you will be able to log in to your ACT account and review the available dates and times at all testing locations. We encourage you to schedule your seat promptly, as demand has increased greatly in recent months."

I haven't received the email yet, but I registered a bit later than Mrs. FSOwannabe. I'll start to panic if I haven't received it by next Tuesday.

I think this is the first time that the FSOT has been open to registration based on the cone one picks. Obvious from the dates, it looks like the Foreign Service is in need of management cone FSOs first, then consular and economic, with political and public diplomacy in last place for need, which I guess makes sense since the political and public diplomacy cones are typically considered the "sexy" cones.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

About FSO Wannabe

So I thought I might take a moment to write a fast blog post about why I want to become a US Foreign Service Officer.

First, a bit of history. Back in the day, which for me means fifteen years ago, I was a bright and sunny graduate of a public university in the DC area with two freshly minted degrees - one in Japanese Literature and one in International Relations. Back then, the US economy was still in the grip of its fear of the Japanese and their economic juggernaut. So, being obviously interested in government and the international arena, I took the FSWE with a bunch of friends. I remember during the testing intermission some jackass telling people that at that point half the people already had failed. Anyhow, a month or so later I found out that all my friends had failed the exam, but I had somehow passed and been invited to the orals.

And I never went.

That decision has never haunted me. I already had a cool job in hand that would end up taking me overseas for four years. I think I bailed on orals because the idea of worldwide availability limited me from going where I wanted to go at the time - which was Japan. Although in retrospect I do wonder what my life might have been if I had decided to try my luck at orals. Most likely, exactly the same (because I assume I would have failed).

Since then, I've been blessed enough to have lived extensively abroad. I eventually came home, got a law degree, went abroad again and came home again, got married, and had two beautiful daughters (FSOwannabe Brat Ichi and FSOwannabe Brat Segunda). And fifteen years later, I find myself still wanting to be an FSO. It's a bit more difficult choosing an FSO life with a family. But, I'm doubly blessed to have a supportive wife who desires an unconventional life for our family.

So there's the background. But why the Foreign Service? On a lot of levels, it's ridiculously apparent to me why one would want to join. It's a life abroad. It's a job that actually pays you to learn a foreign language. There is the allure of being a diplomat. But those are the somewhat superficial reasons to join. A deeper and more relevant reason for wanting to be an FSO, however, is for the chance to serve. It sounds ridiculous these days, but I love my country and believe it is the greatest nation on earth.  I can't imagine a more satisfying career than to represent my country on a daily basis and doing my best to serve its interests.

I don't think I have any illusions about being an FSO. I expect it to be frustrating at times. I expect it to be boring at times. I expect to feel like I'm not challenged. I expect huge amounts of stress moving my family around. But.But. But. It's something I believe in. And that's why I'm an FSOwannabe.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Slacker isn't the 14th Dimension's been a while.  My bad.  No, really, my bad.  I certainly have plenty of entertaining excuses - new baby daughter...old baby daughter becoming a toddler...some health issues...a potential layoff turned into a payoff situation...some more health issues...some family drama.  That being said, I never finished my registration last year.  I also think the personal narratives and detailed employment history threw me for a loop.  Back in my day (imagine geezer voice here), it was a simple process to take the exam, just sign up and pay the fee.

So I let my application for the November exam lapse without registration.  And now it begins again.

Luckily for me, the Department of State has changed the requirements.  Now, the personal narrative is required after you take the exam.  That's more my speed right now.

So, me and Mrs. FSOwannabe are taking the June exam.  She picked the public diplomacy cone and I've picked the economic cone - with the idea that if we happen to win the lottery and both get in, we'll have a better chance of getting tandem assignments. 

Wish us luck.