So, I took the Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT) yesterday. I have no idea if I did well enough to pass but I tried my best. I am sure I did better than the last time I took it 8 years ago, when I was clueless about a lot of the Americana questions. This time, I spent some time preparing, although with the two moves, packing, unpacking and all that jazz, I didn’t study as much as I should have.
Anyway, the Job Knowledge section was not as bad as I was afraid it was going to be. This is the section that includes questions on the the US government, US and world history, US culture, psychology, management, finance and economics, world affairs and more. I was still unsure about a few of the questions but I took “educated” guesses and hopefully guessed right. I finished with 10 minutes to spare, which was a shocker because I usually run out of time on standardized tests.
Next came the Biographical section where they ask you all kinds of situational questions about your personality and things you’ve done in the past. This seemed like a balancing act between sounding too arrogant and sounding like you haven’t done much. You also have to provide examples of things that you have done in Tweet-like fashion (limited number of characters). I got a little carried away here and ran out of time. I was so focused on providing the examples, that I didn’t even notice how many questions I had left when the time ran out. Not good, but very much in line with my past performances on standardized tests. Let’s hope I was almost done.
The English Expression section was third. That’s where you are given paragraphs/sentences with underlined sections to edit. This one has historically been my strongest section but some of the sentences were particularly messed up this time and required more thinking, so I ran out of time with one or two unanswered questions. Bummer!
The Essay section was last. I was a little nervous about the essay because I didn’t practice much for it. I wrote two timed essays a couple of days before the test and that was it. Unless, I count blogging as practice, which, of course, it isn’t because the prompts are self-imposed and there’s no time limit but I guess it’s better than no practice at all, right?
But back to the test essay. The prompt happened to be on the same topic as my undergraduate thesis. Of course, I wrote that thing like eons ago and the title is about all I recall from the experience but I somehow managed to put together a coherent little essay on it. That’s how I feel, anyhow. We’ll have to see if the people grading the tests agree.
But how I feel about the test is really beside the point. What matters is how I did compared to everyone else that took the test during the same test period because that’s how the FSOT is scored.
Realistically speaking though, my chances are not great because I was born and raised in Bulgaria and it is just harder to learn later in life all the Americana that people born and raised in the US absorb growing up. No matter how hard I try to learn all this stuff, I am still a transplant.
So, if I pass, it will be a miracle of miracles. If I fail, I get a year to learn everything I didn’t know this time around and try again. ‘Cause I’m not a giver-upper!