FSOT Score Breakdown

NOTE on November 3, 2010: If you are reading this post for the first time, please keep in mind that this was written over two years ago. I have decided to leave it up, but I wanted to make sure that all readers understand that all of the below conjecture and guesswork is already out of date conjecture and guesswork!

I got my foreign service score breakdown in the mail yesterday:

Job Knowledge: 60.63
Biographic Info: 46.58
English Expression: 59.74
Total: 166.95
Essay: 8

According to the letter, I had to get at least a 154 on the multiple choice in order to have my essay graded. A passing score on the essay was a 6, with 12 points possible. For the multiple choice sections, no one knows how many points are possible for each section, but I can make a pretty good guess.

I belong to the Foreign Service Officer Test Yahoo Group. There’s a database in the group where people enter their results once they receive their score breakdown. While the database for the 2008 exam currently only has 48 useable entries, I can still take the highest reported scores and make a few hypotheses.

Highest scores as reported on the FSOT Yahoo Group:

Job Knowledge: 63.43
Biographic Info: 72.85 (how did they do that!)
English Expression: 62.22
Total: 198.5
Essay: 12 (well, we knew that one already)

From this, I would suppose that the highest score may be around 75 for each section? Who knows!
Edit: The general consensus at the Yahoo board is 80 points per section, but still, this is all speculation, no one really knows for certain. Well, the State Department Board of Examiners and ACT know, but they certainly aren’t going to share with the rest of us.

And just for kicks, here’s the mean:
Job Knowledge: 58.28
Biographic Info: 52.93
English Expression: 57.40
Total: 168.61
Essay: 7.5

and the median:
Job Knowledge: 58.01
Biographic Info: 50.47
English Expression: 57.21
Total: 165.69 (based on the above)
Essay: 8

I thought about doing the mode, but since there are only 48 scores, and they calculate to the hundredth, it didn’t make too much sense to do. So I was just above average in this group, with the exception of the biography. But, how do I compare to my previous score? Well, it’s a slightly different test, but i was still able to look up that score.

Job Knowledge: 57.89 (2.74 point gain)
Biographic Info: 42.25 (4.33 point gain)
English Expression: 55.23 (4.51 point gain)
Total: 155.37 (11.58 point gain!)
Essay: n/a (since I didn’t pass that time, it wasn’t graded)

The bottom line is, I passed! But sometimes it’s fun to run the numbers and do some comparisons.

70 thoughts on “FSOT Score Breakdown

  1. Pat Mahood

    Congratulations, Melissa ! I know you’re excited to take another step forward. Good luck, also with the proposal you worked so hard on.

    Congratulations to CHAD, also on making the Deans List ! \

    You two have an exciting life and I’m happy for you.

    Still remembering a wonderful week together in Hawaii and so thankful I was able to share it with you. Almost a year ! YAY One down, 60 to go !
    : – )

    Love you guys – Aunt Pat

  2. Jason

    Hey Chad,

    Just received my FSOT scores in the mail today and was wondering the same things you were i.e. what were the high scores, average etc. They don’t give you a whole lot of info but thanks to the wonderful world of those little particle thingies bouncing around through wire and space I was able to find your Blog and what I was looking for. (Thanks for doing the math; I didn’t want to take of my shoes today to count)

    Let me say “congrats” on your scores and your first year of marriage. I just celebrated my one year this month. I scored a “178” and funny enough our Job Knowledge Score was exactly the same. You weren’t looking on my paper were you?:-) You had a point higher in the English but where I did well was in the bio info part. Personally, I thought that was the hardest section because if you actually tried to fill in all the blanks with all the times you rescued cats from trees, organized gala events for the Pope and saved the world with just some bubble gum and bailing wire then you ran out of time. But in my defense, I was able to answer all the questions and all but one with blanks citing multiple examples. But then the scoring is all government voodoo anyway. We PASSED!!!!

    They’re telling me that I’ll hear in November whether I’ll be invited to the Oral Interview or not. Is that what you’ve been told? I’ve also read the point slate is wiped clean and it’s all up to the subjective panel scoring that we get on our one-day long oral interview.

    Best of luck, maybe I’ll see ya there!!!


  3. melissa Post author

    Hi Jason,

    I promise I was not looking at your screen during the Job Knowledge portion of the test. Especially since I tested on a Thursday morning in Virginia, and I assume that you tested from Germany? Congrats on passing this hurdle of the FSOT (and happy anniversary)!

    The bio is what got me the last time too. I finished that section with about 20 seconds to spare. In contrast, I finished the job knowledge and English expression sections with 20 MINUTES to spare. I just don’t know about that bio section, but at this point, I don’t care – i passed! I think it will be interesting to see if there’s any correlation between a high bio score and a passing score on the QEP. If so, then you’re in luck and I’ll probably be testing again next year!

    I heard we find out “by December” if we’ve passed the QEP. These results came to us two weeks earlier than the given time frame, so I hope we also receive the QEP score sooner than expected.

    I highly recommend the FSOT yahoo groups – I never post there, but I’ve gotten a log of really good information. They confirm that our written exam scores don’t matter, but the (passing) oral exam scores are pivotal in determining one’s place on ‘the list.’

    Good luck to you too – stop by and let me know if you pass!

    (so far, Chad hasn’t show any interest in taking the FSOT =)

  4. Becca

    I’m so glad I found this website. I just took the FSOT on Feb 13th. I’ll be interested to see how I did! Now I have a score breakdown available to compare my scores against. Thanks so much!


  5. melissa Post author

    Hi Becca,

    I’m glad you’ve found my guesswork helpful, just please keep in mind that this pulls from a very small sample of self reporters and should be taken with a grain of salt!

    Good on you for taking the exam – I hope you get the chance to go on to the next step

  6. Barb

    A further thought re the guess of each multiple choice section being worth 80 points max: that doesn’t sound entirely reasonable because it would suggest that the test taker only had to pass approx. 65% of the questions (154 out of 240) for them to grade the essays. Seems too low of a threshold. That would likely lead to a lot of work for the essay readers, remembering that it is three readers per passing candidate. Also, it would mean that the max. Yahoo group score is only 83% correct (199 out of 240) Given the intensity and focus of this self-selected group and large enough sample size, there should be a statistical bias toward the perfect score so it seems logical that there would be at least a few close-to-perfect scorers for each of the sections. I suppose it’s splitting hairs in the end, but I would guess that the max. points attainable might be something around 200 to 220. But, of course, all that really matters in the end is whether one passes or not!

  7. Sandy

    You assume that the “80 points max” entails 80 questions on each section. This, at least in my experience, is not the case. I took the FSOT today and I don’t recall any of the section having 80 questions.
    Just like the GRE the scoring is not a 1 to 1 equivalent, thus 80 might possibly be the max, or it may not. Who knows?

    Melissa, Jason,
    Did you pass the QEP? Invitation to the oral? Pass the oral?
    Let us know.

    1. melissa Post author


      If you take a look through the rest of my website (especially the foreign service category), you’ll see that I did pass the QEP, Orals, Medical and am now waiting on my Security Clearance. I really do need to write a post about my security clearance experience so far. Perhaps I’ll go an do that now.

  8. Hankk

    Hi —

    You mention a highest score total of 198.5 points. But it looks like you got this just by taking the sum of (highest knowledge) + (highest biographic) + (highest English)… and it’s unlikely that it was the same candidate who scored the top in each of these three categories. So, assuming this is right: What is the highest individual total from the scores posted? Thanks!

  9. melissa Post author

    Hank –

    The short answer is that no one knows. This is all conjecture and guesswork on my part. That highest score total pretty much came from guessing as well. If you want further theories and hypotheses, I recommend the FSOT and FSOA Yahoo Groups (links on the left).

  10. Hankk

    Thanks Melissa! I just checked out the FSOT Yahoo group, and as you mention there is a very useful database of scores there. I looked at the data for 232 test-takers, and did some more statistics on it — similar to yours, just in a bit more details. The full analysis is on my webpage, at http://eaubergine.com/blog/?p=7 . And the executive summary:

    1. If you pass the multiple-choice part, you’re 96% certain to pass the essay as well.

    2. The scores on the Job Knowledge and English sections are quantized (binned). Although they are reported to four digits of precision, there’s only about 18 different possible scores.

    3. The reported scores are claimed to be T-scores, but deviate from this a little bit (e.g., don’t always have a stdev of 10).

    4. The Biographic Information section is scored in a fundamentally different (and unknown) way than the Job Knowledge & English sections.

    5. If you score well on the Biographic section (more than one standard deviation above the mean, i.e., > 60 points, i.e., top 15%), you’ve got a 96% chance of passing the whole test.

    6. Doing well on the English section is no guarantee you’ll do well on the Essay.

    7. The Essay is probably graded by two people, who add their scores.

    8. Studying doesn’t help.

  11. TB

    To pass the FSOT you must attain a score greater than 70 percent or a point score of 154 or greater, therefore, the highest point score possible is 220. (220 X.70 = 154).

    Your thoughts?

  12. melissa Post author

    Hank – Studying definitely helps! It helped me, that’s why I wrote a whole post on it. :-)

    TB – mmmm, not exactly. The point scores and percentages change with the needs of the department. If they need a 1000 candidates (I just pulled a nice round number out of my head) to take the oral assessment, then they may need 500 candidates to pass each round of the written and go on to the QEP/PNQ/whatever-they’re-calling-it-these-days so they can then choose 330 to go on to the OA. So for the written, they’ll figure out the score they need to get the 500 (totally made up number), and pass everyone who has it. So one year you may need a 154 to pass, and the next year you need a 160, or a 150. Keeping that in mind, we can’t be 100% sure of what that highest possible point score is. But it certainly is fun to guess!

  13. Jeremy

    I would say that studying helps. Studying the official test guidebook will help your score quite a bit. Of course, the range of things that they can ask you is immeasurably wide, but the questions in the study guide are very useful.

  14. Tony


    Thanks for the information. Just got my FSOT results, and they are almost exactly the same as yours were. So hopefully that means I have a shot of getting to and through the oral exams too. (Though I think my personal narratives were a little weak). I second your question of what other people put to get such high Biographic Information scores. Mine was below 50, but I made up for it in the other sections.

  15. IK

    Just took the test 2 days ago. As an English major and English teacher, I’m pretty sure I aced the Language portion of the test, so I’ll let you know what the high score is for that one as soon as I get it. Out of 65 questions on the Language portion of the test, there were two for which I wasn’t 100% sure whether to

    a) rewrite the sentence to make it grammatical
    b) OMIT the portion entirely

    I definitely knew answers for every other question. So, I’d say the lowest possible raw score for me will be 63/65 = 97% and possibly even 65/65 100%. We’ll see in about a month.

    Biographic portion is a killer. I didn’t finish the last 10 questions of the test.

    For the essay you only get 30 minutes. I planned for the first 10 and could finish no more than a good introduction and a good two body paragraphs. We’ll see what that gets me.

    The Job Knowledge portion I’m also concerned about. On the practice test from the ACT Study Guide, I got 80%, which seems to me to be quite low. But I noticed that on the real test, one question came directly from the study guide. So the study guide can add at least one raw point to your score. :) Studying for the last 3 months may have given me another 3 raw points. Your score after that, I’d say, is inversely proportional to how much time you spent at the bar in college.

  16. ME

    I took the same test as IK, and had a similar experience.

    JK was easy, and I ended a full 20 minutes early. I finished the EE 8 minutes early, and can’t imagine missing more than 2 or 3. But the Bio was killer. I did finish the section, but had to rush through the second half. I had about 10 minutes left for the last half. And I am not happy with my essay because I was trying to actually say something, not just write a 5 paragraph essay. I honestly think the format of the essay rewards less thoughtful, creative, and, quite frankly, smart people.

  17. Nameless

    I just got my results back from the Oct 2010 (and passed, woot!).
    For people that have done the PN section in prior years, how big of a BS hat did you have to put on to successfully complete it? It seems like the questions are ready made for people to embellish significantly and perhaps don’t really demonstrate anything other than a gift for making yourself sound important.

  18. N

    What to know what happens when you answer less than half of the BIO section questions?

    Job Knowledge: 63.01
    Biographic Information:37.51
    English Expression: 52.36
    Multiple-Choice Total: 152.88

  19. M

    Just got my results back today. I studied a lot of hours for a month prior to the test and will be one of those to say that I don’t think the studying paid off. MAYBE there was 1 or 2 questions that I added to my overall score based on info that I studied, but there is SO much subject matter that you can’t possibly “cram” for the test. You will either know it or you won’t. I probably won’t study much if I decide to test again. I may however spend more time practicing essay’s. The trick with the essay is/was, that if the qeustion happens to be a subject you know nothing or little about, then if you are like me, it makes it much more difficult to score well. Anyway, here’s how I scored:

    Job Knowledge: 48.97
    Biographic Information: 56.53
    English Expression: 50.54
    Multiple-Choice Total: 156.04 — passed, but downfall was my essay
    Essay: 5

  20. Raised in Suburbia

    I took the Oct2010 FSOT and received my scores today. I didn’t pass, and I feel like my childhood surroundings made a huge difference in my bio section. Based on the questions that I faced, I feel it would be hard to score well on the bio without having grown up in a diverse area. Anybody have any words of wisdom for someone who is considering not taking it again because their bio information is not going to change drastically in the next year?

  21. Old Man River

    I received my scores today from the October exam as well.

    Job knowledge: 59.89
    Bio: 47.60
    English: 59.72
    Essay: 10

    With only about 2 hours of studying the night before. But I’m an old man, and have been a Fed for 5 years now, so I know how these things work. Heck, I was able to give specific statutory citations on the essay (yeah, I know, whatever). My bio is where I fell down, and agree that growing up in suburbia doesn’t help you with that section at all – so my advice to the prev. poster is to just do better on the other sections. Reading a the NYT/WaPo every day will give you a good grounding in both world affairs and the English language, and is a lot more interesting than studying.

    Of course I have no idea what these scores mean, but apparently they were good enough to pass. I took a look at the personal narrative part and am not looking forward to another round of digging through my past looking for references about how I once solved a problem when I was in grad school 8 years ago.

    Congrats to all that passed. Great thread by the way, very nice to find some measure to gauge.

  22. IK

    Just got my results from the test — PASSED.

    Job Knowledge: 61.45
    Biographic Information: 51.87
    English Expression: 59.62
    Multiple-Choice Total: 172.94

    Essay 6

    I’m really surprised that Old Man got 0.1 points higher than me on the English Expression. I thought I aced that MF-er.

    Lessons? Finish the essay. A well written half of an essay won’t get you more than a 6 apparently.

    Congrats to everyone who passed.

  23. Shawn

    Got my test scores today as well. Didn’t pass (155 I believe was my total score). My essay question was tough, took me about 10 minutes to even come up with anything to write (quite difficult to outline), only got a 4 (and I honestly loved writing essays and papers in university; senior thesis paper was 30 pages long, and I loved researching it and writing it).
    Grew up in a pretty diverse area (NoVa) and I was hoping my knowledge of Mandarin would help with my chances. I guess I could take it again some time in the future. Hate all these standarized tests, never been good at them.

  24. Quinn

    I found your blog from this post, and I’m glad to see you’ve made it all the way through the process and further (I looked you up in the global). I found out last week that I passed the written exam, and I was happy to see someone who had been successful and who also had a relatively low bio score–my breakdown was 63.01, 46.83, 61.43. I’m a little concerned about that, and was wondering if you felt like it made any difference as you went on to the OA and further? I’m obsessing over my PNQs now, and worried that I have to overcome my bio score.

  25. melissa Post author

    Congratulations to everyone who passed the written exam this time! To everyone who did not, please take some comfort in the fact that I did NOT pass the first time I took the written exam. I hope you consider taking the test again next year.

    Quinn: you have email from me.

  26. Louns

    In the spirit of leaving reference / sharing: October 2010 test results
    Job Knowledge: 66.13
    Biographic Information: 50.71
    English Expression: 48.73

    Essay 10
    This was a pass, 2nd time I’ve passed an FSO exam, although last time was a long time ago, when such things were pencil and paper (but also w/o the slightest preparation other than being a voracious policy and quality newspaper reader, and living overseas). Found the whole thing rather easy and didn’t prepare the least. But then my job is something like an outsourced FSO position and I interact with that world quite a lot.

    I wonder if the bio went down as my answers got progressively snider (tedious, tedious questions).

    Well the silly Grad School Essay questions up next.

  27. James Vann

    Also in the spirit of helping folks increase their data base here are my scores from 2009 & 2010
    2009 – Job Knowledge – 61.22
    Bio – 68.61
    English – 46.76
    Essay – 6
    Total – 176.59

    2010 Job Knowledge – 61.45
    Bio – 62.74
    English – 46.91
    Essay – 6
    Total – 171.10
    As you can see I am a complete dufus when it comes to English but I’ve spent 20+ years in Naval Special Warfare travelling the world. This helped with the Bio section. But all this leads me to wonder if I should continue to pursue a career in the FS at age 45 if I don’t make it past the orals this year. I have to think about retirement.

  28. Cece

    Job Knowledge – 55.20
    Biographic Information – 40.57
    English Expression – 59.67
    MC TOTAL – 155.44
    Essay – 6

    I guess I was below average on on the bio (was never great at tooting my own horn) but beat the english test? I did not study for the test. A pass is a pass, right? Good to know the test score will not be factored into rankings.

    Are there any helpful sites with pointers for the Personal Narrative? I think I need to prep for it since biographic information was my lowest score. I am still finishing up grad school, in my mid-20s, so not much interesting life/job experience….


  29. Ya Mo

    These are my scores.

    Job Knowledge:52.07
    Biographic Information:55.70
    English Expression:50.53
    Multiple-Choice Total:158.30

    Your essay score:8

    Just got them today. Honestly, I find that studying is a waste of time. Either you know it or you don’t. Just my opinion! Any pointers on what they’re looking for on the Personal Narrative?

  30. JM

    Passed with a 155 and that’s all that matters to me. English Expression was my saving grace at 59.67.

    I studied essentially 0 minutes for the test, while I know a girl that interned at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, bought the study guide, studied plenty, and didn’t pass. I’m currently taking an American Foreign Policy class, but the class itself is pretty useless and not helpful for something like applying as a FSO. I just took it since it was the best class for my last poli-sci class. The only good thing I’ve learned in that class is to be detailed and succinct in all writings. Thanks, professor with 27 years in the State Dept.

    I also think it highly matters what track you picked. I talked a bit with my friend who took the test last year for the Econ route, and based off general conversation, our two tests sounded totally different.

    If it’s basically a blank slate for the PNs and oral exams, great. I’m going to put all I can into my PNs and, hopefully, oral exam. If I couldn’t pass the test without studying, I don’t think it would be an ideal career for me to pursue.

  31. RS

    I just got my scores back as well. Passed with a 161.99 overall (can’t remember the break down). I didn’t do much studing either. I was also wondering if anyone had any advice for the PNs, considering that I just graduated with my bachelors and don’t have a ton of work/life experience. Was just wondering generally what kinda stuff they look for.

  32. jd

    I had the pleasure of taking the FSOT in June and found out today that I passed!! I found this site in a desperate bid to unlock the riddle of the ‘score’. This has been incredibly helpful and I am sincerely relieved to learn from previous comments that there exists a positive correlation between the Bio score and the QEP pass rate. I receieved a 68.81 on that section. Gratz to everyone who passed the recent rounds of the FSOT and thank you, again, for this site! Very helpful.

  33. John

    I’m pretty certain the cut off score is 154. Was for me in June and for a friend in Oct of last year.

  34. John

    Can I ask about the Bio Section:
    For the person that got a 68 on the bio, how did you go about completing that section? I tried to finish it but got nowhere close at all. I don’t know how someone can answer 75 questions, half of which ask for the detail in 40 minutes…

  35. jd

    Hi John, The Bio section reminded me of a protracted episode of Jeopardy. I noticed several other comments posted regarding the Bio score and can only agree that you either know it, or you don’t. I finished that section with just under 2 minutes to spare. I guess the only thing I could recommend for a higher score on that section would be to break-out your Trivial Pursuit game and go through every fact card. I used to do that as a kid and I was stunned at how useful it was on the FSOT Biographic Info section. Who would’ve guessed?

  36. SH

    Another data point, June 2011.

    Job Knowledge: 64.57
    Biographic Information: 63.38
    English Expression: 59.58

    Total: 187.53

    Your essay score: 6

  37. Emilie

    Job Knowledge:49.02
    Biographic Information:33.93
    English Expression:55.93
    Multiple-Choice Total:138.88

    People should also mentioned their track because that would influence the score.

    Why is the Biographic Information so low? Anyone have any idea how to crack that section of the test?

  38. Teague

    Received my June 2011 test results:

    – Job Knowledge: 53.69
    – Biographic Information: 74.24
    – English Expression: 57.76
    – Multiple-Choice Total: 185.69

    – Your essay score (if applicable): 5

    Cannot believe that I missed moving forward by one point on the essay. As this is the most subjective part of the test (and because my multiple-choice score was fairly high) I am considering requesting a re-scoring of the essay (costs $30 and takes 5-6 weeks). Any thoughts from the gallery?

  39. Teague

    Received my June 2011 test results:

    Political Officer career track

    – Job Knowledge: 53.69
    – Biographic Information: 74.24
    – English Expression: 57.76
    – Multiple-Choice Total: 185.69

    – Your essay score (if applicable): 5

    Cannot believe that I missed moving forward by one point on the essay. As this is the most subjective part of the test (and because my multiple-choice score was fairly high) I am considering requesting a re-scoring of the essay (costs $30 and takes 5-6 weeks). Any thoughts from the gallery?

  40. Matt

    October results are out.
    Job knowledge – 61.52
    Biographic – 44.32
    English -55.96
    total – 161.80
    Essay – 6
    I’m consular track. I barely made it to the next step with that dog of an essay I wrote.

  41. Josh

    Thanks for this great blog, really helped understand my scores. From the OCT 2011 exam:

    Job Knowledge: 64.63
    Biographic Information: 46.26
    English Expression: 59.62
    Multiple-Choice Total: 170.51
    Essay score: 6

    Like a lot of people, I barely finished the Bio section, and had to rush through most of the questions. Also, I didn’t really follow the 5 paragraph format for the essay unfortunately, which I’d recommend because I think the readers are looking for it.

  42. Yellowbeard

    Awesome blog, thanks…

    Job Knowledge: 58.42
    Biographic Information: 44.71
    English Expression: 52.30
    Multiple-Choice Total: 155.43
    Essay: 6

    I passed, but just barely. I doubt anyone passed more barely than I. The sad thing is I thought my essay was quite clever, when really it was almost not good enough. I shudder to think that the BIO score has a strong correlation with whether or not one survives this process, but all that really matters is the health and well-being of the United States.

  43. Elizabeth

    Thanks for posting this information. It’s helpful to see some other scores for comparison.

    I passed, woo hoo! This is the second time I have taken the test. The first time was right after I graduated high school and I missed it by two points. I felt much smarter this time! Now it’s on to the PN questions…ditto to someone’s comments about digging up old contacts…

    Job Knowledge: 61.73
    Biographic Information: 59.97
    English Expression: 55.96
    Multiple-Choice Total:177.66
    Your essay score: 8

  44. Kris

    I was quite shocked to find out I passed! I felt the job knowledge section was easy, although apparently I’m just a little above average among those who have passed in previous years. Ditto on the English Expression, but my score was below average.

    I had no trouble finishing the bio section, maybe had even five minutes to spare. The essay killed me though and when I left the testing center I was 99% certain that it would be the essay that prevented me from passing, and it almost was. I took about five minutes to plan and then began writing. Suddenly I see I’ve only got five minutes left! Basically I wrote half an essay, the first half was pretty good, and the second half consisted of paragraphs that were only two lines long.

    I’m on the political track and this is my third time to take the test, but the first two times were about ten and twelve years ago. I wanted to have one last shot before I finally gave up on this. That said, I really didn’t have any serious hope of passing and did not study at all. I’m not sure that studying helps much anyway. So now it’s on to the QEP.

    Job Knowledge: 59.97
    Biographic Info: 51.68
    English Expression: 50.48
    Total: 162.13

    Essay: 6

  45. j

    yellowbeard, i passed more barely than you–less than a point. it’s kind of embarrassing, actually. but at least i did well on the english expression and essay. i’m hoping my PNQs blow ’em away as well.

    job knowledge: 48.19
    biographic: 44.44
    english expression: 61.44
    total: 154.07

    essay: 10

  46. Yellowbeard

    J — congrats on somehow coming up with a lower passing score on the mystical choice. But your essay score: OMG! EPIC!

    I’m in awe of other peoples’ scores. And what I would give to read some of their essays…

  47. oummih

    I just got my results and noticed that the score was on the bottom of the letter. I was sick as a dog on the day of the test, and thought I could have done much better on the job knowledge portion. The Biography portion was relatively easy, and although the English portion was easy, it was the last part of the test for me and I was running out of time and just guessed on the last 10 questions – was basically just tired out.

    Job :59.97
    Bio :66.38
    Eng :50.48

    Essay: 8

  48. PhiloKing

    Consular Track – Feb 2012
    Job knowledge: 59.33
    Biographic: 56.84
    English: 50.46
    Total: 166.63

    Essay: 8

    Happy I passed, but disappointed with my overall score. The essay and english are the most surprising (disappointing) given my background as a lawyer. Although, I did rush through it, but no excuses. Anyhow, looking forward to the next step.

  49. Kimberly

    J/K 59.94
    Bio 51.22
    Eng 55.95
    Total 167.11

    Essay 8

    I’ve been such a lurker for months, obsessing over every FOST site imaginable. Though a little disappointed in my overall score, I’m so thrilled to just to pass. This was my first pass at it, and I’m hoping to be the girl who is hit by lightning and passes FSOT, PNQ, and OA on the first try, and goes on to solve all the world’s problems. Easy peasy, right? Thanks to all who have given and continue to give advice; I know I feel less alone in what seems like a fruitless attempt at being a FSO!

  50. Ruben

    Not sure if anyone has mentioned this, but since the scores from the FSOT is based on a t-score, a score of 80 would put you in the 99.9 percentile. Similarly, a score of 30 would put you in the 1.1 percentile. In theory, on a perfect distribution, a t-score could extend to range from 10-90, but that would be insane because it would mean the range is from the .00000000000001 percentile to 99.9999999999999 percentile–or something insane like that.

    I received my letter informing me that I passed the QEP yesterday and I’m just now starting my preparation for the FSOA, which I plan on taking in late August. This website is awesome, thanks for all of the work you’ve done.

  51. Rob

    Wow, I just finished the FSOT, and my essay was shorter than some of these comments. I had such a terrible topic, and I have no clue where all the time went. I suppose we’ll see just how awful it is in 3-5 weeks; keep your fingers crossed for a ‘6’!!!!

  52. Terry26

    The June 2012 results just came out. My score breakdown is as follows: (Political Officer track)
    J/K: 52.23
    Bio: 53.06
    Eng.Exp: 57.71 Total: 163.00

    Essay: 12

    I thought that I had the worst luck with the job knowledge part of the test, seeing as that’s normally my strongest area, yet I found myself staring blankly into the air on more than one occasion (seems like I used up all my trivia knowledge during the practice tests). Can anyone confirm/deny that these scores are wiped out before the QEP or they are taken into account? Also, anyone know how often they do follow up and call the people you’ve listed as references for the QEP? I don’t want to face the prospect of one of my wonderful, yet slightly aging college teachers, telling the review board that they don’t remember my name. Many thanks for this excellent thread!

  53. Alex

    I find studying helped with specific things in subjects I was not as strong with. When I entered the testing center, I had no idea what I was in for because I did not know the format at all. All I knew is that it was multiple choice and there were essays in the end. When I left, I thought it went great. I thought I only missed 2 JK and 1 EE, and I got so lucky that the essay was on something I had written papers on for my Master’s degree. I felt that it was the easiest standardized test I ever took. Now that I am comparing my scores to everyone else on here, I did not do as well as I thought. My essay score seemed low compared to how well I thought I did. Luckily, my bio score turned out great.

    Job Knowledge: 55.32
    Biographic Information: 63.08
    English Expression: 52.22
    Total: 170.62
    Essay: 8

  54. R


    I just took the test yesterday for the first time and I’m wondering if we see this breakdown of results if we DON’T pass.


  55. Alex

    Just wanted to give some personal reflection some info on the October 2012 FSOT test. Is there one test for everyone during the month, or is the test random for each person.

    For me at least i thought the job skills portion was insanely easy. I think i missed at most 1-4 questions. I did passing on the grammar part, this is the portion i was most afraid i would do poorly on. And the Essay question was US energy independence as it relates to oil supplies. I had plenty of time to spare on the first three sections i think i completed the Essay question with 2-3 minutes to spare. I think i made no spelling errors with a few punctuation errors. Grammar might have bit off in a few places. Essay was not “12” material but i think at least a 6 or better.

    I was one of only 4 people in the room. And by the time I was taking the last part, I was the only one in the room. I was 15 minutes late starting the test, due to the room on the sheet being different than were it was actually taking place.

  56. b

    Has anyone here felt they have done poorly but ended up passing? Because of the strange way this test is scored, I’m thinking this would be a possibility. :)

    Also, I hear that they look at structure of essay and not opinion. Since it was a subject I knew very little about, I had to struggle to put thoughts together. Doing just that took a chunk of my time. So I decided to at least write something that makes sense and come back and add the fluff/expand later. Welllllll, I had 4 minutes left when it got to fluff time! Now I’m hoping they also look at opinion because the structure… ughhhhh :) It was a 3 paragraph essay. Intro, body, conclusion.

    Great place to get viewpoints and experiences. Thank you.

  57. A Fetscher

    Pretty sure my essay deserved a much better score style and substance but probably proof reading it would have helped.

    55.34 knowledge
    44.92 Bio (not sure how they score it but who knows)
    54.07 English Expression

    Total 154.33

    Essay score 6

    Never should have even been close was my thinking but it will be interesting come the narratives and verbal q&a portions. Moving Forward as they say lol from a g+ to the yahoo folks.

  58. Shanon

    I’m so glad to have found your site! I took the February 2013 FSOT and just got my scores today–I passed! My breakdown is as follows:

    JK: 47.65
    Bio: 55.99
    Eng: 59.64
    TOTAL: 163.28

    Essay: 8

    I was really worried about the Job Knowledge section, because there were quite a few that I second-guessed myself on and ended up changing my answer from the right one to the wrong one! I knew I aced the English, though, and I had no idea what would happen with the Bio part. I know my actual job knowledge is much higher than my score shows, but I’m so excited to have made it to the next step, and I hope I can make up for my low job knowledge score with a fantastic PN.

    Your site is so informative, and I have really enjoyed reading. Thank you!

  59. Alex

    This site and others like it have been a great help. I didn’t study for the test really but I do teach middle school Social Studies and used to be a manager for Microsoft. Just got my scores today.

    Consular Track

    JK: 56.92
    Bio: 68.67
    Eng: 57.81
    Total: 183.40

    Essay: 6

    Obviously, I’m not happy about the essay score but given that I didn’t really finish…I can’t really complain. Now on to the personal narrative and hopefully beyond.

  60. Joel

    Diplomatic Track, Feb 2012

    Job Knowledge: 60.02
    Biographic Information: 33.33
    English Expression: 61.46
    Multiple-Choice Total: 154.81
    Your essay score: 8

    Is it just me, or this a strange score? Maybe I should be personally slighted with this Bio score, like it’s a commentary on me personally! Also strange is that I thought I had completely bombed the essay…I completely mismanaged my time and only ended up writing two and a half very short paragraphs.

    I don’t know what’s more shocking to me, my passing essay score or my nearly bottom of the barrel Bio score. I’m almost wondering if I accidentally failed to answer all the questions. I suppose I just ought to be hoping there isn’t a great correlation between Bio and PN scores!

  61. Alibro

    I am doing the exam in June. I just learnt about this opportunity and is ready to jump on it. I however wish i had more time, as it seems like there is a lot to learn and there is no real syllabus as to what will be on the exam. I found this blog as a means to acquire more knowledge. If any one has any tips and is kind enough to share…thanks.

  62. Bran

    My totals from Oct 2013:

    Job Knowledge: 63.20
    Biographic Information: 56.24
    English Expression: 61.41
    Multiple-Choice Total: 180.85
    Essay: 10

    A couple of notes: This was with little to no study, but I had taken it before and passed in 2009 so I knew well what to expect. I found my old letter from 2009, but unfortunately the ACT did not provide scores at that time unless you faxed them a separate request. Apparently I didn’t

    I also was able to manage a 10 on the essay despite only having it about half done. Luckily, it was on a topic I knew a lot about, and I brought a bunch of outside information to the table. I also have a lot of experience writing (MA thesis, published papers), and completed law school and worked as a government contractor since I last took the test, giving me a good background in “government-ese.” I imagine that had I finished, my score would have been something like an 11 or 12.

    I also finished the whole thing with a bunch of time to spare (well over an hour). The only section that I did come close to using all the time on was the bio one. Interestingly, I found many of the questions on that section to be extremely similar to each other, so it was VERY tedious. I imagine the -differences- in the answers you give to very similar questions are something they key in on.

  63. James

    Data point for internet searchers! I am first time test taker. I studied about 2 hours. Seeing the test, I feel that I can improve the BIO section, as I now know what to expect. The rest of the test would be hard to improve without extensive work.

    October 2013 FSOT results:
    JK: 60.09
    Bio: 48.47
    EE: 55.92
    Total Score: 164.48

    Essay: 6

  64. Nate

    Just received my results today for the Sept. Test.
    Economics Track
    JK: 53.88
    Bio: 55.54
    Eng Ex:59.58
    Total: 169.00
    essay: 8

    I did not really study except a few concepts on International Econ for about 1 hr. It had zero impact on my score. Honestly, you either know it or you don’t. just based on the description of each track should be enough to direct testers along the right path of what they should learn or know before the test. It was much easier than I expected, but then again my scores are not the highest. No worries, a pass is a pass, the q’s for the PN create an interesting challenge: How well can you write when it really counts. I look forward to getting this done and hopefully moving on. Good luck to everyone!

  65. ck

    Public diplomacy Track, Oct 2013

    Job Knowledge: 63.2
    Biographic Information: 59.42
    English Expression: 59.58
    Multiple-Choice Total: 182.20

    Your essay score: 10

    I used to be a forest ranger, a reporter, have deployed to Iraq & Afghanistan as a soldier, and run marathons for fun. Currently Currently working for law enforcement. Can’t wait to be a diplomat.

  66. Virginia

    Got my results from the February 2014 test. I passed! I am so excited!!! I’ve read all the comments here and Googled a bit but I can’t find any “max scores” either.

    I scored as follows:

    Job Knowledge – 63.21
    Biographic Info – 66.53
    English Expression – 61.38
    Total – 191.12

    Pretty great from what I’ve read! I was a bit surprised at the English section as I thought I pretty much aced it. And my essay was a weak 6. I’m unhappy with this. But I knew it would be my weakest section after completing it. I didn’t structure well and felt dissatisfied as I left the test center. Just glad I made it! Now to stress about the PNs!

  67. Richard

    Biographic Questionnaire:58.47
    English Expression:58.30
    Job Knowledge:57.81
    Multiple Choice Total: 174.58
    Your Essay Score: 5

    Biographic Questionnaire:66.13
    English Expression:61.4
    Job Knowledge:60.14
    Multiple Choice Total: 187.67
    Your Essay Score: 7

    I didn’t study for the second test. Just completed my last year of undergraduate and kept up on international affairs on Twitter. I’ve also taken a few more other government agency tests since then so maybe practice makes perfect.


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