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The Foreign Service Officer Test

The Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT) is an important part of the FSO selection process, covering the job knowledge, English expression and biographic information necessary to work as a Foreign Service Officer. The FSOT also includes an essay. View complete information on the FSOT and the selection process.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible, the U.S. Department of State requires that each candidate be:

  • A U.S. citizen on the date the candidate submits the registration package
  • At least 20 years old and no older than 59 years of age on the day the candidate submits the registration
  • At least 21 years old and not yet 60 on the day the candidate is appointed as a Foreign Service Officer
  • Available for worldwide assignments, including Washington, D.C.

Notice on Change to the FSOT Essay Component

The Essay component of the Foreign Service Officer Test will change beginning with the February 2017 FSOT. Rather than being presented with one topic on which to respond, candidates will be presented with three short topics and asked to choose one of these topics for response. Essays will be evaluated on a candidate’s ability to analyze a topic and on the quality of the writing, not on the opinions expressed. A well-written essay will be concise and well-organized. It will make a clear and effective argument that is easily read and quickly understood. Other important elements include word choice, spelling, grammar, syntax and punctuation. Candidates will have 7 minutes to read the instructions and select a topic, 25 minutes to respond and 2,800 characters to develop their chosen topic.

Notice on Change to the Collection of No-Show Fees

Beginning with the registration period for the February 2017 FSOT, which opens on December 15, 2016, the State Department will require that candidates provide credit/debit card information to Pearson VUE in order to complete the registration process. The card will be charged $5 to hold the appointment. This fee is fully refundable and will be credited back to the credit/debit card after score report results are released, approximately three weeks after the close of the testing window. If, however, a candidate either does not take the test or does not cancel an appointment at least 48 hours in advance, the card will be charged an additional $67 for a total no-show fee assessment of $72. If you have questions about this notice you may direct them to

Candidates in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Benin, Cameroon, Gambia, Ghana, Lebanon, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, or Uganda who are having trouble registering for the FSOT due to credit card issues should contact

Registering for the FSOT

Candidates complete both registration steps - submitting an application and selecting a seat - during the same five-week period immediately prior to a specific testing window. Applications are valid only for that test and will expire when that testing window closes. The registration period closes three days prior to the opening of the testing window.

Once an application for a test window is submitted it cannot be changed, and candidates may test only once in a 12-month period. Click here for answers to General FSOT FAQs.

Upcoming Foreign Service Officer Testing Windows

This chart contains relevant dates for the next three Foreign Service Officer Tests. As a reminder you will be able to register – apply and select a seat – for approximately five weeks before each testing window.

  June 2017 October 2017 February 2018
Testing Window Dates June 3 to 10 September 30 to October 7 January 27 to February 3
Registration opens April 26 August 23 December 13
Registration closes May 31 September 27 January 24
List of embassies/consulates* offering the FSOT available at April 25 August 22 December 12

*The FSOT is offered at both domestic and overseas locations.

Pearson VUE On Base Test Centers (OBTC) to Offer the FSOT

Beginning with the February 2017 FSOT, the Foreign Service Officer Test will be offered at approximately 130 OBTC locations on U.S. military installations in U.S states and territories, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The OBTCs will add additional appointment options during each testing window for those candidates with access to the included military bases.

Use of Overseas Pearson Professional Centers

The Board of Examiners will offer the FSOT at certain overseas Pearson Professional Centers (PPCs). PPCs are wholly owned by Pearson VUE and may not be in the capital. Embassies/Consulates located in other cities may continue to offer the test as their resources permit. Candidates testing in these locations must use their U.S. passports for identification verification.

The FSOT will be delivered at Pearson Professional Centers in the following cities: Melbourne and Sydney (Australia); Sao Paulo (Brazil); Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, and Vancouver (Canada); Paris (France); Frankfurt (Germany); Athens (Greece); Osaka and Tokyo (Japan); Seoul (Korea, South); Mexico City (Mexico); Manila (Philippines); Singapore City (Singapore); Johannesburg (South Africa); Madrid (Spain); Taipei (Taiwan); Bangkok (Thailand); Istanbul (Turkey); and London (United Kingdom).


Find more information on a rewarding career in the Foreign Service. If you have specific questions about the Foreign Service Officer Test you may send them to

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OMB Approval Number: 1405-0008 Expiration Date: 3/31/2018

Last updated 2017-04-17