Monday, November 7, 2011


As promised, here is the detailed score breakdown from my first OA - in April. I got the report in mid September after filing 3 requests (ah bureaucracy). The scores were both better and worse than anticipated.

As you may recall I scored 5.1 overall and passed only the structured interview portion.

My specific scores for each section...
5.8 on the structured interview (which they broke down into 5.7 on both hypotheticals and experience/motivation and 6(!) on the past behavior)
4.9 on the group exercise ...likely because I did great on the presentation and lousy on the negotiation

...and are you ready for this?

4.5 on the case management. Wow.

This was particularly striking to me because writing was traditionally my strong suit. As in I got an 800 on that portion of the SAT. Not to brag, just to prove that in some contexts people used to consider me to be more of a 'pass' writer than a 'fail miserably' writer.

And then I met the State Department and the bar shifted up. (Way up.)

Whew. Given that truly terrible score I was amazed that I passed case management this time, but as I stated before, my summer was full of State Department writing practice and instruction. I think all that practice helped a ton and it certainly gave me a taste of what kind of writing they're looking for.

Just in case you're interested there was nothing else listed about my scores and how they were determined. The only comment was how I reacted to the news that I didn't pass. (I think they do screen out the crazies, so behave yourself, at least until you pass the OA.)


  1. Thanks for your informative blog, and congratulations on joining the Foreign Service. I took the OA for the first time yesterday. Just like you, I scored a 5.1 and passed only the structured interview. I plan to send out my FOIA request tomorrow and get the ball rolling so I can take the written exam again in February.

  2. Great attitude anonymous. Tons of us in my A-100 took a couple of tries. Now that you've got experience with the test I'm sure you're on the way. Good luck - I hope we'll run into each other at state someday.