Tag Archives: language testing

BEX/FSI Phone Language Testing

At the crack of dawn Houston time (aka 6:45 AM…) I called the testing center at FSI to start my phone German language test. Since the non-disclosure agreement also applies to language testing, I won’t go into what I was specifically tested on. I’ll simply agree that the Foreign Service career candidate guide is very accurate in how it describes the test structure.

The good: I’m really proud of myself for being to answer tough questions about politics and get through the whole test without really struggling for words or grammar- there were a few things I’m sure I could have phrased more diplomatically/professionally, but overall my responses seemed understandable and pretty fluent to me. There was never a moment I lost my train of thought or felt that I was in over my head, which I think is a really good thing! Before the test I had been practicing mock interviews 3-4 times with my German professor, so I pretty much knew what to expect. I also had taken a German literature class this semester, spoke German 3-4 times a week, read/watched the news often. I felt very prepared overall.

The bad/neutral: Overall, I have about the same feeling I felt after finishing the FSOA and awaiting results. I did just about the best I could, and it’s now up to the examiners if I pass or fail. It would put me among the top Public Diplomacy candidates if I gain the .17 points, but even if I failed I’ll still have a solid spot on the register with a 5.6.

A 3 (minimum professional proficiency) is a pretty high bar to reach, and I don’t want to assume that I definitely got the bonus points. I wish I had been a little more active in my responses- there were times when I was not sure if I should add more or not. And while my incredibly kind German professors at Rice assured me I had nothing to worry about, I’m not sure that I’d meet the high FSI standard of professional proficiency in German.

I remember looking at my phone afterwards and seeing that I finished at 7:06- the German-speaking part of the test probably took around 20 minutes. It felt like a really fast spoken test, and I’m kind of still in shock that I don’t have to follow the German news religiously anymore.