Could You Pass the Foreign Service Officer Test?


By: John Miller

6 Min Quiz

Image: youtube

About This Quiz

If you watched the James Bond and Bourne Identity movies over and over again, you know how important it is for America to have diplomats representing its interest in foreign countries. Although they don’t pick up guns and chase spies, Foreign Service Officers are vital tools of U.S. policy, working on the ground to keep the peace and spread American values.

Do you have any idea what FSOs do on a daily basis? And do you think you could handle those tasks in times of boredom … and in the middle of a chaotic political meltdown?

To be an FSO, you need a broad educational background, a quick mind and the social graces of a wannabe Bill Clinton. Do you know enough about world politics and American policy to shine at your duties, even if you’re stuck at a backwater office in a Third-World Country with no clear guidance?

FSOs are relentless adaptable and in tune with the culture and environment around them. They know when to speak, and more importantly, when to listen to the local people, whose stories can alter the course of politics within any nation.

So before you buckle in for a long international flight to your post, you need to first demonstrate that you have what it takes to pass the FSO test. If you can prove your mettle, maybe you’ll be on your way to diplomatic stardom.

What was the purpose of the Warren Commission?

In the wake of the JFK assassination, the Feds promised to Get to the Bottom of This, and so they created the Warren Commission, which issued a 900-page report that served only to fuel conspiracies for decades.


Who was the second president of the United State?

No one could follow in the gigantic footsteps of America's Father, George Washington. Especially not John Adams, the irascible perfectionist weirdo who somehow won office after Washington's departure.


What is a well-known public service broadcaster is based in London?

The British Broadcasting Corporation, or BBC, is one of the most famous news organizations in the world. With tens of thousands of employees, it serves up vital news from all corners of the globe.


On which continent would you find the country of Colombia?

If you think foreign policy doesn't matter, take Colombia as a case study. This South American country's sometimes chaotic politics and have had a major impact on American lives throughout the decades.


During WWII, which of the following countries was NOT part of the Axis Powers?

Germany, Japan, and Italy were the primary Axis Powers in WWII. Dozens of countries banded together as the Allies in order to beat them back.


Which president served two non-consecutive terms?

Grover Cleveland was an outlier in American politics -- he was known as an honest and decent man adamantly opposed to corruption. He's the only man to serve two non-consecutive terms as president.


During WWII, which country did Japan attack, killing millions of soldiers and civilians?

As things were heating up in the European theater, Japan attacked China with devilish intent, killing countless scores of civilians. In the West, this vicious aspect of the war is often overlooked in history books.


The Smith-Mundt Act (a.k.a. U.S. Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948) prohibited which activity?

Following WWII, and as the Cold War descended, Congress passed the Smith-Mundt Act, which was meant to shield the American public from seeing propaganda created for other countries. Forget the Matrix, the New World Order is already here.


America imports most of its goods from which country?

As of 2017, America imports most of its goods from China, to the tune of around $463 billion per year. Yet the Chinese don't buy nearly as much from America -- the trade deficit is nearly $350 billion.


What was the purpose of the Scopes Trial?

In 1925, a substitute high school teacher named John Scopes set out to make a point regarding the discussion of evolution in public schools. He violated a Tennessee state law that banned evolution in schools and set up an epic court battle that he ultimately won.


Which U.S. president served largely during the Great Depression?

Herbert Hoover's name is often linked to the miseries of the Great Depression. When re-election time rolled around, he was swept away in a landslide by Franklin Roosevelt.


When a Japanese person smiles or laughs, it may not be a sign of happiness. Instead, it might signify _____.

Body language varies greatly from culture to culture. In Japan, smiling is rare and often indicates anxiety.


What's the purpose of the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means?

It's one of the most important, and yet boring, committees in the government. The Committee on Ways and Means is a vital tax-writing group in the House of Representatives.


Which term refers to the ability of a country to attract people through to its culture and norms without resorting to force?

"Soft power" is the idea that one person -- or nation -- can influence others with attractiveness rather than threats of force. America, like other influential countries, relies heavily on soft power to control its sphere of influence.


What did the Missouri Compromise accomplish?

The 1820 Missouri Compromise addressed the issue of slavery. The compromise? Maine remained a free state … but in Missouri, human slavery was just dandy.


Who built the Berlin Wall?

After WWII, East German officials were determined to push Allied influences out of Berlin, so up went the most infamous wall in world history. For nearly three decades, the wall stood as a symbol of oppression.


Who helped to found the first U.S. national bank, as well as the U.S. Mint?

Warren Buffett looks old enough to have invented cash itself. But it was Alexander Hamilton, George Washington's secretary of the treasury, who gets credit for creating the national bank and the U.S. Mint.


If the U.S. president is incapacitated, American officials use the line of _____ to determine the next person in charge.

The line of succession is the hierarchical list denoting the presidential power structure. If the president dies, the next person in line is, of course, the vice president, followed by Tom Brady, quarterback of the New England Patriots, and we probably made that part up.


Which famous European river runs from Germany to the Black Sea?

The Danube River is Europe's second-longest river, and it runs through 10 nations on its way to the Black Sea. For centuries, it's been a vital source of water, food, transportation, and defense.


To counter a flurry of negative press in a certain country, a Foreign Service Officer might take which action?

Foreign service officers are vital diplomats across the globe and they do a lot of damage control. When local press criticize America, these FSOs often take measures to remind people of the United States' positive contributions.


The 18th Amendment addressed which product?

Ratified in 1917, the 18th Amendment established the Prohibition Era, which restricted the production and distribution of alcohol. For more than a decade, you couldn't legally buy a beer in America.


What kind of government does North Korea have?

In the wake of the Cold War, Communism shriveled in many parts of the world. Not so in North Korea, which clung to a dictator-style Communist government that still oppresses its people in brutal ways.


What's the name of a U.S.-funded radio station in the Middle East?

America blasts its propaganda all over the world, in part thanks to radio stations like Radio Farda. It broadcasts in the Persian language and provides Iranian news with a distinctively Western perspective -- it's also been blocked by the Iranian government since its inception in 2002.


Why would LexisNexis be of use to a Foreign Service Officer?

LexisNexis is a huge database of news stories and legal documents and public records. It is an invaluable tool for anyone who uses information for political purposes.


What is one purpose of a "sunshine law"?

Sunshine laws help people -- particularly journalists -- access government information. Otherwise, some administrations will gladly withhold information, and thus, use those restrictions to control a population.


According to the U.S. State Department, public diplomacy is different from propaganda. How?

Public diplomacy is an exercise in soft power. The idea is to use facts to inform and persuade people, as opposed to propaganda, which is what top politicians do on Twitter.


The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria contributed to the start of which conflict?

In June 1914, a Serbian fanatic killed the archduke and sparked a political avalanche that collapsed into World War I. Millions of people died and Europe would never be the same again.


How many U.S. constitutional amendments are there?

The Founding Fathers did their best to create a perfect Constitution, but they also left room for improvement. That'd be the amendment process -- and to date, there have been 27 of them.


Russia has what sort of government?

Russia has what's sometimes called a "semi-presidential republic." That's a nice way of saying that if you dare to criticize the government, Vladimir Putin will personally eat your children and wash them down with triple-distilled polar bear blood.


What is the most populous country in Africa?

Nigeria is Africa's most populous country, with about 186 million residents. With its turbulent politics and economics, what happens in Nigeria has an effect on the rest of the continent.


Explore More Quizzes

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!