Andrew Curry of Foreign Policy magazine writes about America's Foreign Service Officer test:
"The test is the State Department’s sole criterion for choosing diplomats. In theory, it’s a truly merit-based system. It doesn’t matter if you are a 21-year-old two months shy of college graduation or a 51-year-old law firm partner in the middle of a midlife crisis. Everyone has an equal shot.
"Candidates who score above a certain threshold get put on a list of potential hires, ranked according to their results; bonuses are given for military service and proficiency in strategic languages. The test is used to select all of America’s career diplomats, from the managers responsible for keeping the embassies running, to the consular officers who decide who gets to visit the United States and who doesn’t, to the public relations experts who are the country’s public face abroad, to the political officers negotiating with foreign governments. (The bar is just lower for managers and consular officers.)"
"In 2006, more than 17,000 people took the FSOT. Just 10 percent passed the written exam, and a fifth of those made it through the daylong oral assessment that follows. In the end, less than 3 percent of all applicants were offered a job in 2006. That’s an acceptance rate significantly lower than that of Harvard Business School."
Curry goes on to take the exam, and gives much detail in his article of the kind of questions asked and abilities tested, and proffers his opinion of its likely effectiveness.