Wednesday, July 15, 2009

FSOT 2009

FSOT 2009 was my first time to take it on the computer, and I felt it was a great improvement in many ways over the old paper version. There were only a handful of us testing, instead of the several score or several hundred that had tested previously. The ability to go at my own pace, and jump to the next section at my leisure instead of waiting on the proctor helped me to 'stay in the groove'. Best of all, perhaps, was the ability to 'flag' questions for review.

JK: As always, this section is "a mile wide and an inch deep". In the past, I had found that keeping up on current events was the most beneficial to me, and I continued that habit. Many people recommend The Economist, but I have always preferred reading The Week. It does not contain quite the depth of The Economist, but it does offer a variety of perspectives on events of interest as well as including some social and cultural commentary as well. For the purposes of the FSOT, one does not need a lot of depth, and at about half the subscription price of The Economist, The Week is (in my opinion) a better deal. I finished this section with about 20 minutes to spare, reviewed my 'suspect' questions, and continued on.

BIO: This is easily the most controversial portion of the test, as evidenced by the regular chatter in the FSOT Yahoo Group following each testing window. Reviewing your resume and recalling your extracurricular activities beforehand seems to help somewhat. However, the time frame felt a little tight, and I did not complete this section.

EE: Same as always. Spend some quality time with your Elements of Style (Strunk). Or don't. But you'll be glad you did. I finished this section with about five minutes to spare.

Essay: Like the EE, this is one section you can prepare for, but many people just prefer to 'wing it', and then complain when they score too low. Consider yourself a good writer? Great! But review basic essay format and get a handle on how ACT is going to look at your submission. Remember, your essay will be scored by two people, so you will need a minimum score of '3' to pass (3 x 2=6). Don't worry about the topic. Just take a position and support it. And don't forget to edit! The time on the Essay section was down to the wire. Mere second remaining when I submitted my attempt.

Bottom Line: The FSOT is a great improvement over the FSWE. The timing feels rushed in some areas, but is still reasonable for the most part. I passed the FSOT again, comfortably above the cutoff (15-20 points), and felt back in the groove of things.

Upward and Onward!

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