Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Further Reflection On Not Passing The OA

Well it has been two days, a great Goo Good Dolls concert at the Inner Harbor and a plane ride home to think about what happened on Monday. I have had a chance to hear from several of my fellow testers and from our GE group since then. We only had 3/12 pass and only one from our GE group.

I received an email from someone who's spouse is already an FSO and during his OA before his group walked into the room he reminded the group that this was a team effort and 80% of his group passed. That is probably really good advice. While our group didn't have any bad actors by a long stretch, we did have two people who were advocating very strongly for their project down to the wire. I am pretty sure that only two of us passed the GE portion.

The one person who passed overall did not get through her initial presentation so the myth that you have to do that and leave time for questions is probably false. My impression is that you can't win on the GE during the six minute presentation and that the discussion phase makes or breaks that section of the test. I was also surprised at the lack of organization of the projects. If you have been on the Yahoo boards follow the four quadrant method to stay organized and you can't go wrong.

Having missed by .05 I have thought about ways that I could have given myself more cushion throughout the day. Not knowing my actual scores other than I passed the GE and SI it is hard to say for sure. The one part I struggled with a bit during the GE was the fine line between letting others be heard and keeping the group on track. Because most of the initial presentations went poorly we used about the first five minutes to ask questions that should have been covered during the presentation phase.

That in conjunction with those that thought it was a competition to have their project win added interesting dimensions to the GE. If I had to do it over again I would have been more forceful at several points. I did stop them once or twice to give the two quieter members of our group the opportunity to add their two cents. The person who passed the GE while she probably could have been more concise during the presentation phase did an excellent job during the discussion phase which is why I am sure she passed that section.

Like the GE you need a little bit of good Karma on the SI in terms of who is evaluating you and which questions you get. Some of them will be a nice slow meatball right down the middle of the plate and others may not. I was not surprised by any of the questions and found the SI to be the most straight forward of the sections in terms of preparation being similar to the actual thing. I just didn't perform as well as I should have. It was luck of the draw, but I don't think I had the best examiners for the way that I tried to answer the questions.

If I had to guess I think I probably scored highest on the GE, then the SI and I must have tanked the CM pretty good. I must have gotten a 4.6-4.8 on it. I have certainly dealt with much more complex management issues in real life then the one presented on the CM so do not know what happened. I obviously didn't give the examiner what he/she wanted. I took a lot of time to read the material, wrote down every question I was asked to answer and made headings for each of those topics. So whatever I did, I guess I really stunk it up.


  1. hi there, I don't think I've commented on your blog (if so, it looks different..) but just wanted to say I'm sorry. My husband also got a 5.2 and it was a huge blow, esp since he thought everything was going so well. I completely agree w your assessment of the elements of luck and control that go into the OA, which is something that makes it so hard. I would say that the fact that you passed the GE, despite having difficult characters in your group, is a real testament to you. And as an FSO friend told my husband afterwards, the fact that you passed the SI shows that you are the kind of person State would like to have in its ranks. I too don't know what happened w my CM- mystery to me. Again, I'm sorry and wish you luck if you decide to try again.

  2. Thanks. I enjoy reading your blog and am in rallying mode and figuring out what to do. The real rub of it was that I had .875 bonus points!

    The 5.2 blues are a bit of a bummer. It will be interesting to see the actual score breakdown. I felt that I had done enough to pass, but honest to goodness had no real idea how it went.

    I'll more than likely give it another shot and hope you get the call soon.

  3. Thanks for that post, I really enjoy reading your blog. You just rewrote all my thoughts on my OA day last December. I felt exactly the same... though had to be reminded that better close than really really terribly far from that 5.25
    At least you know you can do it and any small variable that didn't work out last time is liable to next time. Keep trying - I know I will, and hopefully not too many more times ;)

  4. Thanks for the note and I am getting back into the swing of things and will start getting ready for the February test. The good news is that my study group is 3/4 so I know that we were doing the right things.