DSSAT (Diplomatic Security Special Agent) Test Prep Guide

Navigating the competitive world of diplomatic security can be daunting, but with the right preparation, your dream of becoming a Diplomatic Security Service Special Agent (SA), Security Engineering Officer (SEO), Security Technical Specialist (STS), or Diplomatic Courier can become a reality. This comprehensive guide aims to familiarize you with the Bureau of Diplomatic Security’s (DS) rigorous selection and assessment processes, equipping you with the knowledge and strategies to excel in the DSSAT (Diplomatic Security Special Agent Test).

Free DSSAT Practice Test Online

The selection of Diplomatic Security Service Specialists involves several steps. It starts with reviewing your application. Then, a Qualifications Evaluation Panel (QEP) assesses your skills. If selected, you’ll be invited to an assessment. This part evaluates your critical thinking, social skills, and leadership. Knowing about each step helps you prepare for a career in diplomatic security, federal law enforcement, foreign service, criminal investigations, cybercrime, counterterrorism, and overseas security operations.

Key Takeaways

  • The DSSAT (Diplomatic Security Special Agent Test) is a crucial step in the Diplomatic Security Service Specialist selection process.
  • The test covers job knowledge, English expression, and situational judgment necessary for a successful career as a Special Agent.
  • The DSSAT is conveniently offered throughout the U.S. during regular business hours, with some test centers offering extended hours.
  • Candidates must provide credit/debit card information to Pearson VUE, the test administrator, and may be subject to fees for no-shows or late cancellations.
  • Candidates are limited to one DSSAT attempt per 12-month period.

The Diplomatic Security Specialist Selection Process

The Bureau of Diplomatic Security is careful when choosing workers. They look for those who will do well in the Foreign Service. Not many positions are open for applicants. After getting an application, DS Human Resources check if a person is qualified. If they are, the application goes to the Qualifications Evaluation Panel (QEP). The QEP then scores and ranks the candidates.

Qualifications Evaluation Panel (QEP)

The QEP reviews many candidates’ materials, like resumes and statements of interest. They give each one a score. These scores help decide who gets an invite to the Assessment.

During the Assessment, the number of people asked to come may change. It depends on the budget and the State Department’s needs. Those invited will learn when and where they should go, and what to bring. The State Department can help people with disabilities if they ask early.

DSSAT (Diplomatic Security Special Agent) Test

The DSSAT is an exam given on a computer. It has multiple-choice questions in five sections. These are Logic-Based Reasoning, Experience Inventory (Part 1 and Part 2), Language Usage, and Detail Observation. Each part has its own time limit. For Special Agent candidates, the test takes about three hours. For others, like Security Engineering Officers or Diplomatic Couriers, it’s about four hours.

Test Format and Sections

In the Logic-Based Reasoning part, there are 12 passages. Each describes a series of facts. After each passage, you find 1 to 4 questions. These questions ask if certain things can be said based on the facts. You decide if the answers are true, false, or unknown. There are 30 questions here, and you get 40 minutes to finish.

Logic-Based Reasoning

The Experience Inventory section is split into two parts. Part 1 asks about situations you may have had at work. You choose how often those things happened. Part 2 is about situations and opinions, and what your supervisors or teachers would say. The Experience Inventory parts have 160 questions total. You have 50 minutes for these.

Experience Inventory

For the Language Usage section, you deal with documents. These could be memoranda or reports. There are mistakes in them that you need to find. The section has 25 questions. You get 40 minutes for this part of the test.

Language Usage

In Detail Observation, you see photos of things you might notice on the job. This could include a rope line or a city street during a watch. After looking at the photos, you answer questions. You can’t see the photos again while you answer. This part has three photos and questions and takes around 40 minutes.


The DSSAT (Diplomatic Security Special Agent Test) is vital for those aiming to be Foreign Service Special Agents. It checks their job knowledge, how well they speak English, and their ability to make smart calls in various situations. It’s split into five parts, looking at many skills Special Agents need, like thinking quickly, fitting into different cultures, leading, and bargaining.

Knowing the DSSAT’s design and what it covers helps future Special Agents do well in this important test stage. With solid preparation and insight, candidates can move closer to their dream job in diplomatic security. The Department of State’s resources are great for getting this insight and advice.

Getting into Diplomatic Security is tough but rewarding. Mastering the DSSAT shows your dedication and fits you for the tough work this job requires. This opens the door to a job that’s both hard to get and highly respected.


What is the purpose of this guide?

This guide aims to help candidates understand the DS selection process for positions such as SA, SEO, STS, and Diplomatic Courier.

What are the steps in the hiring process?

The process starts with reviewing each candidate’s application. If selected, you’ll be invited to an assessment based on your ranking by the QEP.

What is the Qualifications Evaluation Panel (QEP)?

The QEP reviews applications for each specialty. It scores each application and ranks them accordingly.

How are candidates selected for the assessment?

Invites for the Assessment depend on your final score’s rank. The exact number invited varies, depending on hiring needs and the State Department’s budget.

What is the format of the DSSAT (Diplomatic Security Special Agent Test)?

The DSSAT is an online test with multiple-choice questions. It covers areas like logic, experience, language, and observation. It takes about three hours for SA candidates and four hours for SEO, STS, and Courier applicants.

What is the purpose of the DSSAT?

The DSSAT evaluates your knowledge and skills for a Special Agent position. It is an essential part of the selection process.

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