From this moment on, you only have to beat out 20 other finalists. 40 finalists for 20 spots. The letter scheduled my online written exam in a little over 2 weeks from when I received the email. The interview was scheduled to be a week after the written exam. The Fellowship Foundation paid for the hotel right outside of D.C. and reimbursed our travel to and from the site. Under all of this was the finalist acceptance form, where you agree to participate and it suddenly also seems a bit more real. :) For the students who are abroad during this, they will be taking the interview over Skype.
The time slot for the written exam was given on the letter. Mine was right in the middle of finals which made the process for nervously studying all the more fun. The written exams vary greatly from student to student. I was tested on a domestic issue, while others at the interview recounted their essay question was over the Middle East. Thus, I can safely conclude there is no real way to be able to study for this exam since there is no limit to what may be included. I received an email later to add the private testing company to my Skype. They gave me the log in information but it would only be active during my time slot. Many of the finalists reported some small problems in terms of timeouts with the timer on the screen counting down the hour, but most were resolved. There is NO SPELL CHECK available for the essay. The key is to work quickly and not spend too long on the outline. A timer on the top of the screen will count down the minutes and seconds of this epic hour of your life. I was told to finish mine outside of the browser because my timer stopped working (not uncommon). Afterward, everyone felt as if they did okay but were worried about the time they lost having technical difficulties. A few were actually given more time, or another essay, because of the technical nuances. I worried way too much about this. It's really a test over if you can express yourself coherently and quickly in writing, which is a critical skill for all Foreign Service Officers.
After this, the next event is counting down for the actual interview. In my opinion, it's easier to get to hotel from the airport via the D.C. Metro. Google ahead of hand to see if it is easier to walk to the hotel from the nearest metro station. Ronald Reagan airport has a Metro station and Dulles will be getting one soon. Taxis are also an option since you will get reimbursed, but you still have to pay it all up front and it may be a bit cumbersome because of traffic. You'll have to tell the taxi driver to make a receipt for you. Carry cash because not all taxis take cards. Make sure to keep all receipts and metro stubs!