Describe Your Approach Study Guide for the Postal Service Exam

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General Information

Important Notes

This is part of our test prep for the new cluster of Postal Service Exams that were instituted in April 2019. They are tests #474, 475, 476, and 477. These tests replaced Postal Service Exam #473, which is no longer given and whose scores are no longer valid for Postal Service job applications.

Before you start, be sure you are preparing for the right test content. This section (Describe Your Approach) is included in all four of the Postal Service Tests™ (#474, 475, 476, and 477), so you’ll definitely need more information on it. But there are other sections that are only present on certain test numbers. To be sure you are adequately preparing for the exact test you’ll take, please follow this link and look under “General Information” for more details on each of the four tests and the sections they include. You will find this information or a link to it in all five of our study guides for this test.

What You’ll Be Asked to Do in the Describe Your Approach Section

This section is packed with questions, for a total of 56. The information we have indicates that it normally only takes an applicant about 6 minutes to complete them, but this section (like the others) is untimed, so work carefully, but try not to second-guess your instincts. And, like the other sections, this one attempts to help Post Office officials to match applicants with appropriate jobs. This works best for them and for you in the long run.

The questions are about how you respond to situations in life. Your answers will let the evaluators get to know you, how you react to daily events, and how you approach various circumstances and tasks.

One key to being comfortable answering the questions in this section is understanding the format in which they are presented. It’s a little different from most tests you’ve probably taken.

You will be sort of rating yourself on a sliding scale. Have you ever had trouble answering “yes” or “no” to a question because the answer was more complicated? Well, during this test section, you’ll have more choices. Instead of having to choose a “yes” or “no” answer to a question, you’ll get to decide if your answer is mostly yes, sort of yes, sort of no, or mostly no.

Here’s an example of what a question in this section might look like:


This is how to proceed:

  • Neither the top nor bottom statements are probably exactly like you in every situation, but one or the other of them are more what you are like, most of the time.

  • First, find the statement (top or bottom) that sounds more like you usually act.

  • Then decide if it’s a lot like you, or just sort of like you. You have your answer.

  • And, if you seriously think that either of the two descriptions are exactly half true of you, you’ll just have to pick one of the “somewhat” choices.

Be aware that the top and bottom descriptions may be totally opposite, as these are, but others in a pair may not seem to have any connection to each other. In those cases, you’ll need to pick the statement that best describes you and figure out how close it gets to doing that, choosing the “Most…” statement if it’s really close and the statement beginning “Somewhat…” if not.

Tips for Success

First of all, relax. There are a lot of these questions, so conserve your energy and maintain focus by doing the following:

  • Be sure you’re finished with a question before moving to the next one.—At any time during this test section, you can go back one question, but that’s all. So, be sure to read each question carefully to be sure you understand what it is asking.

  • Don’t second-guess your gut.—While you shouldn’t make any snap judgment about what your answer will be before reading all the choices thoroughly, try not to go over and over the possible responses. The one you think sounds like what you would do the first time around is probably closest to the truth.

  • Be honest—Don’t try to find the answer you think the scorers want. Answer, instead, according to your method of dealing with life. If false information is used to match you to a job, it won’t likely be a happy or lasting employment situation.

  • Work thoughtfully, but quickly.—If you try to spend a long time on each of these, you’ll only become frustrated and zap the energy you have for dealing with the rest of them. Think of it as a quick self-assessment, thinking, “yeah, I’m like that” or “nope, not me, at all.” Then, move on to the next one.

How You Can Practice

There really is no way to “practice” your own, individual reaction to given events or situations—and that’s what this test is all about. You’ll act as your personality dictates in real lif,e and you need to be totally honest about this when taking this test.

If, however, you tend to become stressed when trying to make decisions, it might help you to go online and try some sort of little question and answer experience a couple of times just to help you relax in such situations. Practice remaining calm while choosing answers and you may find you can think more clearly when you take the Postal Service Exam™.

All Study Guides for the Postal Service Exam are now available as downloadable PDFs