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Page 1 Personal Inventory Study Guide for the Postal Service Exam™

How to Prepare for the Personal Inventory Section of the Postal Exam™

General Information

The full name of this section is Personal Inventory and Characteristics, and your only job here is to answer questions about yourself honestly, accurately giving the USPS a glimpse into your personal characteristics. This section is usually given first. You will probably be asked to take it at home or at the computer of your choice. It is not proctored because there are really no “right” or “wrong” answers. It is simply a chance for the Postal Service to get to know a little bit about you and your “take” on a variety of things.

There are a total of 236 items in this section, and you will have 90 minutes to complete them. There is time to complete them if you work quickly. If none of the answer choices expresses exactly how you are or feel, choose the one that best matches you and your personality.

The timing for this section may seem a bit tight, but quick answers are really a good idea for this type of question. It’s important you answer these based on your knowledge of yourself, what you think, and how you behave or react in different situations. This information will be used to match you to a certain job based on your chances for success, and that is as important to you as it is to the Postal Service.

Types of Questions

There are three question types on this section of the Postal Exam™. They all require you to choose an answer that best expresses the “real you.” Two types of questions offer a sort of “sliding scale” list of answer options. Answering them will take less time once you get used to the order of the responses, which is consistent throughout the specific type of question. The third type is also multiple-choice, but has a variety of answer choices.

“Sliding Answer” Scale Questions: Agreement

The answer choices for these questions will allow you to indicate the degree to which you agree or disagree with a statement. You will choose between:

  • Strongly Agree
  • Agree
  • Disagree
  • Strongly Disagree

Order of choices: goes from agreeing with something wholeheartedly to not agreeing at all.

“Sliding Answer” Scale Questions: Frequency

This type of question asks you to determine the frequency with which you like or do something. The answer choices will look like this:

  • Very Often
  • Often
  • Sometimes
  • Rarely

Order of choices: goes from doing or feeling something nearly all the time to hardly doing or feeling it at all.

Obviously, “always” and “never” are not among the choices, so you’ll need to mark the one closest to those if they apply. For example, if the question asks you how often you do something and you always do it, you would mark Very Often. For a “never” answer, you would mark rarely.

“About You” Questions

The examiners want to know as much as they can about you in order to pair you with a job that is appropriate for your personality and personal tendencies. The third type of question in this section of the test delves into your work experiences and preferences. These questions also offer multiple-choice answers (between 4 and 9 of them), but they will vary for each question. Read the choices quickly, but carefully, and choose the one that is most like you.

Some of the questions present a situation and ask for your reaction or opinion. If you have never been in the described situation, imagine yourself in it. Then, knowing yourself well, predict how you would react and what you would do.

Important Tips

Honesty

No matter how badly you need or want a job, finding a job that fits you is most important. You will be happiest and most successful working where you have the skills and temperament to function well. The questions on this part of the Postal Exam are designed to determine whether you are likely to succeed in post office work. They measure not only your personality traits but also work preferences and can be a great predictor of future job performance. Trying to present yourself as something or someone that you aren’t will sabotage the process of matching a job to a worker. So, be completely honest as you answer the questions and make your answers truly reflect who you are.

“Duplicated” Questions and Consistency

You may think, as you are taking this test, that some of the questions seem to be asking the same thing, just in different words. You would be right. When scored, similar questions are grouped and your answers evaluated for consistency. If the answers vary and don’t show consistency in a trait, you might be perceived as being indecisive or unsure of yourself. This would not contribute to success in securing a job.

This is not to say that you need to worry about or remember how you answered similar questions. If you are totally honest when answering each question, your answers will tend to reflect the same characteristic about you.