Work Scenarios 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 These tests replaced Postal Service Exam #473, which is no longer given and whose scores are no longer valid for Postal Service job applications.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 (Work Scenarios or Work Situations) 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 these two steps.

(There will be a link to the following information in all five of our study guides for this test.)

Step 1: Which Test Is Required for the Post Office Job I Want?

This is important: Be sure to prepare for the exact test you will have to take. There are different tests for different job applications. Refer to this chart to find your test number. Then proceed to Step 2, below.


Step 2: What Sections Are on My Test?

This is also important: Our prep material is organized by possible test sections, not by the test number. So, you’ll need to know which sections to use for your preparation. Here’s a chart to help you find out. Note that three sections are on all four of the tests. The differing ones are highlighted below.


What You’ll Be Asked to Do in the Work Scenarios Section

This section, which is on all four of the Postal Service Tests™, involves reading a brief description of a typical work scenario, or situation, you might encounter on the job. Then, you’ll need to decide on two answer choices:

  • The action you would be most likely to take and
  • The action you would be least likely to take

In other words, choose the sentence or phrase that sounds the most like something you would actually do, and choose the one that sounds least like you.

You will see 10 questions and they will be presented in this format:


When it says, “Pick one of each,” it means to choose one action you would be most likely to take and mark the box next to it on the left side, under the word Most.

Then, find the one action that sounds least like something you would do, and mark the box next to it in the farthest right column, under the word Least.

Tips for Success

This is one of the three sections on the Postal Service Test™ for which it is nearly impossible to practice. Your answers will come strictly from your personality and usual method of dealing with common work situations. Everybody has differences in these areas, and your job is to let the scorers know how you would probably act in the given circumstances. They will use this information to decide if you would be a good fit for the job for which you apply.

  • Don’t overthink things.— The only trouble test-takers seem to have with this section is not being prepared for what it’s like. It will try to “pick your brain” in terms of how you handle things. Don’t let it mess with your mind. Reading the answers and making a “gut” decision is the best way to avoid unneeded stress.

  • Don’t try to determine the “right” or “wrong” answer to these questions.—You will see that neither one of these distinctions is apparent and all (or none) of the choices may seem like the appropriate action to take. Just choose what you would most likely do and not do. Also, there are built-in features of this test that could cause you to lose points if the scoring mechanisms think they detect false responses.

  • Don’t spend time and effort wondering why what you would actually do is not an answer choice.—You have to pick among the answer choices you are given, so, if none of the choices sounds like something you would do, just pick the one that sounds more like you than the rest of them.

  • Be sure you are satisfied with your answer before moving to the next question.Despite all the precautions we’ve listed above to keep you moving, you need to know that once you have moved to a new question, you cannot go back to the previous one. So, while you won’t want to spend an inordinate amount of time on any one question, be sure you have marked what you meant to mark before you go to the next question.

  • Understand that the answers for which scorers are looking may differ between the different tests—The purpose of these tests is to place applicants in the job that best suits them, and it’s impossible to know just what the scorers look for in evaluating the results, even within the same section in different tests.

  • Be honest.—As stated above, the purpose of this test is to match applicants with jobs where they fit well. Answering in a way that does not reflect who you really are will only result in a job placement where you are not happy and where you have little chance for success.

How You Can Practice

You may want to practice decision-making. This is the only area in which practice might help you with this section during testing. If making a decision is difficult for you, it could cause you undue stress during testing. It could also keep you from choosing the best answer for you. If making a choice is something with which you have trouble or take a long time accomplishing and if you are a person who tends to go back and forth a number of times before making a decision, you may want to find some opportunities to practice making decisions so that you feel calmer when you have to choose a plan of action.

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