Work Your Register Study Guide for the Postal Service Exam

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

Only Postal Service Test #477 contains this section, probably because the types of jobs that require test 477 include some sort of cash register operation. But the questions are not about any register-operating procedures. They simply assess the ability to make change.

Also, when making this change, you don’t even need to be able to determine how much change is needed. The amount of change needed will be given to you in dollars and/or cents. What you will need to do is determine how to give that amount of change using the fewest number of bills and coins. That’s the key and that’s all you have to do.

There are only 3 questions in this section of the test. Apparently, it usually only takes most people about 2 minutes to finish them and they are not timed. However, you will note that the instructions suggest that you work quickly, so there is a possibility that your score will be higher if you complete the questions faster.

This is a sample of a Work Your Register question and an explanation of our suggested procedure:


Solving Procedure:

  1. You can see that they give you the Total Amount and the Amount Paid. Ignore those amounts. You do not need them.
  2. Zero in on the third figure: the Change Due. This is the only figure you need to answer the question. In this case, it is $14.64. This is the amount you want to make with your bills and coins.
  3. Start with the highest possible bill: the $20 bill. To make $14.64, do you need a $20 bill? No, because that would go over the amount needed of $14.64.
  4. Next, the $10 bill: Can you use one or more of those to make $14.64? Yes, but just one of them without going over. Now you have $10 of the change needed. This means you only have to find $4.64 among the other bills and coins.
  5. How about a $5 bill? No, that is more than $4.64, so you cannot use one of those.
  6. Next, how many $1 bills can you use? Four of them, which gives you $14.00 of the change needed. Now, just to find $0.64 (64 cents).
  7. Would quarters help? Yes, you can use two of them without going over. So now you have $14.50 of the change.
  8. Next coin: the dime. You can use one of those to bring you up to $14.60.
  9. Nickels? No, five cents would put you over.
  10. And, pennies: You’ll need four of them.

You can see that this procedure of moving from the largest currency to the smallest will do two things:

  • keep you from going over the stated amount
  • let you use the fewest bills and coins by using all you can of the largest ones, first

Now for the simple part: recording your answer in the test.

When you first look at a question, you’ll notice that each of the little gray boxes over the pictures has the number 0 in it. (See the picture, above.) You’ll need to change that to record your answer.

To do this, click on the little box with the 0 and a list of numbers will appear. Pick the number you need to use over that bill or coin and click on it. Be sure the appropriate number is registered in that box. Then move on to the next box.

When complete and correct for the question shown above, your page would look like this:


To check your work, go back to the largest (first) denomination and count all of the amounts you have entered. Does it equal the “Change Due” amount at the top of the question? If not, try it again or fix the problem if you can immediately see where you went wrong.

That’s it! Do this quickly for three different questions, which will have different amounts of change needed, and you’ll be finished with this section of the test.

Tips for Success

Here are the things that we think will prove most valuable to you when you take the Work Your Register section of the test:

  • Work carefully, but as quickly as possible without making errors.—If you always start with the largest denomination of bills and work your way down to the least, this will not be a problem. You’ll tend to be more accurate and save time by not having to go back and forth, correcting errors.

  • Don’t be tempted to hurry and work backward or randomly through the currency amounts.—You may think you’ve made change a million times and can do this quicker at random. Don’t try it on this test. There are only three questions, and it’s worth it to be sure you actually use the fewest number of coins.

  • Check each item before you move on.—Once you have moved on to the next question, you will not be able to go back to a previous one. Don’t spend a lot of time rechecking your answers, but just be sure you indeed ended up with the proper amount that was stated in the question and that you used the fewest number of coins and bills. That should not be a problem if you followed our suggested procedure, above.

  • Skip the calculator use.—You will be given the option to use a calculator for this section, but since you will be given the amount of change needed, there is really no reason to do so. It could increase the time it takes you to answer the questions, and that is probably not a good idea. If you can basically count money and follow the suggestions in this guide, you should not need a calculator.

How You Can Practice

You can either use real or play money, or just a list of these amounts. If you want to practice a lot, use a wipe-off board with these amounts on little sticky notes or make lots of copies of the following:

$20 __\(\;\;\;\;\;\;\;\) $10 __ \(\;\;\;\;\;\;\;\) $5 __ \(\;\;\;\;\;\;\;\) $1 __

$0.25__\(\;\;\;\;\;\;\) $0.10__\(\;\;\;\;\;\;\) $0.05__\(\;\;\;\;\) $0.01__

Then, on a piece of paper, write down random amounts of change that might be needed from about $20. Practice starting from the largest amount and figuring out how many of each bill and coin are needed to make the change. Get a friend or family member to check your answers, just to be sure you’re doing these accurately.

Also, check out our free practice questions and flashcards for the Work Your Register section of this test.

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