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Postal Inspector applicants who have passed Exam 2 and the Business Writing Test may be invited to attend the Assessment Center in Potomac, MD, for an evaluation of their knowledge, skills, and abilities. The evaluation consists of exercises that assess these seven core competencies required of successful Postal Inspectors:

1. Communication
The ability to clearly and concisely write, and express information orally, in English.

2. Personal Organization and Responsibility
The ability to set priorities, work with minimal supervision, and adhere to ethical principles.

3. Decision-Making
The ability to evaluate circumstances, determine immediate courses of action, develop logical conclusions (often in stressful situations), and perceive the impacts of circumstances.

4. Interpersonal Skills
The ability to develop and maintain relationships, work with people from varied backgrounds, and adapt to changing circumstances.

5. Problem Solving
The ability to analyze information, apply what has been learned, and recommend solutions.

6. Compliance
The ability to understand and adhere to management instructions, postal policies and procedures, and federal and state law.

7. Leadership
The ability to motivate, empower, and direct others to accomplish a shared goal.


In addition to the evaluation of knowledge, skills, and abilities, applicants must complete the Applicant Physical Assessment (APA). The APA is a physical-fitness test administered during entry-level hiring. It evaluates an applicant’s strength, endurance, and other capabilities based on the physical requirements needed to become a U.S. Postal Inspector.

Eligible applicants must take the test during the Assessment Center process. A Postal Inspection Service representative coordinates the scheduling and emails an APA Reporting Instructions Packet to the applicant.

The test has three components:

1. Sit-ups. This test evaluates abdominal strength. It is administered in an indoor space. Only one trial is given, and scores are based on how many correctly performed sit-ups are completed.

2. Push-ups. This test evaluates upper-body muscular strength and endurance. It is administered in an indoor area. Only one trial is given, and scores are based on how many correctly performed push-ups are completed.

3. 1.5-mile treadmill run. This test measures cardiorespiratory fitness. It is administered indoors on a manual treadmill. The applicant completes the required distance on the treadmill and may walk during the run, but the stopwatch is not stopped until 1.5 miles is reached. The test is measured in minutes and seconds.

Click to view and print the standards for the Applicant Physical Assessment.

Instructions for Applicant Physical Assessment
A Certificate of Wellness must be completed by a physician within 30 days of the APA. It certifies that the applicant is physically capable of safely performing the components of the APA.

A Liability Waiver is provided on the day of testing and must be signed and dated before the test can begin. It certifies the applicant is fit to perform the exercises required and waives any and all claims against the Postal Inspection Service and related parties for any damages or injuries sustained during the APA.

Applicants must wear comfortable athletic apparel, such as short-sleeved T-shirts, shorts or pants, and athletic shoes. Anyone who wears inappropriate attire will be dismissed. Non-essential jewelry, including metal watches, bracelets, or necklaces, is not permitted. Portable audio-media devices, such as an iPod or MP3 player, are also not permitted.

Applicants will be assessed on the number of sit-ups performed in 1 minute. Begin the sit-up by lying flat on your back, knees bent at approximately a 90-degree angle, heels in contact with the ground while a partner holds your ankles, and hands at either side of your head. Raise your upper body (head and torso) forward to a vertical position, your elbows must touch your knees. After reaching the vertical position, lower your upper body to the ground until your shoulder blades touch the ground. This is one repetition.

Applicants will be assessed on the number of push-ups performed in 1 minute. Position #1. Begin the push-up in a front-leaning, rest position with hands placed just outside the straight line down from your shoulders. Your back, buttocks, and legs must be straight from head to heels. Look straight ahead.

Position #2. Bend your elbows and lower your body until the center of your chest (sternum) touches the tester’s 3-inch foam block, which is positioned between your chest and the ground.

Return to the start position by locking your elbows. This is one repetition. You may only stop to rest in the upright, push-up position.

1.5-mile treadmill run
The run is conducted on a manual treadmill. No watches, sunglasses, head-phones, iPods, or MP3 players are permitted. The stopwatch starts on the “Ready, go” command.

Final times are called out and recorded. Applicants are responsible for remembering the final time and confirming it. Upon completion of the run, applicants must walk a 5-minute cool-down and should not stop suddenly or bend over.

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