Passing a postal exam is required for anyone applying for an entry-level job with the U.S. Postal Service. This includes a variety of roles including postal carriers, mail handlers, and mail processors.
As of April 1, 2019, the United States Postal Service has revised the procedure for post office job applications and is now using four new tests. The old test (473) is no longer used, and its scores are invalid for postal service employment applications. Instead, applicants will be assigned one of the four new tests after they begin the application process: 474, 475, 476, or 477.
Once you apply, you will have 72 hours to complete the test that you are assigned. The test you’re assigned will differ based on which job category you apply for.
|Post Office Job:||Corresponding Test:|
|City Carrier, City Carrier Assistant, Casual City Carrier, Rural Carrier, Rural Carrier Associate, Assistant Rural Carrier||474
(Also called Virtual Entry Assessment MC 474 or Mail Carrier VEA Exam)
|Mail Handler, Assistant Mail Handler, Casual Mail Handler||475
(Also called Virtual Entry Assessment MH 475 or Mail Handler VEA Exam)
|Mail Processing Clerk, PSE Mail Processing Clerk, Casual Mail Processing Clerk||476
(Also called Virtual Entry Assessment MP 476, Mail Processor VEA Exam or Processing Clerk VEA Exam)
|Sales Services & Distribution Associate, PSE Sales Services & Distribution Associate, Casual Sales Service & Distribution Associate||477
(Also called Virtual Entry Assessment CS 477 or Customer Service VEA Exam)
These postal exams are required for anyone applying for an entry-level job with the U.S. Postal Service. This includes a variety of roles including postal carriers, mail handlers, and mail processors.
Taking any exam, whether it is for school or for a job can be daunting and stressful. But before you become too stressed about the USPS exam, here are a few tips to help you get that job!
1. Learn the format of the test.
There are three sections that are included in all four of the tests: 474, 475, 476, and 477.
- Work Scenarios: 8-10 questions that ask how you would respond to scenarios you may experience on the job.
- Tell Us Your Story: 20-22 questions that revolve around your work history and experience. You could be asked about any aspect of your previous jobs, including your experience working with others and your attendance record.
- Describe Your Approach: 56-79 questions about your personality and how you would act in certain situations.
These three sections are totally subjective in nature—there are really no “right” or “wrong” answers that can be readily identified. Although they are subjective, it is still important to prepare for these sections of the test, as some students find the questions to be confusing.
Test 474 contains only the three sections listed above.
Tests 475 and 476 have those three sections, plus this one:
- Check for Errors: 12 questions asking you to compare pairs of 8-digit numbers. You will need to identify whether or not the pair of numbers are identical.
Test 477 contains the first three sections above, plus this one:
- Work Your Register: 13 questions that ask you to make a specific amount of change using the fewest bills and coins.
In order to pass the test, you will need to score at least 70 out of 100.
2. Consider purchasing a study guide.
Understanding the exam itself is an important part of doing well on the exam, but you also need to take time to study. Using a study guide can help you brush up on the information that you’ll need to know, and provide strategies for approaching the test. Mometrix’s Postal Exam Secrets Study Guide can be used for Postal Exam 474, 475, 476, and 477. Even though you won’t know for sure which test you will be taking until it’s sent to you, you can be fairly certain based on what position you are applying for (refer to the chart above).
3. Don’t apply until you’re ready to take the exam.
Once you send in the first part of your application, be prepared to receive an email with the test link. Upon receiving that email, you will have only 72 hours to take and submit the exam. There is no way to extend this deadline, so make sure you’ve adequately prepared for the test before applying.
4. Don’t rush through the exam and pay attention to details.
One section of Exam 475 and 476 is ‘Check for Errors’, which is specifically designed to test your attention to detail. You will be required to compare a pair of 8-digit numbers and determine whether they’re a match or if it’s an error. Make sure to double check each answer before moving on.
5. Don’t skip preparing for the subjective sections of the test.
Although three of the test sections (Work Scenarios, Tell Us Your Story, and Describe Your Approach) are subjective in nature and do not have specific right or wrong answers, it’s still a good idea to prepare for these sections. The questions are sometimes presented in unusual ways, so it is wise to do some research beforehand so you know what type of questions to expect. Spend some time reviewing your resume so you’ll be prepared to answer questions about your previous work experience. Relate your answers back to the job experiences you talked about on your resume only.
6. Know that a “C” is a passing grade.
The minimum passing score for any of these postal exams is 70. However, the postal exams are competitive, meaning that you’re competing against other test-takers to earn an available position. You should aim to score at least an 85 to have the best chance of getting hired.
If you need more information about these postal exams, visit the USPS website: https://about.usps.com/careers/how-to-apply/assessments.htm
Postal Exam FAQ
Why isn’t Exam 473 used anymore?
Exam 473 is no longer offered, as the new tests are designed to focus more on customer service. Exam 473 placed much more emphasis on matching addresses and route designations in a timely manner. The new tests focus more on personal interaction strategies and do not include a time limit. When seeking out preparation materials, make sure not to use any designed for Postal Exam 473.
How long is my test score good for?
Your test score is valid for 2-6 years, depending on which position you applied for.
How long does it take to complete the exam?
There is no time limit on any section of the exam. You can expect it to take around 45 minutes total.
Can you retake the exam?
If you fail the exam, you will have to wait at least one year before you can take it again. If you pass the exam but do not get hired, you can retake the test in two years.