What is the US Postal Service Exam, and what are the basic skill requirements for passing it?

Looking to start a career in the US Postal Service? Find out what the US Postal Service Exam entails, and the basic skill requirements for passing it.

Have you been eyeing a post office job and wondered what the requirements are? Well, other than your high school diploma, the US Postal Service will require you to take and pass the postal exam. Find out more about this exam and the basic requirements here.

What is the US Postal Service Exam?

The US Postal Service Exam or USPS is an online exam used to assess if candidates applying for various positions at the Post Office have the necessary skills. The United States Postal Service initially used the 473 to evaluate postal service employment applications. 

However, in April 2019, the Postal Service reviewed the procedure for applying for post office jobs and introduced four new exams. The four exams, known as the Virtual Entry Assessments, consist of 474, 475, 476, and 477. These new exams replaced the old 473 Postal Exam, whose scores are invalid.

How long is the US Postal Service Exam?

Once you apply for the test, you will be required to submit it within 72 hours. However, most candidates usually complete the test within 45 minutes, while others take longer. It is crucial to note that the US Postal Service is more likely to hire candidates that pass the test shortly after applying.

What are the Virtual Assessment Tests?

As mentioned, there are four virtual USPS assessment tests depending on the job category you apply for. Here is a breakdown of the four types:

  1. Postal Exam 474: This postal exam is known as Mail Carrier VEA Exam or Virtual Entry Assessment MC 474. The test helps to evaluate candidates interested in City Carrier, City Carrier Assistant, Casual City Carrier, Rural Carrier Associate, Rural Carrier, and Rural Carrier Assistant positions.
  2. Postal Exam 475: Referred to Mail Handler VEA Exam or Virtual Entry Assessment MH 475, this test is given to candidates applying for Mail Handler, Casual Mail Handler, or Assistant Mail Handler positions.
  3. Postal Exam 476: This exam has several other names, including Virtual Entry Assessment MP 476, Processing Clerk VEA Exam, or Mail Processor VEA Exam. It is used to screen candidates for many roles, including Mail Processing Clerk, Casual Mail Processing Clerk, PSE Mail Processing Clerk, Data Conversion Operator, Casual Data Conversion Operator, and PSE Data Conversion Operator.
  4. Postal Exam 477: This postal exam helps to assess candidates interested in positions like Sale Service & Distribution Associate, Casual Sales Service & Distribution Associate, and PSE Sales Service & Distribution Associate. The exam is also called Customer Service VEA Exam or Virtual Entry Assessment CS 477.

Tips to ace the USPC Exam

When applying for any of these postal exams, there are several things that you need to do to improve your grades. Here are tips to help you prepare for the exam.

1) Familiarize yourself with the test format

Generally, all the four postal exams contain three sections, namely;

  • Work Scenarios– This section has 8-10 questions and a time limit of 11 minutes. It targets your response to scenarios that you may encounter at work.
  • Tell Us Your Story-This section contains 20 to 22 questions and requires you to describe your work history and experience.
  • Describe Your Approach– This section contains 56 to 79 questions that revolve around your personality and your response to certain situations.

Other than the three sections, tests 475 and 476 contain an additional section called Check for Errors. It has 12 questions, and it requires you to compare pairs of 8-digit numbers and determine whether they are identical.

Similarly, test 477 has an additional section called Work Your Register. This section has 13 questions requiring you to demonstrate your ability to give the exact change using the fewest bills and coins.

2) Buy a study guide

Like sitting for any other exam, you need to spend adequate time preparing for the USPS postal exam ahead. This is where a study guide comes in handy. Taking post-exam practice tests will make you familiar with the actual test and see how well you are prepared. It will also help you understand the basics of the USPS exam and hone your skills.

3) Research the subjective sections

Sections like Work Scenarios, Tell Us Your Story and Describe Your Approach are subjective. This means that they lack a specific right or wrong answer. Nevertheless, it is still essential to do adequate research to ace them.

4) Be prepared before applying

With 72 hours window for submitting your exam, you need to ensure that you have adequately prepared yourself before applying.

Ready to take the exam?

We hope these tips prove helpful if you are looking for a post office job. If you fail the USPS exam, you will have to wait a year before retaking it. Also, you reconsider retaking the exam, but only after two years, if you passed it but didn’t get hired.