USPS 474 Test: Comprehensive Preparation Guide for Mail Carrier

by Sarah Duncan

The USPS 474 test is a critical assessment for those seeking a mail carrier position with the USPS.

It’s an important part of the recruitment process, and you must pass it in order to progress your job application with USPS.

According to the USPS, 80-90% of applicants fail this exam on their first try. If you do not pass, you will only be able to resit the test after 12 months.

Take the USPS 474 Test to improve your score.

It’s a very difficult exam, and knowing that you only have one chance per year to pass increases test anxiety.

However, with the right preparation and knowing what to expect, you can increase your chances of passing the USPS 474.

In this article, we’ll explore:

  • An overview of the USPS 474 Test
  • Format and structure of the exam
  • Best study strategies for the test
  • Sample questions to practice with.

Let’s get into it!

Understanding the Virtual Entry Assessment MC (USPS 474) Test

Aspiring mail carriers in the USA are required to sit the USPS 474 Test, which is otherwise known as the Virtual Entry Assessment MC (VEA). In particular, this test is designed to evaluate candidates for mail carrier positions.

The test assesses candidates’ knowledge of postal procedures, regulations and standards, and also evaluates their behavioral and personality traits and approach to work.

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Exam Format and Structure

The USPS 474 is self administered online. Shortly after completing your online application form on the USPS career site, you will receive an email inviting you to complete the exam.

You have strictly 72 hours to complete the test once you’ve received the email invitation.

The USPS 474 includes four sections: Work Scenarios, Describe your Approach, Tell Us Your Story, and What Drives You.

Work Scenarios

This section of the test is a multi-choice format designed to test your situational judgment. You will be presented with 18 scenarios that you may encounter in your work as a mail carrier.

For each scenario, you will be given four options that describe different possible responses.

You need to choose TWO answers: one that represents the best possible response to the situation (that you would most likely do), and another that represents the least optimal response (that you would least likely do).

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Describe Your Approach

This section of the test includes 139 phrases, which you must respond to based on whether or not they reflect you personally.

This section is designed to learn about your work style, personality traits, teamwork or management abilities, and approach to work.

Tell Us Your Story

This section includes 37 multi-choice questions, and aims to investigate your previous work experience and subsequently predict your performance in a future job.

What Drives You

This recently added section includes 25 questions designed to uncover your motivations, and what drives or fulfills you in a work environment.

Study Strategies for the Test

To prepare for the USPS 474 test, refresh your knowledge of USPS procedures, and familiarize yourself with postal operations relevant to your area.

There are many useful resources online, such as USPS manuals and handbooks that provide details of postal regulations and standards.

Then, thoroughly read over the job descriptions for specific positions you are applying for to gain an understanding of what recruiters are seeking.

This will help you to recognize the optimal responses for the behavioral and personality sections of the test.

An excellent study strategy for the USPS 474 is to use practice questions to become familiar with the test content and style of questions.

JobTestPrep’s tailored USPS 474 practice tests are an excellent resource.

JobTestPrep offers a comprehensive practice pack, which includes exclusive preparation for all four sections of the test, additional practice drills, study guides and insider tips and tricks to help you ace the USPS 474.

Sample Questions and Answers

There are many free and paid resources online that show sample questions and answers for the USPS 474. JobTestPrep’s preparation guide contains many sample questions for each section of the test.

In the Work Scenarios section, you could be given the following scenario description:

“You are doing a big task that is urgent. One of your colleagues proposes a work method that will shorten the time, but you think it may be unsafe”.

You will be asked to choose from the following options what you will most and least likely do:

  1. Don’t change your method since it might be unsafe. Inform your supervisor if you see that you’ll have a delay with finishing the task
  2. Share your thoughts with the colleague and explain why you think it might be unsafe. Make sure she doesn’t endanger herself
  3. Give the colleague’s idea a try, but resume with your previous method if it seems unsafe
  4. Consult with your supervisor. He may have an idea of how to do the job safely.

Correct answer: C = most likely, and A = least likely.

This is a tricky question because it contains contradicting values.

While safety should always be a top priority, you are not certain that the suggested method is unsafe (so it should be attempted to save time).

Option A, on the other hand, is too careful and suggests that you cannot be flexible or adaptable in time-pressured situations.

In the Describe Your Approach section, you may be presented with the phrase “I do not let negative feedback get to me”.

You will then have to choose whether this is:

  1. Most like me
  2. Somewhat like me
  3. Somewhat unlike me
  4. Most unlike me.

A great tip when answering this format of questions is to only choose answers on either extreme end of the scale (i.e. A or D), and never anything in between; you don’t want to be vague.

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USPS 474 Test Scores – Everything You Need to Know

The passing score for the USPS 474 assessment is 70 and above. If you do not score above 70, you will receive an ineligible status and you will not progress with the recruitment process.

You will be able to resit the test after 12 months. As mentioned, only around 20% of applicants receive a passing score on their first try, which shows the difficulty of the exam.

Certain job openings are more competitive and only look at a small number of candidates with very high USPS 74 scores. Typically, applicants with the highest scores will be the first to be invited for an interview.

Test Day Preparation

You’ll be sent the exam invitation email within a few days after submitting your initial application, so ensure you’re frequently checking your inbox, and have set aside the time to complete the test.

With that said, get prepared as early as possible using the above tips, so that you feel ready to go when the time comes to take the test.

On the test day, consider the following tips to help make the process run more efficiently:

  • If possible, take the test on a laptop or computer, rather than your smartphone. This will help you to avoid accidentally clicking wrong answers due to the small screen size
  • Set yourself up in quiet place in which you feel relaxed and focused
  • Ensure your internet connection is steady, and your device is charged
  • Keep any study material handy – such as a set of notes to prompt you on important USPS regulations and procedures
  • Keep a record of the information you have already submitted. Certain sections of the test ask about your previous work experiences – make sure your answers align with what you wrote in your initial application form.

Post-Test: Interpreting Results and Next Steps

After completing the USPS 474, keep an eye on your email inbox for the status of your application.

When your results are ready, they will be displayed on your USPS career website profile on the “assessments” page.

Your result will be displayed as either “eligible” or “ineligible, and you may be given your number score.

If you did not receive a passing score, your application will not progress and you will unfortunately not be considered for the position you applied for.

If you have passed the USPS 474, you will be required to complete subsequent steps. You’ll have to submit a medical examination report, and pass a drug screening test. Finally, you’ll be invited to an in-person interview.

Final Thoughts

The USPS 474 is a critical assessment for aspiring mail carriers wishing to work for the USPS.

While this examination can be difficult, it is possible to achieve an optimal score with the right preparation.

JobTestPrep’s preparation guide is an excellent resource that contains everything you need to know about the exam, sample questions and answers, complete practice tests, and other useful insights and tips.

Good luck, and remember: preparation is key!

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