USPS Assessment Test Prep Guide: With Practice Questions

Last Updated on April 23, 2021

If you are applying for a job with the US Postal Service, you will first have to take and pass an online virtual entry assessment. This USPS exam leaves many people feeling nervous as they don’t know what to expect. This along with the 72-hour limit to complete the exam can certainly add some pressure.

But don’t stress, we are here to help. This guide will go through what you can expect for each possible online assessment for USPS. We will even go through some practice questions to make sure you are totally prepared, confident, and ready.

Please note that the information in this guide is up to date. Up until 2019, the USPS exams were known as the Postal Exam 473. There are many outdated resources and practice exams for the 473 on the internet. Make sure you don’t spend time studying obsolete information by mistake.

If you have taken the USPS Exam 473 in the past, unfortunately, your score is no longer valid. If you want to start a job with USPS you will need to retake the correct exam. Let’s dig into the guide.

What is the USPS postal exam?

There are various possible online exams that are used to evaluate candidates for different positions in the post office.

These exams replaced the old Postal Exams in 2019, and some of the most common ones are the following: Mail Carrier Exam 474, Mail Handler Exam 475, Mail Processing Exam 476, and Customer Service Clerk Exam 477, Mechanic and Technician Exam 955.

They are used to judge the aptitude of potential candidates and determine how well-suited they would be to carry out tasks in postal service roles. They evaluate characteristics and skills such as teamwork, accuracy, efficiency, communication, problem-solving, your personality, and more. You may need to take one or more of these tests depending on which position you are applying to.

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How long does the USPS exam take?

While there is no time limit on the actual exam, you have a limit of 72 hours to turn in your completed test. USPS actually shows you the average time it takes candidates to complete sections of the test as you work through it.

This should help you pace yourself and dedicate the right amount of time to each section. A good rule of thumb for each exam is a completion time of around 45 minutes. Don’t worry too much about time but try and work quickly and efficiently.

Exam scoring and what comes next

So after you have taken your test, what happens next? How is the exam scored and what do you need to pass?

To pass the USPS exams you must receive a score of at least 70%. If you score under this, your score will be invalid and you will be ineligible for roles at the company. If you don’t reach this score you will, unfortunately, be unable to retake the test for at least one year.

As the pass threshold is quite high, USPS mentions that only 80% -90% of candidates reach this score. This is why preparation and practice are paramount. If you do score over 70% however, you may be invited for an interview. The higher your score, the sooner you are likely to be invited for an interview. And the more likely you are to land a role.

Is it possible to retake the test to improve your score? No, you can only retake the test to improve your score after two years. Therefore it is important to not only pass the first time but to achieve the highest score possible on your first go. Again, this is why preparation is key. Read on to learn how to prepare for each exam.

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Mail Carrier Exam 474

The first virtual entry assessment we are looking at is the 474 Exam. If you are applying for any mail carrying role, this will be the test you have to pass.

There are three sections on the Postal Exam 474, each with a number of questions you will need to answer. These sections are split up in the following way:

  • Work Scenarios
  • Tell Us Your Story
  • Describe Your Approach
  • Work Scenarios

The work scenarios section of the exam is to measure your situational judgment. What does this mean exactly? The questions will present you with hypothetical work situations to judge how you would react behaviorally in response to each.

It will evaluate how well you think on your feet, your attitude, common sense, teamwork, leadership among other skills. It will help give a clear picture of how well you would perform in the role. The section has 9 questions and should take approximately 7 minutes to answer.

Tell Us Your Story

This section of the exam is a biodata test or life experience questionnaire. It includes questions about how you have acted in the past in different situations. This helps the examiners judge and evaluate how you would act in the future, based on past behaviour. There are 20 questions and these should take around 2 minutes to answer.

Describe Your Approach

This part of the exam is a personality test. It will ask you questions about your personality that may be specially focussed on the types of issues you may face in the role. You should be honest in answering these questions as there is no ‘wrong’ answer, however it can be helpful to be clear in the job’s objectives to keep your answers aligned to what they are looking for. This section has 56 questions and should take around 6 minutes.

Example question

Let’s take a look at an example question from the work scenarios section. This mimics the type of question you can expect to find on the test.

While you are making a delivery, a customer asks you about zip codes. She wants to return a letter but cannot read the full return address. She can see the street address but not the zip code as the ink has run. She doesn’t know where to find this information.

Please select which action you would be most likely to take in this situation:

1. Tell the customer she can find the information online.
2. Help the customer to search for the information together on the USPS website.
3. Explain where they can locate the information and follow up next time you see them.
4. Explain where they can locate the information and offer further help with other issues.

Solution

What is the correct solution? The best answer to give in this situation is 2. Your answer is being judged in terms of customer service and how customer-oriented you are. Therefore option 2 is the only answer that truly makes sure the customer’s issue is solved and her needs were met.

While the other options still show some level of customer service, they pass the responsibility over to the customer. Need some practice for USPS Exam 474? Discover the 474 practice test by Job Test Prep with prep for all three sections, as well as extra study guides and practice drills.

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Mail Handler Exam 475

If you are planning on applying to a mail handling role, which includes sorting the mail to make sure it goes to the right place, you will probably need to take exam 475.

The mail handler exam is made up of 4 different sections which include:

  • Work Scenarios
  • Check for Errors
  • Tell Us Your Story
  • Describe Your Approach

Work Scenarios

As above, the work scenarios part of the test is a situational judgement test. It will present you with various real situations that you could actually face in a mail handling role. You will need to answer these with how you would most likely react in each situation. There will be 9 questions that should take around 11 minutes to answer.

Check for Errors

This section will be all about measuring your accuracy, attention to detail, and efficiency. It is important for mail handling that you can quickly and accurately recognize zip codes etc while sorting mail. Therefore you will be likely asked to process data or long numbers. There will be 12 – 4 rows, each with 3 questions and it should take around 2 minutes to complete.

Tell Us Your Story

This section draws on previous life and professional experience and will evaluate your likely behaviour in the role based on your answers. There will be 22 questions and it will take around 3 minutes to answer.

Describe Your Approach

This section is about your personality and your personal approach to tasks and issues. There will be 79 questions that should take around 8 minutes to answer.

Example question

Let’s take a look at an example question for the section Check for Errors.

You will see a list of numbers side by side, the first number is the original mail ID while the second is the computer mail ID. These numbers should be the same. Go through the list and identify whether the two numbers in each location are a match or if there is an error. Please answer MATCH or ERROR for each one.

Location 1) Original ID 74743620, Computer ID 74743620
Location 2) Original ID 39028832, Computer ID 39028732
Location 3) Original ID 58111835, Computer ID 58111385
Location 4) Original ID 42319897, Computer ID 42319897

Solution

Take a look at the solutions below, did you manage to mark all the matches and errors? As the numbers are long try breaking them up into 2 digits at a time for example. It is easier to compare the first two digits, then the next two, and so on without making mistakes.

Location 1) MATCH
Location 2) ERROR
Location 3) ERROR
Location 4) MATCH

To get a high score, the best thing we recommend is practice, practice, practice. If you are worried about your mail handler exam, get the 475 test prep pack to try simulation tests and study guides.

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Mail Processing Exam 476

The 476 exam is the exam you will take if you are applying for a mail processing role. These can include roles such as Mail Processing Clerks and Data Conversion Operators. This test is very similar to the previous one 475 for mail handlers. It includes the same sections as well as the number of questions in each section and estimated time of completion.

It is split into the same four sections as the 475 exam. We will list them here but please refer above for the in detail description of each section.

  • Work Scenarios
  • Check for Errors
  • Tell Us Your Story
  • Describe Your Approach

Example question

Let’s take a look at an example situational judgment question from the work scenarios section of the assessment.

You notice one of your colleagues is often missing important steps in the procedure of his role. You keep having to correct his errors.

Please select which action you would be most likely to take in this situation:

A. Go straight to the postmaster and inform them about the situation.
B. Warn him that you will go to the postmaster if things don’t change.
C. Don’t do anything and leave him to it.
D. Have a discussion with your colleague and let them know the effect it is having on you.

Solution

In this case, the best answer would be d. There are various aspects you will be judged on here which include teamwork, problem solving, and communication. Option d shows both high levels of communication and problem solving while still showing teamwork to your colleague.

Need some more practice to ace the mail processor test? Learn more and get the 476 practice test here.

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Customer Service Clerk Exam 477

The customer service exam 477 is slightly different to the previous two as it focuses on all customer-facing roles. These include all sales service and distribution roles. The virtual assessment is all about learning about how you work, your communication skills and your past experience.

The different sections you will find within the 477 are exam are the following:

  • Work Scenarios
  • Work your Register
  • Tell Us Your Story
  • Describe Your Approach

Work Scenarios

Like all other USPS tests, the 477 exam also contains a situational judgment test. It will evaluate how you are likely to react in hypothetical work situations that you could face in the role. This section consists of 10 questions and should take around 8 minutes to complete.

Work your Register

This section is a bit different to what we have previously explored as it involves work with bills, coins and change. As a customer facing representative you will need to handle cash. The exam judges how efficiently and accurately you are in this area.

It may involve being tested on accurately giving exact change or making quick calculations. The section consists of 3 questions and should take around 2 minutes to complete.

Tell Us Your Story

Similar to previously this section involves a biodata questionnaire that measures your behavioral consistency and allows the company to judge how you will act in certain workplace situations. There will be 21 questions that should take around 2 minutes to complete.

Describe Your Approach

This part in the personality test and involves a number of questions that build up a picture of your values, working style and character. This section consists of 56 questions and should take around 6 minutes to complete.

Example question

Let’s take a look at an example question from the Work Your Register section to see how well you can handle cash.

Make the exact change for this transaction using the fewest number of bills and coins.
Total amount: $73.82
Amount paid: $80.25
Change due: $6.43

Solution

$5 bill × 1
$1 bill × 1
$0.25 coin × 1
$0.10 coin × 1
$0.05 coin × 1
$0.01 coin × 3

Need some extra help answering questions on money handling or customer service skills? Check out the full 477 practice exam.

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Mechanic and Technician Exam 955

Finally, if you are applying for a job as a mechanic or technician you will likely need to take the USPS 955 exam. It has recently replaced exams 931, 932, and 933. This test is usually job specific and is mainly made up of the following types of questions:

  • Spatial Reasoning
  • Multi-craft

Spatial Reasoning

Spatial reasoning tests your spatial abilities. This can refer to the ability to visualize in 3D, identify patterns and draw conclusions from limited visual information. Check out our Spatial Reasoning Success Guide to learn more.

Multi-Craft

Multi-craft questions will dig into your technical skills and cover a range of mechanical, electrical, building and maintenance topics. These will be specific for the job you are applying for, but can include tools, power, motors, equipment etc.

If you think you need to brush up on the technical side of the job and want to know what’s coming, check out the 955 practice exam test prep pack. It includes everything you need to know to be ready to blast the exam out of the park.

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Conclusion

So there you have it, whether you are looking for a role to work your customer service charm, stretch your keen eye for accuracy or hone your mechanical prowess, you are ready to take on the relevant USPS exam. Don’t let the assessment be the reason you don’t get the job, prepare well, practice and you should have nothing to fear.

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