Aiming for a job at the USPS as a mail carrier?

Know that even though its designated pre-employment test is manageable, you should be careful not to underestimate it or study for the wrong one.

This is because as of 2019, the USPS had already phased out the 473 Postal Exam for mail carriers with an updated version called the Virtual Entry Assessment – MC (474) in a bid to improve its hiring process while centering on quality service.

473 postal exam
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Due to the phasing out of the previous assessment, the scores of applicants who took the 473 postal exam, even if they reached the passing threshold or got a perfect one, are now no longer valid or no longer recognized in the hiring process.

So whether you’re just about to make your first attempt or are someone that previously passed the exam but couldn’t due to a medical condition of sorts or some other situation, know that it is very important that you do this right the first time around and not let this opportunity slip by as failing the 474 Postal Exam since you will have to wait a year before you can retake it.

So let’s take a good look at each section of the Virtual Entry Assessment – MC (474) so that you can know how to tackle it properly and present yourself as the best candidate for the job.

1. Get your work/employment history in order!

Although it is not the first section that you will encounter in the 474 postal test for mail carriers, the ‘Tell Us Your Story’ may affect you in ways you may not expect.

In this section of the exam, you will encounter a number of questions that will revolve around your work history such as how long you’ve held your previous job, how many absences you made, how many days off you had, among other things.

In theory, this is a ‘freebie’ section as you can get ‘full points’ if you just answer everything as honestly as you can.

However, it should be noted that if you tried to answer dishonestly in this section of the Postal Exam 474, like drastically lowering your absences, whether intentional or not, then this inconsistency can be discovered by the USPS and it is very likely that the hiring manager will invalidate or disqualify you.

After all, if they can’t trust you with providing accurate information, then why should they do the same with you being a USPS employee?

usps exam 474
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2. Be ready for the SJT section

Another section that is present in all USPS assessments is the Work Scenarios Test where you have to answer a multiple choice format situational judgement test.

In the context of the Postal Exam 474, you will be put in the shoes of a mail carrier and it will be your task to resolve a situation, conflict, problem, or misunderstanding the workplace that is expected of a USPS employee.

postal exam 474
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It is through this section that the USPS will also see how good your work etiquette and interpersonal skills are.

So depending on what courses of action you took to resolve the situations, you can either be seen as a good match for the position or someone that they should ignore completely.

3. Read up on the duties of a Mail Carrier for the Personality Test

The last section that you have to take in the 474 Postal Exam is the ‘Describe Your Approach’ section, which is basically a specialized personality test curated specifically for the USPS.

Since this is a personality test, it is virtually impossible to cheat or fully master since you will have to put your responses in a five point scale answer format.

Fortunately, this doesn’t make it too difficult to prepare for.

This is because the test will be formulated in a way so that the ideal answers align themselves with the duties and responsibilities of a mail carrier.

In addition to this, the ‘Describe Your Approach’ personality test of the Virtual Entry Assessment – MC (474) will also be used as a way for the USPS to see just how compatible you are with its mission, vision, and core values. 

This means that if you want to increase your chances of being hired, you will have to understand the behavior of a mail carrier through whatever tasks they are expected to do, how they are expected to interact with coworkers and customers, and how well they can adapt to the company culture of the USPS.

In doing so, you will be able to look out for statements or questions that pertain to a particular skill, task, or duty of a USPS mail carrier and adjust your answers accordingly so that you can prove that you are the best person to hire for the job.

That being said, however, you must take great care not to pick too many extreme answers, especially when it comes to statements that show positive traits, because doing so may cause the hiring manager to believe that your personality profile cannot be trusted and thus invalidating your results or disqualifying your application entirely.