USPS Postal Exam 474 (Virtual Entry Assessment MC) - 2023 Guide
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If you’re looking to start a career within the United States Postal Service (USPS), you must pass a virtual entry assessment.
These assessments are designed to help recruiters find the most suitable applicants for the role.
Typically, these virtual entry assessments are used during the hiring process for entry-level post office delivery and operations roles.
There are specific exams for certain USPS job roles:
- Mail carrier job roles require applicants to pass Exam MC 474
- Mail handling jobs need you to complete Exam MH 475
- Mail processing jobs require candidates to complete Exam MP 476
- Customer service clerks need to take Exam CS 477
With four distinct USPS postal exams available, you must be fully aware of which exam you may be expected to take as you progress through the application process.
This article is a study guide for Postal Exam 474 to help you ace the test.
Job roles: Mail carrier/mail handler, city carrier, rural carrier, casual carrier, carrier assistant
Required pass rate: 70
- Work scenarios section – 8 questions – 7 minutes
- Tell us your story section – 20 questions – 2 minutes
- Describe your approach section – 56 questions – 6 minutes
The USPS 474 assessment is a relatively new exam. It replaces the previous Postal Exam 473, which was used for years to filter successful candidates.
The MC 474 is designed specifically for people applying for a job as a mail carrier. You may be seeking work as a city carrier, a rural carrier, a carrier assistant or a casual carrier.
Whatever your prospective job role, it’s crucial that you achieve a high score on your Postal Exam 474.
Many people consider a career within the USPS, so applications are hugely competitive.
The USPS 474 exam is broken down into three distinct sections:
Work scenarios – Within this section, you’ll be presented with a variety of hypothetical scenarios. You will have to answer eight questions to demonstrate you are aware of what the job role entails.
Tell us your story – This is a selection of 20 multiple-choice questions that are designed to help recruiters understand more about your work history. You need to pay close attention to the job description and ensure that your answers align with the skills and aptitudes that the recruiter is looking for. The closer the match, the higher your score.
Describe your approach to work – In this section, recruiters want to find out how you work. This is a personality test where they can find out what motivates and drives you. There are 56 questions that you need to answer promptly.
The virtual entry assessment 474 is extremely competitive. The USPS can afford to be picky with its selection process, and it anticipates that 80–90% of candidates are unsuccessful in their first attempt.
To pass the postal exam, you must achieve a passing score of at least 70. However, this is a minimum requirement and your score will be compared against other candidates, so the higher you score, the better.
Applicants who achieve higher scores will be fast-tracked through the application process – so a candidate achieving 90+ will start working much quicker than someone achieving the 70+ pass threshold.
If you fail to achieve this score, you will be ineligible to go any further and will need to wait 12 months before reapplying for a USPS job.
The USPS 474 is a virtual entry assessment, which will take place on the organization’s online portal.
As you pass through the application process, you will be notified if you have been selected to participate in a virtual entry assessment. The notification email will contain a direct link to the postal exam which you will need to access your online assessment.
Once you have received this link, you will have 72 hours to take the exam.
If you do not complete the Postal Exam 474 within this time frame, you will be withdrawn from consideration for the job role.
With just three sections to complete and a short time frame allocated to each section, it can be easy to assume that it’s a quick and simple assessment that doesn’t require any preparation.
We’ve already mentioned that most applicants fail their USPS 474 test. That’s mainly because they haven’t taken the time to fully understand what to expect from the test.
Even though the test shouldn’t take longer than 45 minutes to complete, the questions are often worded in a distinct way which can cause confusion. And when the stakes are so high (failure to pass means you cannot reapply for at least one year), you must know what to expect from each section, and how you can maximize your score.
As we mentioned earlier, this part of the test aims to find out if you know what your tasks and responsibilities will be.
If you’re new to the postal service sector, it’s important that you pay close attention to the job description and fully understand what the job entails.
You’ll be provided with eight hypothetical scenarios or written statements and asked a question about them.
This section will test your knowledge of the postal service, its systems and processes and what will be expected of you.
Take your time to answer. Once you’ve submitted your choices, you cannot go back and make any amends.
Use your time wisely and think carefully about the choices you make.
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As you complete your delivery route, you are approached by a customer. He’s keen to send a birthday present to a family member who lives in a different state. He knows the street address and the city but is unsure of the zip code. He asks you where he can find this information. Normally he would ask his family member, but in this case, he wants the present to remain a surprise.
What do you do?
Please rank the following answers in order 1–4 (1 being most likely, 4 being least likely).
- Ask him if he has a mobile device available, and show him where to find the information on the USPS website.
- Suggest that he look online.
- Tell him he can look on the USPS website for information, and when you bump into him a few days later, ask him how he got on.
- Tell him to look online and ask if there’s anything else that he needs assistance with.
This section helps the hiring manager to understand more about your work history and your career background.
You must look carefully at the job description. Your answers should reflect the duties involved in the role (where possible) and reference the skills that are needed.
It should be noted that the hiring manager will refer to your resume and your application form to check for consistency between your answers.
If there are any errors or inconsistencies between the two (even something as simple as employment dates), your application may be deemed ineligible.
Therefore, you must be completely honest and aware of what information you have already provided.
As with the Work Scenario section, you cannot return to previous answers. You must be confident before you confirm your answer.
What is the longest amount of time you have spent working in one specific job role?_
1) Less than six months
2) Six months to one year
3) One to three years
4) Three to six years
5) Seven to 10 years
6) 10 or more years
This section is a personality test. It’s designed to help the recruiters understand who you are and how you work.
The company is looking to see whether you are the right fit for the team. It wants to know more about how you approach work situations.
It’s tricky to decide whether you should showcase your working style or whether you should try to replicate what you think the recruiter is looking for.
Don’t try to come across as someone you’re not, because even if you match what they are looking for, you may be unhappy in the role.
However, it’s useful to know the sort of person the company would like to hire as it can help you to select the best possible answer.
You may benefit from researching USPS online to find out more about its corporate culture and company ethos. The more you know about its style of working, the better you can anticipate what type of employee it is looking for.
Within this section of the virtual entry assessment (VEA) 474, USPS recruiters often use a mix of normative and comparative scoring.
This means they will evaluate you by considering your personal score as well as how your score typically compares to your peer group.
Which description best matches you?
A) Achieving my ambitions is the most important thing to me.
B) Always trying my best and working hard is the most important thing to me.
A = Most like me
A = Moderately like me
A = Nothing like me
B = Most like me
B = Moderately like me
B = Nothing like me
Practical Tips for Your Postal Exam 474 in 2023
With such a high failure rate for the USPS 474 assessment, it’s clear that many applicants are underestimating what to expect from the virtual entry assessment.
Those who take time to prepare in full by understanding what the test is and why the USPS uses it are more likely to succeed.
There are a few practical ways that you can improve your test scores and give yourself the greatest chance of employment within the US Postal Service.
One of the key points about applying for a USPS job via its online portal is that you don’t know when you may be invited to participate in a virtual entry assessment.
You may receive the notification at short notice, and you only have 72 hours to complete the postal exam.
Therefore, before you hit ‘submit’ on your application, do your due diligence and prepare for your MC 474 as much as possible.
This ‘advance’ preparation means you’ll be better placed to achieve a higher score than those who begin preparing merely hours in advance.
Within the career history section (Tell Us Your Story) of the Postal Exam 474, you will be asked a series of questions about your previous employment.
Your answers will be directly compared to the information you have already provided on your resume and your application form.
Even the slightest discrepancy in dates or duties could impact your test score. Therefore, keep a stringent record of what information you have already provided.
You may wish to refer to these notes as you complete the Postal Exam 474 to ensure that any information remains accurate.
Make sure you’re clear about the working culture and ethos of the US Postal Service.
Its public-facing employees (such as mail carriers) need to represent the company image, so the USPS will be using the USPS 474 exam to filter people that match its needs.
Having a crystal-clear understanding of what type of employee the company is looking for will help you to choose the answers that are most likely to align with its vision.
For example, USPS is very heavily focused on customer service – so try to pick answers that demonstrate your focus on the end customer.
You have just 72 hours to take your USPS 474 assessment from the time you receive the link. However, it is up to you exactly when you choose to take the exam within that time frame.
The exam should last less than 45 minutes. To ensure that you are not distracted, try to complete the test when you will not be disturbed by anything else. You need to focus 100% on the questions.
You can’t go back and change any answers once you’ve hit ‘submit’, and if you do fail to achieve the 70% pass mark, you will have to wait a further 12 months before you can try again.
The 474 Postal Exam is a virtual assessment used by the United States Postal Service (USPS).
Anyone applying for a position as a mail carrier, city carrier, rural carrier, casual carrier or carrier assistant must pass the 474 Postal Exam.
The exam is made up of three sections:
- Work scenarios
- Tell us your story
- Your approach to work
The exam usually takes up to 45 minutes to complete.
The 474 Postal exam is split into three sections. These are Work Scenarios, Tell us Your Story and Your Approach to Work. The 474 Postal exam includes a combination of scenario-based questions, multiple-choice questions and personality assessment questions.
The 474 Postal exam usually takes around 45 minutes. There are 84 questions to answer in total. Although there are no set time limits, candidates are encouraged to aim to complete the Work Scenarios section within seven minutes, the Tell us Your Story section within two minutes and the Your Approach to Work Section within six minutes.
You will need to achieve a score of at least 70 to pass the 474 postal exam. However, as the recruitment process for mail carrier roles is very competitive, you should aim for a higher score.
If you achieve a score of 90 or higher, your application will be fast-tracked, which means you will be able to start work more quickly.
If you fail the exam, you will be unable to reapply for one year.
If you want to pass the USPS assessment test, preparation is key.
It is important to know what to expect from each section and the best way to maximise your score.
For the Work Scenarios section, ensure that you are familiar with the job description and duties of the job role.
For the Tell Us Your Story part of the test, you should revisit your resume or application form, making sure there are no inconsistencies in the answers that you give.
The Approach to Work section is a personality test, so it is important to become familiar with the qualities required for the job role you have applied for.
To pass the postal exam 474, you will need to achieve a minimum score of 70. The best way to ensure success is to prepare for the exam. It is wise to carry out this preparation before submitting your USPS application form, as you might be asked to take the postal exam 474 at short notice.
Once you have received a request to take the postal exam 474, you will only have 72 hours to complete it.
Having a copy of your resume or application form to hand during the test is a useful way to ensure there are no discrepancies in the information that you give. It is also important to carry out thorough research into the company and job role, tailoring your answers accordingly during the test.
Although the postal exam is not a difficult test, many applicants fail to carry out the necessary preparation or research before they apply for a job role with the USPS.
This often causes problems when it comes to completing the postal exam.
For example, if there are inconsistencies between the information you have provided in your resume or application form and the test, this will be detrimental to your score.
Equally, if you fail to research the job description or duties of the role, you will be unable to answer many of the test questions to the required standard. You may be able to improve your test score by answering practice postal exam questions online.
You can take the 474 postal exam multiple times. If you fail the 474 postal exam, you will have to wait one year to retake it. If you pass the exam but you want to improve your score, you will have to wait two years.
After passing the 474 Postal exam, you will be asked to clear several other requirements for the job. These include submitting an application form and completing a Medical Examination Report (Form 1507). You will also be expected to pass a drug screening assessment and attend a face-to-face interview.
Many people are drawn to a career within the USPS because the organization is regarded as one of the best employers in the US.
Employees trust that they will be encouraged to achieve their ambitions, and they feel that they are given the support and training needed to progress up the career ladder.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that competition is fierce for all types of USPS jobs. The sheer volume of applications means that the USPS can afford to be extremely discerning about whom it chooses.
The Postal Exam 474 isn’t a difficult test. However, because the assessment is relatively straightforward, many applicants fail to do their research before applying for a job and are surprised when they see the questions.
As a result, they achieve a poor score which means that they cannot reapply for a USPS job for at least a year.
If you take the time to think carefully about what you could be asked in the Postal Exam 474, you will be much better placed to achieve a higher score. And those who achieve the highest possible scores (not just the minimum pass mark) will see their chances of employment rise more quickly.