How to Pass the USPS Postal Exam 475
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The United States Postal Service (USPS) is the second-largest employer in the country, offering job security and many opportunities.
Although there are a large number of job openings, the vacancies are highly competitive. Therefore, the postal service requires applicants to take a mandatory online computerized test.
The exam for potential mail processors is USPS 475.
This article looks at tips and advice on how to pass the USPS postal exam 475, as well as some example questions to give you an idea of what to expect in the test.
As the Postal Service receives a huge number of job applications, there are generally more applicants than jobs available.
The USPS 475 (also called the Virtual Assessment MH 475) is a computer-based test that helps the postal service assess the suitability of a candidate for a mail-handling role.
Previously known as the 473 exam, it measures the candidate’s cognitive ability and psychometrics, rather than intelligence.
If you apply for any of the following positions, you will need to take the 475 as part of the application process:
- Mail handler
- Casual mail handler
- Mail handler assistant
Any role within the USPS can lead to a lifelong career, and mail handling is a popular choice of entry job as it involves working with different teams. The main tasks include:
- Unloading the truck
- Sorting through the mail using the machinery and process system
- Handing mail to specific carriers
You must pass the USPS 475 to go to the next stage of application.
There is a maximum of 100 points to gain, with a minimum of 70 to pass. Candidates should not aim for just 70, but as many points as they can. The higher their score, the further they climb up the list of candidate results and the better their chance of securing the job.
Applicants with the three highest scores for a particular job will be invited to move on to the next stage of the application process.
Anyone who does not pass the exam will not be able to resit it for at least 12 months.
With the right starting knowledge and good preparation, including USPS practice tests, you stand a good chance of getting a high score. The first step is knowing what is involved in the postal exam 475 and what questions may be asked.
The only way to be able to take the 475 virtual entry assessment is to apply for a job role first. There is no fast-track route to take it beforehand.
Candidates also need to:
- Be 18 years old or over
- Pass both a criminal and medical test
- Have a high school diploma or similar qualification
The assessment takes a maximum of 45 minutes. One crucial point to note is that once the test is sent to you (via email), you have 72 hours to take it. If it is not completed in that time, you will have to wait at least another year to retake it.
You need to start preparing for the 475 virtual entry assessment as soon as you apply. It is likely to take a few days for the USPS to process the initial job application.
Some applicants may think that, because the 475 assessment measures cognitive ability rather than intelligence, there is no need to practice.
However, as with any test, it is vital to prepare, know what is included, practice doing a timed test and revise any areas that you are less familiar with. It is also a good idea to look at online forums for advice from others who have previously taken the test.
The assessment is self-administered on a computer and the answers can be accessed through the USPS website – where the test takes place – after you have finished.
You cannot go back to edit your answers, so take the time to understand the questions and get as many correct as you can.
The four sections included in the MH 475 are:
- Work Scenarios – 9 questions
- Check for Errors – 12 questions
- Tell Us Your Story – 22 questions
- Your Approach – 79 questions
This section tests your knowledge of the Postal Service, the company ethos and outlook, and what the company and customers are looking for. It also examines your work ethos and way of thinking.
The questions will typically be fictional, realistic scenarios that a mail handler may encounter in their job. The answers are multiple-choice.
There are two different zip codes on a letter, with just one different digit. You have seen this address before and are pretty sure you know the right zip code.
What do you do?
Please tick the answer that is the most appropriate action to take, and add a cross next to the answer you feel is the worst action to take.
a) Return to the sender to fill out a new address, add a new stamp and send it back to the postal service.
b) Cross out the zip code you think is wrong and send it.
c) Find the full address and correct zip code on the postal service’s website, then double-check with a manager to ensure it is definitely right.
This section checks your ability to correctly check data and spot inaccuracies in good time.
It is important when handling mail to ensure all addresses, data and information is accurate so that the mail carrier can deliver the mail to the correct recipient. This section looks at the candidate’s skills in accuracy and attention to detail.
|Address number||Zip code on envelope||Zip code on computer|
You have to check these zip codes before the mail is sent out for delivery. There are some mismatches in the table below and part of your role is to spot these.
Please highlight any mismatches in the box above.
This section looks for examples of a candidate’s work experience, their transferable skills and proven evidence of other work scenarios that can be used in this new role.
The USPS is likely to cross reference your answers in this section with your resume attached to the job application. Any inconsistencies could deem you ‘ineligible,’ so be prepared for what sort of questions might feature here.
Revising your resume will help you to avoid any inconsistencies, including names of colleagues, work dates, timescales and locations.
"What is the longest time you have stayed in a role?"
This gives the USPS a clear indication of your durability and commitment to work. There may be extenuating circumstances why you haven’t stayed in any previous roles for long, such as being just out of college. Be sure to mention this in your answer.
Candidates typically struggle with this section more than the others. There are no right or wrong answers so it is often about combining authenticity with knowing what the company is looking for.
Your Approach to Work is the longest section. It looks at your personality traits and if you are suitable for a role in the Postal Service. It focuses on your character and attitudes in certain scenarios, which are the most common factors in an aptitude test.
It is always best to answer everything truthfully, but it doesn’t hurt to fully research the ethos and outlook of the Postal Service too.
Which of the following statements best describes you?
A. I thrive on working to deadlines.
B. I do not like working to deadlines and can get rather stressed.
- Strongly agree
- Moderately agree
- Slightly agree
- Do not agree at all
- Strongly agree
- Moderately agree
- Slightly agree
- Do not agree at all
For statement A, it might be argued that ‘Strongly agree’ would be the top-scoring answer here.
For statement B, ‘Do not agree at all’ is likely to be the top answer.
This is because, in the roles of mail handler or assistant mail handler, you would at times be working to a tight deadline, especially if the team is short-staffed or there is a large amount of mail. They would rather not hire someone who would not be able to cope with this situation.
Once you know what is involved in the online 475 assessment, the next step is to prepare for it and increase your chances of success to reach those crucial top scores.
Some top tips for preparation:
Practice past papers and exams – The USPS practice papers may be the best way to prepare as they give you examples of typical questions, so you can familiarize yourself with them. Companies such as JobTestPrep offer online practice papers for the 475 assessment. This will also give you the chance to practice under time constraints.
Learn the ethos of the company – This will give you an indication of what the USPS is looking for in each employee and what sort of answers they expect from candidates. Remember you still need to be truthful in your answers.
Study your resume – Some parts of the exam will cross reference with your resume, including dates, exam results and duties in each role.
Practice spotting errors – When reading the paper or browsing online, try looking for errors or typos as this will set you in good stead for the exam.
Embody your professional self in the assessment – Remember that the questions, particularly in the ‘Tell me about yourself’ section, need to be answered from a professional point of view, so practice getting into this mindset before the exam.
Any score above the passing score is considered good enough for employment. The USPS Postal Exam passing score is 70 and this should be your minimum aim. The better score you achieve, the more likely you are to secure an interview.
The 475 Postal Exam, also known as the virtual assessment MH 475, is a computer-based examination that tests the candidate’s suitability for a postal role. It is a cognitive and situational-based test that is scored out of 100. If you are applying for a role as a mail handler, a casual mail operator or a mail handling assistant, you will need to take this examination.
Although the examination is considered to be straightforward, there is a high failure rate for the assessment. As many as 90% of people fail the assessment not because of the complexity of the questions, but because of the absence of preparation.
You must understand specific work situations and give the right responses to the scenarios presented.
Commonly, people fail this examination because they have the wrong type of personality for this role. The personality test section is the biggest section of the USPS assessment. Practicing the assessment and taking personality examinations will give you a good measure of how you will perform.
Although the USPS postal exam 475 is a highly competitive, popular exam, it is compulsory to pass before moving to the next stage of application, so prepare and practice as much as possible.
Use the 475 as an opportunity to show your skills and how well you are suited to the role and the USPS.