USPS Postal Exam 474 Practice Test

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USPS Postal Exam 474

Updated 4 May 2021

Written by Amy Dawson

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USPS Postal Exam 474 Practice Test

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 for 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 about Postal Exam 474.

What Is the USPS 474 Exam?


Job roles: Mail carrier, city carrier, rural carrier, casual carrier, carrier assistant

Required pass rate: 70

Exam breakdown:

  • Work scenarios section – 8 questions – 7 minutes
  • Tell us your story section – 20 questions – 2 minutes
  • Your approach section – 56 questions – 6 minutes

About the Exam

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.
  • 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.

What Is a Good Score on the Postal Exam 474?

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 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.

What to Expect When Taking the USPS 474

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.

How to Prepare for Your Postal Exam

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.

That’s incorrect.

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.

Prepare for 474 Postal Exam

Work Scenario Section

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.

You will also be required to use rational and logical thinking to deduce what the hiring managers are looking for.

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.

How to Succeed in the Postal Exam 474How to Succeed in the Postal Exam 474

Example MC 474 Test Question

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).

1) Ask him if he has a mobile device available, and show him where to find the information on the USPS website.
2) Suggest that he look online.
3) 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.
4) Tell him to look online and ask if there’s anything else that he needs assistance with.

From looking at these answers, we can deduce that the scenario is testing to see how the applicant would handle customer service inquiries.

The USPS prides itself on its customer service, and as a mail carrier is working in a public-facing role, it needs to be sure that the successful candidate can represent the company effectively.

The best answer is 1) because it shows that the candidate has taken the time to help the customer in person and is offering a high level of customer service.

The worst answer is 2). It may be polite, but there’s no effort involved, and the customer may walk away not knowing where to look for information.

Tell Us Your Story Section

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.

Example MC 474 Test Question

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 is seemingly an innocuous question, but it’s important that your answers tally with the information you’ve already submitted on your application form.

Make sure you keep a copy of the information you’ve provided and refer to this information as you answer this section of the Postal Exam 474.

Take a 474 Postal Exam Online

Your Approach to Work Section

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 your work.

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 474, USPS recruiters often use a mix of normative and comparative scoring. This means they will assess you considering your personal score as well as how your score typically compares to your peer group.

Example MC 474 Test Question

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

Make sure you pay close attention to the phrases that you are given. You may be given two similar-sounding statements or contrasting statements.

As with the rest of the exam, you cannot change your answers after you’ve submitted them, so think carefully about each one.

Practical Tips for Your Postal Exam 474

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.

Practice Before You Submit Your Initial USPS Job Application

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.

Prepare for USPS 474 Postal Exam

Keep a Record of the Information You’ve Already Submitted

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.

Be Aware of What the USPS Is Looking For

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.

Think About Your Exam Conditions

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.

Final Thoughts

Many people are drawn to a career within the USPS because the organization is regarded as one of the best employers in the US.

Along with competitive salaries, excellent employee benefits and a wide-ranging career-development program for all employees, there are many opportunities across different sectors.

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.