Study guide for USPS
For you to get a post office job, you will be required to pass various postal exams designed by the United States Postal Services.
However, there are two instant problems you will face. First, you have less than 72 hours to take the exam. And second, the internet still has the outdated practice for the obsolete postal exam 473.
Understandably, sitting such a crucial exam within short notice has all the reasons to make you feel nervous. But by applying the techniques we will discuss in this accurate and focused USPS study guide, you don't have to worry.
Throughout this guide, you will get practice tactics on all the USPS exams, regardless of the specific post you are applying for, improve your score by scoring higher than the 70% pass mark, and get insights into attending to any personality and behavioral questions.
Ready to pass the USPS exam and get that job? Let’s do it!
What is the postal exam?
This is an online assessment test used by the United States Postal Exams to vet candidates for the various positions available at the post office.
Many applicants who took the Postal Exam 473, which was removed by USPS before 2019, may wonder if their scores still count. Unfortunately, these scores do not apply anymore. So you will be required to take either of the new USPS exams, based on the positions you've applied for.
How long are the postal exams?
The Post Office tests do not have time allocations; however, the Postal Services will show you the estimated finish time for every section before starting. Anyway, most users take around 45 minutes to complete the assessments. When you are taking the exams, strive not to overthink questions but try to be quick and efficient.
After completing the United States Postal Service online assessments, you instantly get your score. In the next section moving forward, we will look at the test's pass mark, what it means, and the next move after passing the exams.
What is the UPSP assessment’s passing score?
The pass mark for any of the new postal exams is 70%, and anything above is considered outstanding. If your results show ineligible status, it means you have not attained the 70% pass mark. In such a case, you will be required to retake the exams after one year.
The applicants who passed the postal exams are ranked according to their test scores; hence candidates with higher scores are given the first priority for interviews.
Fortunately, there is a provision for improvement if you got 70 and above but want to boost your chances of getting an invitation for an interview. However, you will have to wait for two years to give it another shot.
It, therefore, means that getting as high scores as possible and not just attaining the 70 pass mark should be your topmost priority.
Let's find out more about the new assessments and provide a typical USPS study guide for each. There are four types of new exams unveiled by the United States Postal Exams after scrapping off the exam 473 in 2019, namely:
- Virtual entry assessment-MC 474 for mail carrier category.
- Virtual entry assessment-MH 475 for mail handler jobs.
- Virtual entry assessment-MP 476 for mail processing tasks.
- Virtual entry assessments-CS 477 for customer service clerk jobs.
USPS study guide for the new postal exams.
Postal exams 474.
Also referred to as virtual assessment-MC 474, is used to screen applicants for the post of city and rural mail carrier positions. There are three sections in this assessment test, with each section having a varied number of questions and a time limit.
- Work scenario having nine questions to be completed within 7 minutes.
- Biodata questionnaire or tell us about your story section comprising of 20 questions to finished within 2 minutes.
- Personality tests or describe you approach section with 56 questions to be completed within 6 minutes.
To improve your chances of passing this test, it is important to practice similar questions like you are doing the real test to get the best method of answering them. Doing this will make you acquainted with the questions, boost your courage and avoid being surprised when you meet a question.
Mail carriers' duties and responsibilities.
Mail carriers are mainly responsible for collecting and delivering mail processed by the postal services. The primary responsibilities for mail carriers include:
- Sorting and preparing mails at the post office.
- Collecting and delivering mails to the designated locations.
- Collecting money on cash-on-delivery mails and postage-due mails.
- Providing feedback to customers asking about the USPS services and procedures.
- Acquiring signatures for registered, certified, and insured mails.
Candidates for the position of mail carriers must undergo medical assessments to ensure they the required physical rigors of the work. This is because mail carriers perform repetitive tasks that can result in injuries. They are expected to lift heavy sacks and work in any kind of weather.
Postal exam MH 475.
This is an assessment used to evaluate candidates who applied for USPS mail handling jobs. It is one of the new tests introduced after the removal of exams 473 in 2019.
This test consists of four sections, namely,
- Work scenarios or a situational judgment test section, which contains nine questions approximated to 11 minutes.
- Verifying information test or check errors section, containing 12 questions divided into four rows with three questions each
- Tell us your story section having 22 questions to be completed within 3 minutes.
- Describe your approach, also called a personality test has 79 questions to be done within 8 minutes.
You should take note that once you click ‘next' on the page for each question, there is no going back. So, take your time and read the instructions and questions carefully and avoid rushing your answers.
Apart from passing the mail handler exams, the candidate must be a U.S. citizen having 18 years and above. Also, you have to go through a background check and be able to handle mails and parcels weighing a maximum of 70 pounds.
As you can see, this test consists of an individualistic type of questions you might not have encountered in your entire school life. Fortunately, no test is unconquered.
If you practice with the same questions as on the actual test, understand what they evaluate, factors to avoid, and how to answer each question, you will be able to ace the exams.
Duties and responsibilities of Mail Handlers
Mail handlers are responsible for several tasks within the post office, but their primary duties include:
- Moving equipment.
- Tracking and maintaining mailroom supplies.
- Loading and unloading containers and trucks.
- Operating forklifts.
In rare circumstances, mail handlers weigh packages and sort mails by category, location, or department. It is the mail handler's job to make sure that emails reach their destination. They should therefore be fast, organized, and reliable.
Generally, a mail handler working in a large post office, mail handlers' assistants may be assigned to help you during peak time. According to USPS, these temporary workers are hired to unload and move parcels from trucks to designated locations, make random deliveries at the request, and operate canceling machine.
The day-to-day duties of a mail handler may include administrative tasks as well. For example, you may be required to take records of the incoming and outgoing parcels and prepare reports. However, expect to perform either of the primary responsibilities per shift.
Mail processing or VEA-476.
This test is used in the assessment process of several positions within USPS, including those of mail processing clerks like PSE and casual mail processing clerks, PSE data conversion operators, and casual data operators.
Virtual Entry Assessment-476 is similar to the 475 exams and contains the same sections and the number of questions with their approximated completion time.
This exam is not your ordinary high school standard questions. You should read each question carefully and understand. Besides the four sections, the exam includes a behavioral test section to test various sides of your personality if you are a right fit for the position.
The practical way to practice for this assessment is to learn what the examiners are measuring, factors to avoid when choosing answers, and the best methods of answering them.
Mail processing clerks' responsibilities.
Usually, mail processing clerks work for the U.S. postal services as their postal service employees. Their primary duties include preparing and sorting mails for distribution and hand-sorting parcels.
However, on their day-to-day activities, mail processing clerks should expect the following tasks.
- Preparing mails for loading into trucks.
- Feeding and operating machines for mail processing, sorting and canceling.
- Sorting and organizing mails for delivery.
- Loading postal trucks and ensuring the parcels are packed according to their delivery routes.
- Assisting customers.
- Bundle, label, and direct mails as per the destination.
- Fixing broken and damaged parcels.
- Weighing parcels for billing
Apart from passing the exams, mail processors must be 18 years at the time of application or 16 years with a high school diploma, permanent U.S. citizen, or U.S. territory. They must also pass a medical assessment test, drug screening, and criminal background checks.
Generally, processing clerks are also needed to possess good customer service and organizational skills.
Virtual entry assessment-CS 477
This new exam is used to assess applicants in the following posts in the U.S. postal services: sales service and distribution associate, casual sales service and associate, and PSE sales service associate.
The primary objective of this exam is to let the organization know more about you, your interactions with people, especially customers, previous work experiences, and your past working style.
This exam also contains four sections, with each having a varied number of questions and an approximate time limit.
- Section one consists of a situational judgment test (work situation) having ten questions to finished within 8 minutes.
- Section two is called work your register (it tests your ability to work with bills, coins, and change). It has three questions to be completed within 2 minutes.
- Section three is called the Biodata questionnaire (or tell us about yourself ), which has 21 questions to be done under 2 minutes.
- The last section is about a personality test where you are required to explain your approach. The section has 56 questions to be done in under 6 minutes.
To ace this test, you need to practice how to answer the same question types included in the actual test.
Responsibilities of sales service and distribution associate.
Sales service and the supply associates are tasked with the following:
- Record and document interactions with old and new clients.
- Offer services and sell products at the mailroom window, representing the standards of the U.S. postal services.
- Verify that packages and envelopes are labeled and wrapped correctly.
- Mange and move mail from one area to another.
There are several job positions at the U.S. postal services that anybody can apply for if the chances are announced as vacant. These positions range from mail carriers to sales and service distribution experts. And this USPS study guide touches on both.
However, to get the opportunity of getting an invitation for an interview, USPS has put in place various assessment tests to vet applicants' fitness to the applied position.
The pass mark for each test is 70%. To secure a place for the interview, you need to score as high as possible since priority for interviews is given to the candidates with the highest score. To ace these exams and boost your chances of getting the job, proper preparation is needed.
As stated through this USPS study guide, familiarize yourself with the requirements of the applied job, check and practice with similar test questions as they appear on actual exams, and work around your speed as the exam period is 72 hours from the time you receive a notification.