With loads of opportunities offered by the USPS, the competitive starting pay, and all the benefits, it’s no wonder there are so many people queuing to work with the USPS. But you won’t just wake up with employment later waiting in your mailbox. You need to work for it. First, you have to pass a series of assessments before you are offered employment. One of such assessments is the USPS exam. Once you’ve registered for the exam, the first question you’ll ask is what the exam is about and how you can pass it. Here’s a detailed article about what you should expect in the exams.
What Does the US Postal Service Exam Consist Of?
First of all, it’s important to note that the US Postal service exam is an online assessment used by the USPS to screen candidates for various positions at the post office. So, whether you’re looking for an entry job or an advanced job in the United States Postal service, you can expect to write and pass this exam as a prerequisite. The exam which was formally tagged Postal exam 473 or USPS clerk test has now being divided to consist four different exams.
The last thing you want to do is underrate any of the exams. Yes, the exam is not as hard as many people rate it, but it still requires adequate preparation to ace it. One of the first preparatory steps anybody can take is understanding the exam. If you don’t yet, we’ll explain here. Like most other online assessments, the USPS exam is registered for and written online.
Bear in mind that the exam was split into four in 2019. However, you’ll be assigned only one of the exams and won’t need to write the others if you pass the one assigned to you. The four subdivisions of the exam include:
- Postal exam 474
- Postal exam 475
- Postal exam 476
- Postal exam 477
The exam board is responsible for assigning one of these exams to you. However, you’ll notice that the exams have three sections, irrespective of which you’re assigned. The three sections are:
- Work scenarios: this section contains 8-10 questions, and it seeks to find out how you’ll respond to events that may happen on the job.
- Tell us your story: the second section features 8 to 10 questions. The questions would usually inquire about your experience on the job.
- Describe your approach: here, you are quizzed on how best you can approach situations. The questions here typically border on your personality and are mostly subjective in nature.
Each of these sections can be passed with adequate preparation. You just have to get the suitable materials and begin preparing early enough (more on that later).
What is a Passing Score for the USPS Exam?
The passing score for any of the four postal exams is 70. So, any score above 70 is considered good. However, it’s possible to see an ineligible status instead of a score. If you do, it means you haven’t managed to reach the minimum score of 70. In this case, you’ll only get another chance to retake the exam after one year.
While 70 is considered the minimum passing score, we typically advise students to chase higher scores. Try to go as close to a hundred as possible. This is because a good score in the USPS exam is subjective, and your chance of getting an interview would depend on how high your score is compared to other candidates. The higher your score, the more your chances of getting hired. Additionally, a high score can help you fast-track your application. So if you’re sitting for the USPS exam, don’t just write to pass the exam. Write to score as high as possible.
How Hard is it to Pass the USPS Exam?
The USPS exam is usually considered a fairly straightforward exam, and although answers are usually subjective, you’re still expected to hit at least 70 to pass the exam. Unfortunately, not many people can reach this score. In fact, the exam body says that the failure rate is between 80 to 90 percent. This is not to scare you but to spur you on to prepare better. Although many people would consider it a challenging exam with this failure rate, you can still ace it if you prepare well. Remember that parts of the exam will ask applicants about their personality, background, work experience, and how they’ll handle different issues at work. You must know what the exam body expects of you and answer accordingly. Fortunately, there are available study guides with this sort of information to help you through.
In some cases, you’ll get additional questions to test your mathematics and critical thinking skills. Whatever it is, don’t be scared. Trust in your ability and prepare well to give yourself the confidence you need.
Can You Retake the USPS Exam?
Yes, you can retake any of the four exams, but there are steps to it. First, it’s important to note that you can only retake it after one year or two years, depending on your score. If you passed the exam the first time but did not get the top score needed to get a job, you must wait another two years to retake the exam. On the other hand, if you did not reach the minimum pass score, you can retake the exam after one year. But how much does it cost to Take the postal exams?
The US Postal Service does not charge anything for this exam. The service is huge by any standard and would never charge or take any money for the exam or employment. As long as you’re qualified and follow due process to register for the exam, you’ll be able to write the exam.
All the scores for the USPS exams are valid for only six years. After this, you’ll have to retake the exam to get a new score. Many people don’t retake the exam for years after their first attempt, but it can differ depending on your goals. If you are considering changing jobs and your score has expired, you can reapply and take the exam.
How to Prepare for the USPS Exam?
We’ve said it before – the USPS exam is only as simple as your preparation. Apart from making the exams simpler, preparing well helps to increase your confidence going into the exam. But how do you prepare well? There are many things you can do to prepare for the USPS exam. This section covers some of them.
Improve your general study habit
You already know this. You’ve been told several times in school that you’ll need a healthy study habit to ace any exam. The same applies to the USPS exam. While you may have left school for a while, there are a few things you can still do to sharpen your study habits. Some of them are:
- Find a quiet place to study
- Note how your system works, and study when you’re most alert
- Develop a consistent study habit.
These points may not necessarily guarantee comprehension, but they help you understand the optimal time to study.
Understand the kind of questions that make up the exam
We’ve said before that the USPS is a unique exam that requires a unique approach. The exam is usually grouped into three parts, with each part focusing on a different goal. For starters, you need to understand that the questions are not like the regular questions you know. Most questions here are subjective and would require you to answer in a certain way. While preparing for the exams, spend time researching the different types of questions that it will likely feature. If there are questions you’re not confident about, this is the right time to learn how to answer them. Understanding what the exams are about will help you channel your attention to necessary materials. It also helps to improve your confidence in the long run.
Use practice books
Now that you probably know how the exam is structured, you’ll want to get the right materials for it. But beyond the materials, you want to also practice as you study. Unfortunately, you’ll mostly need to get a different book for it. You can find these books in books stores and stands. But most people prefer to search online for them. If you’re one of such people, you can visit the exam body’s official website to find practice tests and other resources you’ll need. Independent companies like Job Test Prep also have resources dedicated to this on their website, so you can just log on to test your knowledge even on the go.
Familiarize yourself with forms used by the postal service
One of the three parts of the exams borders on your knowledge about the postal service. In this section, you’ll encounter several questions on the uses of the various USPS forms. If you’ve never seen forms like this before, you may feel overwhelmed. Therefore, it’s essential to devote some of your preparatory time to learn about commonly used postal forms and how to fill them. While studying these forms, pay attention to details. For example, look over the Domestic Claim or Registered Mail Inquiry form whenever you see it to understand what information is contained in the USPS form. This can also give you a rough idea of how the forms are organized.
Prioritize up-to-date study guides
Like every other exam, the structure and content of the USPS exams change every time, and although it is possible to develop proper test-taking skills and strategies on your own, a slight change in expected questions can disorganize you on the exam. We recommend using up-to-date study guides to ensure that these minor changes do not disorganize you. While searching for the right study guides, invest in guides containing study strategies, exam content, information, and many practice questions. If you’re unsure about what to get, ask your book vendor for recommendations. Otherwise, you can look up suggestions on reputable exam websites. Make sure you don’t waste time studying obsolete information by mistake.
Wrapping Things Up: Is the USPS Exam Hard?
The postal exam is not your regular high school exam, so you shouldn’t expect it to be the same. Here, you’ll get questions designed to measure your attention to detail and whether you have the required personality traits for the job. As we’ve explained above, the best way to prepare for the exams is by knowing exactly how they are structured. This way, you’ll know what to avoid when choosing your answers and the best practices for answering each question.
With an average failure rate of between 80 and 90%, it’s not surprising that many people dread the USPS exams. However, if you can prepare well, you shouldn’t have any cause for alarm. Our experts have conducted thorough research and validation. Thus, we’ve created a tailored preparatory guide for the USPS exams. These drills, hacks, and tips will help ensure that you’re fully prepared for the exams beforehand.