How Hard Is The USPS Exam? (All You Need To Know)

With competitive starting pay, loads of opportunities for advancement, and generous benefits, it’s no wonder many people want to work for USPS. But that health insurance and those three weeks of vacation time won’t just fall into your lap.

If you want to work for USPS, you’ll have to pass a series of assessments. First is the initial application, then an online exam, followed by an in-person proctored exam. Still interested? Then, keep reading to see what you’ll need to do to pass the USPS exam.

How Hard Is the USPS Exam?

According to USPS, the failure rate for postal exams 474, 475, 476, and 477 is between 80 and 90 percent, which would deem it a hard test. As part of the exam, all applicants are asked about their background, work experience, personality, and how they would handle everyday work scenarios. Some exams have additional questions requiring math and critical thinking skills.

If you want to know exactly what to expect on the USPS exams, keep reading!

What Exam Do You Have To Pass For the USPS?

Before getting into the question of how complex the USPS exam is, knowing which exam you’ll need to pass is helpful.

Which exam you take will depend on which position you’re applying for. As things stand now, there are four main USPS exams:

474: City and Rural Carrier exam

  • This is what people think of when they hear “mailman.” These employees deliver and collect mail on foot or by vehicle. They’re required to work in all kinds of weather conditions and are expected to handle mail containers weighing up to 70 pounds.

475: Mail Handler exam

  • These employees move mail containers and equipment throughout postal facilities. They also open and empty containers of mail. Like carriers, they are required to handle containers weighing up to 70 pounds.

476: Clerical exam (for clerks and mail processors)

  • Mail processors operate mail process equipment and manually sort mail. They also organize and move processed mail from one area to another. These clerks are required to lift and transport heavy containers.

477: Associate exam (for customer service clerks)

  • Retail associates work at local post offices and provide customer service to USPS customers.

A 955 exam for mechanical and technical positions within the USPS also exists. These employees do not handle mail directly. Instead, they maintain, troubleshoot, and test machines used in postal service equipment and systems.

How Long Is the USPS Exam?

How Long Is The USPS Exam?

Once you’ve completed your application and know which exam you need to pass, you might be wondering how long the exam will take to complete.

All of the exams have two parts. Part one involves completing an online assessment. Part two is an in-person proctored assessment.

Part one is technically untimed, but the USPS does provide the number of questions and the suggested time for each of the sections. In most cases, the online exam will take less than 30 minutes.

It’s important to note that while the time allotted for the exam is flexible, the time to take the exam after receiving the invitation is not. You only have 72 hours to take the exam after receiving your email invitation.

See exactly what to expect in terms of time and questions for each exam:

474 (Also referred to as Virtual Entry Assessment MC 474)

Section NameNumber of QuestionsSuggested Time
Work Scenarios (Situational Judgment Test)97 minutes
Tell Us Your Story (Biodata Questionnaire)202 minutes
Describe Your Approach (Personality Test)566 minutes

475 (Also referred to as Virtual Entry Assessment MH 475)

Section NameNumber of QuestionsSuggested Time
Work Scenarios 

(Situational Judgment Test)

911 minutes
Tell Us Your Story

(Biodata Questionnaire)

223 minutes
Describe Your Approach

(Personality Test)

798 minutes
Check for Errors

(Verifying Information Test)

12 (4 rows, each with 3 questions)2 minutes

476 (Also referred to as Virtual Entry Assessment MP 476)

Section NameNumber of QuestionsSuggested Time
Work Scenarios

(Situational Judgment Test)

Tell Us Your Story

(Biodata Questionnaire)

Describe Your Approach

(Personality Test)

Check for Errors

(Verifying Information Test)

12 (4 rows, each with 3 questions)2

477 (Also referred to as Virtual Entry Assessment CS 477)

SectionNumber of QuestionsSuggested Time
Work Situations

(Situational Judgment Test)

Work Your Register

(Work with Bills, Coins, and Change)

Tell Us Your Story

(Biodata Questionnaire)

Describe Your Approach (Personality Test)566

Depending on job availability, applicants who complete the online assessment (i.e., get a score of 70 or above) are invited to schedule an in-person proctored assessment. This assessment will take approximately 90 minutes.

How Do I Study For the USPS Exam?

There are many things you can do to prepare for the USPS exam.

General study habits like working when you’re most alert, finding a quiet place to study, and developing a consistent study routine are all helpful when preparing for this particular exam.

In addition, it’s a good idea to understand what kinds of questions you’ll be confronted with on the exam.

Spend some time researching the different types of questions and dedicate additional time to areas where you don’t feel as confident.

You can also take free practice tests online to get familiar with the structure and pace of the test.

If you prefer even more preparation, companies like Job Test Prep offer videos, test guides, and preparation materials for a monthly fee.

Finally, there are practice books like Postal Exam Secrets Study Guide: Review and Practice Tests for the USPS Virtual Entry Assessment 474, 475, 476, and 477.

There are loads of valuable resources out there to help you prepare for the USPS exams. Just make sure you get the most updated information. USPS changed the test in 2019, so anything published before that is obsolete.

To know more about USPS, you can also read our posts on whether or not USPS is a federal job, if USPS is a good job, and if USPS is a government agency.

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Marques Thomas

Marques Thomas graduated with a MBA in 2011. Since then, Marques has worked in the retail and consumer service industry as a manager, advisor, and marketer. Marques is also the head writer and founder of

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