How to Pass the USPS Postal Exam 476 (Virtual Entry Assessment MP) in 2022
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The United States Postal Service (USPS) is one of the US government’s Executive Branch agencies and it is tasked with providing the postal service in the United States.
You will need to pass the Postal Exam 476 after completing the initial screening for the following mail processing roles:
- Mail processing clerk – Full-time, postal support employee (PSE) or casual contracts
- Conversion operator – Full-time, PSE or casual contracts
Postal Exam 476 is also known as the Virtual Entry Assessment (VEA) MP. It is part of a new group of aptitude tests that the USPS uses called Virtual Entry Assessments.
The Postal Exam 476/VEA MP is used to assess if your personality and skills match those of the role you’re applying for.
Be careful not to get this exam confused with the 474, 475 and 477 exams – these are used for other careers in the postal service. Do not waste time practicing for these exams if you need to pass the 476 – while similar, these tests involve different content and scoring.
If you pass, you will be considered eligible and may be invited for an interview. The pass mark is 70, and the maximum score is 100.
However, a pass does not guarantee an interview — it depends on the scores of the other people who have taken the test (in other words, the competitiveness of the role).
You will have 72 hours (three days) to complete the assessment upon receipt of the invitation.
You must complete the assessment within this timeframe, or you won’t be considered for the role.
If you miss this timeframe or do not pass, you’ll have to wait another year to retake the test and your application status will be ‘ineligible’.
Therefore, keep an eye out for the invitation email and make sure you’re ready to take it when the invitation comes through.
The Postal Exam 476 assesses whether you have the right character and skills for the role you’ve applied for.
This is partially an aptitude test, so while there is a passing score, you are not being failed for your personality.
Instead, the USPS is looking for a specific type of personality that will excel in these roles and is scoring you based on how much you match this.
If you have different personality traits, you will likely not do well in the role and may become unhappy, so these sorts of aptitude tests benefit you as well.
It also contains other forms of testing, such as situational judgment tests and questions testing your attention to detail.
The Postal Exam 476 can be completed on a phone, tablet, laptop or PC.
However, it is recommended that you take the test on a laptop or computer, as the phone or tablet versions may be less optimized.
The test is not timed, so you complete it at your own pace within the 72 hours allocated.
Therefore, you can make sure to take time to read the questions thoroughly and don’t rush to give an answer.
There are seven sections in Postal Exam 476.
Originally, Postal Exam 476 had four sections, then three more sections were added in 2021.
Make sure any online content you use includes these sections – check before you pay.
The original sections of the test are as follows:
- Work scenarios
- Tell us your story
- Describe your approach
- Check for errors
The new sections are:
- Verify customer information
- Move the mail
- What drives you?
Here is what to expect in each section of the USPS 476 assessment.
This is a situational judgment test with 18 questions.
It assesses your decision-making skills and your ability to handle situations you’re likely to come across in a typical workday to determine if you are a good fit for the role.
You will be presented with a situation and four different ways to react. You will be asked to order them from best to worst approach to take.
1. You notice a coworker is taking shortcuts and missing out on essential steps that are part of his role.
You have been noticing this a lot recently. You know you must correct his mistakes to ensure the process runs smoothly.
Which of the below steps would you most likely take?
a) Talk to your supervisor about your coworker's performance.
b) Warn your colleague, telling them you will speak with your supervisor if he doesn't start to change their behavior.
c) Stay out of it. The way he does his job is not your business.
d) Talk to your coworker and let them know how the situation is affecting you.
This part of the exam is a chance for you to describe your background and past work experience.
It might ask questions relating to how past employers would describe you or a chance to describe past experiences.
There are 18 questions in this section.
1. How would your recent line manager describe your problem-solving skills compared to your coworkers’?
a) The very best
b) Among the best
c) Above average
e) Needing some development
f) Needing substantial development
Here, you will answer questions about your personality.
There are 25 questions in this section of the exam.
This section can be tricky, as the statements are vague – the USPS wants to see what personality traits you demonstrate even when questions are worded differently.
Remember – there is no time limit, so read the questions carefully and look up words or phrases that you are unsure of.
Select the response to each statement that shows how applicable it is to you.
1. I prefer to collect materials ahead of starting a project, so that I have them ready when I need to use them.
a) Very much like me
b) Somewhat like me
d) Not like me
e) Very much not like me
2. I like to begin a project and collect materials only when I need them.
a) Very much like me
b) Somewhat like me
d) Not like me
e) Very much not like me
Try not to think too much about the possible answers. Being honest is the best way to achieve a consistent result in this section.
If making decisions causes you to feel anxious, practice relaxation techniques before and during the exam.
These can include the AWARE technique and progressive muscle relaxation, where you tense each section of your body in turn and then let all that tension go, leaving it more relaxed than before.
This section of the test assesses your attention to detail.
It will test how attentive you are to details by giving you two eight-digit numbers and asking you to determine if the numbers match or not.
This isn’t as simple as it sounds, as the numbers will be very similar, and you’ll need to be able to pick up on the finest details.
There are only three questions in this section.
1. Select which of the following pairs of numbers match:
a) Location 1
b) Location 2
c) Location 3
d) Location 4
You will improve your responses in this section the more you practice.
It assesses your attention to detail and your ability to pick up small errors.
Remember the test is not timed, so you can compare the numbers carefully – it is better to be accurate than fast.
This is similar to the error-checking section.
Here, you will be presented with information about people: their name, previous address and new address.
You'll need to compare the information and determine whether they are identical or not.
There are 10 questions in this section.
1. You will be presented with a screen similar to the one below.
On the left it will mimic a form that someone has filled in with block capitals; on the right will be some information that has been drawn from the form.
You must select if each piece of information is correct or a mistake.
You will be presented with a screen similar to the one below, where you will select the correct box for the displayed mail.
This section is a motivation test that reveals what fulfills you in your workplace.
Choose one of the following options in answer to the statement.
I'd like to work in a place where...
a) Employees help customers by going above and beyond to resolve their problems.
b) The company is ahead of its competitors.
Each question is meant to assess how you relate to two different sources of motivation, so you might notice the same motivation sources in different questions.
Many people think that you don’t need to practice before personality tests like the Postal Exam 476.
However, being prepared will always help you before any exam, no matter the content or format.
Practice tests are one of the best ways to prepare for an exam.
They allow you to become familiar with the exam’s format, so you won’t be worrying about it during the real exam.
However, it’s important to note that, since you only have three days to complete the test upon receiving the invitation, you need to do these practice tests before receiving the invitation to take the real one.
Knowing the role well will give you an idea of what the recruitment team is looking for.
This will help you to answer some of the questions and understand what sort of person the USPS is looking for.
You can start by closely reading the job description.
There is no point in making yourself out to be someone you’re not when you’re applying for a job – this will establish unrealistic expectations regarding how you will behave.
Not only will the USPS be unhappy, potentially leading to firing you, but you might end up out of your depth, unhappy and under a lot of stress.
Be professional but honest in your answers to make sure you don’t mislead anyone.
Make sure you show the qualities listed in your resume when you answer the questions.
Be consistent and think each answer through — often refer to the qualities required for the role for examples of what the USPS wants.
Any discrepancies between the test and your original application could potentially disqualify you from the role.
The exam lasts for about 45 minutes and you will be given three days (72 hours) to complete the exam once it is sent to you.
You will be given three days (72 hours) to complete the exam.
If you don’t complete the exam within this window, you will not be considered for the role.
You may be able to email the recruitment team and ask for an extension but try your best to complete it within the timeframe.
By reaching the assessment stage of the application process, you’ve shown that you possess the skills required for this role.
Remember to be calm and honest when completing the exam, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself – you can always retake it after you have gained more experience.