How to Pass the USPS Postal Exam 477 in 2023
Updated January 22, 2023
Each job requires a different application process, and USPS is no different. It is a thorough undertaking for those applying for customer-facing service roles within the Postal Service.
This exam requires attention to detail and was updated in November 2021 with new sections and questions.
The USPS Postal Exam 477 was devised in April 2019 as USPS set out to split the exams into four separate tests to distinguish more focused tests for various roles.
This means that those applying for mail handling, mail carrier and mail processor roles now take a different test to service clerk applicants.
This is due to the different skills required for each role, as opposed to one blanket exam previously, the 473, for any and all USPS jobs.
For the 477 exam, the idea is that you are asked more questions about customer interaction, relevant skills such as mathematics and your personality style. All of these attributes tie into how you would be as a customer service employee.
The test is used as pre-employment screening, so it is taken between applying for the role and having a formal interview.
It must be taken within 72 hours of the job application. If that deadline is missed, you will be removed from the application process.
You will also be required to wait another year before applying and retaking the test, so it is important to pass it the first time. This is why you need to prepare for the exam beforehand.
Applicants need to reach 70 out of 100 to pass the test to be eligible for potential interviews and employment.
The 477 postal exam is an online-only test but can be taken anywhere with an internet connection.
We recommend taking it at home in a quiet space, so you can fully concentrate on the test.
USPS will send you an email with the link to the exam, which takes around 45 minutes to complete.
Included in the 477 exam are seven sections, three of which were added in November 2021.
You must make sure you have the up-to-date content for this exam, or else you will not be fully prepared for the new sections.
Here is a closer look at each section, what it entails and an example question:
These are examples of the types of scenarios to expect in a USPS customer service role.
These will tell a potential employer how confident you are in dealing with customers, if you can stick to protocols and the chain of command, as well as how strong your service skills are.
You will be presented with a scenario for each question, and you are challenged to solve the problem.
You are given four choices and told to pick which action you are most likely to take and which action you are least likely to take.
Pay particular attention to these scenarios, as they are often real-life examples that you will need to get comfortable dealing with.
1. A customer wants to send a restricted item in the post. You know it is restricted, but the policy was recently updated, and the customer is adamant they are able to send it. When told the item is restricted, the customer begins to raise his voice and refuses to accept this.
What should you do?
Choose the most likely action you would take and the least likely.
a) Ask the manager for help with this customer and leave them to deal with them.
b) Apologize for the confusion and recommend they visit the USPS website on restricted goods.
c) Apologize and state that the policy was updated recently.
d) Apologize and show the customer the relevant page on the USPS website.
This section is what a clerk will be doing for the majority of their job.
This will show how quick and accurate you can be when it comes to handling money. It is also where you show your basic arithmetic skills, as you should not require a calculator.
If this section is a strong challenge, you may want to rethink your application. How long you spend on each question will be monitored closely, so speed and accuracy are crucial here.
It is the smallest section, with just three questions, but often the one that most applicants stumble on.
Each question will present a total amount, what the customer paid and the total change that is required.
You have to give the correct change to them using the fewest amount of notes/coins possible. The change must be exact, so never give away too much or too little change to the customer.
Total amount: $14.43
Customer pays: $20
Change required: $5.57
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This is the section where the USPS will do a check and balance against your resume, so it’s a good idea to have it in hand as your answer.
There are 39 questions in this section, and you simply need to choose how much of a statement applies to you. These tend to be based on workplace and personality skills but apply to any job role, not just within the USPS.
Don’t try to be someone you’re not, but do remember that you want to come across positively with this first impression.
1. How would your most recent employer describe your willingness to help others, from customers to other team members?
a) Always willing to help others
b) Usually willing to help others
c) Sometimes willing to help others
d) Rarely willing to help others
e) Never willing to help others
This section is all about personality traits. Again, you need to be as honest as you can but also cater your answers to the job application.
You will be given two statements and asked to pick which one applies the most to yourself.
There are 139 questions, so it’s the largest section of the test. However, each question shouldn’t take too long, as it is multiple choice.
Always bear in mind what the original job application was looking for, as this section alludes to traits you will need for the job.
As you’ll see below, they can be interpreted differently depending on the job role.
1. Which statement do you agree with the most?
a) I can handle multiple tasks at the same time.
b) I prefer to work alone.
The first of three new sections added in November 2021 is all about solving problems, similar to what you would handle daily should you get the job.
There are 14 questions in this section and can involve any workplace scenario. They can involve more mathematics mixed in with work situations.
1. Greetings cards are currently 10% and cost $3 each. A customer brings 5 greeting cards to the counter. How much will they pay before taxes?
In this section, you will be assessed on whether you pay attention to detail well or not.
In the 10 questions, you will be given a customer’s details on a form (name, old address and new address) and will be required to compare four customer details, such as city names and zip codes, to check if they are correct or not.
You will have to select whether you think these details are correct in comparison to the form filled out or if there is a mistake.
This information will all be fictional, so you’re not expected to know if a city or street name exists, but you'll need to check the spelling matches up on both forms.
This assessment will judge whether you can read, interpret and input accurate information, as getting the names and addresses of customers correct is essential.
Look out for small spelling mistakes and errors in digits, as these small mistakes can have huge ramifications for a customer.
Always double-check every answer on this section, just like you would in the real world!
The final section is all about your desires and how you work. This will tell USPS why you’re applying for the role as you select one of two phrases given. They will be to do with the company itself, the role and your personality.
There are 25 questions to go through, and it’s a simple choice of one option or the other.
1. I enjoy mostly:
a) Working as part of a team
b) Helping customers
To get an eligible score, you must score 70% or higher to be considered for an interview. You need to focus on reading every question and taking your time to make the right decision on your answers.
If you fail the test, you can’t take it again for at least a year. Even if you pass and want to improve your score, you will have to wait two years to retake it.
Candidates will be ranked from highest to lowest, so if you just pass, you will go to the bottom of the interview list.
While it seems like an overwhelming exam, doing preparation beforehand will definitely pay off.
As stated above, passing the USPS postal exam requires preparation. Because the test is monitored, USPS can tell exactly how long you spent on each question.
Try to be speedy, but don’t go too fast that you give incorrect answers.
The best way to increase your speed in answering questions is to practice. Websites, such as Job Test Prep, have specific practice test packages that feature all seven sections on the improved 477 test.
See below for some top tips on passing the USPS 477 postal exam.
The more you practice for this exam, the quicker and more accurate you will get.
Purchase some practice tests online; you can take your time with the first one to get used to the types of questions before trying to speed up.
You might need to refer to both your resume and/or the application during the test so instead of wasting time during the test, have them printed out or on an open tab.
While there will be personality traits that are more suited to the role, answer honestly.
You might be an introvert, but answering that you’re an extrovert will mean your resume and interview will be inconsistent with your exam.
Don’t forget that your work personality can be different from your home personality, so think like a professional when answering.
The math questions in the 477 exam might seem simple, but many struggle.
It’s a section that is more of a workplace scenario, so you need to score 100% on it.
You need a score of 70 or more to be eligible for an interview.
Below that means you’ll be ineligible. Aim to score as high as possible to be a frontrunner for an interview.
It’s tricky rather than difficult.
You don’t need any knowledge of USPS as a business, but you will be tested on workplace scenarios and personality traits for the job, so it’s crucial to read every question (and answer, if multiple choice) properly.
The test itself will take around 45 minutes.
When you receive the email with the test link on it, you have 72 hours to complete the exam. After that, your application will be automatically denied.
You can, but only after a year.
If you pass and want to retake to get a better score, you will have to wait two years.
Due to the nature of the USPS 477 exam, it is important to prepare if you are serious about your application.
While you can take the test without any practice, investing in study materials will improve your speed when taking the exam.
Be honest on the test, read every question properly and you should pass the first time.