What is the Postal Exam 473?

The USPS (United States Postal Service) Postal Exam 473 is a highly competitive federal civil service exam, which tests speed, accuracy. and memory. It is administered to those applying for jobs with USPS as postal carriers, mail processing clerks and postal clerks. It is essential to score well on this examination in order to be considered for a role in the company.

Postal Exam 473 Test Structure

Postal Exam 473 is comprised of 5 parts:

  • A.   Address Checking
  • B.   Form Completion
  • C1. Coding
  • C2. Memory
  • D    Personal Characteristics & Experience Inventory

Part A: Address Checking

Part A of the exam assesses the candidate’s address checking skills by presenting 60 multiple choice questions, to be answered in 11 minutes. The questions require that the candidate compares two sets of columns containing seemingly identical addresses and zip codes for disparities. The candidate is required to identify whether there are errors in either copy and mark the multiple choice paper to correctly indicate the presence of errors. The multiple choice questions will always present the same answer choices in the same order:

  1. No errors
  2. Address Only
  3. Zip Code Only
  4. Both

An example of such a question is given below:

Original AddressOriginal ZipCopy of AddressCopy of Zip
2448 Phoenix Ave.
Tallahassee, FL
323072448 Pheonix Ave.
Tallahassee, FL

As is seen in the example, there are errors in both parts, so the correct answer is D. Errors may exist in either column, in both columns, or in neither column.


The score in part A is derived from the number of correct answers minus one-third of incorrect answers, while unanswered questions. For example, if one correctly answered 45 questions, incorrectly answered 9 questions and failed to answer 6 questions, the resulting score would be 42 (45 for correct answers – 9/3 (=3) for incorrect answers).

As the candidate is penalized for incorrect answers, it is important to work with haste but not to such a degree that accuracy is compromised. It is ostensibly better to not answer a question at all than it is to give an incorrect answer.

Part B: Form Completion

Part B of the examination assesses the candidate’s ability to understand a variety of postal forms. 5 different forms will be presented, with 6 multiple choice questions corresponding to each, for a total of 30 questions. The time limit for this section is 15 minutes.


The scoring here is simpler than that of Part A: one’s score is simply the number of correct answers, with no penalty for incorrect answers. In this instance, the dominant strategy is to answer all questions, even if that means guessing when one is unable to figure out the answer or has too little time to complete all answers.

Part C1: Coding

In the coding section of Part C, the candidate is presented with a coding guide of 8 address ranges assigned to 3 different delivery routes (A, B and C). The fourth option (D) covers all addresses that do not fall into the 8 address ranges. Here, the candidate is required to assign each address to the correct route. This section lasts for 6 minutes and comprises of 36 questions.

Address RangeDelivery Route
35 – 140 Sabolic Rd.
1 – 740 Elf St.
60 – 90 Newmyer Ave
19-96 Appleyard Ave.
240 – 900 Sabolic Rd.
200 – 399 Newmyer Ave.
850 – 1250 Elf St.
400 – 800 Mortiz Rd
All mail that does not fall in one of the address ranges listed aboveD

With the coding guide, 36 addresses are provided to be answered with A, B, C, or D. For example, the address 72 Sabolic Rd. would be assigned to delivery route A, while 320 Mortiz Rd. would be assigned to route C and 200 Appleyard Ave. would fall into route D as it is not contained within any of the given address ranges.

Part C2: Memory

The task in Part C2 is similar to that of Part C1, with one key difference: the same coding guide is used but is not made available for reference. Rather, the candidate must memorize the address ranges and delivery routes. Routes must be assigned based on memory, making this a considerably more difficult task. Once again, this section comprises of 36 questions but is to be answered in 7 minutes rather than 6.


For both sections of Part C, the score is calculated in the same manner as in Part A: the number of correctly answered questions minus the number of incorrectly answered questions. If 50 questions are answered correctly, with 15 answered incorrectly and 7 unanswered, one’s score would be 45 (50 points for correct answers – 15/3 (=5) for incorrect answers). As is the case in Part A, The candidate is penalized for incorrect answers. Again, it is imperative that a candidate completes questions with haste but not to such a degree that accuracy is compromised. An unanswered question is less damaging than an incorrect answer in these sections.

Part D: Personality Characteristics & Experience Inventory

Part D of the exam is designed to assess a candidate’s ability to perform effectively in the United States Postal Service. The candidate is asked 236 questions in the space of 90 minutes, intended to evaluate personal characteristics, tendencies, and experiences.

There are three sections in this part of the exam. The first section (agree/disagree) presents statements with four potential responses ranging from “Strongly agree” to “Strongly disagree” – there is no neutral response to any given statement in this section. The second section (frequency) also presents statements with four responses, but the questions range from “Very often” to “Rarely or never”. The last section (experience) presents questions which could have between one to four possible response options.

This part of the exam is far more generous in its given time limit as it is not designed to apply pressure; the section itself carries no binary right/wrong answers. Rather, it is composed in order to examine a candidate’s personality traits, interests, and experience so that their compatibility with the Postal Service can be appropriately assessed. This qualitative section of the exam allows for differentiation between candidates who have achieved similar scores – even if both scored identically the traits of one candidate may put them ahead of the other in consideration for the job. Bearing this in mind, it is important that one tries to answer questions truthfully rather than trying to artificially exhibit traits which are considered to be desirable.


The USPS does not disclose the grading of responses for Part D, as they are analyzed on a case-by-case basis without a binary correct/incorrect scoring system. They are used qualitatively in order to compare candidates and ascertain how well each individual ‘fits’ a job with the Postal Service.

How to pass the USPS Postal Exam 473

Across all the parts of the examination, the required overall score for passing the Postal Exam is 70%. However, in order to be seriously considered for employment with the USPS, it is important to score above 80%. As this exam is highly competitive, candidates are selected based on their scores in a top-down manner: the highest scorers are considered first, and the list is worked down until all positions have been filled or appropriate candidates have run out. There is a 90-day cooldown period before a candidate can retake the exam.

In order to pass the examination, it is crucial that you take the time to study for the exam and practice each section so that you may become familiar with the format. Prepterminal has composed a comprehensive course in order to prepare you for your USPS postal exam. Offering both text and video modules along with Postal Exam 473 practice tests, our expertly-formulated course will have you ready for your exam in a matter of hours.