The Virtual Entry Assessment (VEA) process is an integral part of the postal service’s online application process and identifies applicants best suited for the occupation applied for. Under the previous system you had to take a proctored exam at a designated facility in your area.
Under this enhanced application system, you search for a position of interest online, register and create a profile, apply online, and shortly thereafter the postal service sends you a confirming email after their initial pre-screening with instructions. If your application is accepted, you will receive an email with additional instructions including a link to the online exam if required.
All entry-level tests, including the 474, 475, 476 and 477 exams, are scheduled shortly after applying online. You will be scheduled to take one of the virtual entry assessment exams depending on the position applied for. The Postal Service will schedule you to take a virtual exam online; you have 72 hours to complete it after receipt of a test authorization email.
Other occupations, such as corporate and professionals, don’t require a written exam and are evaluated under the Postal Service’s Rated-Application Examinations process. They are rated and hired on their prior work experience and education listed on their application and how well they do on the interview.
Post Office VEA Exams
Examinations cover the majority of entry level hiring although some offices also maintain custodial registers which, by law, are reserved for those with veteran’s preference. The postal service no longer uses the 473 Battery Examination and applicants must take the new 474, 475, 476 and/or 477 Virtual Entry Assessment exam depending on the position applied for. The new VEA exams are more customer focused.
VEA Exam Sections
The exams are administered using up to seven of the 8 sections listed (areas of concentration) in combination with the 474, 475, 486 and 477 VEAs:
- Work Scenarios – An assessment that includes questions focused on typical work situations and how you would react to them. There are four choices, and you are required to choose one that represents your most likely and least likely choice.
- Tell Us Your Story – An assessment that includes questions focused on your work experience and background.
- Describe Your Approach – An assessment of your personality traits.
- Moving the Mail – Determines your ability to identify details to correctly sort packages and letters.
- Motivation & Drive – A motivation test that reveals what satisfies you at work. These questions evaluate how you relate to various motivational sources.
- Customer Information Verification – Assesses your ability to notice details of printed information accurately and quickly. The test presents a person’s name, old and new address; you must determine if the information is identical or not.
- Error Checking – This assessment determines your ability to match pairs of eight-digit numbers and determine if the pairs match or contain errors.
- Work Your register – This assessment determines your ability to make the correct change using the fewest currency items as possible.
The USPS also administers other exams for motor vehicle and tractor trailer operators and some highly skilled maintenance positions such as building equipment mechanic, engineman, electronics technician, and general mechanic. All skilled maintenance positions require examinations.
NOTE: You don’t have to retake the exam for other similar positions after passing the test with a 70% score or higher. Your examination result is valid through the expiration date shown on your Notice of Result. If you are an applicant, your results will be maintained in your eCareer Candidate Profile and will be automatically included with your application if you apply for other USPS vacancies requiring this exam. If you are an employee, your test result may be valid for longer, based on your situation and in accordance with Postal policy. CAUTION: Write down your eCareer username and password so that you will be able to use the test results for other positions. Many forget to write down this information and have a difficult time contacting the USPS to recover their username and password.
Ability and skills tests (performance tests) are designed to predict future success, both in job training and job performance. The Postal Service uses these tests to obtain an indication of your potential to learn and perform particular job responsibilities. Skills tests measure specifically what you know about and can perform in a particular job—they test your mastery of tasks. Performance tests include a road test for operators of postal vehicles, keyboard test, and the test of strength and stamina for mail handlers.
Some performance tests can be self-certified and are addressed in your initial application package. They will ask you how many words per minute can you type on the keyboard or if you can lift a package of a certain weight. It’s important to give correct answers. For example, if you indicate you can type 30 to 40 words per minute and discover on the job your keyboard speed is much slower, that would be grounds for dismissal.
Entry-Level Positions Requiring Exams
The Postal Service uses the following list of Virtual Entry Assessment exams for specific positions:
474 Virtual Entry Assessment MC Exam or Mail Carrier VEA Exam
- City Carrier, and Assistant
- Casual City Carrier,
- Rural Carrier, Associate, and Assistant
475 Virtual Entry Assessment MH Exam or Mail Handler VEA Exam
- Mail Handler, Assistant, and Casual
476 Virtual Entry Assessment MP Exam, Mail Processor VEA Exam or Processing Clerk VEA
- Mail Processing Clerk
- PSE Mail Processing Clerk
- Casual Mail Processing Clerk
477 Virtual Entry Assessment CS or Customer Service VEA Exam
- Sales Services & Distribution Associate
- PSE Sales Service & Distribution Associate
- Casual Sales Service & Distribution Associate
Also, explore and apply for all job vacancies in the federal government.
The 474 Virtual Assessment Examination covers the majority of entry level hiring although some offices also maintain custodial registers, which by law, are reserved for veteran preference eligibles. The USPS also tests for motor vehicle and tractor trailer registers and some highly skilled maintenance positions such as Building Equipment Mechanic, Engineman, Electronics Technician, and General Mechanic. All of the skilled maintenance positions are required to take an exam.
It’s often helpful to study with a partner, someone to read the question and check your responses. It can be a fellow worker, a spouse, or just a good friend. Try various study routines until you hit a combination that works. Try studying in 20 to 30-minute sessions, with 5-minute breaks in between, or stretch it out to hour intervals. A good study routine will improve your test scores.
The following strategies will help you improve your grades. Use these strategies on the practice tests in this book and when you take your actual Postal Service exam. If you practice these techniques now, when you take the postal exam they will become second nature.
- Eliminate the answers in multiple-choice questions that make no sense at all. You can often eliminate half of the answers through this method. If you have to guess an answer, you improve your chances through the process of elimination
- Be skeptical when an answer includes words like “always, never, all, none, generally,” or “only.” These words can be a trap. Only select an answer with these words in it if you are absolutely sure it is the right answer.
- If two answers have opposite meanings, take your time and look closer. Many times, one of the two is correct.
- One word can dramatically change the meaning of a sentence. Read each question word-for-word before answering.
- Don’t let the test get the best of you. Build your confidence by answering the questions you know first. If the first question you read stumps you, skip it and go on to the next one. When you’ve completed most of the exam you can go back ‒ if time permits ‒ to the questions that you couldn’t answer.
- Get plenty of rest the night before the exam.
Also, consider applying for job vacancies in the federal government.