How Test 473 Is Scored

Test 473 is scored on a 0 to 100 scale. You’ll receive one overall score in the 0 to 100 range for your exam. A passing score is 70. However, your test score is not the same as the number of questions you answer correctly. Each part of the test is scored separately, and then the four scores are combined, using a complex formula that the Postal Service will not disclose. Following is a closer look at how each part is scored.

Part A: Address Checking

Your score for Part A is based on the total number of items you answer correctly, minus one-third point for each item you answer incorrectly. No deduction is made for items you leave unanswered or blank on your answer sheet. Part A consists of a total of 60 items. Let’s assume that you answered 45 correctly and 9 incorrectly, while leaving 6 unanswered (blank). Your score for Part A would be 45 − (1/3 of 9), or 45 − 3 = 42. Your score of 42 would then be combined with your scores for the other three parts of the exam to determine your overall test score.

Part B: Forms Completion

Your score for Part B is based simply on the total number of items you answer correctly. No deduction is made for questions you answer incorrectly or for those that you leave unanswered (blank). Part B consists of a total of 30 items. Let’s say you answered 21 questions correctly. It doesn’t matter how many of the remaining 9 questions you answered incorrectly and how many you left unanswered (blank). Your score for Part B would be 21, the total number of correct answers. Your score of 21 would then be combined with your scores for the other three parts to determine your overall test score.

Part C: Coding and Memory

Your score for Part C is calculated in the same manner as that for Part A: the total number of items you answer correctly, minus one-third point for each item you answer incorrectly. No deduction is made for test items you leave unanswered (blank). Part C consists of a total of 72 items. So, if you answered 53 correctly and 12 incorrectly, while leaving 7 unanswered (blank), your score for Part C would be 53 − (1/3 of 12), or 53 − 4 = 49. Your score of 49 would then be combined with your scores for the other three parts to determine your overall test score.

Part D: Personal Characteristics and Experience Inventory

Part D is scored and does significantly affect your overall exam score. However, the scoring system for Part D is a well-guarded secret with the Postal Service. Part D consists of a total of 236 questions altogether. Without knowing how Part D is scored, the best approach is to make sure you answer each and every question you can as honestly as you can—and leave the rest to fate!

Applying to Take Test 473

Before you can apply for any specific Postal Service job, you must first take and pass the appropriate exam, such as Test 473. But, you cannot simply walk into an exam office anytime you wish and take one of the exams. That’s not how it works. First, you must determine when and where the exam that you wish to take is next being offered in your geographical area.

Vacancy Announcements

Regional postal districts schedule exams only on an as-needed basis. This means that they administer a particular exam—such as Test 473—only when they anticipate openings for jobs that require applicants to take that exam. When a postal district decides to provide testing for anticipated job openings, the district will issue an announcement indicating a time period—for example, July 1 through September 30—during which anyone who is interested may apply to take a particular exam, such as Test 473, at that district’s exam office. Each announcement is identified by a unique announcement number. You’ll need the specific announcement number when you apply to take the exam.

There are many ways to find out when Test 473 will be offered next in the city or region where you wish to work. Following are the best places to find vacancy announcements:

  • The employment area of the official USPS Web site (
  • USPS vacancy-announcement telephone “hotlines,” which are recorded announcement messages
  • Bulletin boards at U.S. Post Offices
  • Bulletin boards at state employment development offices
  • Community job-resource and vocational-training centers

Note: Beware of classified ads in newspapers that charge fees for providing information about Postal Service employment (or any U.S. government jobs, for that matter). These ads are placed by scam artists who are out to make a quick buck by selling information that is already available to the general public for free.

Postal Exam Telephone Hotline Numbers

To apply to take any Postal Service exam, you need a specific vacancy-announcement number. You can view current vacancy-announcement numbers for all U.S. states and territories at the USPS Web site ( You can also obtain vacancy-announcement numbers by calling the appropriate hotline telephone number in your region. These hotlines connect you with recorded messages that provide vacancy-announcement numbers and testing dates. Some also provide telephone numbers to call in order to speak with a USPS administrative employee in that region, in case you have additional, unanswered questions.

A list of postal exam hotlines for all states, except for Alaska, Rhode Island, and Vermont, which do not provide hotlines, is given in the appendix. These telephone numbers are valid at the time of publication of this book, but they are subject to change at any time, of course.

Many of these hotlines are toll-free (1-800 or 1-877) numbers. Some numbers cover the entire state, while others cover only certain regions or cities, or, in the case of some large metropolitan areas, certain areas within cities. If you don’t see a hotline number that covers your city or town, or if the phone number listed is no longer correct, try calling the number for the nearest city.

Note: Just for fun, try calling some of the hotline numbers around the country (as long as you don’t pay for the phone calls), so that you can listen to a variety of regional accents. For example, you’ll no doubt discover that the recorded voice for New York City’s outer boroughs district (Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island) sounds a lot different from the one for Savannah, Georgia!

How to Apply to Take the Exam

You can apply to take Test 473 in either of two ways:

  • By telephone, through a toll-free number provided by the USPS
  • Online, at the official USPS Web site (

Regardless of which method you use, there is absolutely no fee or charge to apply for or to take Test 473 or any other postal exam. You know what they say: the best things in life are free!

Applying by Telephone

If you have a touch-tone phone (and you probably do), you can apply to take the test by calling the Postal Service’s toll-free number. At the time of publication of this book, the number is 1-866-999-8777. Once you dial the number, you’ll need to use your telephone keypad to proceed through a series of menu choices. You’ll be able to enter some information, such as the vacancy-announcement number and your social security number, using your telephone keypad. You’ll need to provide certain other information (such as your name and address) by voice; in doing so, be sure to speak slowly and clearly so that the automated voice recording system receives the correct information from you. The automated system will ask you to spell out certain words, which can be somewhat time-consuming. Expect the telephone application process to take between 8 and 15 minutes.

Applying Online via the Official USPS Web Site

If you have Internet access, you can apply via the employment area of the Postal Service’s official Web site ( You can also access the employment area of the site from the USPS home page ( by clicking on the “Jobs” link. Once you’re at the Jobs page of the site, follow the link to “Mail Processing Jobs,” and then to the specific type of job that interests you.

To apply online to take Test 473, follow these links:

If you know the vacancy-announcement number you wish to use for your application, you can enter the number and then proceed with the application. If you don’t have a vacancy-announcement number, you can click on “Continue,” at which point you can select a state (e.g., New York) and view a complete list of vacancy-announcement numbers in that state; the list is organized alphabetically by city. Click on the vacancy-announcement number you wish to use and then proceed with your application.

To begin the online application process, you’ll be presented with a brief, two-tier survey that asks about your interest in and suitability for Postal Service work generally and then for specific types of postal work (retail, mail processing, or carrier). You answer the survey questions by selecting “yes” or “no” for each one. The purpose of this survey is simply to help you determine whether Postal Service work is suitable for you. It is important to understand that your answers do not affect your eligibility to apply for postal jobs or for any of the tests, nor do they affect the employee selection process. In fact, the survey is entirely optional; if you wish, you can skip both levels of the survey by clicking on “Continue application.”

Once you arrive at the application form itself, you’ll simply need to enter your name, mailing address, and ZIP code. You may also enter your phone number and e-mail address, although both are optional.

That’s all there is to applying for the test. Assuming that you have all the information you need at hand, applying online should take only two to four minutes, which is much quicker than applying by telephone.

Note: The Postal Service has permanently discontinued the use of paper-based forms for applying to take its employment exams. The two application methods just described are the only ones available now.