Coding & Memory Basics


Sections III & IV of the Postal Exam 473e are the related Coding & Memory. In each question during this section, you will be given a street address that must be matched to one of four different postal delivery routes. In this way the test simulates what a USPS mail handler does in real life; sorting through mail and assigning it to the correct route for the carriers.

This section is divided into two:

  • Coding,: 36 questions that must be completed in 6 minutes.
  • Memory: 36 questions that must be completed in 7 minutes.


Scoring on this portion of the exam penalizes incorrect answers. The formula used by the postal service is best illustrated with an example:

Of the 36 questions in the Coding example, if you were to answer 28 correctly, leave 3 blank, and incorrectly answer 3 questions, your finaly score on this section would accumulate to 27 out of a possible 36. The reason is that the exam penalizes the incorrect answers (but not those left blank). So you're score is calculated as the number correct - (1/3)*Number Incorrect. In this example, that works out to 28 - (1/3)3 = 27.

Example Coding Guide

Provided below is an example coding guide like the one provided on the actual exam. The example, and the test, uses five different street names, but some of the street names are used in two different coding categories.

Address Range Delivery Route
  • 178 - 2075 Mitchell Ln.
  • 100 - 750 Turnbull Rd
  • 1600 - 9000 Kizzler St.
  • 775 - 2000 Turnbull Rd.
  • 4050 - 7050 Elmer Pkwy.
  • 21513 - 29524 Allan St.
  • 1000 - 7049 Elmer Pkwy.
  • 9500 - 15000 Kizzler St.
All mail that does not fall in one of the address ranges listed above. D

Coding & Memory Overlap

Both portions of the exam deal with the same sorting of addresses to delivery routes. In the coding section, the Coding Guide will be displayed and available to you during the answer exercise. In the memory section, the Coding Guide will not be available, and the sorting must be done by memory. Fortunately, the coding guide for the memory section will be the same as used in the Coding section. You may be given a short unscored practice exercise on the actual 473 exam to practice the memory portion before beginning. There are several key elements that are features of all coding guides:

  • There are always five streets
  • Cities, States, and ZIP Codes are not included in the exercise
  • Three streets will appear twice while two streets will appear once
  • Delivery Route D always covers addresses that do not fall within any route.

One of the things to notice about the repeating routes is that the codes are often, though not always, connected. In the example above Elmer Pkwy's routes are split between B & C while it's number ranges are split at the number 7050. Noticing this trend will turn out to be very helpful when we try to memorize address routes on the memory section.