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The Definitive Practice Test Guide for the WorkKeys

About the WorkKeys Test

The WorkKeys test is designed to measure workplace skills that can affect job performance. The exam was developed by ACT, Inc. in the 1990s to help businesses determine the skills of current and potential employees. While most people who take the exam are adults, it can be administered to high school students to determine career readiness.

The exam itself can be taken either online or as a paper-and-pencil test. There are three sections of the exam: Applied Mathematics, Graphic Literacy, and Workplace Documents. Each section has between 33 and 38 questions. The exam is administered featuring questions on five levels of difficulty, ranked from 3 to 7, with 7 being the most difficult and complex.

Each section of the test also has a time limit of 55 minutes. Examinees can opt to take all three sections on the same day or they can space out the sections. The results of a WorkKeys test can help employers match employees to the job that fits their unique skills. To perform well on the exam, it is a good idea to have a comprehensive understanding of what to expect on each section of the exam before your test day.

Sections of the WorkKeys

Applied Mathematics

The Applied Mathematics questions in the WorkKeys test are all presented as word problems that can be solved with math strategies. Answering them correctly mainly requires you to convert the words into mathematical operations rather than doing really complicated, high-level calculations. There are five levels (3 through 7) of questions that range from simple problem-solving to more advanced procedures that require several steps and calculations.

Graphic Literacy

The Graphic Literacy questions on the WorkKeys test center on visual forms of content rather than lengthy texts. Things like graphs, charts, and diagrams will be the basis for questions that vary in difficulty (levels 3 through 7), as do the visuals. Questions may simply ask you to find information that is actually printed in the visual or they may require you to analyze and work with the data shown to form a conclusion. Although the visuals will come from a variety of workplace environments, there is no special or technical knowledge required to answer these questions.

Workplace Documents

The questions in the Workplace Documents section of the WorkKeys test involve deciphering various types of written content that might be found in a workplace environment. Some of the text you will read is easy, but other selections include some legal and technical vocabulary. This will require you to use context clues to derive meaning from it and answer the questions. The passages and questions are on five different levels of difficulty, 3 through 7. The easiest Workplace Documents questions may just ask you to locate a piece of information in a very simple passage. On the other hand, as you move up the difficulty scale, you will find questions asking you to make judgments or predictions based on more complicated pieces of writing.

What to Expect on Test Day

The WorkKeys test can be administered by a prospective employer using a proctor, or it can be taken at a testing center. Before the exam day, it is a good idea to check with either the employer or the testing center for information about registration, policies, and procedures. This information will help you to understand where you need to be and what you will need when you arrive for the exam. If you are taking the test online, you can check the ACT® website for information relevant to your testing day.

Either way you choose to complete the test, it is a good idea to ensure you get a good night’s rest and eat a healthy meal before beginning the exam. Doing so will ensure that you don’t become distracted by hunger or drowsiness, and you can focus on performing well on the exam.

What to Bring

If you are taking the paper version of the exam, you may have to bring several No. 2 pencils. You should also bring valid, government-issued identification with you on the day of the exam.

What Not to Bring

It’s a good idea to leave all other materials at home or in your vehicle while taking the exam. You will not need any personal items or electronic devices while testing, including calculators. Some testing sites also prohibit any personal items in the testing room, so it is best to not bring them with you on the day of the exam.

Best Ways to Study for the WorkKeys Test

Take Practice Tests for the WorkKeys Test

The WorkKeys test assesses workplace skills. Exposure to certain tasks and information is the key to performing well on the test, even if you haven’t had to complete these specific tasks in the workplace previously. The best way to prepare for taking the exam is completing practice tests. These practice tests can shed some light on skills and information you need more exposure to, and they can help you to become comfortable with the format of the test and the types of questions asked.

Use Alternative Study Methods

Many examinees find it helpful to supplement the practice tests with alternative study methods while preparing for the WorkKeys test. Flashcards and study guides for the WorkKeys test can reinforce the information found on the practice tests and improve performance.

Simulate the WorkKeys Testing Experience

As with many other timed exams, it’s beneficial to simulate the entire testing experience before taking the WorkKeys test. Taking each full section with its time restriction can help you to get a better understanding of how to pace yourself so that you can complete each section in its entirety during the actual test.

WorkKeys Tips and Tricks

If You Don’t Know the Answer, Guess

There is no penalty for guessing on the WorkKeys test, so if you are unsure of an answer, guess. Your score is not decreased if you are wrong, but it may increase if you guess correctly.

Answer the Questions You Know First

Whether taking the online or the paper version of the WorkKeys test, you have the ability to skip a question you do not know and come back to it later. Doing this will help you determine how much time you have remaining to spend answering the questions that are more difficult for you.

Read Each Question Carefully

It can be difficult to understand what a question is asking the first time you read it. If you are unsure, take time to read through the question until you fully understand it.

WorkKeys FAQ:

1. How much does it cost to take the WorkKeys test?

The cost of the exam varies quite a bit, depending upon your reasons for taking it. Some employers may pay for all or part of the cost, while other locations offer it free as a government service. If you do have to pay, the price is generally under $50, although you should check directly with the employer or testing site to verify the cost.

2. What is a good score on the WorkKeys test?

A score of greater than 3 is required to pass. However, the requirements of the job you are seeking may be higher. You will want to inquire with a potential employer to determine what score they require.

3. How long will it take to get my WorkKeys scores?

If you take the online version of the exam, your scores can be viewed immediately upon concluding the test. If you take the paper version, it will take up to 10 days to receive your scores.

4. Can I retake the WorkKeys test?

Yes, the exam can be retaken, either in whole or in part. However, an examinee must wait 30 days before retaking it.

5. Can I use a calculator on the WorkKeys test?

Yes, you are allowed to use a calculator on the WorkKeys, but only on the Applied Math section of the test. However, it is important to note that you are required to use a calculator that adheres to the guidelines provided by ACT, the organization that administers the WorkKeys test. For example, devices with QWERTY keyboards, cell phone calculators, or calculators with built-in or downloaded computer algebra system functionality are not permitted. Always confirm the rules and regulations about calculator usage before taking the test to ensure your device is approved.

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