Graphic Literacy Study Guide for the WorkKeys

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General Information

Graphic Literacy is one of three tests required to pass the WorkKeys exam. The others are Applied Mathematics and Workplace Documents. By passing all three tests, you will be eligible for the National Career Readiness Certificate.

There will be 38 questions on this test, and you will have 55 minutes to complete them. Your task will be to access information from a graph, chart, table, or other graphic representation to determine an answer. There is no penalty for guessing, so be sure to attempt an answer for all questions.

The level of the question and graphic difficulty varies from 3 through 7, with the higher levels presenting more complicated information and asking more complex questions. Here is a brief synopsis of the types of questions possible on each level:

Level 3: You’ll basically just need to locate simple information on a simple graphic.

Level 4: Graphics have a bit more detail and you may need to compare and/or infer information from them.

Level 5: Even more detail is included in graphics that may be unusual in presentation. You may have to use information in the graphic to make assumptions or draw conclusions. You may also need to find the appropriate graphic for the information given.

Level 6: Very complex graphics are used in these questions. Again, you may have to choose the correct graphic and/or draw conclusions about it.

Level 7: Requirements for finding the correct answer to these questions include advanced levels of interpretation and understanding extremely complicated graphics.

Note that each question level also includes skills from the previous one.

About Level 3 Questions

Level 3 questions are the least difficult type of question on the test. They typically use one graphic and require you to find information directly presented in the graphic.

Graphics Used

Graphics will become more complex with each level. Level 3 questions are the easiest to answer and only include one graphic. The graphics are elementary at this level and include simple graphs, charts, maps, floor plans, tables, order forms, etc. The questions will ask you to identify a piece of information from the provided graphic.

Reference Only One Graphic

In level 3 questions, you will only have to reference one graphic to answer each question. For example, you may be asked to identify a piece of data from a table.

Typical and Simple Graphics from the Workplace

Again, for level 3 questions, the graphics are simple and quite elementary. Types of graphics for level 3 questions typically include common workplace order forms, bar graphs, tables, flowcharts, maps, instrument gauges, or floor plans.

Skills You Need

Skills required to answer level 3 questions are basic identification skills. You will need to be able to locate and find information or identify the next steps in a process.

Finding Information

If a question asks you to find information, then the question will be quite straightforward in asking exactly what information to find in the graphic. For example, a question with a bar graph may ask what piece of data makes up the largest percentage of the graph. The questions are mostly identification-based, and you will do just fine if you can find the data the question is asking about in the chart.

Telling the Next Step

For level 3 questions that ask about next steps in a process, there will typically be a simple list of steps or cause and effect relationship provided and you will be asked to identify the next step correctly.

About Level 4 Questions

Level 4 questions include similar types of graphics but may include multiple levels of data. Let’s take a closer look at the types of graphics and skills addressed in level 4 questions.

Graphics Used

Graphics for level 4 questions will be similar to level 3 questions but they will likely be a bit more complex. Often, level 4 questions will require you to analyze multiple graphics at once or interpret data on more than one level.

Graphics May Also Include Pie Charts, Diagrams, and Dashboards

Level 4 questions may include many different types of graphics. In addition to all the possible types from level 3, they may also include pie charts, diagrams, and dashboards. A dashboard is essentially a data reporting page consisting of multiple charts or graphs. There may also be some text accompanying the data. Here is an example of a dashboard:


Graphs May Have More Than One Data Level

Many graphs in level 4 questions will display multiple levels or sets of data. A good example of a graph that has more than one data level is the bar graph in the center of the dashboard above. In this graph, you can distinguish the data pieces by the different colors represented on the graph.

Two or More Graphics Used

Sometimes, level 4 questions will use two or more graphs for one question. In this case, you will be asked to display some type of skill in interpreting the data. You will not necessarily be simply identifying information anymore, as you would in level 3 questions.

Skills You Need

For level 4 questions, you will be required to demonstrate the same skills as level 3 questions, plus a few extras. In addition to locating information and identifying the next steps in a process, you will need to compare information, make inferences, identify patterns, and find the appropriate graph.

Use All Graphics

Some level 4 questions will ask you to locate information in one graphic by using information found in a second graphic. In other words, you may be asked to compare or apply the data from one graphic to another graphic.

Compare Information

You may also be asked to compare information in level 4 questions. For these types of questions, you will be required to use two graphics to compare the information provided. For example, in a workplace setting, you may need to compare earnings from one quarter to the next to see when the company made the most money. Then you can analyze that information to make an inference.

Analyze Information

By comparing information in multiple graphics, you should be able to find trends, patterns, or relationships in the data. Going back to the example above, consider how you could analyze the sales of a company from the past eight quarters, or two years. You could analyze the sales data in the graph to see if there are trends or patterns over the last two years or more. For example, were the sales similar in quarter one of last year compared to this year? Were there any patterns that emerged in terms of stronger or weaker times throughout the year?

Make an Inference

Next, you may be asked to make an inference, or a decision, based on some analysis of data. For example, in the same scenario from above, if sales are consistently weak during the second quarter you may be asked to infer why this pattern exists. Or, you may be asked what decision would be the best course of action to address the trend, pattern, or relationship exhibited by the data.

Find the Appropriate Graph

Finally, the last skill you should practice for level 4 questions is finding the appropriate graph. For these types of questions, you will be asked to choose a graph that most accurately represents the data presented. In other words, these questions will provide a set of data and ask which graph would best communicate the data.

About Level 5 Questions

Level 5 questions will increase in difficulty from those in levels 3 and 4. The same skills and types of graphs will still apply, but there will be additional skills and types of graphs presented in level 5.

Graphics Used

Again, all of the above types of graphics could be used, but level 5 questions may also include more unusual or complex workplace graphics. These graphics could include multiple variables, densely presented data, or one or more graphics at a time.

More Complex Graphics

More complex workplace graphics will be used for level 5 questions, and these may include unusual types. Unusual graphics are often highly specific to a particular tool or application. Just remember, answers can be found in the data presented in the graphics. Don’t worry if you are unfamiliar with the content presented; focus on the question and interpret the data.

More Than One Variable

Many level 5 questions will present graphics that communicate data on multiple variables. In this case, you simply need to use the information presented on one variable and apply it to the other. We’ll cover this more in the skills section for level 5.

Dense Presentation of Information

Sometimes level 5 questions present information in a dense manner. Graphics can appear overwhelming because of the volume of information. With practice, you will be able to interpret the data to find the correct answer.

Skills You Need

In addition to all of the skills mentioned for previous levels, you will need to interpret patterns, justify inferences, compare trends, and find the most effective graphic for a specific purpose. Let’s take a look at each of these skills and see how they differ from everything covered thus far.

Interpret Information

For this level, it will not be enough to simply find trends, patterns, or relationships in a graphic. Now you will need to interpret these trends, patterns, or relationships. The questions will ask you to choose the best interpretation of the data provided.

Justify Inferences and Decisions

Similarly, you will not only be required to make inferences or decisions about data at this level. Instead, you now be expected to justify an inference or decision. This typically involves analyzing the data presented to see what justification is supported by the graphic.

Compare Information

For level 5 questions, you will not only be asked to make comparisons between multiple graphics, but you may be asked to compare trends, patterns, or relationships. This, again, requires finding the trend that is supported by the data presented in the graphic.

Find the Most Effective Graphic

Finally, you will be asked to choose which graphic would be the most effective to use for a particular purpose. The question will ask which graphic would be best for displaying a particular set of data and you will be expected to choose carefully, based on the stated purpose.

About Level 6 Questions

Level 6 questions include very complicated and detailed graphics. They will be some of the most complex graphs you will encounter. However, the good news is that there are no new skills necessary for level 6 questions.

Graphics Used

The types of graphics used for level 6 questions include more complicated and detailed graphs, charts, forms, tables, maps, and diagrams. These graphics will include more information than data presented on the previous question levels. These complex graphics may have multiple axes with different scales and questions could even include multiple graphs.

Complicated and Highly Detailed Graphics

Level 6 questions will contain a lot of information and they can be highly complex. Questions will require the same skills as previous questions, but the data presented in graphics will be more complex. The level of detail contained in these graphs will also be high, especially compared to lower-level questions.

Multiple Axes and Scales

Some graphics may contain multiple axes (up to three) and there may even be different scales within the same graphic. Practice as many questions like these as possible and all levels of questions will become easier to answer.

Skills You Need

You will simply need the same skills as in previous levels in attempting level 6 questions, however, the graphics will be more complex.

About Level 7 Questions

Level 7 questions are the most dense and complex questions on the exam. Often, level 7 questions will contain multiple graphics. The good news is that there are no new types of graphs or skills. However, the complexity will increase even further from previous levels.

Graphics Used

The density and complexity of the graphic information is increased for this level of question and there are usually multiple graphics involved.

Skills You Need

Again, the skills required for this level of question are the same as for previous levels, but the graphics used will be more complicated and require a high level of thought to analyze.

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