Workplace Documents Study Guide for the WorkKeys

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Answering Level 5 Questions

Like Level 4 reading material and questions, Level 5 builds on the skills tested in Levels 3 and 4 and raises the bar a step.

Reading Material

Level 5 contains more types of reading material than in Levels 3 and 4. Longer texts that have unrelated extra information, higher-level vocabulary, use of jargon and technical terms add to the challenge of Level 5 texts. There may also be less reliance on bulleted or listed information and more use of full sentences.


Reading material in Level 5 moves beyond basic policies and procedures into more challenging informational texts. Some legal documents and contracts may also be included in Level 5 reading materials. These kinds of texts require a different set of skills than the basic Level 3 readings.

Detail and Length

Level 5 reading material contains more details than are found in Levels 3 or 4. Extra information that is not necessary to understand the main idea may also be included in the reading selections, which increases their overall length. Conditional statements also increase the difficulty of the reading materials in Level 5 texts. A conditional statement is a sentence set up as “if-then”. If a certain event takes place, then a consequence will result. For example, “If you eat ice cream after every meal, then you may find your waistline increases.”


The vocabulary used in Level 5 texts is more difficult than those in Levels 3 and 4. Subject-specific jargon and higher-level vocabulary, including acronyms, may be used in Level 5 reading materials. An acronym is a type of abbreviation where the first letters or words in a phrase are used as a substitute for the whole phrase. There are a lot of acronyms that are specific to particular jobs or industries, and many of them are related to technology. For example, SEO is an acronym for search engine optimization, referring to the way companies or organizations increase internet traffic to their website when people search for a particular product or idea.

Skills You Need

Building on the skills in Levels 3 and 4, Level 5 skills raise the bar again. In addition to higher-level vocabulary, Level 5 adds the skills of making inferences and applying information to situations with changing conditions.

Find More Specific Details

While Levels 3 and 4 require you to be able to identify the specific details, Level 5 questions require you to sort through more material to find those details, and there are more details included in the text.

Use Defined New Words

Because of the higher level of vocabulary in Level 5, you must be able to find and identify the correct meaning of technical terms, subject-specific jargon, or acronyms. These will often be defined in the document, but you must be able to find those definitions and apply them to the correct terms.

Rely More on Context Clues

As you did in Level 4, you will probably need to continue to rely on context clues to understand unfamiliar words. Looking at how the word is used in the sentence and in the overall text, and the context clues or outright definitions of technical terms provided by the author, will help you figure out unknown words. You may need to infer the meaning of words, which means drawing a conclusion as to what unfamiliar words mean based on how they are used in the context of the reading selection. While the definition may not be stated directly, from the context clues and the way a word is used, it is expected that you will be able to determine its meaning.

Utilize Unfamiliar Words

You will need to have enough understanding of the unfamiliar words or technical jargon to be able to apply their meaning correctly to a given situation or within a particular context. So, not only do you need to have a sense of what they mean, but be able to use them in context in a way that makes sense.

Apply Information to Situations

In addition to defining or understanding unfamiliar words, to successfully answer Level 5 questions you will also need to be able to apply those unfamiliar words to potential workplace conditions. This means that you have to have sufficient general understanding of a technical term, industry-specific term, or jargon to be able to apply it correctly to a given situation, even if the conditions of that situation are somewhat different from the situation described in the text.

Make Inferences

Making inferences is a high-level reading skill. It means that you are able to sort through the information provided and come to a conclusion on your own about what it all means. Rather than being told directly by the author, “here’s what this means and why it’s important,” you have to figure that out by yourself based on what the author says and how he or she explains it in the reading. On the assessment, this may be asked in terms of what would need to happen in a particular situation to accomplish a specific goal.

Answering Level 6 Questions

As you move into Level 6 questions, the challenges increase both in terms of the reading material and the skills necessary.

Reading Material

As with Level 5, Level 6 reading materials may be a mix of instructional, policy informational-type texts and contracts or legal documents. These materials will be longer and have a more difficult level of vocabulary. The reader may have to apply more inference skills to determine important information, as there are a lot of extraneous details included.

Complex Sentences

Sentences in Level 6 reading materials will be more complex in their structure. As opposed to simple sentences, which have one subject doing one verb, complex sentences may have multiple subjects and/or multiple verbs, increasing their complexity. When sentences include more than one idea or there are multiple verbs, it can become more difficult to follow along. For example, instructions in lower-level reading material might tell the reader to “Place all trash in the black bin near the back door.” But increasing in complexity, higher-level texts might say, “Place trash in the black bin by the back door, unless it is plastic, which should go in the green bin.” To successfully read Level 6 materials, the reader must be able to read the whole sentence and understand its complete meaning when answering the questions.

More Difficult Material

The ideas and concepts present in Level 6 reading materials are more difficult to understand and apply. You may need to infer the main idea or argument from the passage, as it is not likely to be stated directly. The text will also use higher-level vocabulary and professional jargon. Extra, non-critical material is also present, including unnecessary details and conditionals (if-then statements) that you will need to sift through and process.

Professional Jargon

Professional jargon is the term used to describe the language unique to a specific job, industry, or field. For example, there is medical jargon, technical jargon, legal jargon, teacher jargon—really just about every job has its own unique language or set of terms to describe things that apply to that profession. Others outside the profession may not understand the jargon, but those within the field would recognize it, understand it, and know how to apply it. It’s “job speak” whereby you can fill in the title of the job: doctor speak, lawyer speak, IT speak, etc. For example, a doctor might diagnose a patient with “idiopathic tachycardia”. Most people wouldn’t know what that means, but those in the medical profession would recognize it as a fast heart rate caused by an unknown or undetermined factor. In a tech report, the writer might suggest that “today’s development methodology follows agile and scrum practices to deliver business outcomes with velocity”, meaning that writing software today is focused on small chunks of work that are done with a defined business need that has been prioritized as important. But if you’re not in the tech field, what are the chances you’d know that? That is the nature of professional jargon.

Inferred Meaning of Vocabulary

Unlike the less complex levels of reading materials, Level 6 reading selections may not explicitly define vocabulary terms, and a greater reliance on context clues will be necessary to infer the meaning of unfamiliar vocabulary.

Skills You Need

Just as the reading materials become more complex in Level 6 questions, the skills needed to answer them also increase in complexity. Level 6 questions require more inference and the ability to sift through unnecessary information or details to determine the basic principles. You must also be able to apply those understood principles to situations that may not be similar to the example provided or described in the reading selection. Added to the requirements for answering Level 6 questions is the ability to logically reason through a scenario and identify the rationale for someone taking a particular action in a particular situation.

Apply Information in Passage to New Situation

Whereas in lower-level questions, you may be asked to apply the information from the reading selection to another similar situation, by Level 6, you are being asked to apply the information in a logical way to an entirely new situation that may look nothing like the example given in the reading. This means being able to reason through why these steps are taken or how the information is being applied in the reading selection and determining why or how that information would apply to a totally different situation or to one not described in the text.

Infer Details

In previous levels, details were provided that would help support the main idea. By the time you get to Level 6 questions, there may be way too many details, and some may not be stated outright but may require you to infer the implied details that are suggested by the reading. You might also use these inferred details when applying the information or principles to a new situation.

Determine the Rationale of the Passage

The rationale is the reasoning behind why. It explains the reasonable, logical steps for a particular action to be taken in a given situation. Determining the rationale requires some thoughtful consideration—why is this action being taken? Why does it make sense as the best, most logical next step? You may need to determine the why of an entire reading selection or a portion of the document. This means figuring out why it was written or why a particular piece of information is included.

Answering Level 7 Questions

At Level 7, you have hit the most complex reading materials requiring the highest level of skills on this test. Level 7 builds upon all the previous skills and adds increased complexity and difficulty.

Reading Material

Level 7 reading material moves beyond instructional or policy pieces. It includes procedural and regulatory documents in addition to legal texts. The reading material includes complicated concepts nestled in a high number of details and difficult vocabulary. Jargon is used, but it may not be defined, meaning that you must determine its meaning using context clues and inference.

Highly Complicated Passages

These reading selections, while not noticeably longer than Level 6 passages, will be more complicated in their structure. Longer sentences and more information requiring inference make Level 7 passages highly complicated.

Many Details

The number of details included in the reading material increases with each level, and by Level 7, there are a lot of details, many of which are extraneous to understanding the main idea of the text. Some details may be implied, which means that you will have to infer what those details are, as they are not stated directly in the text.

High-Level Vocabulary and Jargon

As with other aspects of Level 7 passages, the vocabulary and jargon gets more complicated and complex, too. These unfamiliar words and terms may be used but not defined.

Writing May Be Unclear

By Level 7, the reading can become somewhat obscure or unclear. As a reader, you may need to draw conclusions and make inferences and apply that understanding to other parts of the text without prompting. Reading material at this level tends to be technical and “dry” and it may seem to lack direction or clarity in terms of expressing a particular main idea.

Skills You Need

As Level 7 is the most complex level of question, the skills you’ll need in this level include all of the skills from Levels 3 through 6. You’ll need to draw conclusions based on the information provided and the understanding you infer from rationalizing the content of the text.

Draw Conclusions

Being able to transfer skills, ideas, information, or principles from one situation to another is a higher-level skill. Level 7 questions require you to be able to rationally and logically draw conclusions in one part of the text and apply it to another part of the text. These conclusions may also need to be applied to a completely new situation not covered in the reading materials.

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