Act WorkKeys Test: Overview, Sample Questions & Test Prep [2023]

Shlomik, ACT WorkKeys test expert at JobTestPrep.

Have a question? Contact me at: ask_shlomik@jobtestprep.com

 

What Is the WorkKeys Test?

ACT WorkKeys is a set of several assessments, each measuring a specific job skill, and the questions are based on real-life working scenarios that employees experience daily.

Unlike most assessment tests, each ACT WorkKeys section features between 4-6 levels of difficulty. The levels are built on top of one another, each integrating the abilities assessed in the preceding level; thus, in level 5, you will need the skills from levels 3 and 4.

The test can be administered by computer or done by pencil-and-paper, depending on which section of the test you take and the testing center you registered at.

Passing the ACT WorkKeys test will grant you the National Career Readiness Certificate, an official document certifying your workplace skills.

What Does the ACT WorkKeys Consist Of?

The ACT WorkKeys comprises 8 sections; each assesses an essential work-related skill –

  • Applied mathematics – assesses your mathematical reasoning, critical thinking, and problem-solving techniques.
  • Graphic Literacy – assesses your ability to analyze data displayed in graphical materials.
  • Workplace Documents – assesses your ability to interpret written materials.
  • Applied technology – assesses your ability to solve problems with machines and technological equipment.
  • Business writing – assesses your writing abilities.
  • Workplace Observation – assesses your ability to understand processes in the workplace.
  • Fit – assesses your values and interests.
  • Talent – assesses your work-related behavior and mindset.

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WorkKeys Applied Math Test

The applied math section of the WorkKeys test measures mathematical abilities which are required in the workplace, such as mathematical reasoning, problem-solving, and critical thinking.

This assessment can be administrated in both computer and pencil-and-paper form, and you will be allowed to use the ACT WorkKeys formula sheet.

The applied math assessment is mandatory for receiving the National Career Readiness Certificate.

This section has 5 difficulty levels and comprises of 34 questions to answer in 55 minutes.

You will be presented with a word problem in which you will need to demonstrate skills such as –

•    Adding and subtracting
•    Conversion between decimals and percentages
•    Solving problems that include tares and ratios

 Let’s see a WorkKeys Applied Math sample question – 

 Boston Fall is a new self-service salad restaurant. Dan went to the restaurant and asked for half a cucumber, one large potato, two carrots, three onions, three tomatoes, and one corncob.

The cost of one cucumber is a dollar; one large potato is 1⁄2 a dollar; one carrot is 3⁄4 of a dollar; one onion is 1⁄8 of a dollar; one tomato is 2 1⁄3 dollars; and one corncob is 3⁄8 of a dollar.

Dan came back with two friends: Michael asked for the same ingredients in his salad but with half the amount of each vegetable, and Brian asked for the same ingredients but with triple the amount of each vegetable. Dan offered to pay for everything.

• What is the difference between the price Dan paid for the three salads and the price Dan would have paid for his salad only?

8 1⁄8
12 17⁄24
25 5⁄8
35 7⁄8
Correct Answer
Incorrect Answer

Summarize the information given:

Quantity Vegertable Price for One ($) Paid in Total ($)
1⁄2 Cucumber 1 1⁄2
2 Carrot 3⁄4 3⁄4 X 2 = 6⁄4 = 1 1⁄2
1 Potato 1⁄2 1⁄2
3 Onion 1⁄8 1⁄8 x 3 = 3⁄8
3 Tomato 2 1⁄3 2 1⁄3 x 3 7⁄3 x 3 = 7
1 Corncob 3⁄8 3⁄8

Calculate the price of Dan's salad:

 

Michael ordered half the amount of vegetables as Dan:

 

Brian ordered three times the amount of vegetables as Dan:

 

Instead of Dan paying only for his salad,
Dan paid for Dan's + Michael's + Brian's salad.
Therefore, the difference in cost is Michael's salad plus Brian's salad:

 

The difference between the price Dan paid and the price he would have paid for his salad alone is 35 7⁄8.

If you chose (A), you probably forgot to calculate the tomatoes. If you chose answer (B), you probably did not add up the vegetables correctly. If you chose answer (C), review your calculations.

The correct answer is D

💡 Learn more about the ACT WorkKeys Applied Math Test
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WorkKeys Graphic Literacy Test

The graphic literacy section of the WorkKeys test measures your ability to identify, comprehend, and incorporate data displayed in diagrams, charts, and graphs.

This assessment can be administered on both computer and pencil-and-paper.

The graphic literacy assessment is mandatory for receiving the National Career Readiness Certificate.

This section has 5 difficulty levels and comprises 38 questions to answer in 55 minutes.

You will be presented with graphical information followed by a multiple-choice question, in which you will need to demonstrate skills such as –

•    Identifying information
•    Recognizing trends, relationships, and patterns
•    Justify decisions using the information found in the graphic

Here is a WorkKeys Graphic Literacy sample question –

You work as a business manager for an advertising company. You are trying to understand which social networking tools are relevant for different age groups in various continents. Which continent uses, in 4th in popularity, a social network that is 2nd in popularity among women? (The answer is per 2011 data.)

WorkKeys Graphic Literacy

North America
Europe
Asia
Africa
Latin America
Correct Answer
Incorrect Answer

To solve this question, you should find the relevant social network and then find the matching continent.

To find the social network that is 2nd in popularity among women, you need to follow the bars in blue on the "Average Demographic Breakdown of Active Users in 2011" chart. The first place is Facebook with 43%, and the 2nd is Twitter.

The next step is to find the continent in which Twitter is 4th in popularity. Relative to geographic locations, Twitter is most popular in Asia (165.19), then Europe (49.09), then North America (47.75), and, finally, in fourth place in Latin America (27.06).

Thus, the correct answer is (E), Latin America.

💡 Learn more about the ACT WorkKeys Graphic Literacy Test
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WorkKeys Workplace Documents Test

The workplace document section of the WorkKeys test measures your ability to read, interpret and use workplace written materials, such as letters, memos, contracts, and policies.

This assessment can be administered on both computer and pencil-and-paper.

The workplace documents assessment is mandatory for receiving the National Career Readiness Certificate.

This section has 5 difficulty levels and comprises 35 questions to answer in 55 minutes.

You will be presented with textual information followed by a multiple-choice question in which you will need to demonstrate skills such as –

•    Identifying specific details within the text
•    Extraneous information
•    Identifying the rationale behind a document

Let’s look at a WorkKeys Workplace Documents sample question –

Green Hills Country Club: Procedures for Daily Filter Backwashing

Due to the amount of use the pool gets, the size of pipework and filter, and the use of a liquid flocculant, the swimming pool at the Green Hills Country Club needs to be backwashed every day.

If not backwashed at night, the procedure will be postponed until the end of the next day unless the pool has not been backwashed for three consecutive days.

Standard backwashing procedure:

Note: If steps are not done in the correct order, the pool mechanism will automatically reset itself and the procedure must be started again. At any phase, the process can be stopped by calling the BioTech service center.


• First, close the two isolation valves, red handles quarter turn clockwise.
• Turn off main pool circulation pump by turning the key marked “Circulation” near the control box.
• Press the green button in the control box to start pump; water in Perspex dome will go cloudy.
• When water turns clear, which normally takes three to four minutes, turn pump off again by pushing the red button in the control box.
• Turn on pump again and let run for 20 seconds.
• Turn off pump.
• Finish by turning circulation back on and turning the isolation valves a quarter-turn counterclockwise.

 

You are responsible for backwashing the pool at Green Hills Country Club. What must you do after letting the pump run for 20 seconds?

A.  Press the green button in the control box
B.  Press the red button in the control box
C.  Turn the key marked "Circulation" near the control box
D.  Turn the isolation valves a quarter turn counterclockwise
E.  Make sure the water has turned clear.
Correct Answer
Incorrect Answer

The next step in the procedure is to turn off the pump, which is done by pressing the red button in the control box.

Answer (A) is incorrect because turning the green button will turn on the pump but at this point in the procedure, it is already on.

Answer (C) is incorrect because this step is supposed to be done earlier in the procedure.

Answer (D) is incorrect because this step is to be done only after the pump is turned off.

Answer (E) is incorrect because this step is supposed to be done earlier in the procedure.

The correct answer is B

💡 Learn more about the ACT WorkKeys Workplace Documents Test
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With JobTestPrep's WorkKeys assessment test PrePack, you will receive all the tools needed to ace the test and receive the National Career Readiness Certificate, with practice tests for every section, detailed solutions, and study guides.

 

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Workkeys Applied Technology Test

The applied technology section of the WorkKeys test measures your abilities in four technology fields – electricity, mechanics, fluid dynamics, and thermodynamics.

This assessment can be administered on both computer and pencil-and-paper.

This section has 4 difficulty levels and comprises 34 questions to answer in 55 minutes in the computer administrated test or 45 minutes in the paper-and-pencil test.

You will be presented with a diagram of technological information or processes followed by a multiple-choice question in which you will need to demonstrate skills such as –

•    Identifying tools
•    Applying technology principles
•    Eliminating physical symptoms

Let’s view a WorkKeys Applied Technology sample question –

You are given the following circuit and asked to determine the value of the electric current on the resistor marked R. Unfortunately, your multimeter has just been broken by your clumsy intern.

WorkKeys Applied Technology

 

However, you know that all the resistors have a value of 5 Ohm and all the voltage sources supply 3 volts. In addition, you are familiar with the two Kirchhoff Laws: ∑_(j=1)^n I_j=0 and ∑_(j=1)^n V_j=0, which state that the sum of all currents coming and going from a single knot is zero. The same applies for the voltages.

Which path must you trace (calculate) to determine the current in the most effective way?

 

The red path
The blue path
The green path
The yellow path
Another closed path needs to be drawn
Correct Answer
Incorrect Answer

Everything in an electrical circuit can be given by the URI rule.

U=RI, meaning voltage is equal to current times resistance. Given a constant voltage, one must look for the resistance of the circuit to calculate the current. The given colors trace a possible circuit to calculate this. The red trace has only one resistor (the one to measure) and several equal voltage sources, making the calculation here the simplest.

All other paths contain more resistors, and each resistor adds an equation to solve, thus making the calculation more complicated.

The correct answer is A.

💡 Learn more about the ACT WorkKeys Applied Technology test
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WorkKeys Business Writing Test

The business writing section of the WorkKeys test measures your writing skills and ability to produce an original and articulate response to work-related scenarios.

This assessment can be administered on both computer and pencil-and-paper.

This section has 5 difficulty levels and comprises 1 prompt to write in 30 minutes.

You will be presented with a workplace situation, and you will need to write a response letter in which you will need to demonstrate skills such as –

•    Structuring sentences
•    Writing coherently using correct grammar and without misspelling
•    Displaying language style and developing ideas

Let’s have a look at a WorkKeys business writing sample question –

At your company, employers are allowed to work remotely and according to their own schedule as long as they attend frontal or online meetings.

However, your manager says the employees never show up to the office and never see each other face to face.

She wants all employees to arrive at the office three days a week.

Write a letter to your manager explaining whether or not you are in favor of this requirement and why.

💡 Learn more about the ACT WorkKeys Business Writing test
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WorkKeys Workplace Observation Test

The workplace observation section of the WorkKeys test measures your ability to observe, understand, and evaluate work processes and demonstrations.

This assessment is administrated only by computer.

This section has 5 difficulty levels and comprises 35 questions to answer in 55 minutes.

You will be presented with 12 scenarios followed by a multiple-choice question in which you will need to demonstrate skills such as –

•    Paying attention
•    Recognizing cause and effect
•    Applying instructions to new situations

Let’s see a WorkKeys workplace observation sample question –

The manager of Market Fresh sent the following memo to all of the supermarket’s employees:

Our new cash registers are simple and easy to use. Workers should always follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Here are the instructions explaining how to enter a sale:

• First, load the tape of the cash register into the machine.
• Then, type the product’s barcode on the keypad.
• Second, enter the amount of sales tax.
• After entering the price, you can hit the subtotal button.
• If there is any discount on the sale, hit the discount button and press the subtotal button again.
• If you don’t know what the right thing to do is, please come and see me in my office and I will explain.

Have a good day,

Todd

 

What is the last action you need to take for any kind of sale?

A.  Check for a discount
B.  Press the subtotal button
C.  Enter the product number
D.  Notify the manager
E.  Enter the price
Correct Answer
Incorrect Answer

The final action, whether the item is discounted or not, is hitting the subtotal button.

Answer (A) is incorrect because after checking for a discount, the discount amount in inserted and then the subtotal button is pressed.

Answer (C) is incorrect because entering the product number is the first action of the sale procedure.

Answer (D) is incorrect because the memo states that the manager should only be approached if a worker does not know what to do.

Answer (E) is incorrect because the price is entered before hitting the subtotal button.

The correct answer is B

💡 Learn more about the ACT WorkKeys Workplace Observation Test
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WorkKeys Fit Assessment

The fit section of the WorkKeys test assesses your values and interests and how they match into a working environment.

This section has two parts –

•    The ACT Interest Inventory – evaluates six fields of interest: Business Operations, Administration and Sales, Technical, Science and Technology, Social Services, and Arts.

•    The Work Values Inventory – evaluates 18 common values, including Autonomy, Order, Public Contact, Influencing Others, Creativity, Precision, and Intellectual Stimulation.

This assessment is administrated only by computer.

This section comprises 102 questions to answer in 20 minutes.

In the Work Value Inventory section, you will be presented with a list of work-related values, and you will need to indicate how important each of them is to you on a scale of “Not important at all” to “Extremely important.”

In the Interest Inventory section, you will be presented with a list of activities, and you will need to indicate how much you would like to do each of them on a scale of like to dislike.

Here is a WorkKeys Fit sample question –

Rate the following activities:

 

Analyzing data

 

Giving presentations

 

Brainstorming with friends

 

Show Solution

While it is important to remain authentic and reply honestly, the answers to this type of question depend on the characteristic of the career path you are going to take.

As such, if you are intended to become a manager, you should emphasize your administrative and authoritative competencies, and if you are more into sales, you should highlight your interpersonal relations competencies.

💡 Learn more about the ACT WorkKeys Fit Test
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WorkKeys Talent Assessment

The talent section of the WorkKeys test assesses your work-related behavior and attitude.

This assessment is administrated only by computer.

This section comprises 165 questions to answer in 35 minutes.

You will be presented with a list of statements, and you will need to indicate how well each describes you.

Let’s take a look at an ACT WorkKeys talent sample question –

Rate the following statements:

 

I tend to analyze people

 

I pick my words carefully

 

Selling comes easily to me

 

Show Solution

As in the fit section, although you should answer genuinely, you need to emphasize the competencies and tendencies required in the line of work you want. considering what the answer you choose says about you. For example, if you intend to work in the customer service field, you should point out your selling skills and interpersonal relations abilities and indicate the statement “I pick my words very carefully” as “Strongly Agree.” On the other hand, although the statement “Selling comes easy to me” can seem like a good quality, it can come off as over-confidence, and should be marked as “slightly Agree.

💡 Learn more about the ACT WorkKeys Talent test
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Think you got it? Check out our WorkKeys Practice Test

To receive a high score on the WorkKeys test, you need to practice the different sections of the test and familiarize yourself with each one’s unique demands and challenges. JobTestPrep is currently developing a preparation plan for the full ACT WorkKeys test – for more details, contact us! 


Understand Your WorkKeys Test Scores

The WorkKeys test score is a composite of the number of questions you answered correctly in each assessment. The correct answers are converted into a composite score ranging from 1 to 36. 

This overall score is divided into two parts –

  • Scale Score – ranges from 65 to 90.
    The scale score reflects your growth over time and indicates if there are benefits from educational programs.
  • Level Score – ranges from 3 to 7.
    The level score indicates the levels of difficulty you reached in the different sections of the test.

Passing the WorkKeys Applied Math, Workplace Documents, and Graphic Literacy sections of the test with a level score of 3 and above will grant you the ACT National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC).

 

💡 Learn more about WorkKeys Test Scores

 

  • How Long Does It Take to Get WorkKeys Results?

The results of your WorkKeys test will usually be available within two or three weeks of taking the test, but sometimes it can take up to eight weeks.

Your business writing assignment results will arrive approximately two weeks after the results of the other multiple-questions sections of the test.

  • What Is a Passing Score on the WorkKeys Test?

The passing score of the WorkKeys test ranges from 1 to 36, which is further divided into two parts – 65 on the scale score section and 3 on the level score section, which also grants you the ACT National Career Readiness Certificate.

  • What to Do with Your WorkKeys Scores

After receiving your WorkKeys scores and your ACT National Career Readiness Certificate, you can add them to your college application, resume, and job application. This will show the recruiters your working skills and competencies.

You are the only one who can send your results to the recruiters.

  • Do WorkKeys Scores Expire?

No, once you receive your ACT National Career Readiness Certificate, it has no expiration date. However, renewing your certificate after five years is recommended because the test’s requirements and scoring method may change over time.


ACT National Career Readiness Certificate

The ACT National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) is a formal document that validates that you have the skills and abilities essential in the workplace.

The NCRC is not just a way to amp up your resume, but it has become a mandatory requirement for applying to many colleges and educational programs as well as organizations and employers.

To gain the NCRC, you need to receive a score of 3 and above on the Applied Math, Graphic Literacy, and Workplace Documents sections of the test.

The NCRC is issued at four levels, according to the levels of difficulty you passed in all three assessments–

  • Bronze – score 3 or higher
  • Silver – score 4 or higher
  • Gold – score 5 or higher
  • Platinum – score 6 or higher

WorkKeys Test Administration & Fees

 

  • How Much Does It Cost to Take the Workkeys Test?

You will need to pay for every test section separately, between $15-$ 40 each.

You may be required to pay an additional fee for late registration, additional score reports, score verification, etc.

 

  • Where Can I Take the WorkKeys Test

You can take the WorkKeys test at appointed dates throughout the year. You can register for the test through your high school or college or a test center close to you.

You can locate the nearest testing site with ACT WorkKeys Test Site Lookup.

 

  • Do Colleges Look at Act WorkKeys?

Yes. Many colleges and educational institutes use your ACT score and National Career Readiness Certificate for admissions and merit scholarships.

 

  • Can You Use a Calculator on the WorkKeys?

Yes. For the ACT WorkKeys applied math section, you are allowed to use a 4-function, scientific, or graphing calculator.

Calculators are not allowed in the applied technology sections.


ACT vs. SAT

The ACT and the SAT are both standardized assessment tests that help colleges, universities, and educational institutes evaluate your knowledge and learning abilities and how prepared you are to take college-level courses.

All colleges and universities in the US accept both tests, which are used to assess admissions and scholarship applications.

They both cover similar learning abilities, such as math, reading, writing, and comprehension, and both take similar time limits – around 3.5 hours for the ACT and 3 hours and 50 minutes for the SAT.

However, the ACT and the SAT differ in several aspects:

  • Location – the popularity of each test can depend on where you live. For example, the SAT is more common in California, Florida, and the Northeast, and the Pacific Northwest, while the ACT is more common in the Midwest, and southwestern states such as Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and the Carolinas.
  • Time limit – ACT and SAT comprise several sections, each with a different time limit. The ACT has a stricter time limit than the SAT, thus requiring you to answer more quickly. However, the SAT questions tend to be lengthier and thus require more reading and comprehension time.
  • Math section – both tests have a mathematical ability section, but the ACT has only one, while the SAT has two.
  • Score – the ACT composite score ranges from 1 to 36 and comprises a scale score ranging from 65 to 90 and a level score ranging from 3 to 7. The SAT score ranges from 400 to 1600 and comprises the score you received in each section, which ranges from 200 to 800.
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