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Frequently Asked Questions About WorkKeys® Skills Tests

The WorkKeys® system from ACT is being used in high schools across the country to help students understand how they can improve their skills for better-paying jobs.

WorkKeys measures skills such as reading, math, listening, locating information, and teamwork—skills that employers feel are critical to job success. Students and job applicants who take the WorkKeys tests have a clear way to demonstrate their abilities to employers.

WorkKeys scores help employers take the guesswork out of determining how qualified individuals are for positions in their organizations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should parents and students care about these tests?

All students enter the workforce eventually—whether they get a job right out of high school, work part-time while continuing their education, or go to college first.

WorkKeys stresses skills development important for every type of employment. In fact, the fastest growing segments of the WorkKeys job analyses are being done for professional, technical, and managerial jobs that require at least a four-year college degree.

The abilities to learn, listen, communicate, work in teams, and solve problems—all areas addressed by WorkKeys—are important assets for any employee, regardless of career choice. They are also extremely important in today's colleges.

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Why is WorkKeys® important to high school students?

WorkKeys provides important information no matter what type of skilled or professional career a student plans to pursue after high school.

Studies show that occupations requiring higher skills in math, locating information, and reading pay higher entry-level salaries.

In fact, skill levels show a stronger correlation to pay than education levels do.

By increasing their skill levels while they are still in school, students increase their opportunities for higher salaries in the future.

Large numbers of students are entering the workforce without enough skills to qualify them for the jobs they want.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, more than 1.5 million students leave high school each year inadequately trained for even entry-level jobs.

Because WorkKeys measures skills valued by employers, students can use their results to get a better picture of their chances for success in the workforce and to improve areas where their skills are weak.

Schools can use the information—along with input from employers—to ensure that their courses of study provide adequate work skills training to meet the needs of businesses.

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What are the tests like?

WorkKeys measures eight workplace skills:

  • Applied Mathematics
  • Applied Technology
  • Listening
  • Locating Information
  • Observation
  • Reading for Information
  • Teamwork
  • Writing

WorkKeys questions feature everyday workplace problems. In each case, the basic skills needed to answer the questions are the same as those needed to perform actual job tasks, such as solving a legal question, setting up a computer, or scheduling employee vacations.

Each test measures a range of skill levels, from the lowest level for which employers are willing to test up to the point at which specialized training is needed.

WorkKeys tests may use traditional paper-and-pencil testing, audiotapes, videotapes, or web-based testing.

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Can students study for the tests?

Since WorkKeys measures basic skills, students cannot "cram" or memorize answers for the tests. Reviewing sample questions will help students understand the type of testing that takes place.

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What happens to the test results?

At most schools, students and their counselors are the only ones to receive individual score reports.

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How can I find out more about WorkKeys?

For more information on WorkKeys, contact your school's counselor.

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Is WorkKeys offered in Spanish?

Yes. We have developed Spanish-language WorkKeys assessments for our four most popular tests—Applied Mathematics, Applied Technology, Locating Information, and Reading for Information.

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