WorkKeys Assessment

Last updated 10/2020

ACT WorkKeys is a series of assessments and curricula that measure your career readiness by assessing your foundational and soft skills. The test scores are used to establish your aptitude for a specific career path or to show your competencies to potential employers.

The WorkKeys assessment is used by individuals looking to enter a new stage of their education, begin a career, or make a change to their current job role. Employers use the ACT WorkKeys test scores when making decisions about employee appointments and training. The ACT WorkKeys can help employers hire the right talent and retain a top-performing workforce.

There are eight kinds of assessment tests, each differing in the sorts of skills they evaluate.

Many test-takers underestimate the difficulty of these assessments and thus make the mistake of not familiarizing themselves with the workings and subject matter of these exams before they take the real test. At PrepTerminal we want you to avoid making this common mistake, and that is why we have developed a comprehensive preparatory ACT WorkKeys test course to help you practice leading up to test-day.

As the ACT WorkKeys assessments are demanding, it is recommended that you start preparing as early as possible for your exam with PrepTerminal’s ACT WorkKeys test prep course.

Question-MarkWhat the ACT Workkeys NCRC Measures

The ACT WorkKeys National Career Readiness Certificate (ACT WorkKeys NCRC) is an assessment-based credential. The NCRC assesses and certifies the essential work skills required for success in job roles in a range of professions and industries. Many leading companies and universities nowadays require their applicants to have a WorkKeys NCRC.

Generally speaking, the ACT WorkKeys assessments measure:

  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • Reading and comprehending work-related texts and documents
  • Applying mathematical rationale to problems related to work
  • Locating, analyzing, and applying graphically presented information

A National Career Readiness Certificate is earned by obtaining a Level Score of 3 or more on all of the following three WorkKeys assessments:

  1. Applied Math
  2. Workplace Documents
  3. Graphic Literacy

Each of these three WorkKeys assessments provides different levels of difficulty ranging from 3 – 7 (with 7 being the most difficult). The levels build on each other, using the abilities measured at the previous levels. For instance, at Level 5, test-takers need the skills from Levels 3, 4, and 5.

Test-takers can earn the ACT WorkKeys NCRC credential at four levels: Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze. Let’s take a look at the following table to see the minimum score needed for each of these levels, sample occupation correlations, and more.

Certificates are awarded by reaching a minimum score


Level 3 Score on all three assessments


Level 4 Score on all three assessments


Level 5 Score on all three assessments


Level 6 Score on all three assessments

Skill levels show the ability for 16% of jobS* 67% of jobS* 93% of jobS* 99% of jobS*
Sample occupation correlation
  • -Auto Body Repair
  • -Technician-
  • -Veterinary assistant
  • -Janitorial supervisor
  • -Pharmacy aid
  • -Administrative manager
  • -Engineering technician-
  • -Medical assistant
  • -Machinist
  • -Head cook
  • -School counselor
  • -Business executive
  • -Electrician
  • -Pharmacy technician
  • -Semi-conductor
  • processor
  • -Accountant
  • -Technical writer
  • -Sales manager
  • -Registered Nurse manager
  • -Elevator Installer and repairer

*Approximate percentage according to the jobs in the WorkKeys occupational profile database

With a National Career Readiness Certificate, you are able to:

  • Provide prospective employers with concrete proof of your skills
  • Have confidence that your skills fulfill the requirements of employers
  • Use your coursework skills from the classroom in a real-world setting
  • Better your chances of a career change or promotion
  • Shape your skill development and training needs
  • Earn college credits at various institutions and achieve academic goals faster

For an aspiring professional, especially if this is your first-time job hunting, having the NCRC certificate will give you an advantage in your job application, even more so if the employer or company lists it as one of the requirements needed for the position.

The WorkKeys Assessment Types

Let’s take a look at the eight kinds of WorkKeys assessment tests individually.

1. Applied Math
The Applied Math assessment tests your critical thinking skills, your mathematical reasoning abilities, and your capacity to solve problems, in relation to common workplace scenarios.

In this section, you will need to answer 34 math-related questions ranging from simple mathematical operations to word problems and statistical analysis depending on which level of difficulty you choose to sit (from Level 3 to 7). The test needs to be completed within a 55-minute time limit.

Test-takers are allowed to use a calculator and they will also be provided with a formula sheet that contains relevant formulas and conversion tables needed to answer a number of questions in the test.

2. Graphic Literacy
This 38-item test is a form of a cognitive skills test that aims to measure your ability to extract, analyze, and interpret information using graphic resources like graphs, tables, maps, blueprints, and charts. You will be given 55 minutes to complete it.

Like the Applied Math test, the Graphics Literacy test contains seven levels with 3 being the lowest and 7 being the highest or most complex.

At the lower ability levels, you only have to identify correct information by analyzing graphic representation presented in the test. At the middle ability levels, you are expected to not only identify which information is correct but to also be able to identify patterns, make comparisons, and derive reasonable interpretations from the information provided. At the high ability levels, examinees are expected to utilize various data points to compare and interpret multiple trends, deduce conclusions, and justify these conclusions.

3. Workplace Documents
This test 35-item test aims to measure your ability to read and comprehend workplace documents such as emails, procedures, policies, bulletins, memos, contracts, and even websites so that they can make good job-related decisions. You will have 55 minutes to complete this assessment.

In the Workplace Documents assessment, there are five levels of difficulty ranging from level 3 through to level 7.

4. Applied Technology
The Applied Technology assessment tests your knowledge of fundamental principles and skills in the following area of technology: mechanics, electricity, fluid dynamics, and thermodynamics. This assessment requires you to apply your reasoning skills, rather than your math skills, so you will be able to problem-solve without the use of formulas or calculations.

Individuals that use the applied technology skills are expected to:

  • -Identify which components of a problem are important
  • -Analyze a problem by recognizing the problem and its components
  • -Decide on the order to maintain when tackling parts of the problem
  • -Apply existing materials, tools or methodologies to unique scenarios

The test contains 34 questions. The online version of the test takes 55 minutes and the paper-and-pencil version takes 45 minutes to complete.

There are four levels of difficulty in this assessment, ranging from Level 3 through to Level 6, (6 being the most complex). As with the other assessment types, each of the levels builds on each other.

5. Business Writing
The Business Writing assessment evaluates the skills needed to write an authentic response to a work-related scenario. In this test, you will be assessed in relation to skill areas such as; sentence structure, grammar, mechanics, word usage and word choice, tone, organization, focus, and the way you develop your ideas. You will be presented with 1 written prompt.

There are five skill levels in this assessment, ranging from Level 1 through to Level 5 (with Level 5 being the most complex). Each level demands an increased amount of skill. The writing that an individual produces should be more fluid and communicate more clearly as they move to Level 5. Furthermore, an individual should make fewer errors and the errors that are made should be less significant as they move to Level 5.

In all Levels, you will be required to read one written prompt and then to write your response. You will have 30 minutes to complete the assessment.

6. Workplace Observation
The Workplace Observation test evaluates your skills in observing, following, understanding, and evaluating demonstrations, procedures, demonstrations, and other work processes. The assessment features 35 questions and needs to be completed in 55 minutes.Workplace observations assessment includes 5 levels (Level 5 being the most complex).

At low levels you will need to follow what you observe. In this way, you will be required to imitate all, or sections of, a basic demonstration, procedure or process. You will also need to interpret what you observe, for example, basic instructions, demonstrations, procedures, or processes.

At the middle levels you will be required to synthesize what you observe. You will need to combine more than one step that has been shown in an observed procedure, demonstration, or process. You will also need to ignore multiple distractions that could interfere with your ability to remember details.

At high levels you will need to analyze what you observe. In this way, you will need to demonstrate that you can anticipate outcomes, form inferences, and extend out the application of information from an observed process, demonstration, or procedure. You will also be required to evaluate what you observe. You will need to show that you can evaluate which alternative is most fitting, according to an earlier observation.

7. Fit
The Fit assessment evaluates the values and interests of an individual in connection to the workplace setting. This test provides information that can be used to see how well an individual fits in with the job roles of an organization. In this way, the Fit assessment is used to cross-reference your attitudes, interests, and values, with those held by a prospective employer.

There Fit assessment is made up of two parts:

1. The ACT Interest Inventory
The inventory measures six fundamental interests; business, operations, administration and sales, technical, science and technology, arts, and social services, and addresses the spectrum of fundamental work tasks.

2. The Work Values Inventory
The Work Values Inventory is made up of 18 values such as; autonomy, public contact, influencing other, intellectual stimulation, order, creativity, and precision.

The Fit assessment is comprised of 102 questions and takes 15-20 minutes to complete online.

8. Talent
The Talent assessment measure four areas: discipline, teamwork, customer service, and an individual’s potential for a managerial role. This test measures behaviors and attitudes, rather than cognitive abilities. The results give a general picture of the personality of an individual, and whether they are a good match for a given business or organization.

The test features 165 questions and needs to be completed in 30-35 minutes.

Thumbs-Up How to Prepare for the WorkKeys Test


#1. Make sure you pace yourself well
The time frame given for each WorkKeys assessment provides almost everyone with sufficient time to finish all the questions. However, it is still important not to spend too much time on one specific question and to pace yourself evenly. If you find you are having trouble with one question, go on to the others and come back to the difficult question at the end, if time permits.

#2. Listen to and read the instructions for each test
Prior to taking one of the WorkKeys assessments, pay attention to the instructions. These types of assessments are best-answer tests. It may help to consider this when answering the questions you are given.

Occasionally it may be possible to come up with a better response than any of those provided or to defend a given response as not completely incorrect. However, best-response formats are in keeping with the real-world where selecting options among less-than-ideal alternatives is commonplace. You may want to think of an answer you believe is correct and then see if it is among the choices. If your answer is not one of the choices given, reread the question and think about all the answers and then select what you believe is the best one.

#3. Read each question statement thoroughly
It is essential that you understand the statement being made in each question. In some questions, you will need to go through various steps to discover the best answer, while in other the answer can be identified more quickly.

#4. Answer the straightforward questions first
A good strategy for taking a test is to answer the simple questions first and skip over the ones you find more difficult. Once you have answered all the easy questions, you can then go back and attempt to answer the harder ones.

#5. Use logic especially in challenging questions
When you go back to the more difficult questions, try to use your logic to eliminate wrong answers. Compare the answer choices to one another and see how they vary. Such variation can offer clues as to what the question demands. Eliminate as many wrong answers as possible, then take an educated guess.

#6. Answer all the questions
Your score on the WorkKeys test is based on the number of questions that you answer right. No marks are taking off for wrong answers. Thus you should answer every question within the time period of each exam, even if it means you have to guess some answers. The test administrator will tell you when there are five minutes left on each test.

#7. Review your answers
If you have time to spare after you have answered every question on a test, check your work. Also, make sure that you marked only one answer for each question.

#8. Prepare
Make sure you prepare before you take the real test. Turn the WorkKeys assessment hurdle into a mere stepping stone with PrepTerminal’s ACT WorkKeys prep course. Our course includes comprehensive and in-depth study guides, video guides, and practice questions so you practice effectively and pass the ACT WorkKeys Assessment easily and well.

Tick Prepterminal’s WorkKeys Prep Course

PrepTerminal’s ACT WorkKeys Preparatory Course has been carefully crafted by our expert instructional team, who have invaluable experience and knowledge of the WorkKeys test material and testing experience. Our full curriculum-based course helps ensure that test-takers can prepare well and succeed in this difficult series of assessments.

Our team has developed a curated module-based study guide that features all the most up-to-date and relevant information on the WorkKeys assessments. Our prep course has study guides, practice questions, and full practice tests that contain all of the subjects, questions, and question formats that will appear in the actual exam.

Here at PrepTerminal, we know that everyone has the potential to shine in this test and to receive the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC). Secure your future by practicing today with us, PrepTerminal!

*Note: ACT Workkeys and other trademarks are the property of their respective trademark holders. None of the trademark holders are affiliated with PrepTerminal or this website.

WorkKeys Assessment

Last updated 10/2020

ACT WorkKeys is a series of assessments and curricula that measure your career readiness by assessing your foundational and soft skills. The test scores are used to establish your aptitude for a specific career path or to show your competencies to potential employers.

The WorkKeys assessment is used by individuals looking to enter a new stage of their education, begin a career, or make a change to their current job role. Employers use the ACT WorkKeys test scores when making decisions about employee appointments and training. The ACT WorkKeys can help employers hire the right talent and retain a top-performing workforce.

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  • 11 Core ACT Workkeys Instructional Guides
  • Over 300+ practice questions
  • Dedicated practice tests and quizzes.
  • Fully-timed mock tests to generate a unique live-testing environment.
  • In-depth explanations following each question to help reviewers tackle each level
  • Comprehensive approach to all 3 areas of the ACT WorkKeys Assessment