Updated 28 May 2020
The ACT (American College Tests) WorkKeys Test measures specific aptitudes relevant to the workplace, and allows employers and educators to evaluate competence in several key areas.
The test is based on job profiles that identify the competencies needed to be successful in certain industries. You will be tested on eight key aptitudes that include a combination of soft skills and foundational skills.
Should you pass the tests, you'll be awarded the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC). This is a key qualification for students and job-hunters, and is recognized by many employers.
The ACT WorkKeys test comprises three areas:
Each of these areas is covered in greater detail below.
Many high schools use the WorkKeys tests and a growing number of businesses, colleges and government departments are following suit.
In education, the assessments are used to monitor student attainment of particular skills. If you are still in school, you may be asked to complete a WorkKeys test in the ninth grade and then for a second time in either the eleventh or twelfth grade. Certain States have adopted these tests as standard in their schools. Currently, 14 States participate in the ACT National Career Readiness Certificate scheme.
The results from these tests can help a student navigate their career path and ensure that they are developing the right skills to pursue their career goals. They can also be used to assess whether the school or college is meeting the needs of the students, and if the curriculum needs to be changed.
Employers use the tests to determine whether potential employees have the right skills to succeed. WorkKeys are also used to test existing employees, with the results then used for tailored training and development programs.
Some key employers that require the WorkKeys test are:
The WorkKeys test is based on eight skill assessments focusing on three key areas – career readiness, foundational skills and soft skills.
Of the eight, there are three core assessments which candidates can take independently to qualify for their National Career Readiness Certificate. These are:
The other five assessments offered by WorkKeys are:
Skill training is also available in each of the eight areas. This training includes a combination of classroom and e-learning-based lessons for candidates, which complements the content of the WorkKeys assessments. Students who study these courses will gain the skills they need to achieve the required standard in their tests.
WorkKeys job profiling aims to match up assessment scores with industry-specific requirements. This will help a candidate work out if they are hitting the right benchmark for a particular job. Employers will use this information to identify whether the candidate is at the required standard and if any training might be required.
Job profiling is quite a complex process. Someone licensed by ACT will visit an employer and collect detailed information on the job and how it fits in with the wider organizational structure. This information will be used to assess the minimum level of skill required for the job and, thus, what needs to be tested in the WorkKeys assessment.
There are two versions of the WorkKeys test: a paper-based version and an online version. Today, the majority of WorkKeys tests are completed online.
Each section of the test will contain a series of multiple-choice questions that you will need to complete under timed conditions. Candidates should try to provide a response to every question in the assessment.
Once the test is complete you will be presented with two scores – a Level Score and a Scale Score.
Your scores will never be compared with other candidates who take the test at the same time; the scores will only be compared with scales that have been determined before the job was advertised.
Various reports are available to download once you have received your score. If you take a paper-based test there will be slightly fewer reports available than if you took the test online. Reports include summaries of your scores for each part of the test, the level you obtained overall, and a comparison of your results with the level required by the employer.
The WorkKeys tests are challenging and they do require a certain amount of preparation. The best way to prepare for these tests is to practice. Practice tests are available from the ACT website, where you can also buy specific training courses to help hone your skills. See also JobTestPrep for info on preparation.
As you practice you will learn how to:
The WorkKeys tests do require practice, and the nature of the tests means that they are designed to make you think. The more preparation you undertake, the more confident you will be in providing strong answers when you complete the official WorkKeys assessment.
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