Career and College Readiness

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Career and College ReadinessOverviewACT WorkKeys is a job skills assessment system that helps employers select, hire, train, develop, and retain a high-performance workforce. This series of tests measures foundational and soft skills and offers specialized assessments to target institutional needs.

There are three components to WorkKeys, which can be used independently but are designed to be use in concert. They are:Skills Assessments: WorkKeys assessments measure foundational workplace skills in applied mathematics, applied technology, business writing, listening, locating information, observation, readiness, reading for information, teamwork, and writing.Job Analysis: Determines what types of skills are needed for success in a particular job. Job profiles have been done for entry level jobs through post-secondary.Training: ACT offers a variety of training options

As part of ACT's Work Readiness System, ACT WorkKeys has helped millions of people in high schools, colleges, professional associations, businesses, and government agencies build their skills to increase global competitiveness and develop successful career pathways.

Successful completion of ACT WorkKeys assessments in Applied Mathematics, Locating Information, and Reading for Information can lead to earning ACT's National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC), a portable credential earned by more than 1 million people across the United States.

WorkKeys Benefits for Students

Enables you to rank above other job applicants who do not have needed skills Shows prospective employers concrete proof of your skills Increases the chances you will be hired after graduation Enables you to see the importance of your courses Improves your success in entry-level and subsequent jobsDetermines skill improvement and training needsImproves chances of better entry-level salaries through increased skills

WorkKeys Benefits for EDUCATORS

Helps identify gaps between student skills and employment needsAlign curricula to meet the job skills employers needsDevelop career pathways aligned to critical occupationsEnable students to see a reason to take coursework seriouslyImprove students success in entry-level and subsequent jobProvide students with a structured career pathwayHelps ensure the education community graduate enough new talentACT WorkKeys helps ensure that individuals are ready for workand for life.


Encourages businesses to stay in the communityIncreases the tax base through more profitable business partnersDecrease unemployment ratesImprove the quality of life for community residentsProvide focused education and training needed to meet both individual and organization goals

WorkKeys Benefits for Employers

Establishes a standard skills metric for selection, performance, and advancementReduces costs from hiring mis-matchesDetermines the training workers need for effective job performance, and for skills upgradesReduces training time and training costDocuments an individuals skillsReduced overtimeReduced TurnoversIncreased ProductivityHigher Employee Morale

What the WorkKeys Applied Mathematics Test Measures

SKILL LEVELCHARACTERISTICS OF ITEMSSKILLSLevel 3Translates easily from a word problem to a math equationAll needed information is presented in logical orderNo extra information

Solve problems that require a single type of mathematics operation (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) using whole numbersAdd or subtract negative numbersChange numbers from one form to another using whole numbers, fractions, decimals, or percentagesConvert simple money and time units (e.g., hours to minutes)

Level 4Information may be presented out of orderMay include extra, unnecessary informationMay include a simple chart, diagram, or graph

Solve problems that require one or two operationsMultiply negative numbersCalculate averages, simple ratios, simple proportions, or rates using whole numbers and decimalsAdd commonly known fractions, decimals, or percentages (e.g., 1/2, .75, 25%)Add up to three fractions that share a common denominatorMultiply a mixed number by a whole number or decimalPut the information in the right order before performing calculations

Level 5Problems require several steps of logic and calculation (e.g., problem may involve completing an order form by totaling the order and then computing tax)Decide what information, calculations, or unit conversions to use to solve the problemLook up a formula and perform single-step conversions within or between systems of measurementCalculate using mixed units (e.g., 3.5 hours and 4 hours 30 minutes)Divide negative numbersFind the best deal using one- and two-step calculations and then compare resultsCalculate perimeters and areas of basic shapes (rectangles and circles)Calculate percent discounts or markups

What the WorkKeys Applied Mathematics Test Measures

SKILL LEVELCHARACTERISTICS OF ITEMSSKILLSLevel 6May require considerable translation from verbal form to mathematical expressionGenerally require considerable setup and involve multiple-step calculations

Use fractions, negative numbers, ratios, percentages, or mixed numbersRearrange a formula before solving a problemUse two formulas to change from one unit to another within the same system of measurementUse two formulas to change from one unit in one system of measurement to a unit in another system of measurementFind mistakes in questions that belong at Levels 3, 4, and 5Find the best deal and use the result for another calculationFind areas of basic shapes when it may be necessary to rearrange the formula, convert units of measurement in the calculations, or use the result in further calculationsFind the volume of rectangular solidsCalculate multiple rates

Level 7Content or format may be unusualInformation may be incomplete or implicitProblems often involve multiple steps of logic and calculation

Solve problems that include nonlinear functions and/or that involve more than one unknownFind mistakes in Level 6 questionsConvert between systems of measurement that involve fractions, mixed numbers, decimals, and/or percentagesCalculate multiple areas and volumes of spheres, cylinders, or conesSet up and manipulate complex ratios or proportionsFind the best deal when there are several choicesApply basic statistical conceptsWhat The Workkeys Locating Information Test MeasuresSKILL LEVELCHARACTERISTICS OF ITEMSSKILLSLevel 3Elementary workplace graphics such as simple order forms, bar graphs, tables, flowcharts, maps, instrument gauges, or floor plansOne graphic used at a time

Find one or two pieces of information in a graphicFill in one or two pieces of information that are missing from a graphic

Level 4Straightforward workplace graphics such as basic order forms, diagrams, line graphs, tables, flowcharts, instrument gauges, or mapsOne or two graphics are used at a time

Find several pieces of information in one or two graphicsUnderstand how graphics are related to each otherSummarize information from one or two straightforward graphicsIdentify trends shown in one or two straightforward graphicsCompare information and trends shown in one or two straightforward graphics

Level 5Complicated workplace graphics, such as detailed forms, tables, graphs, diagrams, maps, or instrument gaugesGraphics may have less common formatsOne or more graphics are used at a time

Sort through distracting informationSummarize information from one or more detailed graphicsIdentify trends shown in one or more detailed or complicated graphicsCompare information and trends from one or more complicated graphics

SKILL LEVELCHARACTERISTICS OF ITEMSSKILLSLevel 6Very complicated and detailed graphs, charts, tables, forms, maps, and diagramsGraphics contain large amounts of information and may have challenging formatsOne or more graphics are used at a timeConnections between graphics may be subtle

Draw conclusions based on one complicated graphic or several related graphicsApply information from one or more complicated graphics to specific situationsUse the information to make decisions

What The Workkeys Locating Information Test MeasuresWhat the WorkKeys Reading for Information Test Measures

SKILL LEVELCHARACTERISTICS OF ITEMSSKILLSLevel 3Reading materials include basic company policies, procedures, and announcementsReading materials are short and simple, with no extra informationReading materials tell readers what they should doAll needed information is stated clearly and directlyItems focus on the main points of the passagesWording of the questions and answers is similar or identical to the wording used in the reading materials

Identify main ideas and clearly stated detailsChoose the correct meaning of a word that is clearly defined in the readingChoose the correct meaning of common, everyday workplace wordsChoose when to perform each step in a short series of stepsApply instructions to a situation that is the same as the one in the reading materials

Level 4Reading materials include company policies, procedures, and noticesReading materials are straightforward but have longer sentences and contain a number of detailsReading materials use common words but do have some harder words, tooReading materials describe procedures that include several stepsWhen following the procedures, individuals must think about changing conditions that affect what they should doQuestions and answers are often paraphrased from the passage

Identify important details that may not be clearly statedUse the reading material to figure out the meaning of words that are not definedApply instructions with several steps to a situation that is the same as the situation in the reading materialsChoose what to do when changing conditions call for a different action (follow directions that include "if-then" statements)

What the WorkKeys Reading for Information Test Measures

SKILL LEVELCHARACTERISTICS OF ITEMSSKILLSLevel 5Policies, procedures, and announcements include all of the information needed to finish a taskInformation is stated clearly and directly, but the materials have many detailsMaterials also include jargon, technical terms, acronyms, or words that have several meaningsApplication of information given in the passage to a situation that is not specifically described in the passageThere are several considerations to be taken into account in order to choose the correct actionsFigure out the correct meaning of a word based on how the word is usedIdentify the correct meaning of an acronym that is defined in the documentIdentify the paraphrased definition of a technical term or jargon that is defined in the documentApply technical terms and jargon and relate them to stated situationsApply straightforward instructions to a new situation that is similar to the one described in the materialApply complex instructions that include conditionals to situations described in the materialsLevel 6Reading materials include elaborate procedures, complicated information, and legal regulations found in all kinds of workplace documentsComplicated sentences with difficult words, jargon, and technical termsMost of the information needed to answer the items is not clearly statedIdentify implied detailsUse technical terms and jargon in new situationsFigure out the less common meaning of a word based on the contextApply complicated instructions to new situationsFigure out the principles behind policies, rules, and proceduresApply general principles from the materials to similar and new situationsExplain the rationale behind a procedure, policy, or communication

SKILL LEVELCHARACTERISTICS OF ITEMSSKILLSLevel 7Very complex reading materialsInformation includes a lot of detailsComplicated conceptsDifficult vocabularyUnusual jargon and technical terms are used but not definedWriting often lacks clarity and directionReaders must draw conclusions from some parts of the reading and apply them to other parts

Figure out the definitions of difficult, uncommon words based on how they are usedFigure out the meaning of jargon or technical terms based on how they are usedFigure out the general principles behind policies and apply them to situations that are quite different from any described in the materials

Understanding WorkKeys ScoresLevel Scores:Employers use level scores to decide who to hire and promote. Level scores are based on WorkKeys job profilesa snapshot of the skills needed for a particular job.

Scale Scores:Scale scores are used by educators to show growth in skills over time. Scale scores are not used for hiring or promotion decisions..

Reading for Information Scale Score Level65-72


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