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The ACT WorkKeys is a skills assessment test for those who are interested in or are currently working for employers that place an emphasis on the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC), which is the credential achieved by those who successfully complete the exam.
Three different main assessments are offered: applied mathematics, locating information, and reading for information. The goal of these assessments is to measure “real world” skills that various employers believe are necessary to be successful employees. The questions asked in the assessments are based entirely on situations that many employees experience daily within the working world.
The applied mathematics section includes 33 items and individuals have 55 minutes to complete it. This section can be taken with a calculator, and test takers will also be given a formula sheet with formulas required to correctly answer some of the questions (for example, showing that 1 square foot equals 144 square inches). The locating information section includes 38 items and individuals again have 55 minutes to complete the section. These questions measure the skills people use when they work with graphics, such as by being asked to find information in a graphic or to compare or summarize information displayed in multiple graphics. The reading for information section includes 33 items and individuals again have 55 minutes to complete it. These questions measure the skills people use when they read text required for them to successfully complete their jobs. Examples of types of text include memos, directions, notices, regulations, and other documents regularly used on a job site. If test takers are taking the paper-and-pencil version of each assessment, only 45 minutes are given to complete each assessment.
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In addition to the core assessments above, also offered is what is called the “NCRC Plus.” This certification ranks individuals in work discipline, teamwork, customer service orientation, and managerial potential. For the NCRC Plus, individuals are ranked from one to four stars in each of the categories and can earn this certification by taking the WorkKeys Talent assessment. This assessment includes 165 questions and must be taken in 30-35 minutes (meaning individuals can have as little as 11 seconds to answer each question in order to offer a response to every item). For these items, there is not necessarily a right or wrong answer; instead, individuals are asked to rank their feelings towards a number of statements about themselves that may or may not be true.
All assessments are offered online, and score reports are provided immediately after the tests are completed. There are hundreds of locations throughout the United States that have been licensed to provide WorkKeys assessment exams. There are other modes of test taking offered, including paper based. However, Internet-based testing offers the most assessments and can be used for all assessments but one (teamwork). Test takers are encouraged to provide an answer to every question, as there is no penalty for guessing. Most assessments include what are called Level Scores and Scale Scores. Scale Scores are used by educators to show how test takers may have shown growth in various skills over time, while Level Scores are based on job profiles and include snapshots of the skills that are believed to be needed for a specific job. A test taker’s performance is not judged against others who took the same assessment, but rather against a pre-established scale. Score reports show on what level, on a scale from 3 to 7, test takers display proficiency, as well as a scaled score, ranging from 65 to 90.
In the past, ACT has commissioned external experts to evaluate its scoring system and was found to be valid by professional standards. A variety of score reports are available for those who take the online version of the assessments, including the individual score report, individual score vs. profile report, group vs. profile report, roster score report, and WorkKeys data export report. Other reports are available for paper versions of assessments.
ACT also offers transcripts that employees can use to show their employers the results of their assessments. These currently cost only $5.50 and are available immediately after an exam has been taken. They are available for five years following the completion of an assessment and there is no limit to how many can be ordered. Additionally, test takers can pick and choose which assessments they want to show on their transcripts to their employers or potential employers.
ACT offers WorkKeys test preparation materials and practice tests on its website for a fee. The assessments can be taken one at a time, though a variety of packaged sets are available for those who want to take multiple assessments.
What does the WorkKeys test consist of?
The WorkKeys test consists of eight skill assessments, including Applied Math, Graphic Literacy, Business Writing, and others.
What all is on the WorkKeys test?
The WorkKeys test covers eight subjects. They are Applied Math, Workplace Documents, Graphic Literacy, Applied Technology, Business Writing, Fit, Talent, and Workplace Observation.
How long does it take to get WorkKeys results?
It will take anywhere from 1-3 hours to get your WorkKeys results.
Can you use a calculator on the WorkKeys?
Yes, 4-function, scientific, or graphing calculators are acceptable to use on the Applied Math section of the test.
What is a Workkeys certificate?
A WorkKeys certificate gives you the credentials necessary for success in many occupations and industries.
What is the Gold level NCRC?
The Gold level NCRC is one of the four levels of achievement awarded by completion of the WorkKeys test. The other levels are Bronze, Silver, and Platinum.
What would you use the National Career Readiness Certificate?
The National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) is looked for by employers as a way to predict job performance.
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by Enoch Morrison
Last Updated: 07/05/2018
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