How to Prepare Students for WorkKeys Success

America is facing a serious national talent shortage—and one primary reason is that our education system hasn’t kept pace with a changing job market.

According to the Business Roundtable, an advocacy group that comprises CEOs of major US companies, skills shortages are a problem at all levels of education and employment. In fact, 95% of surveyed members agreed that sourcing the talent their companies need is a problem.

ACT® WorkKeys is an increasingly popular assessment program that aims to help address this problem by connecting qualified workers with employers. The WorkKeys program includes three exams that measure an individual’s ability to use math to solve problems, understand graphics, and read and act on workplace documents.

An increasing number of states and districts are adopting WorkKeys as a measure of college or career readiness for high school students, and some are even requiring it for graduation—particularly for students in career and technical education (CTE) programs. Whether or not it’s required, the exam can open doors for graduating students as they move on to careers or post-secondary education. In addition to high schools, WorkKeys is also offered by state workforce development programs in over 30 states.

But the skills in the WorkKeys test don’t align perfectly with high school curricula—and like any standardized assessment, excelling requires focused preparation and an understanding of test-taking strategies. That’s where MasteryPrep’s WorkKeys solutions come in.

Why WorkKeys Scores Matter

Test-takers with qualifying WorkKeys scores are eligible for the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC). To receive the credential, they must earn minimum scores across all three WorkKeys assessments (Workplace Documents, Graphic Literacy, and Applied Math). 

This credential has four levels: Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze. The ACT has profiled over 22,000 jobs and identified which skill level aligns with a role’s required tasks, allowing participating employers to use specific NCRC credential levels as a hiring qualification. A Silver certification indicates that the test-taker is qualified for over two-thirds of the jobs in the database. Currently, more than 28,000 employers recognize the NCRC. Some colleges and universities also award credits to students who receive a certain score on the WorkKeys exam.

Boot Camp Format Options

For many students, standardized tests are a source of stress and anxiety—and the skills necessary to excel on these types of assessments rarely come naturally.

MasteryPrep offers two solutions to help students prepare for WorkKeys—MasteryKeys Curriculum and the WorkKeys Boot Camp. Schools and economic development organizations may choose to use both solutions or just one to help students do their best.

MasteryKeys Curriculum

The MasteryKeys program is designed to help students, no matter their current level, achieve a Silver National Career Readiness Certificate. It offers a comprehensive curriculum that can be integrated into CTE classes or electives, delivered via targeted interventions, or broken up to use in the classroom for warmup or practice sessions.

Participating students receive three workbooks, one for each WorkKeys topic, with over 2,000 authentic practice questions drawn from the full range of WorkKeys question types, as well as two full-length practice tests. Educators receive a teacher edition of the workbook with additional materials and explanations.

Key focus areas for each topic include:

Applied Math

Applied Math

  • Convert numbers between fractions, decimals, and percentages
  • Work with different units of measurement
  • Solve problems that deal with money and time
Graphic Literacy

Graphic Literacy

  • Read maps, plans, tables, graphs, and diagrams
  • Read and fill out complex forms
  • Locate and utilize data effectively
Workplace Documents

Workplace Documents

  • Understand letters, emails, instructions, memos, notices, policies, and regulations
  • Pay attention to detail and follow step-by-step instructions
  • Identify the core problem when too much information is present

WorkKeys Boot Camp

The WorkKeys Boot Camp is a four-hour workshop delivered in-person or virtually to help students master essential test-taking skills and brush up on core concepts in the weeks before the exam—and ultimately, earn a Silver or Gold NCRC.

Since succeeding on a standardized test isn’t just about understanding the material, the WorkKeys Boot Camp helps students pace themselves and manage their time while taking the test, shares problem-solving strategies that work for the WorkKeys exam, and offers tips for tackling the most common types of questions. Participating students also receive a workbook to help them keep their learning fresh right up until test day.

Effective Preparation with Real Results

MasteryPrep’s WorkKeys solutions have helped students nationwide succeed on the WorkKeys exam and boost their employability with a valuable certification. At Logansport and Stanley High Schools, both located in rural, low-income areas in Louisiana, implementing the MasteryKeys curriculum led to significant score increases. Participating students report that the MasteryKeys curriculum and WorkKeys Boot Camp help them build confidence and easily navigate the exam–even for those who have historically struggled with standardized testing.

“We did great this year! We surpassed our goals at both Logansport and Stanley High Schools. Much of the growth was due to Workkeys. We had a tremendous amount of success with WorkKeys. At LHS in August, the seniors' index was 50, and we are currently at 80.5! At SHS in August, the seniors index was 81. SHS ended the year at 100.6! In such a rural area, the WorkKeys test has proven to be extraordinarily beneficial to so many students, giving them opportunities they didn't think they would have."

Ready to help your community open new doors to career success? MasteryPrep makes it easy with comprehensive tools that require no additional teacher preparation.

Learn more about how MasteryPrep’s WorkKeys solutions can help you boost WorkKeys scores and help more students earn National Career Readiness Certification.

About MasteryPrep:

MasteryPrep provides mastery-based college readiness services and resources for the SAT®, ACT®, TSIA2, EOC, and WorkKeys®. MasteryPrep is the nationally preferred SAT and ACT prep provider of the Council for Opportunity in Education and licensed by ACT to include official ACT test questions in its programs. MasteryPrep partners with schools and districts to help level the standardized assessment playing field. MasteryPrep has ranked among the Inc. 5000 “Fastest Growing Companies” for six years and is a featured “Entrepreneur 360” company.


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