ACT Work Keys Exam Success Guide for Paraeducators

If you are an individual looking to be certified to be a paraeducator the most popular exam is the ParaPro but there is a secondary test this is just as good, the ACT Work Keys. This standardized test assesses foundational workplace skills that are essential for success in a variety of fields. In order to ease your test-taking burden I created my ultimate ACT Work Keys Exam Success Guide for aspiring paraeducators, just like you.

Table of Contents

What is the ACT Work Keys Exam?

The ACT WorkKeys is an exam that measures the test taker's job skills in applied reading, writing, mathematics, and essential work skills. Scores are based on job profiles, which assist employers in selecting, hiring, training, developing, and retaining a high-performance workplace.

Understanding the ACT Work Keys Exam

Before diving into exam preparation, it's important to understand the structure of the ACT Work Keys exam. The exam measures eight key areas, applied mathematics, graphic literacy, workplace documents, applied technology, business writing, workplace observation, fit, and talent each assessing different skills and knowledge.

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But the three main three sections that you need to get at least a three on in order to get the ACT National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) are:

  • Applied Mathematics – tests your ability to apply math concepts to real-world situations. This includes fractions, decimals, percentages, and algebraic equations. To prepare for this section, brush up on your math skills and practice applying them to practical scenarios.
  • Graphic Literacy – assess your ability to read and interpret graphs, charts, and other visual aids commonly used in the workplace. To succeed in this section, it's important to familiarize yourself with different types of charts and graphs and practice interpreting them.
  • Workplace Documents – assess your ability to read and understand workplace documents, including memos, emails, instructions, and policies. To prepare for this section, practice reading and analyzing different workplace documents.

How to Pass the ACT Works Keys Exam

exam quote by a para pro
  1. Take ACT Work Keys Practice Tests -The key to success on the ACT Work Keys Exam is practice. The more you practice, the more comfortable you'll be with the format of the exam and the types of questions you'll encounter. Utilize practice materials from ACT Work Keys and other sources to hone your skills and build confidence.
  2. Use Study Materials – In addition to practice materials, there are plenty of study materials available online and through ACT Work Keys. Take advantage of them to review the skills and concepts you'll be tested on. Use flashcards, study guides, and other resources to reinforce your knowledge.
  3. Manage Your Time – The exam is timed, so it's important to manage your time wisely. Make sure to set a study schedule and make sure to cover all aspects of the exam. During the test, remember to pace yourself and don't spend too much time on any one question. Keep an eye on the clock and plan out your time accordingly.
  4. Stay Focused – On exam day, it's important to stay focused and avoid distractions. If you are in person bring earplugs or noise-canceling headphones if necessary. Take breaks when needed, but don't let yourself get sidetracked.

How is the ACT Work Keys Exam Scored?

So, when it comes to the ACT WorkKeys assessment, your score is pretty straightforward. Basically, you get points for every question you get right, and there's no penalty for wrong answers (phew!). The sum of your correct answers is then turned into a combined score with two parts: the level score and the scale score.

Level score: this is a reflection of your skills and abilities and ranges from 3 to 7. This score is based on the difficulty levels you passed in each section of the test and can be super helpful for things like job interviews and promotions.

Scale score: On the other hand, is all about tracking growth. It ranges from 65 to 90 and allows you to compare your current score to previous WorkKeys assessments. This score is often used to evaluate educational programs and see your progress over time.

person writing on white paper

Once you take the test, you'll get a…

Score report that shows your level score, scale score, and info about the skills measured in the assessment. It usually takes a couple of weeks to get your scores, but sometimes it can take up to eight weeks. So be patient.

What is a good score on the ACT WorkKeys Exam?

In general, the higher your score, the better. On the ACT WorkKeys, your overall score can range from 1 to 36. A good score will depend on your personal goals and the requirements of the job or program you're interested in. But in general, aim for the highest score possible to show off your skills!

What is a passing grade for WorkKeys?

The level score on the WorkKeys ranges from 3 to 7. To receive the ACT National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC), you'll need to achieve at least a level 3 on each of the Applied Math, Graphic Literacy, and Workplace Documents sections. The NCRC is a great way to demonstrate your skills to potential employers and set yourself apart in the job market.

How to check your score?

Your score report will usually be available two to three weeks after you take the exam. If you took the test online, you may be able to access your results even sooner. The report will show your scores for each section of the test, as well as your overall level score and scale score. Keep in mind that some test centers may take longer to process and deliver your results.

Scheduling Your Exam

Ready to take the WorkKeys? You can schedule your exam online or do it on paper through your school or employer. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to prepare and review the exam format and content. And don't forget to get a good night's sleep and eat a hearty breakfast before test day – you've got this!


How much does the exam cost?

You must pay for each test section separately, which will cost between $15 and $40.

Late registration, additional score reports, score verification, and other services may incur additional charges.

How long is the exam?

The ACT Work Keys Exam typically takes 55 minutes to complete each section. That means if you do the 3 main sections it would take about 3 hours.

Can I retake the exam if I fail?

Yes, you can retake the exam or portions if necessary. You'll need to wait at least 48 hours to schedule a test.

Is the ACT WorkKeys test hard?

Well, you know what they say, it all depends on your individual skills and experience. If you're a pro in the areas the test covers, then you might find the test relatively easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy. But, if you're not so familiar with these topics, you might find the test challenging. But, hey, don't worry, the test is there to help you identify areas where you might need a little extra help, so it's all good.

Is the Work Keys Test Mandatory?

It depends on your life situation, my friend. If you're applying for a job, some employers might require you to take the test as part of their hiring process. So, it's always best to check with them for specific requirements. But, don't worry, if the test is mandatory, it's a great way to showcase your skills and stand out from the crowd.


Passing the ACT Work Keys Exam is an important step in advancing your career as a paraeducator. By following our tips and studying diligently, you'll be well-prepared for exam day. Remember to practice, use study materials, manage your time, and stay focused. We wish you the best of luck on your journey to success!


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