State of Alaska > Career Ready > Job Seekers

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What is Alaska Career Ready?

Our students have a wonderful opportunity to participate in Alaska Career Ready, a state program that helps job seekers and students prepare for college and career. With ACR one can learn about occupations, take assessments in work-related academic skills, take lessons to improve skills, and receive a nationally recognized credential, the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC).


EED instituted a work ready/college ready program to ensure that students in Alaska have the basic or transitional skills required for a successful transition into post-secondary institutions and/or the workforce after high school. The assessment chosen is the WorkKeys Assessment, a product of ACT, Inc., the developer of the ACT assessment. The assessment measures current skills levels in Applied Mathematics, Locating Information, and Reading for Information. Curriculum is available to increase skills. In addition, the program provides the means for students to document their transitional skills by earning a National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC). As part of the Alaska School Performance Index (ASPI), a schools star rating is affected by students participation in WorkKeys and students NCRC level attainment.

What is WorkKeys?

WorkKeys is a job skills assessment system. The WorkKeys system identifies and measures “real world” skills that have been shown to be essential to success in hundreds of jobs and occupations throughout the nation. These skills are valuable for any occupation students may be considering. For more information, go to WorkKeys.

What is the Importance of Alaska Career Ready and WorkKeys?

Students with these academic skills are more prepared to learn specific skills on the job. More than 10,000 jobs have been profiled nationwide as employers are taking a stand, requiring a highly skilled workforce.

With this credential, students will receive a detailed score report that explains exactly what skills they have demonstrated. The NCRC and score reports can be shown to prospective employers, training programs and colleges as concrete proof of their skills. Increasingly, employers nationwide look for career readiness certificates. Alaska is no exclusion; Department of Labor job centers are actively working with many employers across our state to recognize WorkKeys as a hiring and recruitment tool. In fact, some employers and training programs are requiring the NCRC.

Will the WorkKeys Assessment Tell Students "What They Should Be When They Grow Up?"

One test alone cannot tell students what career field is best for them. But WorkKeys can be one very important piece of the puzzle as they look towards their future. Educators and guidance counselors can help students put all of the puzzle pieces together.

Who is Required to Test?

Regulation 4 AAC 06.717 requires that each school district in Alaska allow students in grade 12 and require students in grade 11. Grade 11 students must take all three content areas and grade 12 students may take all three content areas.

Method of Administration

School Districts will administer ACT WorkKeys electronically, through Validus, unless electronic administration is not practicable. Please note the operating definition for “practicable” that EED is using is, “capable of being done with means at hand and circumstances as they are.” Additional technical support is available to assist districts with aspects of internet testing. Paper Pencil option will be available.

Format of Test

The assessments are timed. Paper Pencil Version allows 45 minutes per subtest and the Internet Version allows 55 minutes. Paper Pencil must be administered in specific order, to all grade 11 students, on one day, school-wide during the Paper Pencil window. Internet Testing has supreme flexibility, allowing schools to administer the assessment on any day-in -session between August 1 and December 31. You may administer to various groups of students at various times on various days within the window. Test may be given in any order.

Help your Students Prepare

Use the Career Ready 101/KeyTrain computer program to prepare for the assessments. It’s free, and you may use it wherever you have Internet access. A school’s guidance counselor or principal should be able to assist educators and students in obtaining login credentials. For more information, go to KeyTrain.

Order Act WorkKeys Practice Tests

ACT offers both paper/pencil and online practice tests. Students can purchase online practice tests School Districts can purchase paper/pencil practice tests by using this material order form.

Provide a Free WorkKeys Practice Test?

The Department of Education, through SLED (Statewide Library Electronic Doorway), offers a website with a variety of FREE resources for Alaskan students and adults. One of the resources is the "Testing and Education Reference Center (TERC)", which offers free practice guides and tests for a wide variety of assessments, including WorkKeys Math and Reading. Please note these practice tests are NOT OFFICIAL ACT WORKKEYS PRACTICE TESTS. They have been developed by an independent company.

Use this link and the bulleted steps below to get to the TERC website:

  • Scroll down to the letter "T" and choose "Testing and Education Reference Center."
  • Then, in the lower right-hand corner, click Go under Family College Planning Center
  • Look under the Test Preparation column for the heading "ACT WorkKeys Prep" to find the practice WorkKeys tests.
  • Before taking any of the practice tests listed, you will be asked to establish a username and password for future use.

How Are Assessments Scored?

WorkKeys assessments use a scoring system of 3 to 7. It is in the "HOW ARE ASSESSMENTS SCORED?" section. The higher in individual skill level or score, the more jobs they may be better prepared to enter. Alaska awards NCRC’s at four levels. Students who score at least a 6 on all three WorkKeys Assessments receive the Platinum credential; score at least 5 on all three assessments receive the Gold credential; score at least a 4 on all three assessments receive the Silver credential; and score at least a 3 on all three assessments receive the Bronze credential. Scores below Level 3 are not recorded for the NCRC, but they are listed on the score reports and would still be valuable and relevant in finding a career of interest. Review this powerpoint for further information on understanding and using your WorkKeys scores.

After you have completed the assessments schools will receive score reports for distribution to the students. The score report gives the test name (Math, Reading, or Locating), exact score level, and the levels that are possible, as well as giving the examinee a brief idea of what skills were demonstrated and what skills might want to be improved. For more information, go to NCRC.

How Can Students Use Their Score?

  • WorkKeys score reports and the NCRC are an excellent way to communicate workplace skills to employers, colleges and training programs. Encourage students to attach not only their NCRC, but also their score reports to job applications, college applications, resumes, or cover letters when applying.
  • WorkKeys scores and the NCRC also can help you focus the students training to improve selected workplace skills.
  • Score reports contain information about how students can improve their skills to achieve the next level and a variety of training resources focusing on such improvements are available. You can find information about these resources at

What if a Student Would Like to Improve Their Level Scores?

For students who do not initially achieve the NCRC or would like to improve their level scores on one or all three subtests, assessment results will indicate the targeted training needed to achieve the skill levels necessary to obtain a certificate. The WorkKeys online practice curriculum is called Career Ready 101/KeyTrain. All public school students may use Career Ready 101/KeyTrain at no cost.

How Can an Employer or Educational Program Verify a Certificate?

Student NCRC’s have a registration number that is unique to them. Direct students to register their NCRC to allow employers or training programs to verify that the students have achieved those skills.

  • On the back of the certificate is the students user ID and a temporary password.
  • Use that information to log in to a pre created account at
  • Have students follow the instructions to mark their certificate as "public."
  • Provide the link to an employer or educational program to verify your certificate and your scores.

Have Students Include NCRC With Job Applications

Educate your students on the benefits of the NCRC and encourage them to list their WorkKeys scores and NCRC on their resume and include them with their job applications. During a job interview, encourage the students to tell the prospective employer about their accomplishments and explain that their NCRC demonstrates their specific skills in math, reading, and locating information on the job. A students NCRC may make the difference between them and the next most qualified person!

How You Can Help Your Students Now

You can use Alaska Career Ready, WorkKeys, and the NCRC as an opportunity to talk to students about career interests, the skills that employers look for, and the relevance of school to future employment. Reinforce the importance and value of workplace skills and help them to understand the critical connection of real world skill as it translates to job placement in rewarding occupations.

Encourage students to take control of their future career. Have them talk to their parent, teachers, and school counselors about their interests and abilities and their educational and work experiences. Help students explore careers. As you know, today’s jobs demand higher-level skills and good jobs go to highly skilled workers.

Profiles of hundreds of occupations geared to WorkKeys skill levels are available to search for jobs by WorkKeys Skill Levels. Work with students to see whether they have the level of work-related academic skills that will help them get an entry-level job in the occupations they are interested in.

Encourage students to consider retesting as a grade 12 student or as an adult, to achieve a higher level NCRC. Students can work to improve their scores on the WorkKeys assessments, help them access and work through the online curriculum, Career Ready101/KeyTrain. Individuals can work through this curriculum at their own pace. For more information, go to KeyTrain.

Support, provide direction, and encourage all students as they make decisions about continuing their education beyond high school. Be proactive!

Alaska Performance Scholarship

The Alaska Performance Scholarship provides an opportunity for Alaska high school students to earn a scholarship to help cover the cost of an Alaska postsecondary education. With qualifying GPA, rigorous course work and qualifying assessment scores students may qualify for the Alaska Performance Scholarship (APS). Students can qualify for a Career and Technical Education (CTE) APS using WorkKeys scores. The CTE APS can be used for attendance in a career and technical education certification program, but not for a degree program. Beginning with the Class of 2013, a combined WorkKeys score of 13 (with no score lower than 4) meets the test score requirements for the CTE APS award. Learn more about the APS program by visiting the Alaska Commission on Post-Secondary Education’s website.


Alaska Dept. of Education
& Early Development

801 West 10th Street, Suite 200
PO Box 110500
Juneau, AK 99811-0500
Telephone: (907) 465-6410

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Alaska Dept. of Labor
& Workforce Development

1111 West 8th Street
PO Box 115509
Juneau, AK 99811-5509
Telephone: (907) 465-5948