Workkeys: Boring or Beneficial?


Theresa De Benedetti, Editor

The best part about the SAT is taking a day-long test and then coming in the next morning to take the Workkeys–NOT. According to the official ACT website, the Workkeys are “assessments measuring fundamental skills required for success in the workplace.” But if you ask a student at HFII, they’ll tell you it’s a big waste of time.

On April 10, the entire junior class came into school the morning after the SAT to take the Workkeys, an ACT-sponsored assessment consisting of three sections focusing on workplace readiness. The test took the entire morning to complete with a few breaks. So what is the issue with the Workkeys? Not only is the test an insult to the intelligence of students with its insanely easy content, it is also too long and unnecessary considering the test isn’t needed or looked at by colleges and future jobs.

Walking into the assessment, juniors are told horror stories about the simplicity and galling nature of it, but none of the anecdotes will prepare for the utter torture of the Workkeys. The test is divided up into three sections: applied math, graphic literacy and workplace documents (each taking 55 minutes). After taking the gruelling SAT the day before, juniors are astounded at just how basic the questions are.

Whether asking students to simply read an email and cite the document word for word or having the student solve elementary school level math problems, the Workkeys exhausted and irritated a group of stressed-out teen who have had enough of standardized testing. With under 40 common sense answers in 55 minutes, heads were on the desks snoozing before the section’s halfway mark. One junior shared that in their Workkeys testing classroom, 12 people were asleep with 10 minutes remaining in one section.

So why are students forced to take this seemingly pointless test? Michigan pays $4 million dollars every year administering the test across the state. There are only 4 states–including michigan–in the US that require and pay for it to be administered. Most colleges in the country don’t even look for Workkeys test scores considering only a small fraction of high school students actually take the test.

As unfortunate as it may be for the upcoming juniors, it doesn’t look like the Workkeys is going anywhere for now. There may be some hope though. The test has been highlighted in the media recently over the insulting nature of the questions and precious class time wasted while taking it. Students and teachers alike have expressed their complaints and look toward lawmakers for answers.

Recently, the State House Education Reform committee met to evaluate the importance of the assessment. After hearing testimony from teachers, students, lawmakers and representatives from the ACT, there was no formal conclusion reached about the future of the Workkeys in the state of Michigan. A new Workkeys house bill is being proposed by Michigan House Representative John Reilly that would make the Workkeys test optional for school districts.

Future generations can jump for joy over dodging the bullet of the Workkeys, but for now students will have to suffer through the insult to their intelligence. A bit of advice for the incoming juniors: bring a pillow.