FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions
What is the COMPASS Test?
COMPASS is a computerized adaptive test that measures skills and comprehension levels in the areas of reading, writing, and mathematics to determine readiness for college-level courses in these areas. Scores that reach a certain level of competence will allow the student to move immediately into "program ready" status. Scores below that status mean the student will need to complete Learning Support classes in the weak areas before moving on to the required coursework.
The student is given an essay and asked to look for errors in grammar, punctuation, usage, and style.
The student is given several passages to read, and then to answer questions about the passage.
The student solves problems which measure numerical, pre-algebra, and algebra skills. Some of the areas included are:
- basic operations with integers, fractions, and decimals
- ratios and proportions
- topics in elementary algebra, intermediate algebra and coordinate geometry
How do I schedule to take the COMPASS Placement Test?
- Turn in the application for admission.
- Pay the $25 one-time application fee.
- Contact the Student Success Center on the campus you plan to attend for placement testing information. In most cases, no appointment is necessary.
What do I need to bring to testing?
- Your $25 application fee receipt
- Official photo identification, such as a driver’s license or state ID. (Passport or military ID also accepted.)
- You may bring your own calculator or use the one we provide.
How long does the test take?
The average testing time is about 2 hours. The sections are untimed, so the actual time used varies based on reading speed and academic skills. Should the student use more than 3 hours, he or she may be asked to return at a later time to finish.
Am I allowed to take the test more than once?
Students are allowed to retake each section one time after self-remediation. The proctor will make available a handout listing various study helps, both written and on-line.
I am not familiar with computers. Is there a written test available?
The computer version is not difficult for first-time users and the proctor will be happy to help with the data entry. The rest of the test is mostly point-and-click with the mouse. If a student feels, however, that this mode will affect the outcome of the test, it is possible to request the written ASSET test that is produced by the same ACT Corporation. It should be noted that this one is a timed test.
How do I prepare for the COMPASS test?
There are practice tests available on line at the following links:
Another written source can be found in ACT preparation manuals, available at many large bookstores and libraries. Since ACT is the publisher of the COMPASS and ASSET tests, the practice tests in these manuals are very similar to the placement test. This is especially true of the Reading and Writing tests. Along with the answer key, most give a brief explanation of the answer that is helpful as a learning tool. NOTE: The Math tests are probably too advanced to be very helpful.
On-line study and practice tests are also available at the following sites:
Is there anything else I need to know?
Arrive rested and well fed so that you can do your best. Remember that it is not a terrible thing to take a Learning Support class. The majority of our students takes one or more and find that they help them to become more confident and successful students. The teachers love to have you take them because you arrive at the upper level classes prepared and ready to go forward without a struggle with basics.