Detailed Schedule of the COMPASS





When Can You Appear for the Test?

The COMPASS is a customizable package of several subject/skill tests that help in evaluating the academic abilities and skill levels of college aspirants.  It is generally administered by individual universities, colleges, and other institutes, as per their academic calendars and program requirements. While some administer the same to students already enrolled to programs, others insist that aspirant candidates take the test before enrolling.

What Is COMPASS and Why Is It Important?

For completing college-level programs in any area successfully, a minimum level of competence and subject knowledge is essential. COMPASS is a measurement program that helps educational institutions determine the college-readiness of  the candidates and accordingly place them in different courses. Apart from checking the subject knowledge and skill levels of test takers in the required domains, it also helps the institutes understand any shortcomings/weaker areas for each individual candidate and accordingly plan for appropriate supportive and remedial programs.

One prominent feature to note is that one cannot pass or fail this exam. This means that the test scores do not determine your entry into the college; instead, they elucidate the candidates' abilities and levels, and thus provide an opportunity/scope of improvement for the students (http://www.act.org/products/higher-education-act-compass/)

The test package is customizable and may consist of the tests as listed below. However, the institutions may include their own tests as part of each administration, according to the courses and programs they offer. Plus, the ESL test is administered to foreign students, to analyze their language abilities as required for academic and day-to-day functioning:

  • The Reading test
  • The Mathematics test
  • The Writing test
  • The Writing Essay test
  • The English as a Second Language (ESL) test

The question types and sections of each of the subtests can be found at the official website. You will also find sample questions here (http://www.act.org/compass/sample/index.html).

Test Duration and Schedule

In accordance with the diagnostic and evaluative spirits of the COMPASS, the sections do not have any stipulated timings. Each candidate may finish the test at his/her own pace, without any pressure or stress and restricting time boundaries. This is to enable the test takers to perform well and give their best.

Coming to the schedule of this exam, the test dates are often decided by individual institutes conducting the test. In other words, there is no fixed date across the different institutes administering the test.

For individual institutes, the schedule is decided based on their academic calendars, semesters, and program schedules. Accordingly, there may be different Summer, Spring, and Fall testing dates.

When to Take the COMPASS Test?

As a student interested in joining a particular college or other educational institute, you may, therefore, want to know what this examination is and when to apply for it. However, this is a question that is better answered by individual institutes. Still, the following generic points should be kept in mind:

  • Some institutions and states require all applicants to take this examination before they enroll into any program; while some others administer the same to students who have already enrolled. Therefore, the time you take the COMPASS will vary from one institution to another. For example, if you are in Texas, the TSI insist that you take the test before joining the college/institute.

  • When you are joining a college, the date for taking this exam is not decided based on your individual requirements, but collectively for all those joining the institute in a semester/calendar year.

  • If you are getting transferred from one institute to another, depending on your new institute's policies and regulations and your course requirements, your old scores might be accepted. You, therefore, do not have to take the test again.

  • The dates, venue, and time are informed in advance to each test taker by the institute.

For more information on this exam at different colleges/other institutes, you can get in touch with the institute, or refer to their official websites. For example, to know more about the test schedule at Georgia South Western University, you can refer to http://gsw.edu/Calendars/compassPlacementTest/index. Similarly, the timetable for the exam at the Jackson State Community College is available at: http://www.jscc.edu/admissions/assessment/compass-test-dates.html.