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The COMPASS Placement Tests assess students skill levels in the areas of reading comprehension, writing, and mathematics. Results help determine appropriate placement for enrollment. The need for placement testing is based on ACT scores. If the student has an individual score of 19 or above in the areas of Reading, Writing, or Math, students do not need to take the COMPASS placement exams. If the scores are below 19, only placement exams are needed in the area that has a score below 19.

The COMPASS test is not a pass/fail exam. It is a tool used to determine present skill levels. Administered on a computer, the placement tests are not timed and students may use as much time as needed to complete them. Students do not need any computer experience to take the exams and the scores are available immediately after testing is completed.

Course placement is based on the following cut scores for Western:

e-Write 8 - 12
English Composition I
  2 - 7
English Fundamentals
Reading 80 or higher No remediation
  0 - 79
Reading Fundamentals
Math Algebra 61 or higher College Algebra or Survey of Math
  Algebra 26 - 60
Pre College Algebra 2
  Algebra 0 - 25 Pre College Algebra 1
  Pre Algebra 0 - 75
Pre College Algebra 1
  Pre Algebra 76 - 100
Pre College Algebra 2
ESL Grammar 84 or higher Routed to COMPASS Writing
  63 - 83 ESL Writing II
  0 - 62 ESL Writing I
ESL Reading 80 or higher Routed to COMPASS Reading
  65 - 79 ESL Reading II
  0 - 64 ESL Reading I


There is no charge for the first placement test. However, if a student wishes to re-test, there is a $5 fee for each test.


The COMPASS exams are given on a walk-in basis. No registration or appointment is needed.


  • See the home page of "Student Assessment" for current operating hours.
  • The Testing Lab is NOT open at night or on the weekends.
  • Testing for the entire battery is estimated to take approximately 1-1/2 hours. Please arrive in time to allow yourself enough time to complete testing before the Testing Center closes.


  • A valid photo ID must be presented prior to testing.
  • All cell phones and electronic devices must be turned OFF while in the Testing Lab.
  • There is a built in calculator for the math test. Examinees may NOT use their own calculator. There will also be scratch paper and pencil provided.



Sample questions for the exams are located on the COMPASS website. The questions will illustrate the same types of questions on the placement tests. There are also some test taking tips and strategies available.
The sample questions may be located by clicking on the following links:

Reading COMPASS Sample Questions

Writing COMPASS Sample Questions

Pre Algebra COMPASS Sample Questions

Algebra COMPASS Sample Questions


The mathematics section tests the student's knowledge of three levels of math: pre-algebra, algebra, and college algebra.

Pre-algebra items range from basic math and skills to skills required for an entry level algebra course.
Algebra items include elementary and intermediate algebra.

College algebra items measure algebra knowledge of operations with functions and factorials.
The test results will place the student into one of the four levels of math courses: Basic Math, Beginning Algebra, Intermediate Algebra, or College Algebra.

Scratch paper and pencil are provided to the student. Students may NOT use their own calculator as there is a built-in calculator for student use.



The Reading section will assess referring and reasoning skills. Referring items ask about information that is explicitly stated in the passage. Reasoning items will measure skills of critical understanding and specific meanings and inference.

The results will place a student into a Developmental Reading course or indicate no remediation is necessary.