North Central Site Search:

Student Success - Compass Testing


COMPASS is an assessment that measures your current level of ability in reading, writing and math.  North Central uses your scores from the COMPASS to place you correctly in these subjects. Your placement on the COMPASS and the effort you put into it is very important.  You may place into courses that don’t count for credit toward graduation that you will need to take before you can take the credit bearing courses.

When should the COMPASS or PLACEMENT TESTS be taken?
COMPASS is needed for students who do not have a high school transcript and ACT score, however, students may also choose to take the COMPASS if they feel their transcript and ACT scores do not accurately reflect their ability.

  • For Math placement, both COMPASS Reading and Math are needed.
  • For English placement, highest scores from high school transcripts or ACT are used.
    If you do not have a high school transcript or ACT score, a local writing assessment can be taken at LSS.

Preparation: Your scores on COMPASS determine what level you start with in the content areas tested.  We recommend that you review your skills to make sure they are as strong as they can be before testing. You can do that at the official COMPASS site which provides sample questions and test-taking tips on line at: --


Sign up for COMPASS by appointment:

North Central offers the COMPASS by appointment at each of our sites.  Contact
Petoskey-- 231.348.6682       Gaylord989.705.3775        Cheboygan 231.597.0322


Any person with a disability that requires accommodations can arrange them by calling Learning Support Services in Petoskey at 231.348.6817 to discuss your needs.

Taking COMPASS: COMPASS can be taken all at once (reading, math, writing) or in portions.  All sections are untimed.  The average testing time for all 3 parts is between 2 and 1/2 hours.  You will need to bring a picture ID.  The test will start promptly at the time it’s scheduled, so come a few minutes early to get settled. 

Results: You will receive a printout of your placement results when you are finished and the test administrator will explain your results to you.  Your next step will be to schedule an appointment to attend orientation and register for classes at 231- 348-6605.

Retesting : :  If you feel your placement does not reflect your skill level and you want to try to place higher, you can retest any portion of COMPASS for $10 after a 24 hour waiting period.

COMPASS is required of all entering students except the following:

  • Students who have ACT or COMPASS scores on file at North Central.
  • Guest students from other colleges.
  • Students who have already earned an associate degree or higher.
  • Students who have on file at NCMC proof of 15 or more transfer credit hours, which include appropriate English and mathematics credits, & a 2.0 or higher GPA.
  • Students only interested in pursuing "personal interest" /PE 116 or 216, and not taking math or English.                                                             

Revised on 5/26/2015