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Student Success - Compass Testing


What is COMPASS?

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

When should the COMPASS or PLACEMENT TESTS be taken?
COMPASS is only 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, high school transcripts or ACT scores are used (whichever is highest). If you do not have a high school transcript or ACT score, a local writing assessment can be taken at LSS. If a student feels that their English placement from their transcript or ACT does not reflect their current ability, he/she will be allowed to write an essay the first day of class and if it reflects a higher placement the professor will let him/her know.

Because your scores on COMPASS can have such an effect on how many courses you have to take, you will want to make sure your skills are as strong as they can be when you take it.  We recommend you review your skills before testing, especially math.  There are lots of places you can do that, including reviewing old textbooks in Learning Support Services.  Some on line sources are: -- the official COMPASS site which provides sample questions and test-taking tips -- an online prep course and study guide -- an online COMPASS workshop offered by University of Georgia.  Follow the directions to log in and go through the workshop.

Signing up for COMPASS
North Central offers the COMPASS placement test at each of our sites.   You can contact the location at which you are interested in testing for an appointment.
Petoskey – 231-348-6682 – Available on a walk-in basis. Please arrive no later than two hours prior to close.
Gaylord – 989-705-3775 – Please contact to schedule an appointment.
Cheboygan— 231-597-0322 – Please contact to schedule an appointment.
If you are a person with a disability and require accommodations, they can be arranged through LSS in Petoskey.  Notify the staff member when making your appointment or call 231-348-6682.

COMPASS can be taken all at once (reading and math) or in portions.  All sections are untimed.  The average testing time is between 2 and 3 hours.  You will need to bring your social security number and a picture ID.  The test will start promptly at the time it’s scheduled if you have made an appointment in Cheboygan or Gaylord, so come a few minutes early to get settled.  Late arrivals may have to reschedule as to not disturb other testers.

You will receive your placement results immediately upon finishing.  The test administrator will go over your results with you.

If you do not believe your placement is an accurate portrait of your skill level or you want to try to place higher, you can retake the Reading or Math portion of COMPASS for $10 after a 24 hour waiting period.
Before retesting, we recommend that you review with some of the online study resource links listed above.