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Placement Tests: A Tool for Community College Success

Academic Skills Assessment - COMPASS® Test

Northeast Alabama Community College Placement Test (COMPASS® EXAM) is administered by the Office of Student Services. The test consists of three sections and assesses a student's achievement level in sentence skills, reading comprehension, mathematics, and algebra. The COMPASS is not a timed test and is administered via computer. This assessment tool helps determine your level of preparedness for college-level work. Placement tests can help you and your advisor plan the best set of courses for your career goals and skill level.

The COMPASS dates and times are assigned after an application is received in the Office of Admissions. The student will then receive a letter scheduling a time/date to complete the placement. There is no fee for the test. A picture ID is required for identity purposes.

What Are the Tests Used For?

Sometimes, placement test results help determine whether you’d benefit from developmental, or remedial, course work. While these courses may seem like a detour from the courses you were looking forward to taking in college, they will provide you with solid preparation to succeed in advanced courses, as well as the sorts of skills you'll use in any career.

Without such developmental work, you may be discouraged by the pace and complexity of college-level course work. Studies have found that students who begin college without the skills they need to do college-level work—even if they manage to stay in college for more than a year—are far less likely to earn a degree.

Placement tests can also help determine whether you're ready for more advanced course work and may allow you to place out of required courses. You'll want to do your very best on the tests, since this could possibly reduce the number of courses you'll have to take to obtain your degree.

Either way, taking placement exams will help to ensure your future academic success. In pursuing higher education you increase your lifelong earning potential—not to mention job satisfaction—exponentially. Like anything else in life, you can only start from where you are. But as soon as you do start, you’re already on your way to a new peak of achievement.


Students who have previous college credit in English and mathematics are not required to take the test.
Exemption – Any student scoring:

1. 480 or above on the SAT verbal and 480 or above on the SAT math

2. 20 or above on the ACT English, and 20 or above on the ACT math who applies for admission to and enrolls in a system college within two years of high school graduation

3. Students who have an associate degree or higher

4. Students who transfer required college-level English or mathematics courses with a grade of “C” or better


Free sources for online practice for the COMPASS Test:

ACT Compass® Sample Text Questions

Learning Support at the University of North Georgia