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"COMPASS provides measures of key skills useful for placing students into standard courses in the areas of writing, reading, and mathematics, and if needed, into English as a Second Language courses. The standard COMPASS placement measures, mathematics, reading, and writing, are designed to assist institutions in placing students into appropriate college-credit courses or developmental or preparation courses." (COMPASS Reference Manual, 2)
To learn more about this computerized test, please read through the information below:
Effective March 1, 2011, JJC students may use their unexpired ACT scores as a substitute for ACT COMPASS testing. ACT scores expire 24 months from the testing date.
- An ACT English score of 23 will place students into ENG 101.
- An ACT English score of 23 or higher will meet the ENG 020, ENG 021, ENG 098, and ENG 099 prerequisites for all courses.
- An ACT Math score of 25 will place students into MATH 119, 123, 127, 128, 131, 138, and 142 provided the geometry prerequisite has been met.
- A student must complete ACT COMPASS testing in order to place into a higher level math class (i.e. MATH 170).
- An ACT Math score of 25 or higher will meet the MATH 090, MATH 094, and MATH 098 prerequisites for all courses.
In order to use ACT scores as a substitute for ACT COMPASS testing, ACT scores must be submitted to JJC in one of the following three ways:
- When a student registers for the ACT test, he/she must indicate that the scores be sent to Joliet Junior College.
- When a student requests that high school transcripts be forwarded to Joliet Junior College, ask that ACT scores be included with the transcript. Please note that this is not available at all schools.
- Request that an official copy from ACT be sent to the JJC Admissions Department.
Students may borrow a calculator or use their own; nothing more advanced than a TI-86 may be used for the ACT COMPASS test. Student testers also have the option of using the calculator that is built into the ACT COMPASS test.
Components of the Test
All students taking the ACT COMPASS test must first complete an "EAP Screener"; this includes a series of five questions that helps the ACT COMPASS proctor determine whether the student should be directed into ESL ACT COMPASS testing or non-ESL ACT COMPASS testing. Full-time students must complete either the entire ESL package or the entire non-ESL package prior to registering for classes.
Part-time students may have to complete all or a portion of the tests depending on which courses and programs of study they wish to pursue. An explanation of which ACT COMPASS tests students are required to take is listed below within the Individuals Required to Test section.
The full non-ESL ACT COMPASS test is composed of reading, writing, and math testing. The full ESL ACT COMPASS test is composed of reading, grammar/usage, listening, math, and a writing prompt (e-Write).
Geometry is an additional placement test available for those students wishing to test out of certain math courses. To better help you prepare for this test, a breakdown of the components within each of these tests is provided below.
Reading (Part of the ESL and non-ESL testing)
The ACT COMPASS reading test determines whether an examinee has the reading skills necessary to succeed in a standard entry-level college course or whether the examinee might benefit from a developmental, or remedial, reading course first. This test measures reading comprehension in terms of the tester's ability to refer and reason.
Writing (Part of the non-ESL testing)
The ACT COMPASS writing test determines whether a student possesses the writing skills and knowledge needed to succeed in a typical entry-level college composition course. This test assesses a student's abilities in the categories of usage/mechanics (punctuation, basic grammar and usage, sentence structure) and rhetorical skills (strategy, organization, style).
Grammar/Usage (Part of the ESL testing)
The ESL Grammar/Usage test assesses students' abilities to recognize and manipulate standard American English in two areas: Sentence Elements and Sentence Structure and Syntax. All items are in a multiple-choice format and the examinee selects options by clicking the computer's mouse. To answer the questions in the Grammar/Usage test, it does not matter whether the students have learned their language through the study of grammar rules or by absorbing comprehensible written and spoken input. What is important is students' control over the structures and not their knowledge of rules. It is the students' level of understanding of grammar or usage within a context that is being tested.
Listening (Part of the ESL testing)
The ESL Listening test assesses students' abilities to recognize and manipulate standard American English in the two major categories of Explicit Information (listening for explicitly stated information) and Implicit Information (listening for implicitly stated information). Listening tasks increase in difficulty along several continua across several levels of proficiency. The test uses authentic listening activities and includes information that listeners would have to comprehend in actual second-language situations.
All items are in a multiple-choice format, and the examinee selects options by clicking the computer's mouse. Item types range from recognizing pictures that go with words at the lowest level to answering inferential questions about academic materials at the highest levels. A long listening passage typically includes items from a variety of item classification categories. The majority of questions at all levels are explicit, though the number of inferential questions is higher at advanced levels.
e-Write (Part of ESL testing)
The ESL e-Write is a direct measure of student writing skills. Students are asked to provide a single writing sample in response to a specific prompt. The assessment produces six scores: a single overall score that can be used for placement and the following five analytic subscores: Development, Focus, Organization, Language Use, and Mechanics.
Math (Part of the ESL and non-ESL testing)
The ACT COMPASS math test is a self-adaptive test, which potentially tests students within four different levels of math including pre-algebra, algebra, college algebra, and trigonometry. A student may select a starting point of pre-algebra, algebra, or college algebra depending on his perceived math ability. As the student answers questions, he may move into more difficult levels of math as he answers questions correctly. Similarly, if a student answers questions incorrectly, the computerized test will begin to ask questions from a lower level of math.
- Basic operations with integers, fractions, and decimals
- Exponents, square roots, and scientific notation
- Ratios, proportions, and percentages
- Conversions between fractions and decimals
- Multiples and factors of integers
- Absolute values of numbers
- Averages (means, medians, and modes)
- Order concepts (greater/less than)
- Estimation skills and number theory
- Counting problems and simple probability
- Elementary Algebra
- Substituting values into algebraic expressions
- Setting up equations for given situations
- Basic operations with polynomials
- Factoring of polynomials
- Solving polynomial equations by factoring
- Formula manipulation and field axioms
- Linear equations in one variable (using integers, fractions, and decimals as coefficients)
- Exponents and radicals
- Linear inequalities in one variable
- Intermediate Algebra
- Rational expressions
- Exponents and radicals
- Systems of linear equations in two variables
- Quadratic formulas
- Absolute value equations and inequalities
- Coordinate Geometry
- Linear equations in two variables
- Distance formulas in the plane
- Graphing conics (circle, parabola, etc.)
- Graphing parallel lines
- Graphing perpendicular lines
- Graphing relations in the plane
- Graphing systems of equations and rational functions
- Midpoint formula
- Functions and exponents
- Complex numbers
- Arithmetic and geometric sequences and series
- Matrices (basic operations, equations, and determinants)
- Systems of linear equations in three or more variables
- Logic and proof techniques
- Roots of polynomials
- Triangles (perimeter, area, Pythagorean Theorem, etc.)
- Circles (perimeter, area, arcs, etc.)
- Angles (supplementary, complementary, adjacent, vertical, etc.)
- Rectangles (perimeter, area, etc.)
- Three-dimensional concepts
- Hybrid (composite) shapes
- Trapezoids and parallelograms
- Logic and proof techniques
- Trigonometric functions and identities
- Right-triangle trigonometry
- Trigonometric equations and inequalities
- Graphs of trigonometric functions
- Special angles (multiples of 30 and 45 degrees)
- Polar coordinates
All math classes above and including MATH 119 require that a Geometry Prerequisite be met.
Placement into certain developmental classes will result in mandatory General Student Development (GSD) coursework.
A student is required to take GSD 085 (College Preparation and Study Skills) or GSD 100 (College Success) if he/she places into multiple developmental courses. If a student wishes to appeal his placement into GSD 085, he or she must see the Counseling Department.
Individuals Required to Test
Below is a chart illustrating which individuals are required to complete all or a portion of the ACT COMPASS test prior to course registration.
||Reading Test Required
||Writing Test Required
||Math Test Required
||Geometry Test Required|
|New full-time student
|JJC student who has already accumulated 12 or more credit hours but has not already completed ACT COMPASS testing
|New or existing JJC student who wishes to only take math course
|New or existing JJC student who wishes to only take an English or foreign language course
|New or existing JJC student who wishes to only take a science course (except BIO 103: Health)
|Reverse Transfer student with English and math credit from another college
|Reverse Transfer student with ACT COMPASS Reading, Writing, and math scores earned within the past 24 months
* Please be aware that there are several other courses and programs that require particular English and math prerequisites and/or certain ACT COMPASS placement scores. A student is strongly encouraged to look at the prerequisites for each class using the JJC Catalog or speak directly with a counselor or adviser.
**Yes, if the student wishes to take a 100-level transfer-oriented math course and does not have a transcript showing one year of high school geometry with a "C" average or higher
Interpreting Score Report
Once a student has completed testing, he will receive a copy of his scores along with the ACT COMPASS Score Report Interpretation Guides listed below.
Receiving Score Report
Students will receive their ACT COMPASS score report immediately upon completion of testing; this report will provide the student with scores and placement messages indicating the reading, writing, and math courses for which the student is eligible to register. Likewise, the student will be provided with the interpretation guides listed above. If a student loses his original copy, he may request that an additional score report be printed for a fee. Please be aware that the Academic Skills Center only keeps these reports for three years. Click here to learn how to have an official copy of your score report sent to another institution.
Remote Testing Options
ACT COMPASS Remote Testing allows students to complete their ACT COMPASS testing even if they are not in close geographic proximity to their school’s testing site. This international service is ideal for two particular types of students: the Traveling JJC Student and the Local Non-JJC Student.
The Traveling JJC Student – This individual wishes to be a JJC student but is temporarily not living in the Joliet, Illinois area. The student may be removed from the area because of military, family, or other reasons. If this student wishes to take the JJC ACT COMPASS test at a non-JJC location, she must call the ASC Secretary at 815-280-6667. Generally, this service generates a $25.00-$65.00 fee collected by the testing institution. Be prepared to provide the ASC Secretary with the following information:
- Full name (First name, middle initial, and last name)
- JJC ID Number
- Date of birth
- Address, city, state, and zip code
- Email address
- Phone number with voicemail
- Locate a COMPASS Internet Remote Testing Site where you would like to test.
- Indicate whether you will be a full-time or part-time JJC student.
The Local Non-JJC Student – This individual lives in the Joliet, Illinois area but intends to attend a college or university elsewhere. If this student's institution requires COMPASS testing and she would like to conveniently complete this testing in Joliet, she should follow the steps listed below.
- Contact your institution to see if they can set up a Remote Test to take place at Joliet Junior College; if they have questions about this, direct them to (815) 280-6667 or (815) 280-2824.
- Once your institution has set up this test, you will instantly receive an email outlining your next steps.
- Using this email, contact the JJC Academic Skills Center to schedule this test.
- You will be charged a $25.00 fee.
Retaking the Test
A JJC Student with JJC Student ID Number may take the ACT COMPASS test in its entirety one time for free. This same student may retake all or a portion of the ACT COMPASS test one time for a fee. ACT COMPASS scores will expire after 24 months; after this date students may retake the test(s) one time within a rolling 24 month period if they have not already begun the sequence of courses for that subject: reading, writing, and/or math. Testing is available at the following campuses: Main Campus, Romeoville Campus, Morris Education Center, Frankfort Education Center, and City Center Campus. Retesting is available at Main Campus, Romeoville Campus, Morris Education Center, and City Center Campus. Once a student has passed math or English classes, the ACT COMPASS test cannot be retaken.
- Once a student has passed a JJC math course, they cannot retake the ACT COMPASS math test.
- Once a student has passed a JJC reading course, they cannot retake the ACT COMPASS reading test.
- Once a student has passed a JJC writing course, they cannot retake the ACT COMPASS writing test.
Effective March 1, 2011, ACT COMPASS scores will expire 24 months after the testing date. After this date students may take the ACT COMPASS test(s) one time within a rolling 24 month period if they have not already begun the sequence of courses for that subject: reading, writing, and/or math. All retests will incur the retest fee. Please note that ACT scores also expire 24 months after the testing date. Click here to learn more about using ACT scores as a substitute for ACT COMPASS testing.
A student may request that her scores be sent to another institution. This process takes approximately two business days and incurs a $25.00 fee per request. This fee went into effect on July 1, 2011. Click here to complete the ACT COMPASS Score Request form.
Special Accommodations for ACT COMPASS Testing
All students have access to the following accommodations:
- The entire ACT COMPASS test is untimed.
- All students are provided with scratch paper and pencils.
- Students may borrow a calculator or use their own; nothing more advanced than a TI-86 may be used for the ACT COMPASS test.
- A student may request earplugs to block out noise distractions.
- A student may take the entire ACT COMPASS test at one time or may break it into multiple parts: reading, writing, and math. Please be aware that scores are not recorded until the testing session is complete.
Students with documented disabilities have the ability to work with the Student Accommodations and Resources (StAR) Department to arrange for further accommodations including screen magnification, Braille, sign language interpreters to help with instructions, large print or audio books, scribes, and trac-balls. Click here to learn StAR Department's contact information, as well as view information about StAR's many accommodations and services.
The Asset test is a paper-and-pencil test used to replace the reading and writing portion of the ACT COMPASS Placement test for students with documented dyslexia (severe word perception disability). The Asset test can be read to students via a tape recorder. Documentation must be preapproved and testing is done by appointment only through StAR.
Steps to Take the Test
- Apply for admission to JJC. If you are wishing to use these ACT COMPASS scores at an institution other than JJC, please look at the Remote Testing Options.
- Determine whether you must take all or a portion of this test by looking through the Individuals Required to Test information.
- Speak with the Student Accommodations and Resources (StAR) Department if you need Special Accommodations.
- Prepare for the ACT COMPASS test by knowing the Components of the Test and participating in one or more of the ACT COMPASS Preparation options.
- Decide on which of the five locations you will complete your test: Main Campus in Joliet, Romeoville Campus, Morris Education Center, Frankfort Education Center, or City Center Campus in downtown Joliet.
- Arrive at the testing center with your JJC ID Number, one acceptable form of identification, and a calculator; if you do not have appropriate photo identification, you will not be allowed to test. There are no exceptions to this rule!
- Pay a fee if necessary; remember that a JJC Student with a JJC Student ID Number may take the ACT COMPASS test one time for free.
- Plan to arrive at the testing center no less than 60 minutes prior to closing. Exams must be submitted when the center closes. Exams must be completed in one sitting. Earplugs are available upon request. Click here to see other Academic Skills Center Testing Policies.
- View the ACT COMPASS Placement Testing Directions on the computer at the testing site immediately before testing.
- Complete all or a portion of this untimed test.
- Receive your ACT COMPASS score report immediately along with math and English interpretation guides and learn of your course placement. Depending on your placement, GSD coursework and developmental classes may be required.
- If you are an EAP (English for Academic Purposes) student, take scores to Office of Multicultural Student Affairs to learn next steps. Call (815) 280-6709 or visit the OMSA office.
- Retest for a fee if necessary.
- Continue with the next steps of the enrollment process.
Testing at Local High Schools
Also known as ACT COMPASS Off-Site Testing, this service allows local high schools to arrange for an ACT COMPASS testing session to take place in a high school computer lab. Please contact the Academic Skills Center secretary at (815) 280-6667 to learn more about this option.
The amount a student is charged to take the ACT COMPASS test is dependent upon their JJC student status, whether they have completed this test before, and if they are taking this test for JJC or another school. On Saturdays, students may only pay with cash or check.
- JJC Student with appropriate photo identification may take the ACT COMPASS test one time for free.
- ACT COMPASS retest fees for JJC Students are $10.00 per test as listed below:
- Geometry Retest = $10.00
- Grammar/Usage Retest = $10.00
- Listening Retest = $10.00
- Math Retest = $10.00
- Reading Retest = $10.00
- Writing Retest = $10.00
- e-Write Retest = $10.00
- Effective March 1, 2011, ACT COMPASS scores will expire after 24 months; after this date students may retake the test(s) one time within a rolling 24 month period if they have not already begun the sequence of courses for that subject: reading, writing, and/or math. All retests will incur the retest fee.
- JJC Student with appropriate photo identification may take the ACT COMPASS test remotely for a fee determined by the testing site they choose; this is generally $25.00-$95.00.
- Non-JJC Student may take the ACT COMPASS test remotely for another institution for $25.00.
- Effective July 1, 2011, students wishing to have an official copy of their ACT COMPASS Score Report sent to another institution will incur a $25.00 fee per request.
Testing Times and Locations
ACT COMPASS Testing is available at four different locations including Main Campus, Romeoville Campus, Morris Education Center, Frankfort Education Center, and City Center Campus. No appointment is necessary and the test is untimed. The student must begin his/her test no later one hour prior to closing. On average, this test may take 1.5 - 3 hours to complete. Click here to view contact information and specific testing hours. No ACT COMPASS Remote Testing will occur during JJC Final Exams Week; please see the current JJC Academic Calendar for these dates.
Using Scores from another Institution
If you have completed placement testing at another institution within the past 24 months, you may be eligible to use these unexpired scores at JJC. Please contact the Academic Skills Center at email@example.com. Please know that JJC only accepts ACT COMPASS scores and some ACT ESL COMPASS scores. All other non-COMPASS scores (i.e. Accuplacer) will not be accepted. All ACT COMPASS scores from other institutions should be sent directly to the Academic Skills Center. The secretary will input all reading and writing scores; any math scores will be forwarded to the Math Placement Specialist. All math-placement related questions should be directed to Jim Morgan, Math Placement Specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that ACT COMPASS Placement Test scores are only recognized as official IF they are on your institution's letterhead OR if they are the original score report. Printouts from your institution's website or other institutional forms are not acceptable substitutes.
Once these scores have been submitted to the Academic Skills Center, you will be charged a retake fee if you wish to retest in one or more portions of the ACT COMPASS Placement Test.
Last updated on February 28, 2013.