COMPASS FAQ's

When is COMPASS Required?

Full-time students: DMACC requires admission assessment of all full-time students 12 credits or more for fall/spring and 8 credits for summer term.

Students may fulfill this requirement by completing one of the following options:

  • Submission of ACT scores for reading, writing and math (less than 5 years old).
  • Completion of the COMPASS test, reading and writing - at any DMACC campus and ALEKS math completed via the Webinfo System. There are no charges for the assessments when completed as part of the admission requirements.
  • Evidence of successful college experience. Have an official college transcript sent from your prior college(s) to DMACC.

Part-time students: Students planning to enroll part-time are encouraged to:

  • Complete a writing assessment before enrolling in a writing class.
  • Complete a reading class before enrolling in a liberal arts class.

Part-time students: Students planning to enroll part-time and take a math course are required to complete the ALEKS placement assessment.

How do I schedule the COMPASS test?

Testing schedules are available by clicking on the appropriate campus link. If you require an accommodation for testing, call the Disabilities Services Coordinator at 515-964-6850.

Select a campus below for details:

What is COMPASS?

COMPASS is a computer-based test with a series of basic skill assessments in reading and writing. The test indicates areas where you might need help and suggests courses that might be a starting point for your college career. Most questions require a multiple choice answer.

How much time will the test take?

COMPASS is not a timed test, so it will vary for each student. Generally, COMPASS takes an hour-and-a-half to complete.

What subjects are tested?

There are two areas of focus for COMPASS:

  1. Reading: The reading assessment determine what skills students have to succeed in entry-level college courses.
  2. Writing Skills: The writing assessment requires students to find and correct errors in essays. This includes grammar, punctuation, sentence structure as well as strategy, organization assessment and style in effective writing.

Also available is ESL COMPASS, which has three tests: grammar/usage, reading, and listening. Written in standard English, ESL COMPASS will assess appropriate levels of ESL classes or regular course work.

I Have No Computer Experience. Can I still take the COMPASS Test?

COMPASS is user friendly and was designed for those with little or no computer experience. DMACC staff are on hand to walk you through the directions and assist you with getting started.

The amount of time you spend on each area is recorded, but there is no time limit, so you can relax and do your best!