Compass Placement Test

Testing materials

Compass Placement Test


Carl Sandburg College wants you to be successful in your course work; the COMPASS placement tests for reading, English and mathematics are required for new students.  COMPASS scores determine a student’s mandatory placement into college-level courses (classes with course number 100 and above), developmental education courses (classes with course number <100), or referral to the Adult Learning Center.  Our goal is to ensure proper placement into appropriate courses for your skill level.  You cannot fail these tests. Test result are valid for 4 years.  There is no charge to take the COMPASS placement test.


It is very important that students do their best work on the placement test so that they are placed appropriately in courses where they can succeed and make progress. Time spent in developmental courses will delay enrollment into college level courses.  It is highly recommended that students prepare for the placement test. 


Note:  In lieu of COMPASS testing, official ACT scores will be accepted for placement if the test was taken within two years of the admission date to Carl Sandburg College.  Minimum score requirements are as follows:
English/Writing: 20
Reading: 20
Mathematics: 25


Students wishing to use their ACT test for placement will need to have ACT send official scores
to Carl Sandburg College. Official high school transcripts with the ACT score will also be accepted.


Frequently Asked Questions

When will I need to take the COMPASS placement test?

  • After completion of a Sandburg application, you may then schedule your test.
  • Before new full-time students meet with an advisor to register for classes, testing is required.


Where can I take the COMPASS test?

  • The test is administered at all 3 Carl Sandburg College campus locations.
  • If out of district, arrangements may be made to test at your local community college, via remote testing.   Advanced planning is required for this option.


How do I register for the COMPASS test?

  • Main Campus in Galesburg – call (309)-345-3500 or register online.
  • Branch Campus in Carthage – call (217)-357-3129.
  • Extension Center in Bushnell – call (309)-772-2177.


If I have a documented disability, can I receive accommodations for the COMPASS test?

  • Students who need to take the COMPASS test with accommodations based on their disability should contact the Coordinator of Academic Support Services by calling, (309)-341-5262 to make arrangements.


What can I expect on the day of testing?

  • A brief orientation that will include information about campus resources and purpose of the COMPASS.
  • The test consists of three sections; reading, English, mathematics.  There is no pass or fail associated with these tests.  Sections are untimed.  Do not be concerned with the completion time of other test takers!  Most students take anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour per test.  If you are taking all three tests, plan on spending 2.5 hours to complete your placement testing.
  • Post-COMPASS advising provided upon completion of tests.  Staff provides you a copy of your score report, reviews tests results, goals and answers questions.


What should I bring on the day of testing?

  • You must bring a photo ID (driver’s license, state ID, passport or school ID are acceptable forms of ID).
  • You must know your Social Security number.
  • You may choose to bring your own calculator, even though the testing center will provide one.  An on-line calculator will also be available for your use.
  • A positive attitude!  Remember, you cannot fail these tests.


I was not satisfied with my COMPASS test results.  Can I take the test over?

  • A student might feel that they were not prepared.  Sometimes a student might feel that their health was not optimal, thus preventing successful demonstration of their skills.   Sometimes a student feels that the testing conditions were unsatisfactory.  For these and many other reasons, retesting is allowable under A.C.T. guidelines.
  • Students are allowed one retest.
  • A waiting period of 30 days applies to the mathematics section.


Can I prepare for the COMPASS placement tests?

  • To assist you in your preparation, our staff strongly encourages you to check out the following links below.

What is Compass?

Compass Sample Test

Compass Practice Test