COMPASS Placement Test Information & Registration

Compass Placement Exam
Learning Support Program

What is the Compass Exam?

  • COMPASS--Computer-Adaptive Placement Assessment and Support System--is a comprehensive software package developed by ACT to help postsecondary institutions place students into appropriate course levels. 
    Learning Support Program
    Matthews Hall, Room 153
    Box 5171 
    Phone: 931-372-3476
    Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

    Contact the LSP by phone or email for information and to schedule your Compass Exam.
  • COMPASS has been chosen by the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) as an assessment tool used in determining a student's level of preparation for college-level courses.

What is the purpose of the COMPASS?

  • The COMPASS Placement Test has two purposes:
    • First, it checks whether students have the skills to succeed in college-level courses. 
    • Second, it helps to place students in whatever courses they are ready for, either college-level courses or courses to prepare them for college-level courses.
  • COMPASS tests a student's academic preparation in three areas: Writing, Reading Comprehension, and Mathematics. Students do not "PASS" or "FAIL" the COMPASS test; it only determines current skill levels in the area(s) tested in order to be placed appropriately.

Compass Exam Fee $10

  • There is a $10 charge for taking the COMPASS test. [The re-test fee is $20.]

Who must take the COMPASS Placement Test?

  • The Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) requires all universities, community colleges, and technical institutes in its system to follow certain requirements for admitting students. If you apply for regular freshman admission, you must meet these requirements. THE FOLLOWING REQUIREMENTS ARE TBR MINIMUMS FOR REGULAR FRESHMAN ADMISSION:
    • If you are under twenty-one years of age, you must submit an official ACT or SAT score when you apply to be admitted. 
    • If you have not taken the ACT or SAT, you will have to pay for and take the ACT before enrolling. 
    • If your ACT scores are less than three years old as of the first day of classes for the term for which you are planning to enroll, you will be placed automatically by your ACT English, Math, and Reading subscores [see ACT Placement].
  • You may accept the ACT Placement, or if you wish to challenge this placement, you may take the COMPASS test before registering for courses. The English, Math, and Reading subscores of the ACT are used to determine which COMPASS tests you will need to take.
  • If you are twenty-one years old or older, you must take the full battery of COMPASS tests before registering for courses, or you may be screened according to your ACT score if it is less than three years old.
  • If you enroll in a college-level course and do not have the skills needed to succeed there, you will be referred for further testing, advising, and placement. The COMPASS may be part of this.
  • If you are a transfer student who has no college-level course in Mathematics and/or English, you must be tested in the appropriate COMPASS subject area(s). If you have fewer than 9 transferable hours, the ACT is also considered in determining testing requirements.
  • If you lack a high school unit in English or Algebra required for University Admission or Admission to a University Parallel Program at a 2-year college, you must remove this deficiency through the COMPASS Math or English requirements.

These are minimum requirements. THE SCHOOL TO WHICH YOU APPLY MAY REQUIRE MORE. Check the catalog of the school to which you apply or contact the Admissions Office to learn what the institution requires.

When and where will the COMPASS Placement Test be given?

  • All TBR schools give the COMPASS test often. 
  • The test is given on several dates just before a new semester starts. 
  • When you apply, you can get a schedule of the times and places that the test will be given. 
  • The Admissions Office of each school can help you apply and schedule the ACT and/or COMPASS tests. [You must make an appointment for the COMPASS test **LINK** with the Learning Support Program in order to be officially registered for taking the COMPASS test.] You may contact Lydia Kendall by phone at 931-372-3476 or by email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Students with disabilities or students with special needs can take the tests under conditions that allow for their needs. If you have special needs, you should arrange for testing with the Admissions Office when you apply. The Office of Disability Services requires documentation of disability no later than three days prior to the testing date for which you are requesting accommodations. There is no extra charge for special testing.

How much time does the COMPASS test require, and what must be brought to the test center?

You should allow approximately two hours for the entire COMPASS Test. COMPASS is a self-paced, computerized test, which allows you to proceed at your own rate, so you might require more or less time than this estimate would indicate.

You should bring the following information and supplies on the day of the test:

  • Photo ID [driver's license with photo]
  • $10.00 testing fee [for any or all parts of the test] by cash or check made out to TTU/COMPASS test. If you wish to retest, the fee is $20.
  • Your Tenn Tech student identification number [T-number].
  • The COMPASS Test is computerized, so you will not need to bring paper or pens. For the Writing Sample portion of the test, supplies will be furnished by the testing facility. Paper, pencils, and a small calculator will be furnished for use with the Math portion of the COMPASS.
  • COMPASS Test Requirement Letter from the college or university. This letter tells you which test(s) you need to take, where the tests are given, the required fee, and when you are scheduled for taking the test.

You may NOT bring books, dictionaries, calculators, notes, papers, or other aids into the testing center. Students who give or receive help during the COMPASS Placement Test, use notes or aid of any kind, or remove test materials from the testing center will not be admitted to the institution, and their test scores will be disallowed. Such students must wait at least ninety days before taking the test again, and may not enroll at any TBR school during that time.

Under normal circumstances, you would not take the COMPASS Placement Test more than once. When you have taken the test, your scores will be kept on file for use when you enroll for classes. If you transfer to another TBR school, your COMPASS scores will be forwarded. If circumstances make retaking the COMPASS necessary, there is a $20 fee for the retest.

Courses required as the result of COMPASS assessment must be completed during the first term(s) of residency at the university.

  • Students required to take DSP Writing will not be allowed to take college-level English until the DSP requirement has been met.
  • Students required to take DSP Mathematics will not be allowed to take college-level math until the DSP requirement has been met.
  • Students required to take DSP Reading will not be allowed to enroll in college-level courses requiring a great deal of reading (history, sociology, psychology, political science, criminal justice) until the DSP requirement has been met.
  • Students taking Developmental courses in any combination of Writing/Reading/Mathematics are also required to take UNIVERSITY 1030.

How will the COMPASS Placement Test scores be used?

After your COMPASS Test has been scored, you will need to pick up the results at the front of the Testing Center [The essay portion of the test will be scored by committee and will not be available until later. The computerized COMPASS Writing Test measures your editing skills. The essay measures your composition skills. The two will be used together to determine your Writing Placement, and your advisor will be notified of the placement.]. Your scores will be explained to you, and you will need to take a copy of these scores to you academic advisor to be used when choosing your courses for the term. Your advisor will help you to choose and register for the courses you take. Your scores will be used to place you in either college-level courses or the Basic (Remedial)* or Developmental courses that you need.

NOTE: Requirements for DSP courses must be given priority over any other course requirements for your major.

* NOTE: Basic (Remedial) courses are NOT offered at TTU. Basic (Remedial, 0700-level) classes should be completed at one of the Community Colleges available throughout Tennessee. Developmental-level courses in Writing (DSPW0800), Reading (DSPR0800), and Mathematics (DSPM0800, DSPM0850) ARE AVAILABLE at TTU. For more information on TTU's Developmental course offerings, contact the Learning Support Program office and/or check out other areas of this website.

The purpose of the basic (remedial) and developmental courses is to help you succeed in college-level courses. Because these courses must cover a great deal of material in a short period of time, students must work in order to acquire the college-level skills necessary for progression to regular college classes.

For more information about an individual portion of the test:

For further information, see Placement Test Requirements in the TTU Undergraduate Catalog.

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