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Frequently Asked Questions

I have no computer experience.

COMPASS was designed for individuals with little or no computer experience. College staff will assist you in getting started. Once you type in some identifying information (name, address, etc.) you will simply use a few keyboard "keys" to select your responses. COMPASS is not timed, so you can relax!

Where can I take COMPASS?

You can view the COMPASS Assessment locations and contact information, as well as a link to schedule your exam on the COMPASS Scheduling page.​

How long will it take?


COMPASS is computer-adaptive testing, meaning that the computer will administer more or less items to you, depending on how you answered previous questions. Because everyone receives different numbers of items, it is difficult to predict how long it will take. You can expect it to last somewhere between 1.5 - 2 hours. Most importantly, since COMPASS is not timed, you should not rush. Students who relax and take their time are typically more successful test-takers.​


Is it a difficult test?

What makes COMPASS unique is that it adapts to your abilities. Questions increase in difficulty depending on your skill level. You will not receive a large number of questions that are too difficult for you. You will receive just the right amount of items for COMPASS to determine your level.​


What will I be tested on?

Before beginning COMPASS, you need to decide what CVTC program you are interested in. The program you are applying to will determine which subjects you will be tested on.
In COMPASS math, you will be asked to select a correct answer from a list of choices. We will provide scratch paper and a calculator. For most CVTC programs, we are interested only in your pre- algebra (basic math) skills. Testing for some programs will include an assessment of your algebra skills.
The reading section assesses your reading comprehension, also in a multiple-choice format.
The writing section asks the tester to edit a passage of text that has a variety of 'problems' related to grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure.​


When will I find out my scores?

Immediately after testing, you will be provided with a print-out showing your scores. A CVTC staff person will review this with you.​


What if I don't do very well?

For some CVTC programs, specific scores on COMPASS are required to move forward in the admissions process or for course placement.  Students who fail to meet the required score (for program admission or for course placement) will have the option of re-testing for an additional cost.  CVTC has many support services, prepared learner courses, and workshops to assist you in achieving your goal.  Students who have had difficulty meeting the desired score two or more times should meet with the appropriate CVTC counselor to refer you to appropriate CVTC services and to help you understand how to best be successful once you enter classes.


Do I need to prepare before taking COMPASS?

Our pre-entry testing is designed to assess your current skills, in order to determine your readiness for CVTC classes. It is recommended to study before taking COMPASS. However, staff in all of our CVTC Learning Centers would be happy to help you brush up, if you have been out of school for awhile or feel 'rusty' in one or more areas. All Learning Center services are free! Call the center most convenient to you for their schedule.​


Tips for taking COMPASS


  • Relax! The COMPASS tests are designed to help you succeed in college. Once you identify your academic strengths and needs you can select the right courses and get the help you need to improve underdeveloped skills.
  • Pace yourself! Test questions increase in difficulty, and there is no time limit for COMPASS.
  • Ask questions if you do not understand the process for COMPASS. CVTC staff are available to help you.​