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Preparing for the COMPASS Placement Test

studentAll students who plan to register for courses with reading, writing, or math prerequisites must complete the COMPASS Placement Test. In order to take the COMPASS Placement Test you must have applied to Columbus State Community College, been accepted and received a Cougar Identification number (student number).

For information about the Admissions process or to apply, check out the Get Started Guide

What is a Cougar Identification number?

It is a seven digit set of numbers listed on your acceptance letter. Find your CougarID

About the test

The COMPASS Placement Test is one of the most important tests you will take at Columbus State Community College. The test does not determine if you are accepted into CSCC, however, it does determine if you qualify to take college-level credit courses or non-credit courses prior to starting your college-level coursework. Taking the placement test seriously and doing well on it saves time and money because you may take fewer courses.

The COMPASS Placement Test consists of three parts: Writing, Math and Reading.

The Writing Skills Test evaluates students’ skill levels in eight content domains:

    • Punctuation
    • Spelling
    • Capitalization
    • Usage
    • Verb formation/agreement
    • Relationships of clauses
    • Shifts in construction
    • Organization

The Math Placement Test is a multiple-choice test that evaluates students' ability levels in terms of basic skills such as performing a sequence of basic operations, application skills such as applying sequences of basic operations, and analysis skills such as demonstrating conceptual understanding of principles and relationships for mathematical operations. The Math Placement Test offers up to five subject areas:

    • Pre-Algebra
    • Algebra
    • College Algebra
    • Trigonometry

 Five types of Reading Comprehension passages are included:

    • Practical Reading
    • Prose Fiction
    • Humanities
    • Social Sciences
    • Natural Sciences

Students who have learned English in countries other than the United States will take the ESL version of the COMPASS test completing the computerized reading and grammar usage components as well as a timed paper/pencil writing sample.

Important information

  • Appointments are not necessary. 
         The test is given individually on a first-come, first- served basis.
         Allow adequate time for traffic and parking.
  • Arrive at least 2-3 hours before closing time.
  • Testing will not be administered two hours prior to closing.
  • Valid official photo ID is required.
  • Cougar ID number is required.
  • Students may use their own calculator or the online calculator on the ACT COMPASS math test. Click the link below for a list of allowed and prohibited calculators.
    Calculator Guidelines for ACT Compass Testing
  • Pencils are available if needed.
  • Scratch paper is provided.
  • No food or drink is permitted.
  • All electronic devices must be turned off and placed in provided lockers.
  • Children are not permitted to wait in the Testing Center lobby or to be left unattended on campus.

Practice Makes Perfect

Preparing yourself for the placement test by reviewing and taking practice tests can save you time and money.

All students are strongly encouraged to click on the links below to take sample writing, reading, and math tests. This will give you a chance to see what the test is like, and also identify areas you need to review before taking your COMPASS Placement Test.


Enroll today in our FREE three-day Compass Placement Boot Camp workshop to learn general test-taking tips as well as specific strategies for success on the reading, writing, and mathematics portions of the placement test.

Our Boot Camp is designed to help students prepare for the COMPASS test so they can enroll in college-level coursework. Sign up today to participate in one of the monthly workshop offerings. We will teach you general test-taking tips and discuss strategies for success in reading, writing, and mathematics. Sign up today to reserve your spot!


Helpful Test Preparation Sites

Math Review Links


Reading and Writing Review Links


ESL Review Links