The admissions testing program is a series of short placement tests that lets you and Western work together to help you succeed in your educational program. Each test helps you identify your strengths, as well as the knowledge and skills you will need in order to succeed in specific subject areas. The results of these assessments can identify problems in major subject areas before they disrupt your educational progress giving you the opportunity to prepare more effectively for needed courses. After you have completed the test series you will receive your results immediately following the test session. You will be notified by mail within a few weeks about your admission status. If further explanation of your test results are needed, please make an appointment with a program counselor by calling 608.785.9553, or 1.800.322.9982.
What is COMPASS?
COMPASS is a computer based series of basic skills assessments developed by the American College Testing company (ACT). COMPASS stands for COMputer-adapted Placement Assessment and Support Services. The test is designed for individuals with little or no computer skills. This test is not timed and there will be a proctor available to help you if you need additional assistance.
The COMPASS exam includes subtests in the basic skills of writing, reading, and math (including pre-algebra and algebra) is required for admission into a program at Western. In addition, the admissions testing program contains some demographic/background information that supplements your test scores by providing Western with information about your educational needs and goals.
COMPASS is an admission requirement for most of our Associate Degree and Technical Diploma programs at Western. If you have a bachelor's degree or have taken the COMPASS, ACT or Asset exam within the last five years you may not need to take COMPASS test.If you have already taken the ACT test and scored low in one or more of the subtest areas (Reading, English or Math) you would only need to take the COMPASS in the areas where you didn't meet the required cut-score. Successful completion of some college coursework in the area of writing or math can eliminate the need to take those parts of the COMPASS test. If you have taken college level course and are unsure if you need to test in a certain area, you can call the Counseling Center at 608.785.9553. To call toll free 1.800.322.9982 and ask to speak to an advisor.
Students' Compass scores are released from Western only at the written request of the student with the student's signature. The request must specify to whom the scores are to be released to and the date that the release was requested. Students may view their records and examine any particular documents with the registrar.
Compass Release Forms
Release forms may be picked up in Assessment Center R-200 or download a printable Compass Release Form PDF file. Compass score information is not available over the telephone.
Are there additional tests I need to take?
A keyboarding exam may also be required depending on your program choice. The passing requirement for the Keyboard Proficiency test for the Medical Assistant program is 25 WPM all other programs that require the typing test require 35WPM with 2 or fewer errors.
The Criminal Justice and Nursing program also have additional testing that is required after you meet the COMPASS or Asset cut-scores.
- Criminal Justice testing times - If you have a bachelor's degree, you are not required to take the National Criminal Justice Officer Selection Inventory (NCJOSI).
- Nursing testing times - If you have already taken the ACT Exam and received the following scores: English 19+, Reading 20+ and Math 19+, you are not required to take the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) test.
Spanish Placement Test
The WebCAPE (Computer Adaptive Placement Exams) Spanish test is designed to measure your current skill level in Spanish, and then to place you in the correct course according to your skills. This multiple-choice exam presents questions of different ability levels, adapting the next question's level according to your answers. The number of questions you will be required to complete depends upon your ability to use the language.
- You must call 608.785.9566 to set up an appointment to test.
- The duration of the test varies, but usually takes 15-20 minutes to complete.
- There are no listening portions or speaking portions.
- The cost of the test is $10.00 and must be paid on line with a debit or credit card when you log into the test site on the computer.
- You must have appropriate photo ID to be admitted.
- You will receive your score immediately.
If you need to study, please do so before you come in to take the test. While there are no official study guides available, you may certainly review textbooks that you still have from previous study. You can also go online and type "Spanish review" in the search box of your favorite search engine.
Placement Rules for WebCAPE Spanish placement test
When and where can I take the test?
All assessments are by appointment and times and dates vary from campus to campus. You should contact the campus where you would like to take your exam to schedule a time.
Appointments are needed at all Western locations.
La Crosse400 Seventh Street North,
Academic Resource Center, Room 200
La Crosse, WI 54602-0908
Mon., Tues., Thurs., Fri., 9:00 am
Tues., Wed., Thurs., 1:00 pm
Wed., 3:30 pm
Black River Falls24 Fillmore Street,
Black River Falls, WI 54615
1st Thursday of the month 5-8 pm
3rd Thursday of the month 9-12 pm
Independence36084 Walnut Street,
Independence, WI 54747
1st Thursday of the month 1:00 pm
3rd Monday of the month 6:00 pm
Mauston1000 College Avenue,
Mauston, WI 53948
608.847.7364 or 608.847.7365
2nd Wednesday of the month 9:00 am
4th Wednesday of the month 5:00 pm
Tomah120 East Milwaukee Street
Tomah, WI 54660
1st Monday of the month 5:00 pm
2nd Friday of the month 9:00 am
3rd Saturday of the month 9:00 am
Viroqua220 South Main Street,
Viroqua, WI 54665-0431
1st Thursday of the month 9:00 am
3rd Thursday of the month 9:00 am & 4:00 pm
There is a $20.00 charge for the complete testing series and a retest fee of $10.00 for each retesting. You need to pay the fee at the Cashier's office, located in the Welcome Center (400 Seventh Street North), prior to taking the test if you are testing at the La Crosse campus. Please take the time to go to the Cashier, pay and get a receipt BEFORE your planned testing time. You will be required to present your receipt at the time you take your test. The receipt will not be replaced if lost, and the fee is nonrefundable.
If you are testing at one of the outreach campuses (Black River Falls, Independence, Tomah or Viroqua) you will pay at the front desk or when the proctor checks you in.
You will also need picture identification (i.e.: driver's license or high school student ID).
You need to know your social security number but do NOT need to bring your card with you.
From the Western Math Department
"At Western, our goal is to place each student in the most appropriate math class for his or her current skill level. To ensure that you're not placed in a course that you'll feel unprepared for, we need to identify math skills that you have and feel confident with. Since scientific calculators have many advanced features that make it easy to compute correct answers without a true understanding of the process, they are not allowed on the Compass placement test. Instead, a basic calculator is provided for you to use."
You will be provided with a basic function calculator to use on the math portion.
Test anxiety occurs for many reasons-negative past experiences, fear of the unknown, and fear of failure. Tension and anxiety can become so intense that we may experience some physical symptoms. Shortness of breath, nausea, headache, and that "sick-all-over" feeling are some examples. Whatever the reason for your anxiety, there are some ways to help keep things in perspective. Being prepared helps but you can also try the following:
- Use relaxation techniques. Remember, these 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.
- Be certain that you understand the directions for each test before that test section begins. Ask questions if you need to-the proctor is there to help you.
- Read each question carefully until you understand what the question is asking.
- Answer every item. There is no penalty for guessing.
- The tests are not timed so you should take your time and take breaks when you need them.
If you are in need of specific testing accommodations, please contact our Disability Services office at 608.785.9875. Persons requesting accommodations will need to meet qualifying criteria.
Our pre-entry testing is designed to assess current skills and it is generally not necessary to study for the COMPASS test. However, if you would like to familiarize yourself with the types of questions you may see on the exam, click on the document below for a helpful study guide.
If you have difficulty with the questions within this study guide, you may not be ready to take the COMPASS exam. A classroom or lab type of review of math, writing, or reading skills is available at no cost. For further information, call Instructional Support Services at 608.785.9535.
For a sample of questions typically found in the admissions test, Compass Study Guides go to this website www.act.org