COMPASS® is an untimed, computerized assessment that helps Western staff members evaluate your skills for placement purposes. It’s a computer-adaptive test, meaning that the difficulty of the questions varies based on your previous answers. COMPASS offers short tests in reading, writing, and math. It’s designed for individuals with little or no computer skills. You can work at your own pace with a proctor available to offer technical assistance. When you finish the test, an advisor will meet with you to review your scores and explain the next steps in the enrollment process.

Is there a cost?

There is a $20.00 charge for the COMPASS series if you complete two or more subject tests. If you are taking one portion of the test, the cost is $10. A fee of $10 will also be charge for each retest session regardless of the number of subject tests you complete.

You may qualify for a fee waiver if one of the following situations applies:

  • Worked with an instructor in Learner Support and Transition, and obtained a Recommendation to Retest Form.
  • Active veteran working through Veteran’s Services
  • Division of Vocational Rehabilitation client
  • High school student receiving free or reduced school lunch
  • Assessment Services will waive fee based on your current situation.

If you are testing at the La Crosse Campus, you will need to pay your testing fees at the Cashier’s Office (Welcome Center) prior to testing. If you are testing at one of the outreach campuses (Black River Falls, Independence, Mauston, Tomah or Viroqua), you will pay at the front desk or when the proctor checks you in.

Can I use a calculator?

A basic calculator and scratch paper will be provided by the Assessment Center for use during the math portion. While a calculator option is available on-screen, Western has determined that only the hand held calculator will be allowed based on the following rationale:

"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."

From The Western Math Department

Scheduling Remote Testing

If you do not reside in the Western Technical College District or are not able to complete COMPASS testing at a Western site, you still may complete Western’s COMPASS test by accessing the test remotely. To do this, you will need to locate an ACT testing site near you which offers COMPASS testing. Call Assessment Services for assistance at 608-785-9566.