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Center for Extended Learning

Compass Testing

The Compass is an untimed, computerized test that allows universities to evaluate your skills in certain subject areas and place you into appropriate courses. Compass offers tests in reading, writing, math, and English as a Second Language. Compass test results and placement information is available immediately upon completion of the Compass test. Most testers find the Compass takes approximately an hour.

Compass Registration Process & Fee
To schedule a Compass test please contact the ATC test center at 701-858-3830 or 701-858-3990.

A $20 fee is required for per COMPASS test. Each additional COMPASS test taken during the same administration is $10. The following examinees will have this fee waived for the original test and one retake:

  • Minot State University Students
  • Dakota College at Bottineau Students
  • MSU Dual Credit Students
  • Students with a current MSU application on file (including application fee)

Additional exemptions may be allowed on a case by case basis as determined by CEL and the requesting department. 

Examinees wishing to take the COMPASS at a remote testing site can contact the test center administrator at 701-858-3990 to receive a registration number. Examinees may be responsible for a test administration fee at the site where the exam is being given.

Retest Policy
Examinees may only retake the COMPASS if one of the following criteria is met:

  • Outside factors influenced the examinee’s performance on the assessment and thus it was not a true measure of his/her abilities. Examples include the examinee becomes ill during the exam, technical difficulties, or a disturbance in the test room.
  • A significant change has occurred in the examinee’s ability. For example, the examinee completed additional education in the area of assessment. If an examinee wishes to take the COMPASS more than three times, documented evidence of additional training must be provided.

In the event a retake is authorized, the retake may not occur on the same day as the original test. No more than two tests may occur in the same seven day period. Also an examinee may not take more than three of the same assessments in a 30 day period.

Sending COMPASS Scores to Another Institution
To have your scores sent to another institution, complete the Compass Score Authorization form and submit it to the Academic Testing Center.

Mathematics Placement Test
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 to novel settings or in complex ways, and analysis skills such as demonstrating conceptual understanding of principles and relationships for mathematical operations.

A basic four function calculator will be available for use during the Compass test. Students may elect to bring their own calculator. The following calculators are prohibited:

  • Calculators with built-in computer algebra systems Prohibited calculators in this category include:
    • Texas Instruments: All model numbers that begin with TI-89 or TI-92 and the TI-Nspire CAS—Note: The TI-Nspire (non-CAS) is permitted.
    • Hewlett-Packard: HP 48GII and all model numbers that begin with HP 40G, HP 49G, or HP 50G
    • Casio: Algebra fx 2.0, ClassPad 300 and ClassPad 330, and all model numbers that begin with CFX-9970G
  • Handheld, tablet, or laptop computers, including PDAs
  • Electronic writing pads or pen-input devices—Note: The Sharp EL 9600 is permitted.
  • Calculators built into cell phones or any other electronic communication devices
  • Calculators with a typewriter keypad (letter keys in QWERTY format) — Note: Letter keys not in QWERTY format are permitted.

Preparation materials

  • ACT Compass offers sample test questions.
  • Khan Academy has hundreds of short math prep videos by topic from basic math skills to college algebra.
  • TestPrepPractice offers free online compass practice tests.
  • S.O.S. Mathematics offers tutorials in algebra, trigonometry, calculus, differential equations, complex variables, fractions and measurement.

Writing Skills Placement Test
The Writing Skills Placement Test is a multiple-choice test that requires students to find and correct errors in essays in the areas of usage and mechanics, including basic grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure, and rhetorical skills, including strategy, organization, and style. This test is used for placement in an English class at MSU.

Preparation Materials

  • ACT Compass offers sample test questions.
  • Purdue Owl offers some great resources on punctuation and language usage. See the style and language section.
  • TestPrepPractice offers free online compass practice tests.
  • Grammar Bytes offers English preparation through a MOOC (massive open online course).