Placement Testing

The Assessment Center at Waukesha County Technical College provides a secure and confidential testing environment for college students and community members to support the achievement of professional and educational goals. Tests that can be taken at the center include COMPASS, ASSET, Spanish Assessment and CLEP.

COMPASS Testing

The COMPASS test is a series of short basic skills tests developed by American College Testing (ACT) that measures proficiency in the areas of reading, writing and math. It is required by anyone taking credit classes. The COMPASS is an individualized and untimed computer-based test. Test-takers will use a mouse to select or highlight responses, and computer skills are not necessary.

The COMPASS test is very important. Scores in reading, writing and math will determine what courses a student can enroll in for their first semester, which will affect how quickly a student can complete a degree at WCTC. While the COMPASS test is untimed, please be sure to allow enough time to complete the test without feeling rushed. Typically, the test takes 1.5 to 2 hours.

Scores are used to assist with academic planning and course selection. Course placement may be developmental in nature and not apply to a program; however, these courses will help students build basic skills needed for success in program courses.

Sign up to Take the Test

  • Sign up online.
  • Call 262.695.6215.
  • Stop by the Assessment Center, located in the College Center, Room C-022.

Testing will take place in the computer lab adjacent to the Assessment Center. Test-takers should arrive 15 minutes prior to the start of the test.

Areas of Testing

The COMPASS exam tests skills in the following areas:

  • Reading - Measures ability to find specific information within the text and make logical inferences beyond the text information. Focus is placed on reading comprehension.
  • Writing - Measures understanding of appropriate use of grammar, punctuation, writing style and writing strategy; review essay to find and correct errors.
  • Mathematics - Assesses skills in basic math through algebra, depending on skill level. Test questions become progressively more difficult until skill level is verified. Calculators are allowed. Check out the current calculator guidelines.

Sample questions are available on the ACT website.

COMPASS Preparation

COMPASS tests student proficiency in the areas of reading, writing and math; test results indicate areas of strength and those in which additional help may be needed. The test is a key tool used for academic planning and coursework selection.

  • To review basic skills before taking the COMPASS placement test, visit the Learning Place (Pewaukee Campus, Building B, Room B-176) on a walk-in basis, or call 262.691.5318 for available hours.
  • Sign up for a testing session online, or contact the Assessment Center at 262.695.6215.

Resources to prepare for assessment tests

Come Prepared on Test Day

  • Test takers will need a photo ID (driver's license, student ID) and calculator.
  • Food and drink are not allowed at the testing session. The use of mobile phones and other electronic devices may not be used during testing.

Special Accommodations (for ASSET Testing and ESL COMPASS)

  • For those with a learning or physical disability who require special accommodations, contact the Student Accessibility office, Deb Jilbert, director, at 262.691.5210. These students will likely take the ASSET test.
    • ASSET test: Like the COMPASS test, the ASSET test is a series of short placement tests in the areas of writing, reading and math, developed by ACT. This initial placement test will take the place of the COMPASS test.
  • For those whom English is a second language, contact the Assessment Center staff to take the ESL COMPASS exam. This consists of reading, listening and grammar, along with the math portion of the traditional COMPASS exam, if needed for a specific program.

Results, Scores and Placement Guidelines

COMPASS test results are available immediately upon test completion. Score reports include course placement recommendations. Please see the chart below for course placement information for WCTC Associate of Applied Science Degree programs.

Review score and placement information

Alternatives to Taking the COMPASS Test

While the COMPASS test is considered the primary college placement test at WCTC, other criteria such as college credits or scores from previously taken tests, including the ACT or Accuplacer, may be used in place of the COMPASS test.

Learn more about alternatives to taking the compass test

Additional Testing Services

The Assessment Center also offers testing services for:

  • The College-Level Examination Program (CLEP), which can lead to earning college credits prior to beginning your WCTC studies.
  • Spanish Assessment of Basic Education (SABE) and Spanish Language Assessment, which tests speaking and writing skills in Spanish and English. This is required for those entering the Language Interpreter for the Health Services program.

Learn more about CLEP and SABE testing services.