COMPASS Placement Test

What is COMPASS?

  • COMPASS is a computerized test used by schools to determine placement into your first classes.
  • The test is written by ACT.
  • It has three sections: reading for comprehension, writing skills and math.
  • It is not timed, and takes the average student about two hours to complete.


  • Your success matters to us. You'll be more successful at NMC and beyond when you start in the right classes. Your COMPASS test score will determine where you start in math and English at NMC.
  • The vast majority (more than 85%) of new NMC students start in one of our preparatory math or English classes.
  • You are required to begin these developmental courses in your first semester and complete the sequence of courses as required by your program of study in subsequent semesters.

Do you need to take the test?

Probably. Most students enrolling at NMC need to take at least part of the COMPASS test.

You may only need to take portions of the test:

  • If you have ACT scores of 19 or higher in reading and a 18 or higher in English, you do not need to take the reading/writing portion of COMPASS.
  • If you have an ACT score of 21 or higher in math, you do not need to take the math portion of COMPASS unless you wish to take a class higher than your placement allows. You may register for the following course (or a lower course) based on ACT scores of:

ACT Score

NMC Math Class


MTH 111 Intermediate Algebra OR MTH 120 Mathematical Explorations


MTH 121 College Algebra OR MTH 131 Probability & Statistics OR MTH 205 Math for Elementary Teachers


MTH 122 Trigonometry


MTH 141 Calculus

  • If you have CLEP, AP or college-level English or math credits transferring in or on file with NMC, call the Advising Center at (231) 995-1040 to verify what portion of the test you may need to take.

When to Take COMPASS

  • Take the COMPASS well before the date of your orientation & registration.
  • Individual testing: Convenient walk-in testing is available year round. Check the Student Success Center (Osterlin Building, #3 on the Campus Map) website for hours or call 231-995-2134.
  • Group testing: If you are traveling from outside the local area for orientation & registration, call (231) 995-2134 to reserve a space or schedule yourself online through NMC Self-Service, using your NMC ID and password.

What to Bring to the Exam

  • Know your social security number
  • Photo identification
  • You may use an approved calculator on the math portion of the test. Visit for the latest calculator guidelines.

Re-testing Policy

Students are allowed one re-test on each section of the test.

*Please note we do not accept COMPASS eWrite scores from other testing centers for placement at NMC.*

Contact us »

Help is Available

Your COMPASS scores matter. Here are some of the many resources, including sample tests, to help you prepare (links to external sites open new browser windows):

My NMC Story
...In Six Words

Everything I was hoping and more.

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