Placement Testing

Placement Testing

Kishwaukee College is an open admission institution requiring placement testing to determine a student's appropriate placement in college courses. Students must take the placement test or submit ACT scores* before enrolling in English or math courses or any courses with an English or math pre-requisite.

*Students with prior college coursework or high ACT scores may not need to take all or portions of the placement test. Official transcripts should be submitted to the Admissions, Records, and Registration Office for evaluation. ACT scores are valid for 5 years.

ACT Sub-Score Kishwaukee College Course
English = 23+ ENG 103 or ENG 109
Math* = 25+ MAT 101, 150, 201, 208
*Requires geometry component (high school or other)


COMPASS Placement Test Information

The college administers the COMPASS placement test, which is an adaptive, computer-based test. Students needing to take all 3 subjects will test in math, reading and writing skills (in that order). The math test starts in numerical skills/pre-algebra. Students can be advanced from numerical skills/pre-algebra to algebra to college algebra to trigonometry, if they demonstrate sufficient knowledge in each area. The test is not timed but the average time to take all three subjects is 2 hours.

Placement test and ACT scores are valid for a five year period. If coursework has not been successfully completed within 5 years of testing, new placement testing will be required.

Students who have completed COMPASS testing in reading and writing at another college may use scores for placement. Tests must have been completed within the last 5 years and official scores submitted to the Admissions Registration and Records office. Students who previously tested COMPASS for dual credit in high school are permitted (but not required) to test COMPASS (no fee) and re-test ($10 fee applies) once they apply as incoming college students.

Frequently Asked Questions about Placement Testing

Tips for Taking COMPASS Tests

Students must complete and submit a Student Information Form prior to scheduling their placement test.

Students requiring accommodations for a disability should contact the Assistive Resources Center/Disability Services at 815-825-9467 prior to discuss this request.

To schedule an appointment for the placement test, call the Counseling & Student Development office at 815-825-9514.

The placement test is administered by appointment in the Learning Skills Center (LSC), Room A1300. Directions to the LSC.

A photo ID is required for all testing.

Preparing for the Placement Test

Students are encouraged to study for the COMPASS placement test because it determines where you will start at Kishwaukee College. Lower scores may result in 1 to 3 additional semesters of coursework that do not count toward your degree (called developmental courses). Reviewing math formulas, grammar rules and reading basics can refresh your skills and help build confidence for testing.

Sample COMPASS Questions - all sections



*Special thanks to Matthew Horton from University of North Georgia for allowing us to link to his website.

The Kishwaukee College Library also has materials to help you review before taking your placement tests. Compass exam questions and study guides are available for check out in the College Prep collection located near the Circulation Desk. General Math, Reading and Writing review books are available in the General Stacks. Community members are able to check out library materials with proof of residency and a photo ID.

The DeKalb and Sycamore public libraries also have test preparation websites

What Your Score Means

Math COMPASS Score

Test Math Score Math Course Placement
PRE-ALGEBRA 0 to 23 MAT 055* Arithmetic
  24 to 100 GO TO ALGEBRA TEST
ALGEBRA 0 to 31 MAT 065* Elementary Algebra
COLLEGE ALGEBRA 0 to 32 MAT 085* Intermediate Algebra
TRIGONOMETRY 0 to 33 MAT 101, 150, 201, 208
  34 to 100

MAT 155, 201, 211, 229

Reading COMPASS Scores

COMPASS Reading Score Reading Course
0 to 48 ENG 096 Basic Reading Skills
49 to 72 ENG 098 Reading Improvement
73+ College Level

Students wanting to register for the BNA NUR100 course need a reading score of 50+

Writing Skills COMPASS Scores

COMPASS Writing Score Writing Course
0 to 24 ENG 095 Basic Writing Skills
25 to 55 ENG 097 Writing Improvement
56 to 69 plus Reading of 64+ ENG 097 or ENG 109
70 or higher plus Reading of 70-72 ENG 103 while taking ENG 098 concurrently
70 or higher plus Reading of 73+ ENG 103 Composition I
Re-Testing COMPASS

Students are allowed to challenge their placement with one (1) re-test of each COMPASS section, as long as they have not taken a course in that subject area (Math, Reading, or Writing). Students must wait a minimum of 24 hours to re-test. There is a $10 re-test fee per section (paid in the Business Office). Students are advised to study prior to re-testing.

Re-test Process for Reading & Writing Skills:

  1. Call Testing Services at 815-825-9841 to schedule an appointment.
  2. Pay the re-test fee at the Business Office.
  3. Re-test the COMPASS Reading and/or Writing Skills test in the Learning Skills Center, room A1300.

Re-test Process for Math:

  1. Call Testing Services at 815-825-9841 to schedule an appointment for a diagnostic exam.
  2. Pay the re-test fee at the Business Office.
  3. Take the COMPASS diagnostic test in the Learning Skills Center, room A1300. In order to identify gaps in student knowledge, the COMPASS diagnostic exam is required prior to re-testing the COMPASS math placement test.
  4. Schedule an appointment to meet with the Math Coordinator to receive specific direction and study materials based on the results of the diagnostic test.

Matt Read, Math Department Coordinator
Email: (preferred method of communication)
Phone: 815-825-9463
Office: A2207

  1. Schedule an appointment with Testing Services and re-test COMPASS math section in the Learning Skills Center, room A1300.

You may also read A Guide for Placement Testing for additional information.