Compass Information

Notice: Compass Assessment is available until February 28, 2016

NIACC does not require students to take the ACT or SAT exams. However, if you choose not to take the ACT or SAT, you are required to take the Compass Assessment.  Compass is an untimed, computerized test that evaluates skills in reading, writing, and mathematics to assist in placing you in the appropriate courses. Compass assesses your strengths and weaknesses in these subjects, allowing our academic counselors to place you in the right classes for you, right away. Being placed in the right class level from the very start means you can get the help you need, in the subjects you need. You can find NIACC’s placement guidelines here (page 18-19).

Already have Transfer Credits?

If you are a transfer student and have credits from another college and have earned a C or higher in any reading, writing or mathematics courses, you will not be required to take the Compass. However, we must have the college transcript on file with these courses on it in order to register for classes.  If at any point your academic counselors feels you may benefit from completing a current assessment, you will be asked to take a portion or all of the assessment.

Preparing for the Compass

It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the types of questions asked before taking the ACT Compass. Sample test questions are available on the official ACT Compass website. (link: While you cannot bring your own calculator, a calculator and scratch paper will be provided by the NIACC test administrators.

If I have a learning disability are special arrangements available?

Yes. If you have a disability, call the Student Access Center at 641.422.4296 and request special assessment arrangements.

Scheduling a time to take the Compass

The Compass test is offered on the following days and times, including during new student orientation. While the assessment is not timed, please plan on 1 ½ – 2 hours to complete the full assessment.

Mondays, Tuesday and Fridays at 8:30 a.m. or 12:30 p.m.
To schedule your Compass Assessment, contact the Admissions Office at 641.422.4245 or 1-888-GO NIACC 4245.

Sending your Compass Scores to another College

If you need your COMPASS scores mailed or faxed to another college or university, we will be glad to assist you with this. There is a $15 charge to have your COMPASS scores sent to another college (or $5 per assessment completed).