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Testing Center Frequently Asked Questions

What is the college placement test?
The primary goal for Triton College is to provide opportunities for students to be successful. To support this success, the college placement test is the tool used to help determine appropriate course placement for new students. Triton College uses the COMPASS, a computer-based assessment developed by ACT, Inc., as its placement exam. The test assesses students’ skills in mathematics, reading, and writing. A writing essay is used for the writing assessment.

Do I need to take the placement test?
To demonstrate that they possess basic skills necessary for the success in their selected program of study, all new students enrolling in college credit courses at Triton College are required to complete college placement exams.

How does the placement test impact my success at Triton?
The placement exam is designed to help students to become more aware of their academic strengths in the areas of mathematics, reading, and writing. Each of these skills may be necessary to our students’ success in the classroom. Using the placement results, students will be able to make more informed decisions about course selection in consultation with their counselor. Please note that placement test results alone do not determine a student’s overall success at Triton College.

How long are test scores valid?
Test scores are valid for two years from the date of the first examination.

Can I retake the placement test if I don’t like my scores?
Students are allowed to retake the placement test once during the first year and once during the second year. If students are enrolled in a math or English course, they must wait until they have completed the course before retaking the COMPASS.

How can I qualify for a waiver of the placement test?
Students may receive a waiver of all or a portion of the placement exam requirement if they possess one or more of the following:
   • ACT-English and Reading scores of 20 or higher within the last two years
   • ACT-Math score of 23 or higher within the last two years
   • Documentation of a grade of “C” or higher in college level English and/or Mathematics courses from a regionally accredited institution
   • Approval of the Dean or designee

How can I prepare for the placement test?
Students may prepare for the placement exam by completing the review provided at There is a large selection of review questions on the site. Students may also contact the Academic Success Center at extension 3341 for assistance with test preparation.

Is there a fee for the placement test?
The first placement test is offered at no cost to students. However, students will be required to pay a minimal fee to retake the exam.

How long does it take to complete the test?
It takes approximately 2-2 ½ hours to complete the full placement exam. The math and reading tests are untimed. However, students have 45 minutes to complete the written essay.

How can I receive accommodations to take the placement test?
Students who desire accommodations should first contact Triton’s Center for Access and Accommodative Services (CAAS) prior to going to the Testing Center. CAAS staff will then work to ensure that appropriate accommodations are provided so that students will have an optimal testing experience.

Do I have to take all three subject placement tests at the same time?
While we strongly encourage students to complete all of the subject tests at one time, they may decide to take the tests on different dates. Students will need to notify testing staff prior to examination of the tests that they desire to take on a given day.