What Is the Academic Skills Assessment?
St. Charles Community College expects students to exhibit certain academic skills and competencies before they take college-level courses. The Academic Skills Assessment is a series of basic skills indicators that allow you and your advisor to work together to help you succeed in your courses. There is no "passing" score. Rather, the Academic Skills Assessment scores indicate areas where you are strong, academic areas where you may need help, and which courses to take as a starting point for your educational career. All of the assessments are untimed. Students use an onscreen calculator during the math assessment.
All assessments are administered during regular Assessment Center hours and do not require an appointment.
Contact Disability Support Services, in advance, at 636-922-8581 if you need special accommodations for the Academic Skills Assessment.
Who is required to take the Academic Skills Assessment?
- First-time entering freshmen taking 6 credit hours or more (two or more classes).
- Students planning to take English, math or courses that require English or math as a prerequisite.
- Students who have taken the Academic Skills Assessment more than two years ago and have not since completed a math or English course at the college level.
- Students who do not have a High School Equivalency (HSE) and have not graduated from high school MUST take the assessment and meet with a counselor before they will be allowed to register for any classes.
What will I be tested on?
The Academic Skills Assessment consists of three parts. They are: COMPASS® reading and mathematics, and an English essay.
The reading and mathematics tests are part of the COMPASS® System. This is a computer assessment developed by ACT, Inc. It stands for Computer-adapted Placement Assessment and Support Services. What makes COMPASS® unique is that it adapts to your abilities ... questions increase in difficulty depending on your skill level.
For samples of the COMPASS® assessment questions visit http://www.act.org/compass/sample/index.html.
NOTE - St. Charles Community College will accept the following ACT® scores (taken within the past two years):
- Reading, 18 or above. You do not have to take our Compass® Reading assessment. No developmental reading courses are required.
- Mathematics, 23 or above. You do not have to take our Compass® Mathematics assessment. You may enroll in College Algebra.
- English, 21 or above. You do not have to write an essay. You may enroll in ENG 101, English Composition I.
Non-native English speaking students will be required to take further assessments for possible placement into one or more of our credit awarding English as a Second Language classes. The COMPASS-ESL assessment will be used to measure a student's English listening and reading skills.
But I have no computer experience!
COMPASS® is extremely user-friendly. It was designed for people with little or no computer experience. Assessment Center staff will assist you in getting started. COMPASS® is self-directed. You will use a few keyboard "keys" to select or highlight your responses as you move through the different tests. Like the English essay, COMPASS® is not timed - so you can relax!
What if I fail the tests?
First and foremost, the Academic Skills Assessment is not a pass/fail test; it was developed to assist in college academic advising and course placement. The results will help you choose courses and make appropriate career decisions. In other words, your scores will indicate where your academic strengths and needs lie in relation to college-level work for your chosen major.
- You may be required to enroll in appropriate developmental courses before being allowed to take college-level courses.
- If a student places below MAT 096, the student will be given a resource sheet that will offer options on how to improve his or her math skills. Students must meet with an academic counselor and wait at least one week before retesting.
- If a student places below RDG 085, they must meet with an academic counselor to discuss remediation opportunities.
English Appeals – The English Department encourages students to appeal their writing placement when they believe it is incorrect. Students should begin this appeal process by discussing the options with a counselor. Expect to write two essays. The first essay will be a “take home” essay consisting of approximately 500 words. This essay will be typed and submitted to the Assessment Center when you appear to complete the second essay, which will be approximately 300 words written on a computer under the supervision of a proctor. You must complete the appeal process before starting an English class (a $10 fee will be charged to cover the cost of this assessment appeal).
Mathematics Appeals – The Math Department encourages students to appeal their placement when they believe it is incorrect. Students should begin this appeal process by discussing the options with a counselor. The student may be allowed to reassess using COMPASS (a $10 fee will be charged to cover the cost of the assessment appeal). You will be expected to spend time reviewing skills needed on the Compass assessment before re-testing (a mandatory waiting period of one week is required between testing). If after appealing you feel that you score doesn't reflect your current math skills, you may discuss your situation with the appropriate math department Chairperson located in ADM 2242 (636-922-8496). Any supporting documents, such as ACT scores, high school transcripts and the assessment report should be brought to the appointment. Once you start a math course – no appeal will be allowed.
Reading Appeals – The Reading Department encourages students to appeal their placement when they believe it is incorrect. Students should begin this appeal process by discussing the options with a counselor. The student may be allowed to re-assess using COMPASS (a $10 fee will be charged to cover the cost of the assessment appeal). You will be expected to spend time reviewing skills needed on the Compass assessment before re-testing (a mandatory waiting period of one week is required between testing). Once you start a reading course – no appeal will be allowed.
NOTE - You MUST re-take the English, math or reading assessment if it has been at least two years since you last assessed and you never enrolled in a class. An appeal can be taken one time only. Students that did not place in a course can repeat the appeal process.
You could be advised to withdraw from a college-level course and take assessment tests if the instructor believes you lack necessary skills to continue. A student with an identified deficiency may then enter a recommended developmental course to address the deficiency.
Should you require assistance in meeting academic challenges, the college offers courses in math, reading, study skills and English as well as instructional support services through our Academic and Career Enhancement (ACE) Tutoring Center.
Is there anything I can do to prepare for the Academic Skills Assessment?
Yes! The official Compass website provides a series of sample problems and answer keys you can use to refresh your math, English and writing skills prior to taking the test. Students who have used these review questions have experienced better test results. Our math tip sheet lists additional helpful resources for test preparation.