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COMPASS
[COMPUTER ADAPTIVE PLACEMENT ASSESSMENT AND SUPPORT SYSTEM]
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Western New Mexico University considers appropriate course placement to be essential to success in all academic areas. In order to assist students and advisors in selecting the best course, the ACT-COMPASS assessment has been implemented.

COMPASS is administered on a computer using a standard keyboard. The test is designed to determine skill level in one or more basic academic areas: Reading, Writing/English, and/or Mathematics.

TRANSFER students should contact the Admissions Office at (505) 538-6106 to determine if previous coursework will exempt them from taking the COMPASS test.

THE PURPOSE OF THE TESTS:
COMPASS system is composed of tests in three subject areas: writing, reading, and mathematics. By assessing ability levels in these areas, the COMPASS will help to determine appropriate writing, mathematics, and reading courses.

READING PLACEMENT TEST:
The Reading Test focuses on reading comprehension. This section contains two basic types of questions: multiple choice and test highlighting. For these items, the examinee determines the correct alternative. Two to four passages may be presented from the following areas: humanities, prose fiction, natural sciences and/or social sciences. The reading skills assessed are referring and reasoning. Referring items measure skills in critical understanding, determining specific meanings, and inferences. In some instances, students are given a set of items that are used to measure prior knowledge of a passage topic. The purpose of the prior knowledge section is to determine the level of "common" knowledge a student initially had about the general topic of the passage. The Reading Test determines whether the student has the reading skills necessary to succeed in college-level courses or whether skill-building courses are required.

WRITING SKILLS PLACEMENT TEST:
The Writing Skills Test determines whether a student has the skills and knowledge to succeed in a college-level composition course. This test evaluates editing skills used for checking passages for errors. Students are required to identify an error and then to correctly select an appropriate revision. The passage errors assess sentence structure, grammar and usage, and punctuation. A final set of questions measures a studentís organizational and rhetorical skills. The test determines placement into a developmental Writing course or an English Composition I course.

MATHEMATICS PLACEMENT TEST:
The Mathematics Test assesses studentsí knowledge in three levels of math skills: pre-algebra/numerical skills, algebra, and college algebra. Pre-algebra/numerical items range from basic math concepts and skills (integers, fractions, and decimals) to the knowledge and skills that are required in an entry-level algebra course (absolute values, percentages and exponents). The algebra items are essentially questions from elementary and intermediate algebra (equations, polynomials, formula manipulations, and algebraic expressions). The college algebra test measures algebra knowledge and skill in operations with matrices, functions, and factorials. The test measures three general levels of performance: basic skills, applications, and analysis.

COMPASS TEST TAKING TIPS
  • Bring your driverís license or another form of picture I. D.
  • If you wear glasses or contacts, be sure to have them with you.
  • DO YOUR BEST. Test scores will be used to place you in the appropriate classes.
  • Be well rested before the test. Most students complete the test in under two hours.
  • Bring or know your Social Security Number
Your test results will be available immediately following your test. Keep your test results, as you might need them at a later date.

You can find out more about COMPASS testing at the Academic Support Center here.
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