Placement Testing FAQs

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Why do I have to take placement tests?
Parkland wants you to succeed! Starting your studies in the right course (not too easy, not too hard) will enhance your chances of doing well academically. Your placement test results will be used to place you in appropriate courses.

How will I know what test(s) to take?
Call us at 217/351-2432 to make an appointment. All new degree-seeking students must be assessed in reading, writing, and mathematics. We will determine which tests you will need to take based on the information you provided during the application process. If you do not have previous college credit or appropriate ACT or SAT scores, you can expect to take tests in reading, writing, and math. If English is not your first language and you do not have sufficiently high TOEFL scores, you'll take the ESL compass placement test.

How long will the tests take?
The reading, English, and math tests are not timed, but most people spend approximately one hour on each test. If you are taking all three tests, plan on spending 1-1⁄2 to 3 hours in the Assessment Center. The ESL Placement Test is not timed, and most people spend about 2 hours on it. All essays are timed, with a choice of 2 topics.

What are the tests like?
The placement tests are given on the computer using software called COMPASS from ACT, Inc. COMPASS uses adoptive technology that constantly evaluates your skill level as you go along and adjusts the questions until it determines which course is the right one for you to begin with. The tests are untimed. You work at your own pace! On these tests, accuracy is more important than speed.

Will I need computer skills for COMPASS?

COMPASS was designed for individuals with little or no computer experience. You will use a keyboard to type in your name and ID number. Then you will use a mouse to indicate your answers. There is a tutorial on how to use a computer mouse that you may take before your test begins, if you wish. The Assessment Center staff is always available to answer any questions you may have about how to use the computer.

Should I review for the assessment tests?

YES! Please refer to Placement Test Prep Resources for study resources and to see sample questions. Reviewing course work in a specific area will help refresh your memory about the material. For example, it is helpful to review pre-algebra and algebra before attempting the math test. Remember that the results of the placement tests determine which courses you can take, so it's important to do your best.
 
What if I fail the placement exams?
You CANNOT FAIL a placement test! The results simply indicate which course you should enroll in, based on your academic strengths in relation to college-level work. For example, there are 29 different math courses and 5 different English composition courses. Placement tests help narrow down the options to a reasonable number. If the results show that you need help preparing for college-level work, you will be placed in the appropriate course or courses for improving those skills.

What should I bring when I come to take my tests?

You must bring current, valid photo identification. Acceptable photo identification includes an official photo ID card issued by a school, employer, or city/state/government agency (such as a driver's license or passport) on which both your name and current photo appear. NO PHOTO IDENTIFICATION = NO TEST!

What should I NOT bring?
The Assessment Center provides all the test materials you will need, including a calculator that can be used on the math test. Nothing you bring can go into the testing room. We will hold your ID and cell phone while you test. All other personal items, pens, pencils, books, purses, including pagers, other electronic devices, electronic or printed dictionaries, food, and drinks, will be put into an assigned locker. Children are not permitted in the testing room, and Parkland College does not allow unattended children on campus. Please make appropriate arrangements before reporting for testing.

When will I get my test results?
COMPASS placement test results are available immediately. You will be given a copy to go away with. Essay results are usually available within a couple of days. Please note that Federal law prohibits us from giving test results over the phone. You must come in person to Room U204 with a photo ID to get your test results.
 

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2400 West Bradley Ave | Champaign, IL 61821 | 217.351.2200 | 800.346.8089
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