You are on page 1of 13

The Testing Center is open*

8:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday

8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Fridays
To insure adequate testing time, students should
arrive by 2:00 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 1:00 p.m. on Friday
Telephone (276) 523-2400, ext. 283
*Testing Center hours are subject to change.
Modified schedules are posted when changes occur.

Children and guest are not allowed to wait in testing area


If you took the SAT or ACT in high school, you may be exempt from taking the
COMPASS/ASSET Placement Test. You must submit a documented copy of your SAT
or ACT scores to the testing center. Effective Spring 2004, you must have the following
scores to be exempt:
SAT Writing 500
ACT English - 21
SAT Reading 500
ACT Reading - 21
SAT Math 500
ACT Math - 21
For more information, contact the MECC Testing Center in Student Services.

The tests that you are about to take are part of a system named
COMPASS (Computer-Adaptive Placement Assessment and Support System)
which is used to place you in classes that match your abilities. This
assessment test assists your advisor in registering you for classes that are
appropriate for your ability level in reading, writing. These scores will place you
in courses that will help you develop the necessary skills for optimal success in
your future classes. Therefore, it is very important you fully understand the
reason for taking this assessment and do your very best. The testing process

will enable you and your advisor to plan courses that allow you to graduate with the
highest grade point average possible and in the most efficient time frame.
COMPASS is a placement test, which is different than most tests you have taken
in the past. Unlike most tests you have taken before, you cant fail this test. Only
correct answers are counted; there is no penalty for wrong answers. You will need to
bring picture identification. Scrap paper and pencils will be provided. The assessment
test takes an average time of two hours to complete.
It is recommended that you take a break between each section (reading and
writing) in order to re-charge your mental energy level.

1. Reading Skills
Reading Comprehension
Finding the Main Idea
Locating Explicit Information
Making Inferences
2. Writing Skills
Writing Diagnostic Scores
Verb Formation/Agreement
Relationships of Clauses
Shifts in Construction

Steps to View Compass Tutorial on MECCs Web Site

Go to Students
Click on Compass Tutorial
View the text only version or Download the Flash Video Version

Read the general instructions slowly, and follow them carefully.

Educated guesses are worthwhile because only correct answers are counted;

Make changes in answers cautiously; be sure the change is justified and not due to

Close your eyes and take five deep breaths from your abdomen just prior to the test.

Eat a healthy breakfast the morning of the test. Your mind is like a muscle; it needs
fuel to work at peak levels.


Typically, even people who are not familiar with computers find
COMPASS easy to manage. Your test coordinator will always be
present to answer questions about the computer. You will need to type
in your name, social security number, and other personal
identification at the beginning. The most frequently used keys are

A, B, C, D, E, F, H, S, and Spacebar.

If you have any questions or problems regarding the operation of the computer,
contact the Coordinator of Testing for help.


What is the purpose of this test?


The purpose of this test is to assess your abilities in reading, writing,

in order to ensure you have the necessary skills for success in your

and math

and future classes.

Q. How long does this test take?

The average time for students taking the test at MECC is two hours. You should
allow at least two hours to complete the test.

Q. What if I fail the test?

R. Placement tests cannot be failed. Only your correct answers are counted; you are not penalized for
incorrect answers. Therefore, it is to your advantage to make educated guesses for questions you
do not know.
Q. What should I bring with me to the test?
R. On the day of the test, you should bring your social security card and drivers license or other
picture identification. You will not need a calculator, pen, pencil, or paper.
Q. What is the cost of the test?
R. There is no fee for this test.
Q. Will my test results be confidential?

Yes, your results will be used for counseling, placement, and research only.


What if I dont know how to use the computer?


The proctor will give instructions on the use of the computer and be present for questions

unrelated to the test answers. The computerized test also has an introductory portion that guides you
through the use of the computer.

These are a few questions that are representative of questions on the actual test. Some questions are
more difficult than others. The test is intended to test you as comprehensively as possible. It is
practically impossible to get every question right. Do not expect to answer every question CORRECTLY.
This test only counts the number you answer correctly and not the number you answer incorrectly. This
scoring system makes it advantageous for you to make educated guesses. Again, keep in mind, these are
representative of some of the most difficult questions. GOOD LUCK!


The reading skills assessment is designed to evaluate your
understanding of the meaning of the material you are reading.
You will be given an opportunity to practice before this section
to be sure you understand the format and how to respond on the computer.
When this section of the test begins, always read the essay carefully before attempting to answer any
questions. You will be given more than one essay, and you will be given the opportunity to review your
responses to the questions on one essay before moving to the next. You may go back to look at the
passage while you are answering the questions. A sample, which is much like the type of essay and
questions you will encounter when taking the COMPASS reading assessment, follows:

Reading Placement Test Sample Essay 1

Fortune Tellers
A young couple entered the restaurant in Andys view. They were holding hands.
Andy sat back down in his chair. He felt sick. He turned and faced his father, who was
eating xi.
Whats the matter, son? asked his father. I thought you were going to the
birthday party.
Its too late.
Are you sure?
Andy nodded. He looked at the plate of xi. He wanted to bury his face in it.
Hi, Andy. A voice came from behind.
Andy looked up. He recognized the beautiful face, and he refused to meet her
Hi, Jennifer, muttered Andy, looking at the floor.
You didnt miss much, Andy. The party was dead. I was looking for you,
hoping you could give me a ride home. Then I met Tim, and he was bored like me. And
he said hed take me home. Andy, do you want to eat with us? Ill introduce you to

Andy said, No, Im eating xi with my father.
Well, Ill see you in school then, okay?
Yeah. And Andy watched her socks move away from his view.
Andy grabbed a chunk of xi. The rice and beans stuck to his fingernails. He
placed the chunk in his mouth and pulled it away from his fingers with his teeth. There
was a dry bitter taste. But nothing could be as bitter as he was, so he chewed some more.
The bitterness faded as the xi became softer in his mouth, but it was still tasteless. He
could hear the young couple talk and giggle. Their words and laughter and the sounds of
his own chewing mixed into a sticky mess. The words were bitter and the laughter was
tasteless, and once he began to understand this, he tasted the sweetness of xi. Andy
enjoyed swallowing the sticky mess down. Andy swallowed everything down
sweetness and bitterness and nothingness and what he thought was love.
Sample 1 Questions
1. Who is telling this story?

Andys father
An unnamed narrator

2. What is the most reasonable conclusion to make from the statement in the first
paragraph, He felt sick.?

Eating xoi with his father gave Andy a stomachache.

Andy was upset when he saw Jennifer holding hands with Tim.
Andy was unhappy about the restaurant his father had selected.
Andy was upset with Jennifer for making him miss the party.
Andy mistakenly thought that Tim was his best friend.

3. According to the passage, Tim would most likely describe the party as:


4. Based on the last paragraph, it can be most reasonably inferred that Andys
increasing enjoyment of eating xi was related to:
A. hearing Tim and Jennifer laughing and talking
B. the fact that it stuck to his fingernails
C. sitting at a table with Tim and Jennifer while he ate
D. the fact that his father made the xi
E. seeing Tim and Jennifer eating xi

5. This passage is mainly about the relationship between:


Andy and his father

Andy and Tim
Andys father and Tim
Jennifer and Tim
Jennifer and Andy

Answers to Essay 1
Fortune Tellers
Correct Answer

Content Category

1. E
2. B
3. C
4. A
5. E

Recognizing several points of view

Drawing conclusions from facts given
Recognizing significant details
Inferring cause-effect relationships
Inferring the main idea of a passage with more than one paragraph

Reading Placement Test Sample Essay 2

Despite the preachings of some fitness gurus, pain does not equal gain. In fact, as The
American Medical Women's Association physicians remind us, the more you enjoy exercise, the more
likely--and the more often--you will do it. Here are some ideas that underscore the pleasure principle:
Play to your preferences. Think about an activity that you really love. Any activityit doesn't have to
be fitness-oriented. Then get creative, combining fun with a physical challenge. Got the travel bag?
Sign up for a fitness-oriented vacation.
Get active any way you choose. If you have an aversion to exercise, a fresh perspective may help.
Variety is the key. Try all kinds of activities-bird-watching, gardening, Ping-Pong, bicycle riding, and
social dancing. The best workouts aren't necessarily the ones that deliver the greatest calorie burn;
they're the activities you enjoy most because you're more likely to do them. Invite a few friends to join
you on a nature hike and share a picnic lunch. Don't miss a step at holidays, either; create active
celebrations with family or friends. Adapted from Women's Health Confidential, 1993 by Rodale
Press, Inc.

1. This passage contradicts a traditional view of exercise which holds that:

A. the more painful the exercise the better
B. exercise must be enjoyable to be successful
C. exercise is vital to good health
D. group exercise activities aren't successful
E. health equals pleasure

2. According to the passage, the best workouts typically are characterized by:
A. the number of calories burned
B. the amount of muscle developed
C. the amount of pleasure they produce
D. how much they raise the metabolism
E. their extreme difficulty
3. To have an aversion most nearly means to feel:
A. a great attraction
B. a mild approval
C. an overwhelming paranoia
D. a definite dislike
E. a slight indifference
Answers to Sample 2
1. A
2. C
3. D


The COMPASS writing skills evaluate your use of punctuation,
grammar, writing style, usage and organization. You will have an
opportunity to practice prior to the evaluation to be sure you understand
the format and directions for responding on the computer. You will be
given one essay at a time and then begin to correct the errors.
Always read the essays carefully before attempting to correct the errors. You will be given the
opportunity to reread your corrected essay and make changes, if you choose, before being given another
Start of Essay
(1) There are now at least ninety million cars in the United States, and there number is increasing
daily. (2) The closeness between the American and his car is well known all over the world. (3) Yet the
fact that our cars is poisoning the air we breathe is like finding that friends are stealing from you. (4)
How are cars poisoning us. They poison us, like we do to rats and roaches, through the fuel they use.
(5) Our car engines really doesn't work that well, and a lot of waste leaves the exhaust pipe and enters
the air. (6) These worstest kinds of waste are called carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and lead. (7)
Carbon monoxide is the waste that leaves the exhaust in the greatest amounts. (8) It is a gas that has no
taste and no smell. (9) Its also invisible and deadly! (10) It keeps us from getting enough oxygen from
the air. (11) When the brain told the heart that there isn't enough oxygen, the heart pumps harder.

(12) Too much of this overwork can weaken the heart, especially during the course of many years, and
possibly lead to heart disease.
End of Essay

NOTE TO THE READER: Sentence numbers refer to the sentences in the above essay.
How many errors did you find? What is the correction?

Answers to Sample Writing Essay

(1) There are now at least ninety million cars in the United States, and their number is increasing daily.
(2) The closeness between the American and his car is well known all over the world. (3) Yet the fact
that our cars are poisoning the air we breathe is like finding that friends are stealing from you. (4) How
are cars poisoning us? They poison us through the fuel they use. (5) Our car engines really dont work
that well, and a lot of waste leaves the exhaust pipe and enters the air. (6) The worst kinds of waste are
carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and lead. (7) Carbon monoxide is the waste that leaves the exhaust in
the greatest amounts. (8) It is a gas that has no taste and smell. (9) It is also invisible, and deadly! (10)
It keeps us from getting enough oxygen from the air. (11) When the brain tells the heart that there isnt
enough oxygen, the heart pumps harder. (12) Too much of this overwork can weaken the heart,
especially during the course of many years, and possibly lead to heart disease.



Arrive early to allow yourself plenty of time. When the test is brought up on the computer, read the
directions closely, and then organize your time efficiently. Don't rush through the test. Work at a
comfortable pace and do not worry about how far along others are on the test.


Some of the exercises you can use while studying for a test, such as deep breathing and muscle
relaxation, will also be helpful during the test. You may want to take a break for a few minutes during
the test and try them. Other suggestions to combat test anxiety during a test
include (a) get a drink of water and try to clear your mind; (b)
move on to easier questions; (c) ask the instructor a question;
(d) think about post-exam rewards for a minute; and (e) utilize
positive self talk. Come up with positive statements which help to keep you calm, such as, "This is only
one test. I am familiar with this material. This test doesn't reflect on my intelligence.


Allow sufficient time to review forgotten material in order to avoid cramming.

Try to relax. Too much worry is not helpful; have a positive attitude.

The night before the test, close your eyes and imagine yourself being successful.

Get to bed earlier than usual; lack of rest will decrease performance.

Take care of personal needs and prepare for the next day--plan clothing, materials, and
transportation in advance.

If you should become ill, report this immediately to the testing coordinator.

After the test, a counselor will help you schedule appropriate classes for
reading, writing, and math (not so difficult you would have difficulty
passing the class or so easy that you might lose interest).

The classes that COMPASS places you in are not optional, so it is very
important that you prepare sufficiently and do your very best on this test.

We can help you plan the best sequence of courses that will enable you to
graduate with the highest grade point average (GPA) in the most efficient time frame.

Your individual needs will be identified and dealt with in the most beneficial way.

The student has the right to the COMPASS and ASSET

Test Preparation Guide published by the Testing
Center. This is available upon request in Student
Services or
The student has the right to an introductory explanation of testing procedures and computer
The student has the right to ask any question.
The student has the right to a quiet, calm, and reasonably comfortable testing environment.
The student has the right to paper and pencils during the computation and algebra portions of
The student has the right to know the average time needed to take COMPASS and ASSET.
The student has the right to take the test in as many as three sessions within five days, unless he/she
is testing in order to qualify for ability to benefit (ATB).
The student has the right to have the meanings and implications of her/his scores explained by a
counselor or test administrator.

1. All books, drinks, food, and other personal items must be given to the proctor
temporarily for safe keeping.
2. No cellular phones, personal / portable radios, beepers, or
pagers are allowed.
3. No person will be permitted to enter the Testing
Center without a photo identification and verifiable
4. Children are not allowed in the Testing Center.

A Testing Center Publication

An Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Institution
Mountain Empire Community College
3441 Mountain Empire Road
Big Stone Gap, Virginia 24219