Entrance Exams

When entering college as a non-traditional student, colleges may expect you to take a placement test after you have been accepted to the school. The placement test determines how prepared you are to do college-level work.

Not all community colleges use the same placement tests. You should talk to an admissions counselor or look at the school’s website to find out which test they use.

What about taking the ACT or COMPASS tests?


Most colleges and universities require that you take an admissions exam, and the ACT is accepted by all four-year colleges and universities in the U.S. The ACT is a national college admissions examination, which includes subject area tests in English, math, reading and science.

There are 215 multiple-choice questions on the tests, and it takes approximately three hours and 30 minutes to complete, including a short break. The ACT is administered on six test dates each year — in September, October, December, February, April and June.

The ACT costs $32, but you may be eligible for a fee waiver. Click here for more information.

ACT Test Prep

Visit Number2 for a free online test preparation course. Founded by professors and graduate students, Number2 earns revenue from sponsorships and licensing. Its mission is to make higher education more accessible to students of all backgrounds.


COMPASS tests are required by some schools, including the Stark State College of Technology, specifically if students have not taken the ACT. The COMPASS is an untimed, computerized test in reading, writing, math, writing essay and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). You will receive your COMPASS test results immediately after finishing the test. Ask the admissions person at your college about the details. COMPASS tests are usually given with no charge by the schools.


Click here to try a sample COMPASS sample practice test and get helpful tips.