The COMPASS Placement Test

The ACT is the required initial test used to place students who attend a South Dakota regental university into their mathematics and English courses. A student can be placed in classes via the ACT sub-scores for math and English, or, for more accurate placement, using the ACT COMPASS test, which is administered at South Dakota universities such as the School of Mines. The COMPASS test is administered on a computer and takes approximately thirty to forty minutes for each section (math, writing, and reading). Students who need to take the COMPASS test should sign up for and attend a COMPASS Day (dates are listed below) by going to the new student checklist or contact the registrar and academic services office at (605) 394-2400.

Students will need to take all or part of the COMPASS test if:

  1. They have not taken the ACT within five years from date of enrollment and have not taken and passed any college level English or math courses.
  2. They scored above 24 on their ACT math.
  3. They scored a 24 or less on their ACT math and want to challenge their course placement. Students have the option of taking the higher of two scores, but are warned that a deficiency warrants serious contemplation and students should consider the class that best reflects the requirements of math success. At School of Mines, advanced math, especially calculus, is a mainstay in the curriculum, regardless of major.
  4. They scored 17 or less on their ACT writing.
  5. They scored 16 or less on their ACT reading.

COMPASS results are designed to assist the institutions in placing students into appropriate math and English courses or, if necessary, into developmental or preparatory courses. We caution students that successful completion of a high school course (e.g. trigonometry) does not guarantee that this course has been mastered at the college level. Placement is confirmed by passing the appropriate COMPASS test area.

The COMPASS is given at all South Dakota Regental institutions and they will administer the test for students coming to the School of Mines; however, there may be a nominal fee. Contact the School of Mines for further information at (605) 394-2400.

The COMPASS is also administered on the Mondays following the First program orientations during the summer. However, students are not enrolled in fall classes until after the COMPASS is taken so they are encouraged to take the COMPASS as soon as possible rather than postponing the test for a later date. Contact the registrar and academic services office at (605) 394-2400.