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Testing Center
(931) 393-1763
Crouch Center Lab 1043
Office Hours:
Monday - Friday
8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.


The COMPASS test assesses students' readiness for college level work. The COMPASS is a computer testing system which assesses students to determine their academic readiness in reading, writing, and mathematics. Interactive response software is specially designed to determine academic readiness and to record student results in institutional records for appropriate placement.

The reading skills portion of the COMPASS is designed to measure the student's reading comprehension. This component assesses the student's ability to recognize appropriate vocabulary, to isolate main ideas, locate explicit textual information, and draw inferences. This test also provides a reader profile to assist instructional programming. The writing skills component assesses the student's knowledge of mechanics, language, and rhetorical skills. The mathematics portion measures the student's ability to solve problems in pre-algebra/numeric skills, elementary algebra, and intermediate algebra.

The COMPASS is not a pass/fail test. Test results do not determine whether or not a student is admitted to the college. Instead, test results determine which courses are best suited to the student's level of readiness. Each test component has a separate score which determines student placement.

Students may not retake the test or any portion of the test if they have enrolled in basic or developmental courses to remove prerequisite requirements. Students who transfer to other Tennessee Board of Regents institutions may have their test results forwarded. Additionally, test results are included in student transcript information sent to other TBR institutions.

The COMPASS is given regularly on Motlow's campuses in Moore County, Fayetteville, McMinnville, and Smyrna. Special test accommodations are available for students who require other than standard conditions for taking the test. There is no fee for the COMPASS the first time it is taken.

View available dates

Sample test questions

Student Type and Assessment Criteria

New Students

All new applicants who are 20 years of age or younger, MUST take the American College Test (ACT) or Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) before they can be admitted to Motlow College; ACT or SAT scores are valid for three years. Students who have VALID ACT scores are placed into or, exempted from Learning Support courses according to their ACT sub-scores in English, mathematics and reading. Students whose ACT sub-scores in mathematics and reading are 19 or greater can enroll in college level courses. Students whose ACT sub-score in English is 18 or greater can enroll in college level courses. Students whose ACT sub-scores are 18 or lower in math or reading are PLACED into Learning Support courses. Students whose English sub-score is 17 or lower are placed into Learning Support courses according to the chart below:

ACT Writing

  • Score: 1-17
  • Placement: ENGL 0810

ACT Math

  • Score: 1-18
  • Placement: MATH 0810

ACT Reading

  • Score: 1-18
  • Placement: READ 0810

Dual / Joint Enrollment Students

The entry requirement for Dual and Joint Enrollment students into collegiate level courses remains:

  • Students wishing to take a collegiate mathematics or science course must have a reading sub-score of 19 or greater, a English sub-score of 18 or greater, AND a mathematics ACT/ACT Plan mathematics sub-score of 19 or greater.
  • Students wishing to take any other collegiate course (for example: English, History, Music, Psychology) must have a reading sub-score of 19 or greater AND an English sub-score of 18 or greater.

Dual/Joint Enrollment students with valid ACT scores below the minimum required scores listed above, may challenge their ACT score by taking the corresponding COMPASS test. Dual/Joint Enrollment students without valid PLAN or ACT scores must take the ACT test before they may take the COMPASS test.

Transfer Students

If you are a transfer student with college credit, please contact the testing center before scheduling the COMPASS test. You can e-mail the testing center at or call the office at (931) 393-1763.

COMPASS Challenge

Students who take the COMPASS test and feel their test results have placed them incorrectly may challenge their initial placement score and retake the test or portions of the test. The college charges a $10 test challenge fee for each portion of the test or $20 to challenge the entire test. Additionally, students must pay the appropriate challenge fee. Challenge fees should be paid when the challenge test is taken. The highest score on all VALID assessments is used to determine final placement into college-level or Learning Support courses. Students may not challenge the test or any portion of the test once they have enrolled in a Learning Support course or earned a letter grade in the course. A student taking the COMPASS test to challenge ACT placement may challenge the score free of charge for the first challenge.