Testing and Assessment Center

Commercial Avenue 215 
2125 Commercial Avenue
Madison WI 53704 

Downtown D205 
211 North Carroll Street
Madison WI 53703 

Main Office
(920) 568-7200

Main Office
(608) 745-3100

Main Office
(608) 524-7800

Main Office
(608) 243-4200

TRUAX D2603 
1701 Wright Street
Madison WI 53704 

Main Office
(920) 206-8000

CALL: (608) 246-5220

Course Placement Testing

Madison College currently use the COMPASS assessment tool for course placement. COMPASS is a computerized, untimed placement test that assesses your reading, math and English (grammar and essay writing) skills.

Madison College will transition to Accuplacer assessment tool Dec. 1. Accuplacer is a computereized, untimed placement test that assesses your math, reading and writing skills. Your scores will impact your educational planning, so we encourage you to prepare for the test.

View the COMPASS calendar to register for a test session.

If you need your test scores sent to another institution, contact the Testing Center with your request.

Exam Components
  • Photo ID is required at all test sessions.
  • Placement test scores are valid for two years from date of the exam.
  • Placement testing is required for all students, with a few exceptions (see below)
  • Exam sessions last 1.5 to 3 hours. You will work at your own pace.

Placement testing may not be necessary if you have:

  • ACT scores less than two years old. Must be submitted by ACT to Madison College Admissions.
  • Prior college credit fulfilling the desired course prerequisites. Submit official transcripts to Madison College Enrollment Services, 1701 Wright Street, Madison WI 53704-2599.
  • Test scores less than two years old from another college. Official Score Reports need to be submitted by the initial testing center to Madison College Testing Center, 1701 Wright Street, Madison, WI 53704. Transcripts and Test Score Reports become the property of Madison College.

Components of the Exam

The English portion of the exam includes the Reading Placement Test, the Writing Skills Test and the Writing Essay (e-Write).

The Writing Skills Test measures your knowledge of English grammar, sentence structure and style. Test items include: punctuation; basic grammar and usage; sentence structure; strategy; organization; and style.

The Reading Placement Test helps determine if you have the skills to succeed in standard entry-level college courses or if you need developmental reading courses or other support. The types of reading passages included are: practical reading; prose fiction; humanities; social studies; and natural sciences.

The Writing Essay (e-Write) asks students to compose a short essay in response to a specific problem or issue that is being presented. Your response is evaluated according to how well you:

  • Formulate a clear and focused position on the issue in the prompt
  • Support that position with reasons and evidence appropriate to the position taken
  • Focus on concerns of the specified audience (e.g., school board)
  • Develop your argument in a coherent and logical manner
  • Express your ideas using clear, effective language

The Mathematics Placement Test is a multi-choice exam in the areas of:

  • Basic Skills - performing a sequence of basic operations
  • Application - applying sequences of basic operations to novel settings or in complex ways
  • Analysis - demonstrating conceptual understanding of principles and relationships in mathematical operations

We encourage you to prepare for the exam. A number of resources are available on the ACT COMPASS website or the Accuplacer website.

Here are some additional resources:

  • The cost is $20 for the first exam session, which includes four sections of the exam series (Reading, Writing, e-Write and Math).
  • Section retests are $5 each and allowed only once within two years. Subsequent retests must be approved by an academic advisor.
  • Payment is accepted at all campuses except the Commercial Avenue site. For financial hardship cases, contact the Testing Center to inquire about a test fee waiver. Limited waivers are available and qualifying documentation will be required.

How do I submit test scores from another institution?

Test scores must be sent directly from the testing agency or external institution, or delivered in a sealed envelope to Madison College to be considered official. Madison College does not accept faxes, emailed, scanned, advising copies, campus use only, web produced transcripts or copies of student score reports or scores listed on high school transcripts. Test scores submitted to Madison College become the property of the college and cannot be returned to you. Test scores submitted to Madison College are electronically imaged and kept on file for three years


We understand that traveling to one of the Madison College campuses for your COMPASS test may not be possible. For information about additional testing centers offering COMPASS, please call our office. In most cases, you may be able to utilize an alternate Test Center that is more conveniently located for you. Please note, Test Center Fees, which can vary, in addition to the $20.00 Madison College COMPASS fee will apply.


Please notify the test proctor prior to testing. An invoice for the $20 fee will be mailed to you.

How do I request a transcript of my COurse placement scores?

Students must not have an outstanding financial obligation to Madison College or credentials will not be processed until the hold is released by Madison College. You must submit a completed Test Score Record Request Form (PDF, 382KB) to the Testing & Assessment Center either in-person, by mail or fax.