Placement Testing

The LEC coordinates testing in the areas of reading, writing, and mathematics. Student test scores are compiled and maintained in the LEC and forwarded to the Office of the Registrar. Additional information about the proficiency testing process can be obtained by calling (626) 815-3849. Testing is available in the LEC by appointment only, and remotely for out-of-area students.

The initial Compass Placement Exam is free to all incoming, transfer, and currently enrolled students. After a 90-day waiting period, students may retake the Compass Placement Exam for a $10 fee for 1–2 exams (math, reading, or writing) or $25 for all 3 exams (math, reading, and writing).

The Learning Enrichment Center offers other testing and proctoring services as well.

Reading Proficiency

Reading proficiency is assessed using the COMPASS Reading Test, which is an untimed, computerized test of reading comprehension that consists of approximately seven paragraphs, each of which is followed by multiple-choice questions. Skills assessed include identification of main idea and major details, making inferences, sequencing, identifying cause-effect relationships, and other higher-level critical reading skills. Students whose score on the COMPASS Reading Test does not meet the university standard must enroll in a college-level reading class. This class is required during the first semester at APU and does not count toward graduation degree units.

Recommended Course SAT I Verbal ACT Reading COMPASS Test
ENGL 099 470 and below 19 and below Appropriate Placement
Reading Course Waive 480 and higher 20 and higher Not required with appropriate SAT or ACT score

Writing Placement Testing

Students who are admitted to APU with SAT Critical Reading and SAT Writing scores, or ACT English and ACT Writing scores, at or below the minimums listed below are required to complete a basic writing course and pass with a minimum grade of C. ENGL 100 is required during the student’s first semester at APU. While credits for this course count as electives toward graduation, they do not fulfill General Education requirements.

Students may test out of ENGL 100 Writing Strategies by achieving an appropriate score on the COMPASS e-Write test.

General Education English Requirement
ENGL 110 Freshman Writing Seminar

If your SAT ... If your ACT ... If your AP ... Register for ...
English Language and Composition score is 3, 4, or 5 ENGL 111
to Literature
Critical Reading Score is 480 or higher OR Writing Score is 500 or higher English score is 20 or higher OR Writing Score is 8 or higher ENGL 110 Freshman Writing Seminar
Critical Reading Score is 470 or below AND Writing Score is 490 or below English score is 19 or below AND Writing Score is 7 or below ENGL 1001 Basic Writing (prerequisite
to ENGL 110)
Critical Reading Score is 470 or below Reading score is 19 or below ENGL 0992 College
and Critical Thinking

1Credit hours count as elective credits toward graduation.
2Credit hours DO NOT count toward graduation.

The ACT COMPASS e-Write test consists of one writing prompt that defines an issue or problem and describes two points of view on that issue. Students are given 60 minutes or less to respond to a question about their position on the issue described in the prompt.

A powerful scoring engine via the Internet allows e-Write to provide an instantaneous evaluation of a student’s writing skills using a 2–12 score scale, with a score of 2–8 placing students into ENGL 100 and a score of 9–12 placing students into ENGL 110.

For local students, the COMPASS Reading test is available in the LEC by appointment Monday–Friday. For out-of-area students, the COMPASS may be scheduled at a remote testing location near your home. Read our COMPASS Testing FAQ to find specific information regarding scheduling an appointment to take a remote COMPASS test near you.

While the computer-based COMPASS placement test is preferable, a paper/pencil-based essay may be offered in lieu of the COMPASS during the first two weeks (add/drop period) of the term.

Mathematics Proficiency

The COMPASS Math Test is an untimed, adaptive computerized test of math skills, ranging from basic mathematical functions through college-level algebra. A nongraphing calculator is allowed with this exam. The number and type of problems each student receives depends upon the student’s performance on each problem. COMPASS test scores in mathematics are valid for two years. If a student does not complete the recommended course(s) within two years, a retest is required to ascertain current skill levels. The score on the COMPASS Math Test determines a student’s eligibility for either introductory mathematics (which is not offered at APU), elementary algebra, intermediate algebra, or college algebra courses. Students whose score in the college algebra domain of the test shows competence at this level may waive the mathematics General Education requirement.

Recommended Course COMPASS Test ACT Math SAT I Math
Elementary Algebra (MATH 090) Appropriate Placement 18–20 430–490
Intermediate Algebra (MATH 095) Appropriate Placement 21–22 500–530
College Algebra (MATH 110)
Analytic Inquiry (MATH 115)
Contemporary Math (MATH 120)
Appropriate Placement 23–25 540–590
Waive Math Requirement Appropriate Placement 26 and higher 600 and higher

Note: To register for math classes at APU, students are required to present a signed Verification of Math Course Eligibility or COMPASS Report Form. COMPASS reports are given to each student at the completion of testing. It is the only copy that a student will receive and should be retained. Verification forms may be obtained from the Learning Enrichment Center or the Department of Mathematics and Physics.