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Testing Services and Student Life Research


An appointment is required for Compass testing. We are unable to accommodate walk-ins. Please call Testing Services at (501) 569-3198 to reserve a date and time.

Test Score Interpretation Checklist effective Spring 2014 updated March 28, 2014

What is COMPASS?

COMPASS is a set of multiple choice, computer-based placement tests in composition, reading, and mathematics.

You must apply for admission and be entered in our computer database before taking the COMPASS. If you have not applied for admission yet, please apply at now to avoid delays.

UALR entering freshmen, who don’t have current ACT or SAT scores, COMPASS can be used INSTEAD of the ACT or SAT for admission purposes.

Note:  If a student uses COMPASS as an admissions exam and does not meet the minimum score, they must retake all 3 parts of the exam to receive a new combined score for admissions purposes.  Students cannot retake only one part of the exam to be recalculated into their combined score.  Students who have tested at another institution, and have scores sent to UALR, must take all 3 parts of the exam on the same date if they wish to use their scores for admission purposes.

Transfer students, and students with ACT or SAT scores who want to enhance their course placement:

If you need to take COMPASS to attend a university other than UALR:
If you plan to attend a college or university other than UALR — and that school requires you to take COMPASS - it is sometimes possible to test you at UALR. This can be convenient for you if your college or university is far away.  Please contact the college or university you plan to attend and inform them that you would like to take a remote COMPASS test.  They will be able to arrange the test that you need.

UALR acceptance of COMPASS scores from another institution?

-Yes, UALR will accept your COMPASS scores from another institution. The scores must not be more than five years old.  Students who have tested at another institution, and have scores sent to UALR, must take all 3 parts of the exam on the same date if they wish to use their scores for admission purposes.  You may hand deliver the scores to the Office of Testing Services in the Student Services Center room 315 as long as the scores are in an official, sealed envelope with the school seal or registrar’s seal on the flap of the envelope.  You may also have your scores sent to UALR in an official, sealed envelope.

Have your previous college or university send your test scores to:

Director of Testing Services
University of Arkansas at Little Rock
2801 S. University Avenue, Student Services Center room 315
Little Rock, AR 72204

Will UALR send my COMPASS scores to another institution?

Yes we will send scores to another institution. Please download the UALR Test Score Release Authorization form and send to:

Director of Testing Services
University of Arkansas at Little Rock
2801 S. University Avenue, Student Services Center, room 315
Little Rock, AR 72204
Fax: (501) 569-8096

Advantages of choosing COMPASS instead of ACT or SAT.

  • COMPASS is offered more frequently. You receive your scores immediately.
  • COMPASS has no time limit.

Disadvantages of choosing COMPASS instead of ACT or SAT?

  • Some scholarships and academic programs require ACT or SAT scores.

Computer Skills Needed:

Point and click a mouse, scroll up and down a page, and type in your name and ID number. Before you begin your test, you may choose to look through some COMPASS sample questions.

Test Fee:

Each part costs $10. Students who are using COMPASS as an admission test must take all three parts.

Testing Schedule:

Remember that you must apply for admission and be entered in UALR’s computer database BEFORE you can take COMPASS.

We offer testing Monday through Saturday. Please see our hours of operation for specific times.  An appointment is required. 

If you are making a special trip to take COMPASS, call us at 501-569-3198 on the morning of the day you plan to test. On occasion, we may be unable to test you (for example, if we have computer problems, if the electricity is off, or if the campus closes due to inclement weather).

During peak times (for example, when a semester is about to begin), we may have lines of students waiting to test. Avoid the rush — make an appointment and test early! We are here throughout the year. The closer you wait until the beginning of classes, the longer the lines will be!

Taking the Exam on Multiple Days:

If you are taking muliple exams and would like to split up the testing, you may stop and come back at a later time or another day to complete the exam.  Students who have tested at another institution, and have scores sent to UALR, must take all 3 parts of the exam on the same date if they wish to use their scores for admission purposes. 

In addition, if it is 7:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday (11:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday), and you are still testing we will ask you to stop.  You will have to return at a later date to complete your exam.

Study Guides and Resources:

ACT offers study materials on their website.

The City University of New York offers practice tests that look exactly like the COMPASS tests. 

Here are some other great sites that can be used to prepare for your COMPASS exam:

Khan Academy

Compass Test Prep

Test Prep Review for Compass

UALR Mathematics Assistance Center (MAC)

Calculator use for the Math Exam:

UALR Testing Services will no longer provide calculators. Please remember to bring yours.
Your calculator must meet the following guidelines:

  1. Permitted Calculators:
  2. You may use any four-function, scientific, or graphing calculator, unless it has features described in the “Prohibited Calculators” list. For models on the “Calculators Permitted with Modification” list, you will be required to modify some of the calculator’s features.

  3. Prohibited Calculators:
    • Calculators with built-in computer algebra systems:
      • Texas Instruments: All model numbers that begin with TI-89 or TI-92 and the TI-Nspire CAS—Note: The TI-Nspire (non-CAS) is permitted.
      • Hewlett-Packard: HP 48GII and all model numbers that begin with HP 40G, HP 49G, or HP 50G
      • Casio: Algebra fx 2.0, ClassPad 300 and ClassPad 330, and all model numbers that begin with CFX-9970G
    • Handheld, tablet, or laptop computers, including PDAs
    • Electronic writing pads or pen-input devices—Note: The Sharp EL 9600 is permitted.
    • Calculators built into cell phones or any other electronic communication devices
    • Calculators with a typewriter keypad (letter keys in QWERTY format)—Note: Letter keys not in QWERTY format are permitted.
  4. Calculators Permitted with Modification:
    • With paper tape—Remove the tape.
    • That make noise—Turn off the sound.
    • With an infrared data port—Completely cover the infrared data port with heavy opaque material such as duct tape or electrician’s tape (includes Hewlett-Packard HP 38G and HP 39G series, and HP 48G).
    • That have power cords—Remove all power/electrical cords.

Retaking the Exam

Yes you may take the exam again. You will receive an information sheet once you complete the exam that will list departments where you may seek additional help. It is highly recommended that you seek this assistance before retaking the exam. Normal fees apply for all retests.

Disability Accommodations

Since COMPASS is untimed, there is no problem if you need additional time. If you are a UALR student or plan to be one, you must contact the UALR Disability Resource Center to complete your file. If you are not a UALR student and do not plan to be, but want to test with accommodations at UALR, you must first:

  1. contact your intended university and comply with their procedures for accommodation application.
  2. Next, complete the Non-UALR Student Petition for Testing AccommodationsThis form should be submitted to:

      Ms. April Myers, Accommodation Coordinator
      University of Arkansas at Little Rock
      Testing Services and Student Life Research
      2801 South University Ave., SSC 315
      Little Rock, AR 72204

      Phone: (501) 569-3198
      Fax: (501) 569-8096

What to Bring on Test Day:

  • Your test fee. For the entire COMPASS admissions test, the charge is $30. Please pay by VISA, Mastercard, CHECK, or MONEY ORDER payable to UALR. We can accept cash if you bring EXACT change. (We don’t have a cash register to change large bills.)
  • Official photo ID with your current legal name.
    Acceptable photo IDs include: 

    • Government issued photo ID such as an unexpired driver’s license, an Arkansas ID card, or military ID
    • School ID card with photo such as a UALR ID card
    • School ID letter with photo
    • Notarized statement with photo

    NOT acceptable:

    • Personal recognition of students by testing staff
    • Published photos (e.g., yearbook picture)
    • Transcripts (even with a photo)
    • Club membership cards
    • Photo credit cards are unacceptable.
    • Additional unacceptable identification can be found on the ACT website

Do NOT Bring on Test Day:

  • Cell phones, pagers, beeping watches, or other electronic devices. They are not permitted in our test rooms, even if you have turned them off.
  • Food, drinks, gum and candy are not permitted in the Testing Services office or the testing room.
  • Calculators. If a calculator is permitted on a test you are taking, it will be provided on the computer.
  • Children. We cannot provide child care for you, and children are not permitted in the testing room.

I took the ACT or SAT and was placed into remedial coursework. May I take part of the COMPASS to try to bypass these courses?

I’m a transfer student and didn’t have to submit ACT or SAT scores to be admitted. May I take COMPASS to try to bypass remedial coursework?

I want to skip MATH 1302 and go into Trigonometry or a Calculus class. What can I do?
If you have the required ACT or SAT score, you may take the COMPASS College Algebra test. Depending upon your score, you may be eligible for MATH 1303, 1311, 1342, or 1451.

I’ve already earned credit for College Algebra (either at UALR or another school). May I take the COMPASS College Algebra test to try to skip Trig?

What is my next step?
Follow the above guidelines for taking the COMPASS as an admissions test. The difference is that you take only the applicable part(s) of the test. The charge is $10 per test, with a maximum charge of $30. Refer to the information above about studying for COMPASS.

Concurrent High School Students

Qualified Arkansas high school students may take Compass through the UALR High School Concurrent Program. The same policies and procedures apply to high school concurrent students as to all students applying for admission to UALR. UALR requires that concurrent high school students take the entire COMPASS Basic Skills test (three-part) to be considered for admission.

High school students are individually responsible for the $30 Basic Skills Test fee or the $10 fee for individual placement tests and must present a current photo ID to be admitted. High schools and school districts do not pay the test fees or reimburse UALR.

Updated 4.11.2014