Tennessee Promise

COMPASS®/English as a Second Language (ESL) Test

One valid photo ID is required for all testing.

The Union Avenue Campus Testing Center will administer the COMPASS® test by appointment only. Please visit AdvisorTrac to schedule a COMPASS® test on the Union Avenue Campus. If you are not a Southwest student or do not have access to a computer, contact the Testing Center at 901-333-4170 to schedule an appointment. An online admissions application must be submitted five (5) business days prior to testing.

COMPASS® is a computerized placement test designed to assess the student's level of preparedness in reading, writing and mathematics. The COMPASS® test is administered continuously throughout each semester. COMPASS® scores are valid five (5) years from the date of testing.

Accepted COMPASS® Test Scores

Southwest accepts official COMPASS® test scores from other Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) institutions with the exception of Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) institutions. COMPASS® scores from approved institutions must be sent directly from the approved institution or placed in an official envelope and sealed if delivered by the student. For example, if a student is hand delivering the scores from Dyersburg State Community College, the scores must be sealed in a Dyersburg labeled envelope.


The Testing Center will follow the testing schedule shown in the table below.

Day Macon Cove Campus
Tuesday 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Wednesday 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Thursday 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Friday 8:30 a.m.-Noon

Note: An appointment is required to take the COMPASS®/ESL test on the Union Avenue Campus. Please visit Advisor Trac to schedule a test date, be advised testing is only available on Tuesday and Thursday.

There is no time limit on the COMPASS® test. The average person will complete the entire test (reading, writing and math) in three (3) hours.

COMPASS® Guidelines

Students who have prior college credit (including dual enrollment), should have official college transcripts submitted to Southwest Tennessee Community College's Admissions and Records Office for evaluation prior to taking the COMPASS® test.

Entering students under the age of 21, may submit official ACT or SAT scores. (ACT and SAT scores can be no more than 5 years old.) If the student under the age of 21 does not have valid ACT or SAT scores, he/she may take the COMPASS exam for course placement purposes.

Students 21 years or older, who do not have valid ACT or SAT scores and have no prior college experience must complete the COMPASS® test.

If already enrolled in Reading, Writing, or Math courses, COMPASS® is not available for placement purposes. COMPASS® is also unavailable if a Reading, Writing, or Math courses have been completed.

Initial COMPASS® testing for Southwest students is free. One challenge test is allowed to improve initial scores at a fee of $20.

In order to prepare for the COMPASS® test, please view the COMPASS® Sample Test Questions (opens new window).