Accuplacer replaces Compass test

Starting Nov. 30, MCCC no longer uses the Compass placement test and instead uses the Accuplacer test.

Students who need to take a placement test to be assigned to classes will now take the new test, which is based on the SAT exam, as opposed to the old one, which was based on the ACT. 

Mark Hall, director of admissions, said that while there are many reasons to change tests, the biggest one was that they simply had no choice.

“Placement testing for the area we’re using it for is very limited, the options are limited,” he said.

“Basically, there have been two players for years, Compass and Accuplacer, and as of Nov. 30th of this year Compass will no longer exist. So we didn’t really have a lot of choice.”

While college will be using the Accuplacer test, Hall said MCCC will continue to accept any combination of scores across any placement tests.

“We will continue to accept here ACT scores, SAT scores, Compass scores, and Accuplacer scores,” he said. “Or any combination thereof that meets our standards.”

Some colleges use Compass and some have used Accuplacer for a while now, Hall said, but now most of the colleges have switched to using just the Accuplacer.

The biggest difference between the two tests is the number of questions, Hall said.

“Accuplacer has a definite number of questions for each section,” Hall said. “Compass, if you missed a couple, would move you to a different test or terminate the test.”

Cora Talkington, a student who has taken both Accuplacer and the Compass tests, said that the Compass test was more in-depth and gave more examples while asking questions, but the Accuplacer test was much quicker.

She said there were not as many questions, and that the test went by much quicker. However, she scored better in math on the Accuplacer.

“I like the Accuplacer because it was easier,” Talkington said. 

She is not alone in this development, as it seems that math scores are the ones that have changed the most between tests.

Robert Krueger, principle of the middle college, said he has given the test to students and noticed a difference in some of the scores.

“We noticed the math scores have been higher on the Accuplacer,” he said.

As for how the college will determine what scores will get students into certain classes, Hall said the deans of each department will decide based on data collected by other colleges that use this test.

“They used reference points from other community colleges, and we will go back and analyze, after we’ve done it for a while, to see how our scores are comparing to performance in classes, and they might go up or down.”

Though the test being used by MCCC is not the most current edition, Hall said the college is waiting until other colleges use the new version of the test before using it themselves. 

That way they can use the information the other colleges have gathered to improve MCCC’s tests. 

“Accuplacer is coming out with a new version of the Accuplacer,” he said. “We’re gonna stick with the old one for a while until we get some baseline data. 

“The new test is supposed to be more in line to giving it to millennials.”

Hall said if students want to prepare for the test, there is a study app available.

While the Accuplacer test may be uncharted territory for MCCC, the test is not new, and there is national research backing it. 

“We’re cautiously optimistic,” Hall said. “We’ll continue to evaluate it as we go along.