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Basic Skills Assessment Frequently Asked Questions
At Heartland Community College, we are committed to helping students succeed. A large part of student success is beginning your studies at an appropriate level. The purpose of Heartland's assessment process is to ensure that students are prepared for the courses they need to achieve their goals.
What is the Basic Skills Assessment?
The Basic Skills Assessment includes placement tests in writing,
reading, and mathematics. The results of these tests place you at
the appropriate level of coursework. We want you to have the best
possible opportunity to succeed both in the classes you take and in the
degree or program you pursue. The results are available upon test
completion and are not used to determine admission to the college.
How can I do my best?
- Be rested and ready to concentrate.
- Answer each question carefully.
- Take a break between tests, if necessary. Think about taking the
tests on different days.
- Ask the test administrator for help if you are unsure about directions.
- Don't be concerned if others finish before you do. Remember: everyone has a highly individualized test and people finish at different times.
- Plan to do your best the first time you test. If, however, you
feel your placement does not reflect your true ability, you may
retest one time before taking classes in the subject area. Students
must wait one day before retesting. The retest for writing skills
requires you to compose a 300-500 word essay. Essay results are
available in one week.
Before you take the placement test, we urge you to carefully review
questions. These will help you become familiar with the style of
questions and will give you an opportunity to practice answering
questions and solving problems.
Who is required to take the
- All first-time college students take the full assessment unless
using ACT scores for placement.
- Transfer students assess as needed, based on previously
- A student who has completed Composition I with a "C" or better
is exempt from the writing assessment.
- A student who has completed a college-level math course is
exempt from the math assessment unless math is needed as a
prerequisite and the course was taken more than two years ago.
- A student who has more than 30 hours of college credit is exempt
from the reading assessment.
- Students who hold degrees from U.S. colleges and universities,
students with special testing needs or students with other special
testing considerations should contact the Enrollment Services
Assessment Office at (309) 268-8018 prior to testing.
Does Heartland accept ACT scores for placement?
ACT subscores in English, Reading, and Math may be used for
placement if the ACT was taken within the past two years.
- An ACT English subscore of 19-36--placement at college level
in English. All other students must assess.
- An ACT Reading subscore of 21-36--placement at college level
in reading. All other students must assess.
- An ACT Math subscore of 23-36--placement at college level in
Math 109, Math 128,
All other students must assess.
- Students eligible to use ACT scores for placement in English,
reading, and/or math need to bring a copy of their scores with
them when they come in to test.
What are the tests like?
Heartland uses a computer-adaptive testing system from American College Testing called COMPASS. Although testing is done on a computer, computer expertise is not required. Directions are clearly stated and help is always available. The tests are adaptive, which means that questions are selected based on responses to previous questions. Since the tests are highly individualized and tailored to the student's level, the tests are shorter than traditional paper and pencil tests.
Is the test timed?
There is no time limit and testers are encouraged to work carefully at their own pace. Most
students complete testing in two to two and a half hours, but some
testers require considerably more time. Students may take all three
tests at one sitting or split them into different sessions.
When and where can I test?
By appointment, assessments take place in the
Assessment Center, Student Commons Building Room 2001. To make an
appointment, log into your myHeartland account and click on the
What do I need to bring to
- You will need to know your Social Security Number and your
Heartland ID Number to log into the
- You will need to show a photo ID to take the Basic Skills Assessment.
- Basic calculators are provided or you may bring your own for the
math portion. Some calculators, such as the TI-89, are not allowed.
How many times can I take each test?
Each test (writing, reading, and math) can be taken twice. Students must wait
a minimum of one day before retesting in reading and math. The retest for writing
can be retaken the same day and requires a 300 word writing sample. Writing
sample results are available in 1-2 weeks.
Who should I contact for more information?
You may contact us by email or phone if you have further questions
Kaitlyn Ralph, Coordinator of
Phone: (309) 268-8018
Email: Angie Ishmael
Phone: (217) 735-1731
Email: Sharon Mackinson
Phone: (815) 842-6777
Where can I go to view sample questions?
become familiar with the style of questions, we encourage you to
This will give you an opportunity to practice answering questions and
What other exams can I take with
the Assessment Office?