It is important that students begin their college studies at the appropriate level.  To help identify that level, Lincoln College-Normal evaluates incoming students’ preparedness through placement testing in math, English composition, and reading. Placement test scores, in conjunction with ACT scores, high school transcripts, and/or GED scores, are used to determine appropriate course choices. Lincoln College-Normal uses ACT’s COMPASS® computer based tests.  COMPASS placement scores are valid for placement purposes for up to two (2) years.

All students*, regardless of campus division and/or program of study, must complete placement testing before registering for any Lincoln College mathematics or English composition class unless:

  • both their ACT composite score AND their ACT math score are at least 26 and
  • it has been less than five (5) years since the last college level or prerequisite math course was successfully completed.

Transfer students may submit COMPASS scores from a previous institution provided testing was completed within the past 2 years. Scores must be sent directly to LCN from the previous institution.

*Exemptions:  Students who enroll and have achieved an ACT composite score of 26 or higher and an ACT Math score of 26 or higher are exempt from taking the COMPASS placement exams. Students who have achieved an ACT composite score of 26 or higher but have an ACT Math score less than 26 must complete the COMPASS math placement exam to determine their placement in any Lincoln College math course but are exempt from taking the English composition and reading exams.

Placement tests are given to all new students who participate in PROP (the summer Placement, Registration and Orientation Program for students in the traditional program).  Other prospective degree-seeking students should contact an admissions counselor for information about placement testing. Current LCN students and non-degree seeking students should contact their academic advisor to register for placement tests. After meeting with an academic advisor or an admissions counselor, as appropriate, students should schedule a testing appointment by contacting the Testing Center (309) 268-4899, room 106A or email When scheduling a testing appointment, it is recommended that students allow two (2) hours if they are taking all three (3) exams, but the amount of time needed varies according to each individual’s test-taking style.

The math and reading tests are untimed. The math test follows a multiple choice format, requiring students to solve problems and select the correct answer from the choices given. Students may elect to begin the exam at the pre-algebra, intermediate algebra, or college algebra level. Based on the student’s responses, the computer adaptive test then shifts to progressively more or less advanced topics.

The reading exam is designed to evaluate vocabulary, comprehension, and inference skills. Students are asked to read a series of short selections and answer multiple choice questions based on those readings.  Students are allowed 60 minutes to complete the English composition exam. In the composition exam, students are asked to write a short essay in response to a prompt.  Placement in English composition is determined by the student’s performance in the areas of focus, content, organization, style, and conventions.

Students who wish to repeat any of the 3 placement tests may do so with the following stipulations.

  • A $20 fee per test will be assessed for each successive attempt.
  • Students must wait a minimum of one week before retaking any exam to allow time for review and further preparation.
  • Retakes must be completed prior to the beginning of the semester in which the student plans to enroll in the math, reading, or composition class for the new score to be considered for that semester’s enrollment.

For practice COMPASS® test questions, visit the following sites:

For more general information about placement testing at LCN, please visit the LRC web site.