Frequently Asked Questions

What is new student placement at Columbia College Chicago?

New student placement works with incoming Columbia students to administer the COMPASS placements, in order to ensure that students are placed in the appropriate level mathematics and writing courses. Advisors use the results of the COMPASS placements to help each student register for the right courses.  For example, the writing placement test may reveal whether a student should enroll in a preparatory English course.

Who needs to take the new student COMPASS placement?

All new students unless:

  • You are transferring in accepted credit in BOTH college-level English composition AND college-level mathematics. See this link for information about transferring credits.
  • You have submitted ACT or SAT scores College Board, and confirmed receipt with Columbia’s Undergraduate Admissions Office. Please call (312) 369-7130, or email For email confirmations, please include the student’s full name and OASIS Number. (For more information, read "How do I submit ACT or SAT scores?" below)

If you do not meet these criteria, you must complete a COMPASS placement.

How do I complete a COMPASS placement?

New students may choose to take the COMPASS placement on campus for free, or at a location closer to their home for a fee. 

On-campus Option:

On-campus placement is free for Columbia students and no appointment is needed! New students should take their placements one business day (Monday through Friday) before their orientation date.   

Fall 2016 on-campus placement sessions begin April 4, 2016, Monday through Friday starting at 9:30 a.m. and starting at 1 p.m. New Freshman should complete placement by Friday, July 1. New Transfer Students should complete placement by Friday, June 17. There is no placement on Monday, May 30. The college will be closed for the Memorial Day Holiday.

Read more about Preparing for Placement.

Remote Option:

All remote COMPASS scheduling must be reserved through Columbia’s Learning Studio by calling 312-369-8130. New Columbia students may take their COMPASS placements at another college placement facility or an ACT facility closer to their home for a fee typically ranging from $25-75. New students must complete this placement at least one business day before their orientation date.

Fall 2016 remote placement: March 7 - August 12, 2016.

Read more about Remote Placement.

How do I submit ACT or SAT scores?

ACT or SAT scores can be used in place of new student placement scores.

If you have taken the ACT or SAT, you can:

Go to the ACT or College Board website, and request an official score report for Columbia College Chicago.


Send an electronic file of your test scores (scan or screenshot in which both the scores and your name are clearly visible, along with the Student OASIS I.D. Number) to

It is the student’s responsibility to confirm receipt of their ACT or SAT Scores. Please email or call Columbia’s Undergraduate Admissions Office:

Phone: (312) 369-7130

Please allow 3-5 business days for processing your scores.

If you have submitted ACT or SAT scores but would still like to take a placement to try to place in a higher level course, you are welcome to complete a COMPASS placement.

What dates are available for on-campus placement?

Fall 2016 on-campus placement sessions: March 7 - August 12, Monday through Friday starting at 9:30 a.m. and starting at 1 p.m. There is no placement on Monday, May 30. The college will be closed for Memorial Day.

Where do I take placement on campus?

New student placement testing is provided in the Learning Studio, 33 E. Congress, on the First Floor.

What should I expect at an on-campus placement day?

Please arrive 15 minutes early on the first floor of 33 E. Congress and check in for placement at the front desk.

New students taking all three placements should allow three hours to complete their placements. Transfer students should allow two hours. New students are required to bring:

  1. Photo ID
  2. Proof of your correct OASIS student ID number in the form of an orientation confirmation, a Columbia photo ID or your Columbia course schedule.  If you bring a Columbia photo ID, you do not need to bring a second ID.

New students may also bring their own calculator or may use those provided by new student placement.  We also provide pencils to all new students taking math placements. Cell phones, iPads, laptops, etc. are prohibited.

Where can I go to see some sample questions so that I can get an idea of what is on placement?

Sample Questions

Getting familiar with test content

Numerical Skills/Pre-Algebra and Algebra (14 pages; 643KB)

College Algebra, Geometry, and Trigonometry (17 pages; 663KB)

Reading (11 pages; 612KB)

Writing Skills (28 pages; 656KB)

If I am a transfer student, do I need to take placements?

You must have credit accepted by Columbia College Chicago in college-level English composition to be waived from the writing placement test and college-level mathematics to be waived from the math placement test. This can include AP credits. If you have college credit accepted by Columbia in BOTH English composition and college-level mathematics, you do not need to take any placements. Please send an official transcript to the Admissions Office for evaluation. You can find submission instructions at this link.

If you have submitted your college transcripts from another institution or AP credit, you should have received your Transcript Evaluation Report. If you have not received this, and you want to find out which college credits have been accepted at Columbia, please email your transcript evaluator below:

  • Students with last names starting with A-D or O-Z, contact Cory Byrd,
  • Students with last names starting with E-N, contact Michael Kilinski,

If you do not have these, Columbia College Chicago will also accept ACT and SAT scores. (For more information, read "How do I submit ACT and SAT scores?" above.)

What if I am a special needs student?

Students with special needs are required to have documentation. Please call new student placement at 312.369.7635. Also, you will receive a referral to Services for Students with Disabilities and Interpreting Services.

What if I am a current, continuing student?

Continuing students who need placement in math, reading and writing are welcome to take them year-round, except holidays, on Columbia's campus for free. Continuing students do NOT need an appointment. However, continuing students are strongly encouraged to take placements during the term rather than during the orientation period, when many new and out-of-state students will take their placements first.