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Math Placement Test

Before Testing:

Testing Center Procedures:

  • Personal belongings including purses and cell phones, must be placed in a bin in the Testing Center office. Large items such as book bags, may be left on a bookcase in the Testing Center or in your car.   
  • Children cannot be accommodated in the testing center. Children under 12 years cannot be left unattended on campus.
  • Students with disabilities who require audio/visual accommodations should go to the counseling center (LR 253) before testing.
  • You are responsible for being prepared to test and testing in a serious manner.

About the Math Placement Test:

  • NOVA requires a minimum skill level for entry into the majority of its mathematics courses as well as some of the science and computer science courses. The primary tool for determining your skill level is an interactive computer generated test called COMPASS, developed by American College Testing in Iowa City, IA.
  • You are strongly encouraged to review your skills prior to taking the test. You may print a review sheet here.
  • For a more comprehensive review you may want to reference the book, 'Chart Your Success on the COMPASS' (ISBN 0-89892-302-6). This book is available in the Loudoun Campus library or you may purchase it at
  • The Math Placement Test is a computerized, untimed test.
  • Calculators are provided in the math test. Click here to see them. Personal calculators are not allowed.
  • The test is divided into five levels of material: prealgebra, algebra, college algebra, geometry and trigonometry. The test will begin with prealgebra questions.
  • As long as your answers are correct, the computer will keep giving you harder questions. Your correct/incorrect answers will determine the number and type of problems that you will see. When the computer program determines your placement level, the test will stop.

After Testing:

  • You will be given a copy of your scores at the end of your testing session.
  • You may look up your test scores online using these directions.
  • New students should take their test scores to the Student Services office for help in planning course schedules.
  • Math test scores are valid for one year.
  • Once you take the Virginia Placement Test (VPT), you can only take the retest once within the next 12 months, ONLY if you have not yet registered for and started taking a math course. At that point, no retesting is allowed except with case-by-case exceptions. Also, students who have been in the current redesigned MTH 1 course are not permitted to take the VPT. Instead, they have the opportunity to prove mastery of the various units of material via the unit pretests that they take within the MTH 1 (or soon-to-be MTT 1, 2, 3 or 4 course).