ACT Compass® Comparability Study Quick Start Guide

This guide explains how to perform the tasks required to prepare your test sites and to administer testing during the comparability study for the new ACT Compass application.


As a participant in the comparability study, you will have one of these two roles:

  • Comp Study Campus Admin—For this study, ACT will create this account for your institution. If you are acting as campus admin, you must perform these important tasks before testing can begin:
    1. log in to the new ACT Compass application,
    2. set up your test center(s), and
    3. add your test center proctors.
  • Comp Study Proctor—A proctor administers and monitors the ACT Compass test at your test center(s). As a proctor you will validate student identity, ensure the examinees are eligible to take the test, give instructions for the test, start the test, and monitor for cheating.

Getting around in the new ACT Compass application

When you log in, you will be on the Home Page. Your campus’s name will be displayed at left on the Home tab while your username and role will be displayed in the upper right corner by Logout. The application will only display the tabs and tasks that correspond to your role.

Figure 1

Figure 1—Campus Admin Home Page

When you drill down to a test center, the tabs for your role at that level will be displayed:

Figure 2

Figure 2—Proctor Home Page

Figure 3

Figure 3—Proctor tabs at test center level

Comp Study Workflow Diagram

About Units

How many units will I use during the comparability study? Will I be charged for units I use in the new ACT Compass?

During the comparability study, you will use and be charged for units consumed in the current ACT Compass, as you normally would for ACT Compass testing. You will NOT be charged for units in the new ACT Compass. Your account will be pre-loaded with free units for you to use during the comparability study. After the study is over, ACT will match every test that is completed by a student in both the current and new ACT Compass during the study window. You will then receive free units for every matched test. For every matched test except eWrite, you will receive 3 free units in the new Compass. For every matched test in eWrite, you will receive 10.5 free units.


During the Comparability Study, these are the tasks you will perform as a Campus Admin or Proctor.

Important: The Campus Admin tasks must be completed before the Proctor tasks.

Note: You can perform each task by either following the Path or the Detailed Steps that follow.

TaskRole / Steps
  1. Check Internet browser compatibility
Roles: Campus Admin and Proctor

Before you log in to the new ACT Compass application for the first time, check your Internet browser for compatibility. You can only log in using these browsers:

  • Google Chrome™
  • Internet Explorer®
  • Mozilla® Firefox®
  • Safari®

Important: For Internet Explorer 9, the Compatibility Mode must be turned off to display the new ACT Compass correctly. To turn off the Compatibility Mode, click Tools > Compatibility Mode, and then uncheck Display in Compatibility View.

  1. Log in to the new ACT Compass application
Role: Campus Admin

After you sign up to participate in the Comparability Study, you will receive an email from ACT containing the following information that you need to log in to your test site and launch the test. It will contain a URL, your username, and a temporary password. You will change your password after you log in.

  1. Navigate to the ACT Compass application using the URL from the email you received.
  2. On the Log In screen, enter your username and temporary password, and then click Log In.
  3. On the License Agreement screen, click I agree.
  4. On the New Password screen, enter a new password and click OK.
  5. On the Security Question screen, select a question, enter an answer, and click OK. Your home screen is displayed.
  1. Create Test Centers
Role: Campus Admin
Quick Path: Systems > Centers > New Center > [Enter required information.] > Save > OK
Detailed Steps:
  1. Log in to the ACT Compass application.
  2. Click on the Systems tab. It will show your campus’ name.
    • Do not drill down to a previously created test center.
  3. Click on the Centers tab and then on New Center at far right.

    Figure 4

    Figure 4—Centers tab

  4. Enter information in the required fields:
    1. Center Name
    2. URL Identifier: Create a unique identifier for the end of the test center URL.

      You do not need to fill in other information on this screen at this point.

  5. Click the Main Contact tab and enter a First Name, Last Name, and Email for the person who serves in this capacity.
    (Be aware that when you name a Main Contact, you are not creating a User account.)

    Note: You do not need to complete the Center Coordinator, Support Contact, or Remote Center tabs.

  6. Click Save, and then OK when you see the confirmation message.
  1. Create Proctors and other Admins
Role: Campus Admin

During the comparability study, you will be able to create two kinds of users:

  • Comp Study Campus Admin—to assist you with overall administration
  • Comp Study Proctor—to handle test administration activities at one or more test centers
Quick Path: Systems tab > Users > New User > [Enter required information.] > Add Role > [Select the organization and role.] > OK > Save > OK > Apply
Detailed Steps:
  1. Log in to the ACT Compass application.
  2. Click the Systems tab, click the Users tab, and then click New User.

    Figure 5

    Figure 5—Users tab

  3. On the Create New User screen, enter information in the following fields: First Name, Last Name, User Name, and Email.
  4. Click Add Role and select which organization and role the user should have permissions for:
    • For a campus admin, select the campus’ name and then select the campus admin role.
    • For a proctor, select the test center’s name and then the proctor role.

      Important: To assign a proctor to more than one test center, you must create a new user for the proctor, select another test center’s name, and then select the proctor role.

  5. Click OK, and then Save. The new user will now appear in the list on the Users tab when you click Apply, and the user will receive an email from ACT with a password to log in to your institution’s ACT Compass website.
  1. Create or Register Examinees
Role: Proctor

Before you log in for the first time (using the credentials and URL from ACT), check the Internet browser compatibility on the proctor workstation. (See Task 1.)

Quick Paths: There are two starting points.
  • Path #1: On the proctor’s computer

    Examinees tab > New Examinee > [Enter required information.] > Add Test Package > [Select a test package.] > OK > Save > OK > Apply (to see the new examinee on the Examinees tab)

  • Path #2: On the examinee login screen of a test computer

    Proctor log in > [Log in.] > Find/Register/Create > [Enter required information.] > Add Test Package > [Select a test package.] > OK > Save > OK > Apply (to see the new examinee on the Examinees tab)

    Figure 6

    Figure 6—Proctor Login link

Detailed Steps:
  1. On the Create New Examinee page, enter all required information for the examinee: First name, Last Name, Student ID, Date of Birth, Email, Country, Gender, and Race-Ethnicity.
  2. Click Add Test Package, select the test package, and click OK.
  3. Click Save and then OK to the confirmation message.
  4. Click Apply to see the new examinee in the list on the Examinees tab.

Important: To ensure that the examinee will receive an email with the information for registering to take a test, be sure to enter the examinee’s email address on the Create New Examinee screen.


Prepare .csv file
Import a List of Examinees

Prepare File for Bulk Upload of Examinees

Role: Campus Admin

In lieu of manually entering examinees, you can import a list of examinees from a .csv file. To create your import file, use either of the bulk upload templates that ACT has prepared and placed in the Resources section of your Home page.

Quick Path: Home page [Resources] > Comparability Study Bulk Examinee Upload Template (Excel) > [Follow instructions in template.] > [Save as .csv file to a location accessible to proctors.]
Detailed Steps:
  1. Log in to the ACT Compass application.
  2. Identify all examinees that will potentially take a test in the new ACT Compass system.
  3. In the Resources section of your Home page, click this button to open the macro-enabled Excel template and follow the steps on the Instructions worksheet to prepare a .csv file for uploading your examinee data:
    Figure 7

    Figure 7—Excel template (with macros)


    If you are having trouble importing the Excel file because it contains macros, click this button to open a .csv template that contains no macros.

    For instructions on loading data into the file, click Help > My Help Manual > Examinees > How to import multiple new examinees via a .csv file upload. Scroll down to step 3 and ensure that the examinee data you add to the file conforms to the field validation descriptions shown here.
    Figure 8

    Figure 8—.csv template (no macros)

  4. Save the .csv file to a location accessible to your test center proctors.

Import the List of Examinees (.csv file)

Role: Proctor
Quick Path: Examinees tab > Import Examinees > Browse > [Select the file.] > Open > Upload File > [Review/edit information, if needed: down arrow right end of row, Edit.] > Create Examinees
Detailed Steps:
  1. Log in to the ACT Compass application.
  2. Click the Examinees tab, and then click Import Examinees.

    Figure 9

    Figure 9—Examinees tab

  3. On the Import Examinees screen, click Browse to find the .csv file to upload.
  4. Select the file, click Open, and then click Upload File.
  5. Review the uploaded data and edit, if necessary. You can correct any errors by clicking the down arrow at the right end of a row and then clicking Edit.
  6. Click Create Examinees and close the Import Examinees window.
The Examinee screen will display the uploaded examinees and test information. Each examinee who has a test package assigned and whose email address has been entered into the system will receive a registration ticket that the student must enter on the test login screen.
(as needed)

Assign Test Packages

Role: Proctor

These directions explain how you can add a test package to examinees for whom test packages were not assigned.

Quick Path: Examinees > Apply >down arrow(on row for student to affect) > Edit Examinee > Add Test Package > [Select test package.] > OK > Save
Detailed Steps:
  1. Log in to the ACT Compass application.
  2. Click the Examinees tab, and then click the Apply button to view the list of students.

    Note: Your window must be maximized to see the Apply button.

  3. Click down arrow (on right end of an examinee’s row), and click Edit Examinee.

    Figure 10

    Figure 10—Editing examinee information

  4. Click Add Test Package, select the package, and click OK.
  5. Click Save. The admission ticket number will then be assigned.
  1. Prepare Computers for Testing
Role: Proctor

The first time you log on to the ACT Compass application, you will need to perform these steps on each computer that will be used for testing.

Quick Path: [Check browser compatibility with ACT Compass.] > [Log in.] > [Drill down to test center.] > Systems > [Copy URL.] > [Paste URL into new browser window. Add /test to end of URL.] > Enter > [Log in.] > [Give the computer a unique name.] > Register > F11
Detailed Steps:
  1. Check the Internet browser for compatibility with ACT Compass. Adjust settings, if necessary. (See Task 1.)
  2. Log in to the ACT Compass application.
  3. Drill down to the screen for your test center.

    Figure 11

    Figure 11—Drill down to a test center

  4. Click the Systems tab.

    Figure 12

    Figure 12—Systems tab for your test center

  5. On the test Center Details screen, copy the test URL in the URL identifier box.

    Figure 13

    Figure 13—URL Identifier

  6. Open a new browser window.
  7. Paste the URL in the address box and add /test to the end of the URL. Click Enter.

    Figure 14

    Figure 14—Test center URL with /test at end

    Or, you can write the URL down, and then type it into the address box of the browser.

  8. Log in using your proctor username and password.
  9. Type a name for the machine, your username, and password, and click Register. During testing, the machine name will be displayed on the Dashboard when an examinee requests proctor assistance.
  10. The application will now display the examinee login screen. Click F11 to maximize the screen. Important: The browser must be maximized to full screen for testing.

The test computer is ready for the examinee to log in and begin testing.

  1. Start a Test (Check In Students)
Role: Proctor
  • You must “check in” examinees before they can take a test.
  • After examinees have been checked in, they must enter their Last Name, Admission Ticket #, and DOB on the test launch screen to log in and begin the test.
Quick Paths: You can check in examinees three ways:
  • Path #1: On the proctor’s computer—Dashboard tab (recommended)
  • Detailed Steps:
    1. Log in to the ACT Compass application.
    2. Drill down to your test center. (See Figure 2.)
    3. Click Dashboard.
    4. In the Find Registered Examinees box at the bottom of the screen, type the student’s name and click Go.
    5. In the results screen, find the test package the examinee will take and click Check In, OK to the confirmation message, and Close.
  • Path #2: On a test computer before an examinee logs in
  • Detailed Steps:
    1. On the examinee login screen, click Proctor Login (bottom right corner) and log in.
    2. In the Find Registered Examinees screen, enter the ticket code, student ID, or examinee name and click Go.
    3. Find the student in the results and click Start Test.
  • Path #3: On a test computer after an examinee logs in
  • Detailed Steps:
    1. The examinee logs in to the test computer and clicks Start.
    2. Log in to the examinee’s computer using your proctor username and password. The application will then check the student in and launch the test.

Looking up an Admission Ticket Code: (when an examinee does not know the code and therefore cannot log in to take the test)

  • From a proctor’s computer: follow Path #1 above.
  • From an examinee’s test computer: follow Path #3 above.

Note: If you do not find the examinee, click the Find/Register/Create link to display the Dashboard. Click New Examinee to create a new examinee.

  1. Monitor Test Activity with the Proctor Dashboard
Role: Proctor
Quick Path: your campus name > your test center name > Dashboard
  • View the current test activity:
    • Click Active testing.
  • View, pause, and terminate test sessions:
    • Click the dropdown arrow at the right end of an examinee row and select an option from the menu.
  • Check in students. (See Task 7.)
  • Monitor calls for proctor assistance: When a student requests assistance, a red message will appear above the dashboard showing the name of the student and test machine.

Viewing Reports

Because the purpose of the Comparability Study is to ensure that the new ACT Compass produces the same results as the current system, no scores for test sessions during the study will be provided. You should use a student’s test score from the current ACT Compass for placement.