COMPASS® Internet Version Frequently Asked Questions

(Revised May 2010)

Special note concerning system security
Please advise all test center proctors that students are not permitted to connect a USB device, insert a CD into a drive, or use a keyboard or mouse with an Internet access key on any workstation while the test is being administered as this may allow an examinee to access the Internet. They should only be able to use a standard keyboard or mouse while testing.


Can I use a wireless network when testing with COMPASS Internet Version?
ACT does not recommend one type of local network setup over another.  As with any technology, ACT encourages that all colleges set up their local networks based upon best practices currently known within the networking community.

Reminder: ACT provides support for ACT software that resides on the local workstation, but does not provide direct support for local network related issues, regardless of how the local network might be designed or implemented.

I'm getting an error message that states the items cannot be updated. How do I fix this?
Updating items will fail if the user does not have Read, Write, and Modify rights on the Item folder.

What display setting should I use to view COMPASS Internet Version correctly?
The Windows Display settings must be set to 800 x 600 resolution.

What protocol is used when a user accesses the COMPASS Internet Version website: http, https, or other?
COMPASS Internet Version uses https through an SSL secured socket.

What information is transferred to my computer from the COMPASS Internet Version website?

  • ActiveX components are saved on the workstation, and the MAC address of the computer is registered during the initial installation.
  • Only test questions and score information are transferred to a workstation administering a COMPASS Internet Version test package.
  • If the test is a restart, the previous test questions and the examinee's responses are downloaded.
  • The examinee's score report and/or Single Student Record (SSR) data are downloaded to the workstation when testing is complete.

What information goes back to the website, and at what point in the process is this information sent?

  • When a COMPASS Internet Version test package is started, the workstation's MAC address and screen resolution are verified.
  • Before testing begins, any new items are downloaded. Because the items are saved locally, you may need to specify rights on the local workstation in order to enable the download.
  • Responses to questions are uploaded as the test progresses. Each response is saved individually. At the end of each configured test section, responses are re-transmitted if individual item saves were unsuccessful.

How does workstation authentication happen? What prevents a student from logging in on a workstation outside of the monitored area?
The registered MAC address is confirmed prior to test startup. Testing cannot occur on a workstation without a registered MAC address.

How do I register a MAC address?

CRITICAL: If you are installing on Microsoft® Windows Vista or Windows 7, you must turn off the Microsoft User Access Control (UAC) and reboot the machine prior to running the CIV Workstation Setup. You may re-enable UAC once the installation is complete.

  • Navigate to www.compass.act.org and enter your staff ID/password.
  • Click the Workstation Setup button to begin (do NOT select the Login button).
  • In Step 1 of the Workstation Setup page, select the "Register" radio button.
  • Click "Get MAC Address." This will automatically find and insert the workstation's MAC address, which uniquely identifies the computer workstation.

Are the Single Student Record (SSR) files written to the website and to our local storage?
The SSR file is saved on your local computer or network only if specified to do so. The SSRs are stored in a location that is defined within the application by the test site administrator. If a workstation cannot access that location, or a location has not been defined, the SSR is stored in the root of the workstation (C:\).

How do I turn on/off the local storage of SSRs?
You must have the appropriate access to edit test packages.

Select the test package you wish to modify, click Edit, and then under "after each test session:" select or deselect the checkbox to create an SSR file.

How do I change/configure where SSRs are stored locally?
You must have access to the Sites tab. Click the Edit button next to the test center you wish to modify. There is a field where you can enter the file location.

How is SSR information stored locally?
SSR information is stored in a flat/text file format when saved locally. To ensure the security of the information, please restrict access to the location(s) where the SSRs are stored.

How can a school give tests at off-site locations that do not have access to the site's SSR location?
As long as the workstations meet the requirements for testing and the MAC address has been registered, they can be used for testing. In this situation it is advisable that the SSR information is not saved locally.

Is a Social Security Number required for use as the Student ID?
COMPASS Internet Version does not require that Social Security Numbers be used to identify students. The Student ID field can be any unique identifier (up to 20 characters long) that your site chooses. This is defined during the initial setup of the application.

If you need to modify the format of your institution's Student ID after your initial setup, please contact the ACT Help Desk for assistance.

PLEASE NOTE: Changing this setting after students have been tested may affect your reports.

Are there temporary records in COMPASS Internet Version, as there are in the Windows version? If so, where are they stored?
There are no temporary records.

Our site currently has a process that uploads the SSRs automatically into our student system. Will this process work with COMPASS Internet Version?
Yes. You may use whatever process you have been using previously to upload SSRs to a master database. Please see the current SSR layout for information regarding field positions and length.

We would like to integrate COMPASS on a real-time basis with our student system. Can this be accomplished?
ACT does not provide direct support for this activity (e.g. using an application such as PeopleSoft or Banner). However, we may be able to provide you with information that could be helpful, such as the SSR layout.

Contact the ACT Help Desk if you require additional resources.

Is it possible to resume a test in COMPASS Internet Version?
In most situations, when a returning student starts the exact same test package he or she was taking when the test was interrupted, COMPASS Internet Version will resume where the student left off. This works even if the student logs in at a different workstation.

Can a student go off-site to finish a test they started on campus?
Students can test in a different location only if they are testing on a workstation that has been previously registered with the COMPASS system. The off-site location also must have access to the test package that the student needs to complete.

We would like to use the Windows version as a backup to the Web version. Is it possible to combine data if a student took half a test on COMPASS Internet Version and the remaining test in COMPASS for Windows?
This is not possible. A test started in one application cannot be completed in another.

What are the reporting capabilities of COMPASS Internet Version?
The reports in COMPASS Internet Version are essentially the same as in the Windows version. The following standard reports are provided:

  • Standard Individual Report
  • Custom List Report
  • Placement Summary Report
  • Single Student Record