COMPASS® Internet Version Technical Checklist

(Revised May 2010)

ACT recommends reviewing this guide prior to installing COMPASS® on multiple workstations. This information is also useful when experiencing slow system response or other difficulties.

Troubleshooting Tips

Browser Settings

Ensure that cookies are enabled.

  • In Internet Explorer®, navigate to Tools > Internet Options > Privacy > Advanced.
  • Verify that Override Automatic Cookie Handling is NOT checked. This will allow cookies to function appropriately.

Download signed ActiveX controls (Minimum: set to prompt).

This will prompt you to install each ActiveX control required by the COMPASS administration and test delivery system. The ActiveX controls provide client-side functionality to allow for such features as recording of student responses and saving reports to the workstation.

  • In IE, navigate to Tools > Internet Options > Security > Custom Level. Click the radio button for "Enable" or "Prompt."

Run ActiveX controls and plug-ins (Minimum: set to prompt).

The ActiveX controls must be allowed to run in the browser in order for COMPASS to perform correctly.

  • In IE, navigate to Tools > Internet Options > Security > Custom Level. Click the "Enable" or "Prompt" radio button to run ActiveX controls.

Script ActiveX controls marked safe for scripting (Minimum: set to prompt).

The ActiveX controls must be allowed to run in the browser in order to perform functions such as saving student responses.

  • In IE, navigate to Tools > Internet Options > Security > Custom Level. Click the "Enable" or "Prompt" radio button to script ActiveX controls.

Set IE to check for newer versions of stored pages "automatically."

  • In IE, navigate to Tools > Internet Options > General > Temporary Internet Files > Settings.

Check that the text size setting is set to "Medium."

This ensures that the test items will display correctly.

  • In IE, this is accessible under the View > Text Size menu.

Enable *.ACT.ORG as a Trusted Site.

Other Workstation Settings/Rights/Updates

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.

  • Verify that the text size on the video adaptor is set to 96 dpi, and that screen resolution is set to 800 x 600.
  • The Workstation Setup process requires that the operator have Power User or Administrator rights.
  • Verify the most recent (major) Microsoft Windows updates have been downloaded to the testing workstations.

Network Troubleshooting

Trace Routes

If there is a need to run a trace route, verify that there is not an excessive number of hops or significant response times. Expect to see a response time of less than 300 milliseconds. Longer network response times indicate a higher likelihood of data communication failures.

When performing a trace route, use the host listed below.

This will verify connection to the appropriate servers, and that the network is resolving DNS correctly.

If the trace route is not resolved, verify connection with a known website (e.g.,


  • Verify that the NSLOOKUP utility can resolve an IP address for If it cannot, attempt to resolve a more common network address website (e.g.,
  • Certain network and workstation settings have been found to prevent names from being resolved at the testing workstations. This may be a symptom of inherent network problems at the site that will slow or otherwise hinder the testing experience.
  • The NSLOOKUP utility can be accessed through Start > Run > (Enter the word "Command"). This opens a system command window where the text "NSLOOKUP" (without the quotes) can be entered at the command line.
  • When this command is run, an IP address should be displayed, which means the workstation is resolving IP addresses correctly. However, if no IP address is displayed, then DNS/other network settings may need to be corrected on the network. This situation should be addressed by a qualified network technician at the site.

Imaging Workstations (e.g., Ghost™)

If you have set up your workstations using a common image, it is extremely important that you follow up by assigning a unique Media Access Control (MAC) address to each workstation. Follow the steps below to image PCs and assign individual MAC addresses.

  • To prepare for imaging, follow the steps for downloading COMPASS below. You will download the secure browser and the test files via the Internet to the PC from which you are planning to image.
  • The default download location is C:\Program Files\ACT\COMPASSESL Internet Version Setup. You may choose another download location instead, if you wish.
  • Image the remaining PCs.
  • Finally, for each imaged workstation, repeat steps 1, 3, and 4 below to assign a unique MAC address to each. Register the MAC address in Step 1 and select "Do not download anything" in Step 3.

Step 1

  • Navigate to and enter your staff ID/password.
  • Click the Workstation Setup button to begin.
  • Select the "Register" radio button.
  • Click "Get MAC Address for this computer." This will automatically find and insert the workstation's MAC address, which will uniquely identify the computer workstation.

Step 2

If your machine is not already equipped with Java Virtual Machine (for e-Write tests) or Windows Media Player (for administering ESL tests and online test instructions), you may download and install them from the Workstation Setup page by clicking the corresponding links in Step 2.

Step 3

There are three options presented in Step 3. You must select a radio button next to one of the following options:

  • New COMPASS Workstation
  • Current COMPASS Workstation
  • Do not download anything

Step 4

Once you have selected a download option, click OK. When you are downloading the setup file, you must leave the computer on and stay connected to the Internet until the download is complete.

Network Caching

  • Turn off all caching (except browser caching) for and
  • Caching to be turned off includes proxy servers.

Disk Protection (e.g., Deepfreeze™)

  • COMPASS updates must be allowed in order to keep the testing systems current. Disk protection software must be configured to allow for these updates as required.
  • If there are automatic updates to the COMPASS system, but disk protection is not temporarily disabled on the testing workstation, the update process must be repeated each time the system is restarted. This can be detrimental to the overall testing experience. The re-imaging process (e.g., Ghost) is one way to distribute updates to testing workstations, but is not recommended.

Other Possible Concerns

  • Content filters: Some filter settings may cause conflicts with COMPASS. Verify that your filter allows all communication from and
  • Firewall: Verify that standard ports 443 and 80 are available for use.
  • Throughput: There are various utilities available that test Internet throughput speed. Verify that speed and available bandwidth meet industry standards.
  • Microsoft Synchronize: Verify that this utility is not set up to perform regular updates of offline webpages. These updates could occur during the test event and affect COMPASS performance.
  • Verify that no other utilities or services are accessing the Internet on a regular basis (e.g., Weatherbug™).
  • Verify that no utilities capable of producing pop-up windows during the test session are running (e.g., MSN Messenger, Microsoft anti-spyware utilities). Pop-up windows can interfere with testing in the secure testing environment.

Customer-Specific Settings

  • Gateway address: A customer site was unable to resolve network NSLOOKUP addresses to ACT. When examined, it was found that two gateway addresses on the customer network were listed under TCP/IP network settings > Advanced. One of these addresses was a local IP address while the second was an IP address outside the customer's firewall. Reversing the order of these addresses on the DNS server and workstations resolved the concern.
  • Proxy server setting: A customer site had an incorrect proxy server setting on some workstations in the lab. This caused network traffic to be routed to several unnecessary locations and therefore slowed the testing experience. The setting can be found in Internet Explorer via the Tools menu > Internet Options > Connections.
  • Local admin login: Some customers highly recommend that tests be administered from local administrator accounts on testing workstations, rather than from user accounts on the network server.