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Virginia Highlands Community College (VHCC) provides to all persons in the service region financial accessible, high quality, comprehensive educational programs and services to meet the needs of students. The college accepts responsibility for the increasing educational expectations of all groups within the academic community; therefore, requires that VHCC students take English and mathematic placement test prior to enrollment in these and other designated courses. Students who have taken the SAT or ACT and made the VHCC required scores, will be exempt from taking the ASSET or COMPASS test.

VHCC uses the ASSET or COMPASS Testing system from ACT as a means to ensure that students have
mastered competency in reading, writing and mathematical skills commensurate with their college goals. Therefore, the results of this testing will play a large part in determining whether a student will be allowed to register in a VHCC dual enrolled English, Biology, or math course.

The ASSET test:

  • Is a paper and pencil test
  • Is timed
  • 25 minutes for the Reading test
  • 25 minutes for the Writing test
  • 25 minutes for a required writing sample
  • 25 minutes for the Mathematic test
  • Reports of test results within two weeks

A VHCC representative will come to each high school that will be offering a VHCC dual enrollment English,
Biology, or math course to administer the ASSET test. Dates will be announced in plenty of time for interested students to decide whether they wish to take the test. If a student is unable to test at the high school he/she can setup an appointment to come on campus to take the test. Each student will be notified whether they were successful on the test. Students will be provided with a copy of their test results and placement recommendations.

Common questions students ask about placement testing:

Will a low-test score keep me from taking certain courses?
Yes. English and mathematics courses are designed for students prepared for advanced academic placement.  Please review the VHCC ASSET placement information sheet for cutoff scores.

If I do not do well, can I take the test over?
Students whose score falls into the middle band can retest if they choose to do so. Faculty recommendation
can also be used if the student’s score is within the middle band. Take the test seriously. Gain all the skills
and competency in your high school courses that you can. Use this booklet to workout sample problems. Contact the learning lab (739-2476) at the college for additional tutorials.

When should I test?
Consult with your guidance counselor if you are interested in applying for dual enrollment classes during your junior or senior year.

What kinds of questions are on the ASSET tests?
The ASSET tests all use a multiple-choice format. The following table gives the number of items and the
amount of time allowed for each test.

The ASSET tests all use a multiple-choice format. The following table gives the number of items and the    amount of time allowed for each test. See sample test items attached.

Test General Definition Items Testing Time
Writing Skills

Measures your understanding of appropriate usage in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, writing strategy, and writing style.


25 minutes

Reading Skills

Measure your ability to find specific information in text, and to make logical inferences that extend beyond the text information.


25 minutes

College Algebra

Measures skills often taught in a first year college algebra course, including performing operations with complex numbers, exponential functions, factorials, and graphs or polynomials.


25 minutes

How can I prepare for each of the ASSET tests? 

Test Preparation Tips
Writing Skills
  1. Determine the intended meaning of each paragraph before trying to answer items in that paragraph.
  2. Substitute each alternative into the appropriate underlined portion for each item and select the one that fits best with the meaning of the paragraph.
Reading Skills
  1. Read the entire passage carefully before trying to answer any items  
  2. Re-read the entire sections of the passage as needed to answer      specific items.
  3. Read a few sentences before and after the appropriate sections of a passage to be sure that you understand the context.
Advanced Mathematics
  1. Read each item stem carefully and examine all supporting information to be sure you understand each question.
  2. Solve each problem before you look at the alternatives.
  3. Find your solution among the listed alternatives.
  4. If your answer is not among the listed alternatives, check your work.
  5. Use the scratch paper provided to do your calculations. (Sorry No Calculators)
  6. For some items, “not given” may be the correct alternative.

 Tips for Taking the ASSET


  1. Relax! The ASSET tests are designed to help you succeed in school. Your score helps you and your institution determine which courses are most appropriate for your current level of knowledge and skills. Once you identify your academic strengths and weaknesses you can identify your eligibility for the dual enrollment college class or work to improve underdeveloped skills before they can interfere with your learning.
  2. You will be able to concentrate better on the test if you get plenty of rest and eat properly prior to the test. Arrive on time for testing and to ensure that you have time to find satisfactory seating, sharpen pencils, and gather your thoughts before the test begins.
  3. Be sure you understand the directions for each test before that test session begins. Ask questions if you need to.
  4. Pace yourself. You have 25 minutes to answer all questions. Note the time when you start the test and check the time periodically to keep yourself “on schedule”. Questions usually get increasingly harder, so you need to allow more time for later questions.
  5. Answer the easier questions first and skip over the more difficult ones if you do not know the answer. Be sure that you mark the appropriate item number on the answer sheet, so you can come back to the difficult items later. You can put a light check mark on the answer sheet next to any item you skip over as long as you erase any stray marks after you have returned to that item and marked your response. Do not make any marks in the test booklet.
  6. Read each question carefully until you understand what the question is asking. If answering an item requires several steps be sure you consider them all.
  7. Be sure to answer every item. You are not penalized for guessing. Your score will provide more useful placement information if you answer every item, even if you must guess.
  8. If time is available, go back and check your work on the test after you have answered all items. Do not be afraid to change an answer if you believe that your first choice was wrong.
  9. Be sure that you mark the space that corresponds to the answer you have selected for each item. Darken the space completely. If you change your mind about an answer be sure to erase any stray marks on your answer sheet.
  10. If you have a problem or question during the test, raise your hand and the test administrator or proctor
    will help you. Although they cannot answer test questions for you, they can help you with other types
    of problems (e.g., a broken pencil, etc.).
Last updated: 4/6/2012 10:04:34 AM