CHAMPAIGN — If you're thinking of applying to Parkland College, the college is offering free, two-hour workshops on preparing for placement exams.
The test-prep workshops cover the basics of taking the Computer-Adaptive Placement Assessment and Support System, or COMPASS, which the college uses to assess students in English, reading, math and English as a second language. The computerized, untimed test covers material students should have mastered before high school graduation, said Becky Osborne, director of Parkland's Center for Academic Success.
Taking the COMPASS test is not just another task on the list of things to do before a student starts at Parkland, Osborne said. A score can have real implications on how the student starts out at college. For example, it can determine what classes the student can sign up for or if he or she will need to enroll in developmental — or remedial — math, English or other classes before moving on to other courses.
"It really is a high-stakes exam," Osborne said.
This is the first year the college has offered such workshops and the material is covered in about a two-hour time period.
The instructor, Parkland humanities instructor Andrew Wilk, will talk with students about test-taking strategies and other topics.
"It's not about just giving them information. But getting them to try to think about what might impede their success. ... It's something you really have to be focused on," he said.
Students often need face-to-face connection, and that's what staff hope these workshops give to incoming students, Osborne said. The workshops include seats for about eight people.
"We wanted to create something to help them do their best, to help them understand the importance of the test," she said.
The workshops are held twice a week at the college through June 2013 in the Center for Academic Success, D120. They are from 3 to 5 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays. Because space is limited, Osborne said she prefers interested individuals make appointments by calling 353-2005 or 351-2441.
More information on placement test preparation is available at http://www.parkland.edu/assessment/resources.