Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

The first step in the placement process is the Compass ESL test. Students take this test on a computer. There are listening, reading and grammar sections. If students take longer than 30 minutes on any section of the test, their overall placement into the ESOL program will be affected. Students who place into level 4 or higher will also write for about 20 minutes. The whole test may take up to 3 hours. After the test, students will be given an appointment for an orientation and advising session. For more specific information about testing, please click on the link to the campus location you are interested in or see the Testing website.

Things to Remember About Your Test Day

  • PCC campuses require a daily parking permit - $5
  • You must complete a PCC admissions form before you take the test. 
  • Bring a picture ID to the test.
  • No childcare is available. Do not bring children.

Waiting Lists – Time Between Placement and Enrollment

Hundreds of students go through the placement process each quarter. There is a great demand for ESOL classes, especially in levels 1-5. Because of this, students often take the placement test a full quarter before they enroll in classes. This means there is often a one to three month wait between the time a student takes the placement test and the time s/he enrolls in classes.

For example, a student taking the placement test in the spring will be eligible for classes in the summer term if there is space available in classes at the location and time the student desires. If not, the student may have to wait until fall term.

In Levels 1-3, when a class is full, a student may be put on the waiting list. Students who are on the waiting list should come to the first class. If a registered student does not come to the first class, a waiting list student will probably take his/her place. After the first class, when an enrolled student stops attending, a student is called from the waiting list. Students who do not get called from the waiting list do not need to take the placement test a second time. The ESOL advisor will help a student to register for the next term if s/he didn’t get into a class.

When students drop out of classes for whatever reason, they must also return to an advising session to regain their position to re-enter classes. Once a student is enrolled in a class, attendance is very important.

Students can contact the placement and advising staff if they have not received a registration notice from PCC the term following their placement test.

Returning to the ESOL Program After One Year

If a student has been gone from the ESOL program for 1 year, then the student needs to retake the Compass ESL placement test before registering for any ESOL classes. If a student has taken the Compass ESL placement test, but has not completed any ESOL classes during the past year, then the student will need to retake the Compass ESL placement test. A student may be able to successfully register online for an ESOL class, but if the student has been gone for 1 year, the student will not be allowed to remain in the ESOL class(es) until the student has retaken the Compass ESL placement test.