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Office of Assessment & Institutional Research


Ross Norman, Assessment Director & Institutional Research Officer
Graham Hall 104
1200 S. Jay St.
Aberdeen, S.D. 57401
Phone: 605-626-2433
Marilyn Zimmerman, Testing Coordinator
Graham Hall 105
Phone: 605-626-3290
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University Assessment

The Office of Assessment serves students' specific testing needs and supports NSU departments, schools, and colleges. Learn below about ACCUPLACER/COMPASS, proficiency, and senior exit examinations. For assistance, contact the Office of Assessment.


If you are an NSU student, please check myNSU (student portal), accessible at the top right on, for specific information.



Proficiency Exam

The South Dakota Board of Regents Proficiency Exam tests foundational college skills after 48 credit hours for bachelor degree-seeking students or 32 credit hours for associate degree-seeking students. Tests are required in writing, mathematics, reading, and science. 
This mandatory exam will help professors determine how well your education compares to the education provided at other institutions. The faculty will study the results for students as a group to confirm program strengths and identify areas that need to be strengthened.
Proficiency Exam Details


Senior Exit Exam

Each school and college at Northern is in charge of its own exit exam testing, coordinated by the assessment director. All ETS Major Field tests are given online. Developed by a national panel of experts, the exit exam is a comprehensive assessment tool designed to measure a student's ability to utilize concepts and critical thinking to analyze and solve problems, and to understand and interpret materials within their major field of study. Each exam is a standard exit exam created by ETS.  
All baccalaureate candidates must complete the appropriate exit exam(s) in their major field(s) of study. Testing should take place in the student's final semester to ensure that relevant material covered on the test will have been covered in coursework. In the event of internship or other conflict with testing in the final semester, with appropriate approvals, it may be possible to arrange to test in the semester prior to the final semester before graduation.
If you have more than one major, a good strategy is to take one exit exam per semester up to and including the semester in which you graduate - that is, if those additional majors require you to take different exit exams.
If you have applied for graduation but don't take the required exit exam(s), your application for graduation will be cancelled and you will need to reapply the following semester.
If you are an NSU student, please check myNSU (student portal) for specific information.  Most exit exams are given on Assessment Day each November and March.




All students must have current ACT scores and/or ACCUPLACER or COMPASS scores for placement into English, reading, and mathematics courses. It is recommended that these be taken before initial registration.

Students who take the COMPASS tests(s) but are not enrolling at NSU or another South Dakota Board of Regents institution will be charged in accordance with the current mandatory fee structure.
Students are allowed to challenge their ACT or COMPASS placement one time only at the current mandated fee.