Algebra Test Content in COMPASS

What to Expect in Algebra COMPASS Test

As an evaluative and diagnostic test that helps colleges decide the best possible entry-level course for each college applicant/joiner, it is essential that COMPASS includes questions and sections from various core topics. Included as a part of the COMPASS Math placement/diagnostic test, the Algebra section is designed to check the college-readiness of test takers in the various domains of Algebra – pre-Algebra, Algebra, and college-level Algebra. Learn here what you, as a test taker, should expect in this section...

The Math Section of the COMPASS Test

The Math section of the COMPASS test is administered as both placement and diagnostic tests. The placement tests help colleges check the college-readiness of applicants/students at required Math topics, while the diagnostic tests help colleges understand the academic strengths and weaknesses of students and accordingly plan for developmental programs for them (

The Math placement test includes five different untimed tests, as follows:

  • Pre-Algebra or numerical skills
  • Algebra.
  • College Algebra
  • Geometry
  • Trigonometry

The Algebra Section of the COMPASS Test

The Pre-Algebra, Algebra, and the college Algebra sections of the Math placement test together can be called the Algebra section of the COMPASS test. In addition, there are seven pre-algebra and eight algebra tests included in the Math diagnostic test. The tests include questions that test the college-readiness of applicants/students in Algebra at college level and pre-college level. The questions of all the three placement sections are of multiple-choice type, and test the following skills and abilities:

  • The ability and skills to perform basic Mathematic operations
  • The ability and skills to apply the basic operations under various situations
  • The analytical power and conceptual understanding of principles and theorems

Sample questions can be found at

The Algebra Section - Test Duration and Test Score Criteria

Like all the other COMPASS tests, this section is also untimed. Test takers are encouraged to take up the test at their own pace, giving ample time for each question. As the tests are evaluative and diagnostic in purpose, there is no negative scoring in the test too.

When you take this section, the first level you are tested for is called your initial domain and the last level you test is called the placement domain. Based on the correct answers at the initial domain, you move on to the next, and so on. The number of questions to be correctly answered at each domain /level is predetermined by each institution or college individually. And then, your scores are reported in each of the domains tested.

Though there are no pass or fail criteria, the scores required for getting placed into college-level Math courses might differ from institute to institute and sometimes from state to state. For example, a test score of 45 or more is considered college-ready across many institutions in the state of Dakota, a score of 65 or more only is considered good in the state of Ohio. (

To summarize, the Algebra section includes the different algebra related topics in Math and helps colleges decide the Mathematical abilities and skill levels of test takers, as required for admission into college Math programs. Based on the test taker's scores in Algebra sections of the test, test takers can be placed in appropriate developmental or college-level Mathematics courses.