Importance of Math for COMPASS

How is COMPASS Math related with College Placement?

The COMPASS is an untimed, computer-adaptive college placement test. This test helps the educators assist you in identifying the appropriate courses for you based on your abilities and skills. The COMPASS test is not a traditional test as there is no Ƭpassing scoreƮ in it. On the contrary, the test is basically used for identifying your strong and weak areas in the domains of Reading, Writing and Math.

The Math Section

Math is one of the subject areas that are tested in the COMPASS test. This multiple choice test evaluates your skills in basic and advanced mathematics. Further, five sub-areas of mathematics are tested here. These areas are:

  1. Pre-Algebra
  2. Algebra
  3. College Algebra
  4. Geometry
  5. Trigonometry

The test begins with Algebra questions. As this is a computer-adaptive test, the difficulty level of the test automatically adapts to your ability. The difficulty level of the questions keeps increasing till you are unable to answer a certain number of questions correctly in a particular level. If you answer the Algebra questions correctly, the test moves to higher difficulty levels and the subject areas of trigonometry or calculus. If, on the other hand, you answer the Algebra questions incorrectly, the computer begins to generate questions pertaining to lower level basic mathematics.

The first level of the many tests that you take up is called the initial domain and the last test level that you take up is called the placement domain. The scores in the placement domain determine your skills levels and these scores help in identifying the correct math courses for you.

Question Types

All the questions asked pertain to the syllabus that you have studied in your high school years. They fall under any one of these categories:

  1. Questions that test the mathematics basic skills
  2. Questions that test the mathematics application skills
  3. Questions that test the mathematics analysis skills

Your ability to perform basic operations in a sequential manner in new settings or in complex ways is tested here. Further, mathematical operations relationships and understanding of principles and concepts are also tested. You are allowed to use calculators during the exam but only certain types of calculators can be used.

COMPASS Math Section and College Placement

The test is a very important test because the scores you attain in this decide the courses you can opt for in college. The scores for this test are released in the range of 0 to 100. Remember that only if you score in the range of 70 to 100 in Algebra, will you be allowed to take up math courses.

If your scores in the test place you in a level lower than your actual ability level, you have to take extra classes. However, these extra classes will not count for your credits but these classes will use up your time, energy and money. The educators, based on the test scores, help you connect to the resources that are available in the college. These resources would help you in achieving academic success in the future.

Preparation for the Test

The test requires proper preparation. There are many cases where students have fared badly in the test due to lack of preparation. Moreover, math is a subject that requires constant refreshment. Therefore, you must prepare well for the test and get placed in a level that truly reflects your ability and skills level. There are many study guides available in the market that can be used for preparation. Moreover, many free online study guides and practice tests are available for your perusal.


This test is a very important test because the scores you attain in this exam would decide if you can enroll for any mathematics courses offered by the college. At the same time, you must take care to prepare well for the test and attain the scores that are required to join the math courses of your interest that are offered by the college of your choice.

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