Study Guide for Algebra Test Content of COMPASS

How to Select a COMPASS Algebra Study Guide?

As an evaluative tool that helps colleges determine the best possible entry-level class for each college applicant/new joiner, it is indispensable that the COMPASS testing includes questions from various core topics and skill areas. Included as a part of the Math test, the Algebra section checks the competence of candidates in the various Algebra areas like pre-Algebra, Algebra, and college-level Algebra. If planning to take up Algebra courses at college, learn more about how to choose your study guide for preparation, here.

What is the Algebra Test?

Administered as both placement and diagnostic tests, the Math section of the COMPASS helps colleges evaluate the college-level readiness and competence of prospective students in core Math topics. The diagnostic test also helps colleges plan for any developmental Math programs so as to help students improve in their weaker areas, if any(

Apart from Trigonometry and Geometry sections, Algebra is an important topic in the Math tests. Pre-Algebra or numerical skills, Algebra, and College Algebra are the three Math tests that can together be termed as the Algebra test. Also, included are 15 diagnostic tests from Pre-Algebra and Algebra areas. The test topics covered in these sections are as follows:

  • Average (mean, mode, median), Fractions, Percentages, Integers, and so on in the Pre-Algebra section

  • Linear equations, polynomials, and coordinate Geometry in the Algebra section

  • Complex numbers and functions in the College level Algebra section

The questions of the three placement and the 15 diagnostic sections are of multiple-choice type, and test the following skills and abilities:

  • The ability and skills to execute basic Mathematic operations

  • The ability to apply and execute the basic operations under different situations

  • The analytical power and conceptual understanding of principles, theorems, and interrelationships between operations

Sample questions can be found at and downloaded from:

How to choose a Study Guide?

While preparing for the Algebra section, other important aspects to note are: that the test is untimed and that there is no pass or fail criteria set. As it is an evaluative and diagnostic test, there is no negative scoring in this section too. However, note that the Algebra test scores required for placement into particular courses may be different for individual institutes (
; Therefore, understanding the institute specific information is also critical, if you are preparing for the test. Thus, while choosing a study guide for preparation, you may have to look at the following points:

  • Usability: The main purpose of the study guide should be to help you prepare for the various Algebra topics covered in the Math test.

  • Specificity: A Math study guide may, sometimes, be of help for preparing for the Algebra sections. However, if you are specific about focusing on Algebra topics, then you may need to choose a study guide that is specific for the Algebra section, and not a more generic Math study guide.

  • Content and Coverage: Ensure that the study guide you choose includes all relevant information as required for the Algebra test preparation, like practice tests, practice questions, and may be pre-tests, all with detailed explanations.

  • Credibility and Accuracy: Accuracy of the information provided, and credibility and popularity of the publishers and authors are important factors while selecting any prep guide.

  • Price of the title: The price of the title is the last important factor while selecting a study guide. With plenty of free materials also being available these days, you may not unnecessarily burden your pockets.

Study Guide Titles for the Algebra Section

  1. COMPASS/Math Test Algebra Study Guide from the United Arab Emirates University: This is a free resource that can be downloaded from This is a comprehensive study guide for the Algebra test package covering all core areas, and including examples, and samples questions. However, the resource does not provide any answer keys.

  2. Cowley County Community College Review Guide COMPASS College Algebra - Level 3: This is another resource on focusing on the College Algebra sections. The free resource is available for download from the Cowley County Community College website ( However, you may find only questions and answers in this guide, with no reviews and study materials.

  3. Algebra Study Guide from This is a comprehensive study guide available online free of cost ( Lessons, review materials, and practice questions are included in this study guide. Solutions are available for the practice questions; however, they are not in detail.

To summarize, there might be different resources available for Algebra preparation. As an aspiring college applicant, you must choose the best one that fits your specific test prep requirements and budgetary constraints, if any.