Algebra Questions in COMPASS

Question types in COMPASS Algebra Test- a brief overview

Let's jump straight to the point. When taking the Algebra section of the COMPASS test, you will start off with questions that test your knowledge in Algebra. If you provide correct answers at the start of the test, you will be gradually pitted against questions that are higher in difficulty. If you flounder at the start, the test will adapt accordingly and start testing you on basic math.

As you progress in the exam, you will find that the exam gets more and more difficult. There might be a time when you think that you cannot get any answers right. The questions will then start to get easier. If you consistently answer them correctly, the test will determine that level as your placement domain.

So can you beat the system? Yes, by going slow and steady. The biggest advantage in this test is that it is untimed. You can drop to a speed that is most comfortable to you, rather than making careless mistakes by speeding through the test. Specifically, at the start of the test, try to repeatedly ask yourself if you are sure of the answer. If not, make a second pass at the question and try to recalculate, or look for keywords that you have missed out in the question. Work through answers by back substitution from the answer choices available, and arrive at equilibrium.

What kinds of questions can you expect in the Algebra test? Well, to be really frank, it depends on your skill level. But it is best to keep in mind the kinds of questions that usually appear to get an overall idea. Here’s a list of the question types that are usually covered in Algebra:

  1. Type 1: Substitutions

    Let's take a simple example for this kind of question. What is x+4x when x=0.5? These questions are simply based on substitution of x. The questions will increase in difficulty by making either the substitution or the main equation more difficult. Your best bet in answering these questions is to quickly try and substitute values for x and y from the answer choices or by making guesses first to arrive at the values of x and y. If you do not succeed right away, a more formal way of arriving at the answer must be looked at.

  2. Type 2: Equations for situations

    These kinds of questions consist of word problems that will make you develop an equation to answer the problem.

  3. Type 3: Basic calculations with polynomial

    These involve questions based on equations with more than one variable. Remember to answer what is asked for. For example, do not make the mistake of answering the value of x, when the question is asking you the value of 2 times x.

  4. Type 4: Factoring polynomials

    These kinds of questions are based on rearranging the given expression so that you find numbers or variables that divide evenly from the original expression. A quick example for this kind of question is factoring 3x -12. The answer is 3(x-4) , thus making 3 a common factor in the expression.

  5. Type 5: Linear equations with one/two variables

    Typical questions on finding the slope of a line based on the given expression fall under this category.

  6. Type 6: Exponents and Rational Expressions

    Asking for a simplified expression to the given expression which might or may not include exponentials fall into this category. For example finding a simplified expression for (9-x2)/(x - 3) for all x<-3. The answer is -x-3.

This article only illustrates the types of questions that can appear in the Algebra section. As you progress, the questions can drop to lower levels, to test you on items such as operations with integers or percentages, which are topics from basic Math.