Details of Test Scores for COMPASS Mathematics





How Do Colleges Use COMPASS Math Score?

As an evaluative and diagnostic tool, the test includes a variety of core subject tests to place students appropriately. The college-readiness of the students in core Math topics is also tested, along with other subject areas like English writing and reading. Hence, if choosing a Math program at college, it is essential that students understand the various aspects of the test in advance, including the placement test scores in Math...

The COMPASS Math Placement Test

Among the two different types of tests included in the Math testing, the Math placement tests enable colleges decide the best possible course for each student, while the Math diagnostic tests aid colleges understand the strong and weak areas of each test taker and accordingly suggest developmental programs for each of them (http://www.act.org/compass/sample/math.html).

The Math Placement test consists of the following five tests, where each test comprises of multiple-option questions:

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

The COMPASS Math Placement Test - Sections and Questions

Note that all the different topics of Mathematics required at college-level are included in the test, so as to get a realistic and crystal-clear picture of what each student’s level is. The ability to perform basic Mathematics operations, conceptual understanding of theorems and principles, analytical ability, and the ability to apply basic operations in different situations are evaluated in these tests. Sample questions are available at the official test website.

The COMPASS Math Placement Test Scores

Befitting the evaluative and diagnostic purposes of the test, the placement scores do not have any pass and fail benchmarks. However, the cut-off marks required by each institute or college might differ, and from state to state, also. For example, a score of 65 and more in Algebra is considered pretty good in Ohio state colleges and institutions, however, not so in many others. An Algebra score of 45 or more, or a College Algebra score of 52 or less is considered good enough for admission to College Algebra course, according to Dakota State University guidelines(http://www.terra.edu/uploadedFiles/Terra_Site/Academics/Tech_Prep/What_is_Tech_Prep/COMPASS%20Scores
%20webinar%20FINAL%20SHORT-DH.pdf
; http://www.departments.dsu.edu/assessment/required_scores.htm).

Along with these scores, some institutes also use ACT, CLEP, and other such evaluative test scores to decide the placement eligibility and accordingly place students(http://registrar.sdsmt.edu/docs/162837.PDF).

It should also be remembered that the Math placement test has different levels of testing involved. From the initial domain of testing, a student may move on the next levels of testing based on the number of correctly-answered questions at the current level (which is a pre-decided number set by each institution separately).

Also, the test is untimed, and does not carry any negative marks for incorrect answers. In fact, guess work is encouraged so that students put in their best effort, and accordingly, the scores reflect the actual knowledge, skills, and ability levels.

To summarize, placement scores help colleges decide the applicants'/students' entry into college-level Math programs. However, the score requirements are different for each individual institute. The process in which they use the scores to place students also might differ based on the individual institute. Hence, if planning to take up a Math course at college, it is highly recommended that in addition to understanding about this test, students also learn about the placement test score requirements of the particular institute in detail.