Test Content of the COMPASS Placement Test

How is COMPASS test used for placements?

The COMPASS test is a computer-adaptive test for which there is no time limit. Similarly, there is no fixed number of questions in this test and it is given during orientation itself to the incoming freshmen. The different areas of this test where a student's skills are tested are Reading, Writing Skills, Writing Essay, Math and English as a Second Language.

The Uses of COMPASS Placement Test

This test helps your educators in identifying the right courses for you based on the abilities and skills that you exhibit in the test. The scores in this test are used to identify your strong and weak areas. Therefore, there is no "passing score" in the COMPASS and its results are released immediately after the test. The score report will also include a placement message telling you about the courses you can take and how to register for the same.

The Reading Test

This multiple-choice test helps to determine if you have the reading skills that are needed to succeed in a standard entry-level college course.

There are five types of reading comprehension passages that can be found in this test and they are:

  • Practical Reading
  • Prose Reading
  • Humanities
  • Social Sciences
  • Natural Sciences

The test evaluates your abilities in reading comprehension, vocabulary and reader profile.

The Writing Skills Test

In this test, you are required to identify and correct mistakes in the usage and mechanics of English language which include basic grammar, punctuations and sentence structure and rhetorical skills that include strategy, organization and style in essays. Your skill levels in eight content domains are evaluated. These are:

  • Spelling
  • Capitalization
  • Usage
  • Shifts in construction
  • Organization
  • Punctuation
  • Verb formation/agreement
  • Relationships of clauses

The Writing Essay Test

This test is used for identifying your writing ability. In this test, you are required to respond to a question describing your position on the issue given in the prompt. The writing prompt states a problem or an issue and two points of views on that issue are described. The scores are released either in a 2-8 or a 2-12 score scale. Sub-scores in the following areas are also provided:

  • Focus- Your clarity and consistency in sticking to the main idea
  • Content- The way you develop the primary idea
  • Organization- The way you organize the content
  • Style- The language you choose to write
  • Conventions- The way you control the mechanics in grammar, usage, spelling and punctuations

The Math Test

Your knowledge in five areas of mathematics is evaluated in this test. These areas are:

  • Pre-Algebra
  • Algebra
  • College Algebra
  • Geometry
  • Trigonometry

Further, seven topics in Pre-algebra and eight topics in Algebra are also offered. All the questions asked in the test fall under any one of these categories:

  • Questions that test the Mathematics basic skills
  • Questions that test the Mathematics application skills
  • Questions that test the Mathematics analysis skills

The English as a Second Language Test

This test tests the abilities of non-native English speakers in four different areas. These areas are:

  • Listening - This assesses your understanding of the Standard American English. Note-taking is allowed because this test tries to assess your listening skills alone.
  • Reading - Your referring and reasoning skills in recognizing and manipulating Standard American English are tested here.
  • Grammar/Usage - This assesses your ability in recognizing and manipulating Standard American English in sentence elements and sentence structure and syntax areas.
  • Essay - Analytic scores in the areas of development, use of language, organization, mechanics and focus are given to your essay.


This test is a very useful one as it helps in identifying your abilities in different areas that are essential in a college course that you take up. This test evaluates your abilities that you have gained during your school education. Therefore, there is no single book that will help you prepare for the test.