Details on Study Guides for COMPASS Mathematics

Significance of a Study Guide for Math Prep

Preparing for the COMPASS using a math study guide might seem to be preposterous for you, but they turn out to be efficient time savers in the long run. They give an overview of the entire math section in less time. Most guides also present tips and tricks to take care of, in the test. But care should be taken when attempting to cover your entire syllabus from one guide. You shouldn't consider it as a one stop solution for your exam. Treat math guides more as workbooks.

How math guides are useful:

  1. They cover almost all topics
  2. They provide helpful tricks and tips
  3. They provide cheat sheets that help you revise math formulae in less time
  4. They are helpful before beginning focussed math prep

How math guides can be misleading:

  1. They can assume a "know-it-all status", leaving out the particulars
  2. They can be devoted only for tips and tricks, not focussing much on practice
  3. They cannot simulate the adaptive nature of the test
  4. They are not focussed on developing an understanding, but simply as workbooks

In all, studying from a Math study guide can be both advantageous as well as a frustrating experience. The differentiator is therefore the kind of guide you choose, and how you work through each type of problem. A frustrating study guide is a book that focuses simply on providing answers without explanations or walkthroughs. Beware of books that focus only on tips and don’t provide exhaustive exercises or practice tests.

In order to help you select an effective study guide, here's a review of 3 books that are available in the market. Two are from established publishers, while the third book is an eBook that is downloadable freely from the net.

Study Guide 1:

A guide that is available in the market is "COMPASS Math Test Success: 150 COMPASS Math Problems & Solutions". It is a decent book from a good publisher. It costs about 15 USD, and is a book that gives you value for money. It consists of some good practice questions that are also relevant for the exam. It includes 150 math problems and solutions as the title suggests, but the solutions are not very well explained. However, it turns out to be the best study guide available in its price range.

Study Guide 2:

Another guide that is a winner among students is "Chart Your Success on the COMPASS Test" by Carol Callahan. The guide is best placed in the refresher category. Students who have left their studies long time back find it extremely useful. The guide is not without its share of fallacies, one being that the answers might not be absolutely correct. But the tips section focussed on the test is valuable and a good read and it turns out to be an adequate and helpful study guide.

Study Guide 3:

This prep book is freely available for download on the net. Here's a link that points to the book.

It is free, and so you might think, "Why not!" The problem with thinking this way is that reading through a free eBook can be a frustrating experience. Some students waste a lot of time not buying a book and simply thinking that they will download an eBook from the net and practice eventually. This is not wise, because wasting time on a bad guide is akin to penalizing your time to study for the exam. However, this particular book is from a good source, and previews almost 90% of the topics that are relevant for the exam. Studying from this book will be like skimming through all the questions relevant for the exam. This is valuable when you are not sure which topics you should be concentrating on, and going through all the topics in this book will make you accustomed to the type of questions you can expect, and make you aware of the kind of questions you are weak at. A more focussed approach can be made once you are aware of what topics you must concentrate on while studying from a prep guide.

In conclusion, beware of wasting time on eBooks, focus more on practice, and if you do pick a guide, choose one which has a lot of practice questions and a detailed answer key in case you get stuck on one question. Remembering to practice and not simply reading should be a sure shot way to success in the exam.