College Admissions and COMPASS

COMPASS Scores Required for Admission in Top Colleges

COMPASS is an untimed, computer-adaptive college placement test. The test is taken up by the incoming freshmen during the orientation program.

The scores in the test reflect your ability, skills and knowledge in the five subject areas (Mathematics, Writing, Writing Essay, Reading and English as a Second Language) tested. Therefore, based on these scores, the educators advise you on the courses you can opt for in college.

Sections in the COMPASS test

As mentioned earlier there are five subject areas tested and a brief description of each of the subject areas has been given below:

  1. The Reading Test- For you to succeed in a standard entry level college, there are certain reading skills that are essential. These reading skills are tested in this section.
  2. The Writing Skills Test- In this section of the test, the usage norms and mechanics of language which include basic grammar, punctuations and sentence structure and rhetorical skills that include strategy, organization and style in essays, are tested.
  3. The Writing Essay Test- The way you respond to questions describing your position in an issue that is given in the prompt is tested in this section. By this method, your writing skills are tested.
  4. The Math Test- The abilities in Pre-Algebra, Algebra, College Algebra, Geometry and Trigonometry are tested in this section.
  5. English as A Second Language Test- This test identifies the abilities of non-native speakers in four different areas of the English language.

Question Types

All the questions are multiple-choice questions and the level of the questions pertain to the subject matter that you have learnt in your high school years.

Importance of the Test

The COMPASS helps the educators understand your strengths and weaknesses. If you are weak in a particular area, the educators will advise you to take up some remedial courses. This early intervention will make sure that your weaknesses do not affect your college course work later. Therefore, this test is very important for you.

COMPASS Test Scores

The best aspect of this test is that there is no "passing score". Therefore, you do not pass or fail in the COMPASS test. However, the courses you can opt for in college are decided by the scores. The scores range from 0 to 100, 0 being the lowest and 100 being the highest.

There is a specific cutoff score for each and every course the college offers and only if you get a score above the cutoff score, can you enroll for the course. For example, if you get a good score in Algebra, you will be eligible for most of the mathematics courses offered by the college. If you get a score of 70+, you can enroll for Math courses in most top colleges. In the case of the Writing section, a score of 75+ is required. If you get lower scores, you will have fewer choices of courses to choose from.

Sometimes, if you get lower scores, you may be advised by the educators to take up remedial courses. These courses will not add up to your college credits but will take up your time and money. However, you can retake the test if you want to improve your scores.

Preparation for the COMPASS Test

A thorough preparation is essential for achieving good scores in the test. You have to meticulously brush up the subject matters that you have learnt in high school. There are good online practice tests and books available that will help you prepare for the test.


The COMPASS test is a very important test and you must prepare well for it. This test decides the courses you can take up in college. Therefore, refresh the formulae and concepts that you have studied in high school. It is advised that you study well and get enrolled in the courses that you desire to study in.

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