COMPASS Test for Nursing Courses

What Is the Importance of COMPASS Test for Nursing Courses?

Many colleges and other educational institutions in the country use the COMPASS test scores for placing students in appropriate courses. Institutions also use these scores for placing students in nursing courses and other health science programs. If planning to join a nursing course in the United States, you may learn more about this test here...

What Is the COMPASS Test for Nursing?

There is no separate COMPASS test conducted apart from the ACT COMPASS test for nursing courses. The same test is conducted for nursing program aspirants or enrolled students (as per the testing policy of the institution), and the test scores are then used for placing them in nursing courses.

Therefore, the COMPASS is a test that measures their abilities and skill levels in relevant areas like Mathematics, Reading and Writing skills. It helps colleges place students according to their abilities and also suggest any developmental programs for them to improve in their respective weak areas, if any. For more details, you may refer to:

COMPASS Test for Nursing - Sections, Question Types, and Test Duration

As we have seen, there is no special test administered for nursing courses. The sections included are:

  • The Reading test
  • The Writing test
  • The Mathematics test
  • The Writing Essay test
  • The English as a Second Language (ESL) test

It should also be noted that COMPASS being a customizable test, universities and colleges can choose the test sections required for them . For example, at the Mercy College of Health Sciences, they administer the ESL Reading and Pre-Algebra tests. (

  • The Mathematics test checks if students have the math abilities and skills required to enter the nursing program. The questions included here are of multiple-choice type and require them to demonstrate expertise in basic skills, application of the basic skills, and analysis and conceptual clarity.

  • The Reading test includes multiple-choice questions based on comprehension passages from different areas. The aim here is to test the candidates’ ability to understand plain written information and also to infer meanings.

  • The Writing component includes multiple-choice questions, which require the candidates to demonstrate their abilities in various areas of written communication such as usage and grammar, punctuation, diction, style, and rhetoric, while the Writing Essay component checks students' abilities at producing effective and detailed written information.

  • The ESL Test includes listening, reading, and grammar and usage questions; and the test is administered only for foreign students who have learnt English as a second language.

The test duration is not fixed. Candidates can finish the test at their own pace, being under no time restrictions, and getting ample time to think and arrive at their answers. In addition, as the test does not have any pass and fail criteria, candidates may even guess their answers. There is no negative scoring involved.

How is the COMPASS Test Important for Nursing Studies?

Though there may be variances in the test content and the minimum score requirements for each individual institution, this test can play a vital role in the placement decision making of colleges. Taking a COMPASS test for nursing is important because:

  • In many colleges, the COMPASS test is a nursing application screening requirement and it is a must that all applicants take it (

  • The results provide colleges with a clear view of your abilities and skills in required areas of Math, Reading, and Writing as required for completing the nursing program.

  • In case of weakness in any required areas, based on the results, colleges can arrange for preparative/developmental programs for you so that you can improve and acquire the required levels of expertise.

It should be noted that while some colleges require that applicants take the test before they enroll, some others administer the test to those who have already enrolled for the program. It may also be possible that all nursing courses might not require students to take up this test. This, however, depends on the university or institute and the type of nursing program, and not on your choice.

Thus, like for many other entry level college programs, taking a COMPASS test may be critical for the nursing courses also (depending on where you plan to join). You may, therefore, include preparation for this test in your agenda, if planning to join a nursing course .