Questions Occurring In the Math Section of COMPASS

Challenges Faced in COMPASS Math Test

The COMPASS is a computer-adaptive college placement test. This test is untimed and helps the educators assist you in identifying the appropriate courses for you based on the abilities and skills you display in the test. The test is given to incoming freshmen and it is an untraditional test as there is no "passing score" for it. Moreover, the test scores are used to understand the strong and weak areas of the students. Basically, three domains are tested in this test. These are Reading, Writing and Math. The test identifies if the students are ready to take up college level entry courses or not.


Math is an important subject and therefore, the test evaluates the student's skills in basic and advanced Mathematics. Five subject areas are tested in this section of the test. These are:

  1. Pre-Algebra
  2. Algebra
  3. College Algebra
  4. Geometry
  5. Trigonometry

All the questions in the Math section are of multiple-choice type and pertain to what the students have learnt in their high school years. Further, the questions can be categorized into the following sections:

  1. Questions that test basic skills
  2. Questions that test application skills
  3. Questions that test analytical skills

COMPASS Math Test- Difficulty Level

The test, as mentioned earlier, is a computer-adaptive test. Therefore, the difficulty level of the test gets automatically adapted to the ability of the students. Further, the difficulty level of the questions increases till the student is unable to answer a set of questions. The Math test begins with algebra questions and moves on to higher level questions, when the student answers them correctly and the test moves down to lower level Math questions if the student answers the questions incorrectly. The first level of questions that the students receive is called the initial domain and the last level he/she takes up is called the placement domain.

Importance of the Test

Based on the scores achieved, the courses that the student can opt for in college would be determined. If the student attains a score that is lower than the expected score, then he/she has to enroll for remedial courses. These remedial classes would use up the student’s valuable time and money. Moreover, these courses would not even count for the college credits.

Challenges in the Math COMPASS Test

  • Syllabus- The syllabus for the test is not a fixed one. The questions could be from any concept or theory that a student has learnt in the high school years. Therefore, revising all these topics is a challenge in itself.
  • Practice- For a student to attain a high score in math, constant practice is necessary. Getting enough practice before the test is another challenge a student has to face.
  • Stress- The test is designed such that students can take up the test in a stress free environment. However, many students get stressed before the test. Overcoming the stress and doing well in the test is also a challenge in the Math test.

The above mentioned challenges are the most difficult ones that a student has to overcome to perform well and attain a good score in the test. The first two can be overcome by using a good study guide and taking up many practice tests. However, the only way to overcome the last one is to keep the mind calm and practice mind-relaxing techniques. Moreover, only if the last challenge is overcome can the student attain a high score because how much ever hard work he/she has put in, it will come to nothing if he/she is stressed during the examination.


The Math section in the test is simple and easy to answer if the students are prepared well for the test. Good study guides are available in the market that can be used for the preparation. Still, it is best that students prepare well and attain a good score in the test. This will ensure that the students get enrolled in the Math courses of their choice.

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