Tips to Tackle the COMPASS

From Where Can You Obtain Tips for COMPASS test?

The COMPASS is an untimed test designed to place students in appropriate courses in order to prepare them for college. It is a computer adaptive test, which means that it adapts its question according to the ones answered earlier, and finally decides your skill level.

If you are appearing for this exam, there are some distinct features of the test you might want to keep in mind. These are

  1. The untimed nature:

    The test is untimed and this gives it a distinct advantage over other tests, because you do not have to deal with the pressures of performing in a time constrained manner. Thus, you can take your time while answering each question or section.

  2. Being computer adaptive :

    The test will adjust to your abilities. If you answer wrongly to one question, the next question will be easier. If you answer rightly, the next question will be harder in difficulty.

  3. Use of calculators:

    The use of calculators is allowed, and most colleges do not allow calculators above TI-86. A calculator is also built into the COMPASS test.

Keeping these distinctive features of the test in mind, here are some tips and techniques that will help you ace the test.

  • Dealing with the math section

    When you start your math section, try to double-check the answers you provide at the start of the test, and make sure you get them correct. This is because of the computer adaptive nature of the test. Math section also requires disciplined practice. Practicing as much as possible for the math section is a sure fire way to success.

  • Dealing with pressure

    The test is an untimed test, and while some test takers finish each section in around 30-45 minutes, there is no set time limit for the test. It is therefore often seen that students get stuck on one question and cannot decide the answer. The important thing to do is to relax, calm down, and then guess the most probable answer. Getting stuck on one question and thinking about it even in the next questions is a mistake. Going back to a previous question is not allowed.

  • Arriving at an answer

    Other important tip to find the correct choice is to arrive at the answer first in your mind and then eliminate the answer choices that are wrong. Both methods are equally effective. The first one is to think of the answer without even looking at the answer choices. This is the top down approach. The other approach is to use the bottom up approach of looking at the answer choices and eliminating the ones that are wrong. Chances are, you might be able to eliminate three choices out of four, and the remaining answer choice is the correct answer.

  • Tip for e-Write

    If you are taking the e-Write section, use the approach of plan, design and build. It is helpful to first write the specific points you plan to make, then start with an introduction and end with a conclusion. A good approach is to first introduce what you are about to write, then writing it, and then conclude by reiterating what you have written.

There are resources available on the internet that provide many tips to prepare for this examination. The best place is the official site available at

Another one of the many tips for taking the test is to purchase some guides and books focussed on the COMPASS test. "Chart Your Success on the Compass Test" by Carol Callahan is the most popular book available on the subject.