Writing as a Placement Test Under COMPASS

Why Do Admission Authorities Trust Compass Writing Test?

Trusted by many higher educational institutions in the country, the COMPASS is a test that helps analyze and understand the students' abilities and skill levels for placement purpose. There are different tests included in this battery of computerized tests that allow colleges to evaluate the students in different domains; like writing, reading, and Mathematics. If you are a college aspirant planning to take up a language course, you can learn more about the writing placement test here.

COMPASS Writing Test

A test that helps colleges place students according to their knowledge levels and skill sets, the COMPASS is both diagnostic and evaluative in nature. That is, while the placement part of the test helps analyze the students' skills and measures their readiness for various courses, the diagnostic part helps colleges assess the students' strengths and weaknesses in different areas, and accordingly suggest remedial programs.

The Writing section includes three different tests as listed below. Out of the three different writing tests, one is a placement test, second is a detailed writing test, and the third one, a diagnostic test:

  • Writing Skills placement test
  • Writing Skills diagnostic test
  • Writing Essay test

The tests are not timed, thus, the test takers are allowed to take their own time for finishing each of these exams. This is to ensure that students may give their best and are under no kind of pressure or restrictions that might inversely affect their performance (http://www.act.org/compass/student/index.html).

COMPASS Writing Placement Test - Sections and Question Types

The Writing Placement test includes questions from the following topics. However, one must remember that all the questions are of multiple choice type, based on the given passages.

  • Usage and Writing Mechanics
    • Basic grammar and usage
    • Punctuation
    • Sentence structure
  • Rhetorical Skills
    • Organization
    • Strategy
    • Styles

It questions test students' abilities to use language effectively while writing; that is, these require students to demonstrate their skills in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and rhetoric and usage. You may find sample questions for this test section at: http://www.act.org/compass/sample/write-s.html

The Essay test is not differentiated into placement and diagnostic tests - it includes a single writing prompt, for which, students are expected to give a detailed answer by taking a stance on the given issue and by providing supporting arguments. Sample Writing Essay prompts are available at the official test website (http://www.act.org/compass/sample/essay.html). The scores of this test also play a vital role in deciding your writing readiness for college-level courses, and thus, in placement decisions.

How are the COMPASS Writing Placement Tests Important?

Writing placement test is an important part of COMPASS as they are used by many colleges and other educational institutions in the country. Read on to find some important reasons as to why this test is considered so important:

  • Like all other COMPASS tests, the writing placement test is also designed and developed to suit the purpose of analyzing the students' skills. Hence, colleges rely on the test scores to understand about their students' skills and abilities and accordingly place them.
  • The test content is designed to include all the different areas of written language, like grammar and usage and style and rhetoric. Thus, it can be assured that the  scores paint a realistic and useful picture of a students' skills in the writing domain.
  • As the test is not timed and test takers are at liberty to take ample time while attempting it, it is expected that the exam results reflect the best abilities and performance of test takers. Colleges can, thus, blindly rely on the test results to base their decisions.
  • Writing skills are essential, not just for writing programs or language courses, but for other courses like Algebra or Geometry at college-level. Hence, the writing placement scores are used by colleges for almost all courses to ensure that students' possess the required skills for completing their respective courses successfully.

To conclude, if you are planning to join a college in the country, whatever maybe your course of study, the writing tests of the COMPASS may be of great importance to you.