The Writing Skills Placement Test Under COMPASS

How Does COMPASS Writing Help in Placement?

The COMPASS ACT is a college placement test which is computer-adaptive in nature. This test has five sections: Math, Reading, Writing Skills, Writing Essay and English as a Second Language. The details of the this test and its importance have been discussed in this article.

The COMPASS Writing Skills Test

In the test of writing skills, you are required to identify and correct the mistakes in the usage and mechanics of  English language which includes basic grammar, punctuations and sentence structure; rhetorical skills incorporating strategy, organization and style in essays. Furthermore, your skills in eight content domains are evaluated comprising of the following:

  1. Spelling
  2. Capitalization
  3. Usage
  4. Shifts in construction
  5. Organization
  6. Punctuation
  7. Verb formation/agreement
  8. Relationships of clauses

Question Types

All the questions in this section of COMPASS are of multiple-choice types. In this test, essays are presented on the computer screen and you have to find and correct the errors in the essay as per the questions that follow the same. The subjects that you have studied during your high school years can be tested in COMPASS. Moreover, there is no time limit for this test. Therefore, you can take enough time to analyze the questions and choose the correct answers. The untimed aspect of the test ensures that you take it in a stress-free environment.

Significance of Writing Skills Test

The placement test helps the educators understand your ability, skills and knowledge in the usage and mechanics of English language. Based on these scores, the educators advise you on the college level courses that are best suited for you.

The unique feature of this test is that there is no "passing score". However, the score that you obtain in this exam determines the courses for which you can enroll and hence,  it's very important.

Moreover, it helps the educators in identifying your problems and proper remedial measures can be taken at the earliest before these weaknesses affect your college course work.

COMPASS Writing Skills Test and Placement

The Writing Skills exam helps the institutions determine if you are ready for taking up entry-level college writing courses or any other courses that have writing loads. If you score lower than the cutoff, you would have to register for remedial courses to improve your writing skills.


Preparation is essential for getting a good score in the test. Since the syllabus for the test pertains to what you have studied in your high school years, you should refresh your high school grammar thoroughly. Many good books are available in the market which can be used for preparation along with study guides and practice tests that are also available online. If a preparatory schedule is drafted and you adhere to it strictly for your preparation, you would attain high scores in the placement  test. On the other hand, if you do not prepare well and attain a low score, you would have to register for remedial courses or retake the test and this would be a waste of your valuable time, energy and money. Moreover, those remedial courses would not even add to your college credits.


The COMPASS is a test that identifies your strengths and weaknesses and the educators help you overcome your weaknesses. The placement section is easy if you prepare well for the same. At the same time, it is advised that you must read the essays and the questions carefully before answering. It is also suggested that, you take up as many practice tests as possible. These tests will help you in becoming familiar with the type of questions asked in this section. Finally, you must try hard to attain a good score in this exam and enroll for the courses of your interest.