Scoring High in the COMPASS Math Test





How is Math COMPASS Test Scored?

Administered at many a higher educational institutions in the US, the COMPASS is an evaluative and diagnostic exam that helps institutions place the students appropriately to courses according to their academic abilities and levels. If seeking higher education in the country, it is important that you understand the various aspects of this test in advance. 

COMPASS Math Test

A customizable package of untimed, computerized tests, the COMPASS does not have any pass or fail criteria. The testing is conducted as a placement and diagnostic tool to enable colleges measure the students' skills, understand any strong and weak areas, accordingly decide the best possible academic program for each student, and also suggest any extra programs for the students for improving their performance in their respective weak areas. For more information about the exam, you can refer to the official website: http://www.act.org/compass/student/index.html

The Math section is an important test included in the COMPASS to evaluate the Mathematics knowledge and arithmetic abilities of the students. Like all the other COMPASS tests, the Math section helps the educaitonal institutions in the following ways:

  • evaluate students based on their academic abilities,
  • place them in appropriate course programs,
  • understand any problem areas,
  • and take remedial measures to avoid future issues in the students' academic progress.

Math COMPASS Test - Topics, Questions and Duration

Like the other COMPASS sections, the Math subtest is conducted both as a placement test and as a diagnostic test. There are five placement Mathematics tests, and each contains multiple-choice questions. The diagnostic Math tests are 15 in number, and there are seven of these in the pre-algebra areas and eight in number in the algebra areas.

The five placement tests include questions that evaluate the following:

  • Basic skills - ability to perform basic operations
  • Application skills - skills and ability to apply the basic operations in different situations
  • Analytical skills - conceptual understanding of principles, theorems, and relationships in operations

You can find sample questions at: http://www.act.org/compass/sample/prealg.html

When taking the Math exam - placement or diagnostic - students can make use of calculators. They can as well use an online calculator, or even can use personal calculators, provided they meet the test guidelines. However, the final decision is taken by the college, which administers the test (http://www.act.org/compass/student/calculator.html).

The Math section, like its counterparts, is also an untimed test. Students are encouraged to complete the test at their own pace, considering different options and taking necessary measures to reach at each answer. You may even guess your answers, as each answer adds more clarity about your skills and abilities to the colleges, and wrong answers do not affect your overall scores negatively.

Scoring Process and Scores

As we know, the test does not have a pass or fail criteria. However, the score criteria for each test might differ according to the individual institute or sometimes the state where you are taking the test. For example, in Ohio, a Math score of 65 or more in Algebra is accepted as college-ready. Also, a score of 45 in Algebra area might qualify you for Algebra course in one institute, while it might qualify you for a pre-algebra course only in some other (http://www.terra.edu/uploadedFiles/Terra_Site/Academics/Tech_Prep/What_is_Tech_Prep/COMPASS%20Scores
%20webinar%20FINAL%20SHORT-DH.pdf).

It should also be noted that the COMPASS has different levels in each subject area. The first level you tested in a subject area, for example, Math, is called theInitial domain and the last level you tested is your Placement domain . Also, to move from one level to another, you need to complete a pre-determined number of questions correctly (which is determined by each college or institution separately).

Accordingly, all the subtests are evaluated and scored in a way appropriate to the intended purpose of evaluation and diagnosis of candidates' level and skills, so as to place them appropriately. As the test subjects are customizable according to the individual needs of the institution, the score requirements and cut-off criteria are also generally different across institutions. You may check with individual institutes for specific Math scoring process, scoring criteria and understand the same.




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