Tips to Use While Studying for the COMPASS

7 Tips of Studying for COMPASS

The ACT COMPASS may not be a competitive test that determines your admission into any college or institute, but it is an important step in the admission procedures of many institutes across the country. The test scores provide a clear analysis of one’s skills and academic levels to institutes, so that they can place each candidate in the best possible course for him/her. If you are studying for this exam, there are important aspects that you cannot miss out, like what the test is and why it is administered, what subject areas are tested and for how long. Also listed are some tips that might be useful while COMPASS aspirants.

What Is COMPASS and Why Is It Administered?

The COMPASS is a customizable, untimed, and computerized package of different subject tests. Many institutions in the country use this test as a pre-requisite to admission or as part of the enrollment process. Colleges also customize the test content - the subject tests - included in COMPASS according to their course requirements. In a nutshell, the test is administered so that institutions can:

  • Measure the academic abilities and skill levels of students in different subject areas, with respect to their college-readiness
  • Diagnose any strong and weak areas of individual students in different subject areas
  • Place them in classes that are appropriate to their academic levels and current skills
  • Arrange for developmental measures for those in need, thus removing any potential issues in the course program

For more information on the ACT COMPASS test, refer to the official website:

The COMPASS Test Content and Question Types

As in the case of preparing for any other test, the COMPASS test preparation also includes the need for understanding the test better. The tests included in COMPASS are as follows:

  • The Mathematics test (placement and diagnostic)
  • The Reading test (both placement and diagnostic)
  • The Writing Essay test
  • The Writing test (placement and diagnostic)
  • The English as a Second Language (ESL) test

More information about the topics included in each of these tests, and the sample questions are found at: All the questions in the test are of multiple-choice type, except for the Writing Essay test.

During preparations, you may also note that the test is not timed. Thus, the test takers are encouraged to complete the sections at their own pace, with no kind of pressure or time limits restricting their performance.

Tips for Studying for the COMPASS test

Though there are plenty of materials and prep programs that are available for COMPASS test, the study plan for each candidate needs to be chalked out individually, as per their needs. Here are some essential tips for preparation:

  1. Learn the test essentials: Start your preparations by understanding the test essentials. You can get an introduction about the test in this article. For more information, refer to the official COMPASS website.
  2. Gather institute-specific info on COMPASS testing: Learn more about the test taking and score requirements at your college or institute. Remember that each institute might have different criteria and norms related to testing. Hence, understanding institute-specific COMPASS essentials is highly critical.
  3. Make yourself clear about the test objective: Learn that the test is evaluative in nature and is to help you get the best placement for yourself and not as a deterrent to your academic dreams. Hence, be relaxed about the entire COMPASS testing process, and prepare yourself.
  4. At any cost, take a pre-test: Taking a pre-test helps you evaluate yourself and get an understanding of where you stand. You can accordingly prepare yourself.
  5. Focus: You should focus on areas that are required for your chosen course. For example, even while applying for a Math program, you may as well need to prove your proficiency in reading and writing to some level.
  6. Choose the best study material for yourself: With plenty of materials or programs available for preparing a study schedule, choose the ones that fit your individual needs as well as budget constraints. You may find plenty of free resources and programs, as well.
  7. Ensure authenticity of materials: While choosing prep materials, also ensure that they are comprehensive or specific in nature, and include authentic and accurate information.

With right preparation and understanding of the test essentials, COMPASS test taking might not be a challenging task. Thus, it is advised that, for best results, you focus on your specific needs and accordingly plan and prepare for the test.

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