Steps for Taking the COMPASS

Step-by-Step Guide for Taking the Compass Test

As in the case of any other test, the COMPASS also requires a well thought out and systematic preparation plan. In this article, learn how to prepare for this test. This step-by-step guide also has important information on different aspects of this test.

COMPASS Testing - The Fact File

Learning the essential facts about COMPASS testing is important for the candidates. Here are some of the most important stuff about COMPASS:

  • The ACT COMPASS is a package of computerized tests that measures the test takers' skills and academic knowledge levels as required for college-level courses.
  • The test is diagnostic in nature and thus, helps colleges assess the need for any developmental programs to help students improve in their respective weak areas, if any.
  • Accordingly, there are no pass or fail criteria in COMPASS testing. It measures the candidates' abilities and skill levels; and the scores attained in it are accepted as an indication of the candidates' abilities, skill levels, and shortcomings, if any.
  • Another important feature of this test is that it is untimed. This is done with the purpose of providing candidates with a relatively stress-free environment with no time restrictions so that they can give their best performance during the test.
  • Individual institutions may customize this test administered according to their program requirements.
  • For all important aspects of COMPASS testing, you may refer to the official website (

COMPASS Testing - The Test Sections and the Question Types

While getting ready for the test, you should also learn in detail about the content, pattern, and types of questions asked. Listed below are the different sections and topics covered within the COMPASS test:

  • The Reading placement test checks the students' reading ability as required for completing college-level courses. Comprehension passages from areas like Natural science, Humanities, Practical reading, Prose fiction, and Social Sciences are included in this test with each passage, followed by a set of multiple-choice questions. The Reading diagnostic test includes multiple-choice question from Reader Profile, Vocabulary, and Reading Comprehension areas.

  • The Writing Skills placement test helps in checking whether students can handle entry-level courses with writing loads, or will they need preparation programs to improve themselves in these areas. The multiple-choice questions in this test cover the different writing skills like usage, punctuation, basic grammar, sentence structure, organization and style, and rhetoric. The Writing Skills diagnostic test evaluates the candidates' skills in eight relevant content areas like punctuation, spelling, usage, verb formation, clauses, organization, and construction.

  • The Mathematics placement test includes multiple-choice questions covering Pre-Algebra or Numerical Skills, Algebra, College Algebra, Geometry, and Trigonometry areas. These questions check the candidates' skills and abilities at performing basic operations and in applying basic operations, and their conceptual understanding of theorems and principles. The Mathematics diagnostic test includes 15 tests from Numerical ability and Algebra areas.

  • The Essay Writing Test includes a single writing task prompt, which requires students to write a detailed response by taking stance on the given issue and giving supporting arguments to the position they have taken.

  • The ESL Test includes listening, reading, and grammar and usage questions. The test is administered for ESL students to evaluate their language skills for day-to-day as well as academic purposes.

Sample questions for all the sections can be found at the official test website

Further Steps to Taking the COMPASS Test

Now that you have learnt the basics about COMPASS testing and also have an overview of what is being tested in the COMPASS, what are the next steps of preparation?

  1. Get your perspective correct- The COMPASS test, as we have seen, is evaluative and diagnostic in nature. Therefore, while getting ready for the test, one must keep in mind that scoring ahead of everyone else is not your objective. You need to, instead, focus on your core areas and give your best in the test so that your test scores reflect your actual abilities and knowledge levels.

  2. Learn more on the institute- specific info on COMPASS testing - As the test content can be customized by each institute according to their requirements, the test criteria and norms related to testing may refer, including the minimum test scores required for placement.

  3. Take a pre-test- While practice tests help you improve your performance, a pre-test is something that provides you with a clear picture of your abilities and shortcomings, if any, to start with. So, taking a pre-test is a must.

  4. Choose the best study materials- With plenty of resources available for preparation, choose the ones that best fit your needs as well as any kind of budgetary constraints. You may find plenty of free resources and programs, as well. However, ensure the authenticity and accuracy of materials when you choose any.

  5. Relax and give your best- Get enough rest, and sleep before the night of the test; while giving the test, be calm and cool and make sure you understand the questions clearly before you answer them. If you have any doubts, you may clarify those with the test administrators available.

Thus, it can be said conclusively that appearing for COMPASS test may not be a very difficult and challenging task, if you know your test and prepare well accordingly.

Terms and Conditions

Information published in is provided for informational and educational purpose alone for deserving students, researchers and academicians. Though our volunteers take great amount of pain and spend significant time in validating the veracity of the information or study material presented here, we cannot be held liable for any incidental mistakes. All rights reserved. No information or study material in this web site can be reproduced or transmitted in any form, without our prior consent. However the study materials and web pages can be linked from your web site or web page for

  • Research

  • Education

  • Academic purposes

No permission is required to link any of the web page with educational information available in this web site from your web site or web page