Test Sections of COMPASS

Why Should You Appear for COMPASS

Most colleges or higher education institutes in the United States today, use the ACT COMPASS test as an evaluation tool for applicants seeking admission. An untimed, customizable battery, the COMPASS enables institutions (and yourself) evaluate your academic level and skills, and accordingly place you in appropriate courses. Hence, if you are planning for college/higher education, it is advised that you take this exam. Read on to know more about COMPASS and why should you take it.

What Is the COMPASS Test?

The COMPASS is a computerized test that evaluates your skills and knowledge levels, and helps you and the college select the appropriate courses for you. There are no pass or fail criteria in this test. It just measures the candidates' abilities and skill levels. The score reports are generally made available immediately after finishing the test, and include placement information, as well.

The test is generally administered by colleges to freshmen who have already applied to and been admitted to courses. Some colleges might also require applicants to take up one or more COMPASS tests before enrolling (http://www.act.org/compass/student/index.html).

COMPASS Test - Sections, Question Types, and Test Duration

To answer any question about this test, let us look at the test content first. Different subject tests are included in COMPASS, like,

  • The Reading test
  • The Writing test
  • The Mathematics test
  • The Writing Essay test
  • The English as a Second Language (ESL) test

However, it should be noted that the COMPASS is a customizable test. The tests included in COMPASS can be customized as per the needs of the organization conducting the test. That is, not all applicants may have to take all the tests. The question types and sections of each of the test are as given below. You can find sample questions for all the tests online in the official website (http://www.act.org/compass/sample/index.html):

  • The Reading Placement Test tries to evaluate the students' reading ability required for completing entry level college courses. Reading comprehension passages from different areas like Natural science, Humanities, Prose fiction, practical reading, and Social Sciences are included in this test with multiple-choice questions.

  • The Writing Skills Placement Test aids institutions in deciding whether students can handle entry-level courses with writing loads, or will need preparation programs. Students are supposed to correct errors, and also demonstrate their skills in usage, punctuation, basic grammar, sentence structure, organization and style, etc.

  • The Mathematics Placement Test also contains multiple-choice questions from basic skills, application, and analysis areas. These questions test the students' skills at performing basic operations and conceptual understanding.

  • The Essay Writing Test has one single writing task prompt. Students are supposed to write a response by taking a stance, and giving supporting arguments to the position.

  • The ESL Test includes listening, reading, and grammar and usage questions for ESL students to evaluate their English skills for day-to-day and academic purposes.

To understand this test clearly, we should also note that it is an untimed test. Therefore, it is encouraged that you take necessary steps and time to answer each question, and clear any doubts you have about any questions or instructions. You may even guess your answers, as each answer adds more clarity about your skills and abilities to the colleges.

How is the COMPASS Test Important?

As the test helps the college (and yourself) understand your levels and skills, it is possible for you to take up courses that befit your current skill levels. Thus, ACT COMPASS is a test that can help you change your future. Moreover, as the test results are available quickly after the testing, the colleges can immediately provide placement messages to you. In addition, the diagnostic tests that are administered also help colleges decide areas in which you might require additional classes or prep programs. This way, COMPASS tests also help foresee any issues in your studies, and be prepared for it by taking up extra/supporting programs for specific areas.

Thus, having a clear idea of COMPASS and its purpose, is important, if you are planning for higher studies. Since the test is diagnostic in nature and helps in course placement and thus makes way for your future/career, it is vital that you learn about the exam before taking it.

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