5 Things to Know About COMPASS vs. ASSET

The COMPASS and ASSET tests are both placement tests which help in placing students in courses that are apt for them. There are both similarities and differences between the two tests. In this article, the first half describes the two tests while the second half deals with the similarities and the differences.


The test of COMPASS is an untimed computer-adaptive test taken up by incoming freshmen during the orientation program. In this test, student's skills and abilities acquired by him/her during the schooling years are tested. It is an untraditional test as there is no 'passing score' ( no one passes or fails). The courses you can opt for are discussed with you based on the scores you obtain in the test and the counselors prepare a course of study that would be ideal and best suited for your capacity.

The ASSET Test

The ASSET test also tries to identify the skills and knowledge that a student has gained in the schooling years. With the help of the test scores, the appropriate courses are offered to students. Three subject areas are tested and the time duration for the test is 75 minutes with each subject area being allotted 25 minutes. The test is used by around 400 community and technical colleges across the United States.

Similarities between the COMPASS and the ASSET Tests

  1. Both these tests are administered to identify the skills and knowledge gained by students in their schooling years.
  2. COMPASS and ASSET are administered by the ACT to place students in appropriate postsecondary courses.
  3. Anything that is tested in these tests pertain to what students have studied in high school level.
  4. Both these tests aid in early intervention and help students to succeed in a course they opt for.
  5. Multiple-choice questions are asked in both the tests.
  6. Each college has its own fee structure and minimum score requirement for these tests.
  7. Good study guides are available for both the tests and the study guide for one can be used for preparing for the other test as well.
  8. For both the tests, advance level math may also be tested if you are opting to take certain math courses.
  9. The test scores are usually released immediately after the test. However, some colleges take some time before they release the test scores of ASSET.

Differences between COMPASS and ASSET




Subjects tested 5 subject areas are tested:
  1. Reading Skills
  2. Writing Skills
  3. Math Skills
  4. Writing Essay
  5. English as a Second Language
3 subject areas are tested:
  1. Reading Skills
  2. Writing Skills
  3. Math Skills


Computer based test

Paper and pencil test


Untimed test

75 minutes

Difficulty Level

Adapts to the ability of the student

Same for every one

5 Things to Know about COMPASS and ASSET

  1. Both are placement tests aimed at identifying a student's abilities and skills.
  2. The basic subject domains tested are English- Reading and Writing and Mathematics.
  3. While the ASSET test is traditional paper and pencil test, the COMPASS is a computer adaptive test.
  4. Both the tests identify a student's weak and problem areas in the various subjects and therefore, remedial measures can be taken before these problem areas cause disruption in the regular college courses
  5. Many colleges prefer this test because many times, the school grades may not reflect a student's true ability.


The COMPASS and ASSET tests have both similarities and differences. However, both the tests aim at understanding a student's true skills level, ability and knowledge. In most cases, if colleges require these scores, the test scores will be given more importance than the school grades. With proper preparation, one can easily ace the COMPASS test and join a course of choice.