The Highlights of the Reading Test of COMPASS

What Is the Importance of Compass Reading Test?

Administered by many colleges and higher educational institutions in the country, the ACT COMPASS is an evaluative test that helps colleges diagnose the skills, and academic levels of students and accordingly place them in appropriate courses. If applying to a college or seeking higher education in the US, it is important that you learn about the test and its constituents. You can learn more about the importance of the Reading test here.

The COMPASS Reading Test

A computerized test comprising of different customizable subject areas as appropriate to the course programs offered in any institution, the test is an evaluative test that has no specific pass or fail criteria. The test is done both as a placement and as diagnostic test to enable colleges measure the students' skills, strong areas and weak areas, accordingly suggest the best possible courses for each of the students, and also suggest students any extra programs for weak areas so that their learning process is not affected (

Out of the several test areas included, the Reading test is an important part that plays the following roles. It helps colleges:

  • Evaluate the reading abilities and comprehension skills of students
  • Decide if the reading skills of the students are appropriate for successfully completing entry level college programs
  • Plan for any additional programs to improve the reading skills of the students, if necessary.

COMPASS Reading Test - The Test Contents, the Questions, and the Test Timing

As all the other tests in the series, the Reading test is also administered as a placement test or as a diagnostic test. The reading placement test contains multiple-choice questions to evaluate the students' levels and accordingly place them in courses. The diagnostic test helps institutions understand students' skills in specific areas of Reading Comprehension, Vocabulary, and Reader Profile.

The test includes passages from different subject domains/areas like:

  • Humanities
  • Natural Sciences
  • Practical reading
  • Prose fiction
  • Social Sciences

The question items are generally of two different types: reasoning and referring. While referring items ask questions that are more direct (about stuff explicitly given in the passage), reasoning types of questions check students' ability at critical analysis and understanding to make proper inferences or deduce meanings. You can find a few sample questions at

Like other sections, this section is also an untimed test. Hence 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 with test administers. You may even guess your answers, as each answer adds more clarity about your skills and abilities to the colleges, and wrong answers will not affect your scores negatively.

How is the COMPASS Reading Test Important?

Along with the other tests in the package administered at each institute, this component of the test helps colleges understand your strengths and weaknesses, helps you choose the appropriate course for study, and also helps you join any extra programs to improve yourself in weaker areas. By looking at your scores from this section, colleges can understand your reading comprehension ability and predict your success in entry level courses. Colleges can also look at arranging for specific reading programs for students, if required, based on their reading scores.

This way, all sections in this test series, including the reading test help foresee any issues in your studies, and take remedial measures in time so as to avoid interruptions in the course; in addition to help placing you in appropriate courses.