The COMPASS Math Placement Test covers material in five math subjects:
3. College Algebra
The exam is administered by computer in a testing center. The test module is adaptive, generating new questions based on a student's success on the previous questions. One question is given at a time, beginning with simple questions from Pre-Algebra and increasing in difficulty based on the test-takers performance. Questions continue until the testing algorithm can decide on a proper assessment of the student's skill level.
After the test is completed, a score report is instantly generated for both the student and for college administrators. A student's enrollment choices are based on his or her score in each of the five math subjects; every school has its own enrollment standards. Typically, a strong overall performance will be needed for a student to place into a calculus course, but only decent scores on the first couple subjects would be required for enrollment in the more basic courses.
Students taking the COMPASS Test are not timed, and can usually complete the Math Placement Test in under an hour. Most calculators are allowed for the test; a full list of acceptable calculators is provided on the official COMPASS webpage. Most schools permit multiple attempts on the test, so it is possible for students to improve upon their initial assessments.
Not every university requires the COMPASS Test. Some colleges accept ACT or SAT scores for class placement decisions. Some schools use other placement tests, but the COMPASS Test is the most commonly used. COMPASS also provides reading and writing assessment tests that can be administered along with the math test when necessary.
The COMPASS Test is a good tool for placing new college students into math classes suitable to their aptitudes. Studying for the test is not necessary, but can lead to a better performance and more enrollment options, which will allow a student to skip the more basic math classes.