How to Prepare for a COMPASS Test

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The COMPASS test is a placement assessment created by ACT. Many colleges use the COMPASS test for their placement needs. The test has three sections, Reading, Writing and Math. The test is held to determine if the student meets what the college has determined as college level. If the the student does not meet those requirements, the test may suggest brush up classes (if the the college offers them). The test is computerized, but it is set up so that even computer novices should be able to navigate it with ease.

1 COMPASS is an untimed test

COMPASS is an untimed test. If you are taking the basic package (Reading, Writing and Math) you should expect to put two and half hours aside for the testing. If you are only taking parts of the test , or you are also taking the e-write portion, these times will be different. The untimed format allows you to take your time, and possibly use different test taking strategies a more structured test would not allow. The test is adaptive. That means the test adapts to your skill level. For example, the more questions you get right in the math section, the more questions it will give you. You must answer each question it gives you, or you will not be able to go on. There is a calculator built into the math test. Some schools will only allow you to use this while others will let you bring in your own. Please check with the college about their policy.

2 Determine if you have to test

Determine if you have to test. Sometimes colleges will allow you to waive your testing if you have high enough ACT or SAT scores. These cutoff scores will vary by college, so you will want to contact admissions to see if you can have all or part of the test waived. Also, if you are a transfer student, your previous college classes may also waive all or part of the test. Please check with Admissions.

3 Set up your testing appointment

Set up your testing appointment. Contact your college and find out when you can take the test. Some college's have walk in testing while others only test by appointemnt. You will need to know this ahead of time. Some colleges charge for the test, others let you test for free. Make sure you have all of this information written down. As you plan to take the test remember, cell phones are not permitted in the testing area. Do not test during a time where you will need to be reached. Allow yourself at least 2 hours for the test.

4 Take time

Take time to study and brush up your skills a bit before you go into test. There are sample questions on the ACT website. Take the time to go through them at least once. You may also want to look online for additional helps sites and sample questions. ACT only recommends their own sample questions, but there are other help sites out there.

5 COMPASS tests score automatically

COMPASS tests score automatically. Some colleges give you a copy of your scores while others make you wait until you meet with an advisor. Find out what your college of choice dos. Will you have to make another appointment to meet with an advisor? Will you need to go to an orientation session? Will you get your scores right away and go to walking advising? These are questions to ask before your testing day comes. Know what steps you need to take and what your timeline is.

6 Remember to relax

Remember to relax. Be sure to get plenty of sleep the night before and eat a good meal before you come into test. You do not want sleepiness or hunger to interfere with your test. If this testing center allows breaks, take advantage of them as needed. If you did not score as well as you would like to, you will need to ask the testing center about their retesting policies. Some schools have a waiting persiod. Others just will not let you test again. Once again, the rule is based on the school.

Jennifer Hammitt works in the education sector and is a freelance writer for several websites including Associated Content and Rain Tiger. She also has a novel and novella available through Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Eastern Michigan University.