COMPASS Test Information

COMPASS Test Information

  What is the COMPASS Test?

The COMPASS TEST is actually made up of different comprehensive tests used in the placement of students in appropriate courses that are designed with the skill levels needed for the student to be successful in college. It is a computer adaptive test that makes it possible to test the current level of students for the appropriate placement in three major areas – reading, writing and mathematics.


The COMPASS includes three systems in testing which include the following:


·       Placement test – used in the placement of students in various courses according to their current skills


·       Diagnostic test – used to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the student so they can receive suitable guidance in various subjects.


·       Demographics – used to provide information about students who are taking the COMPASS test and collected for studying data.


It is important that the student obtains the correct measure of their capabilities for their self-assessment as well as the correct placement into courses. Therefore, the student should prepare for the test which emphasizes on testing the complete skills in the main subject areas.


This is especially true in the area of mathematics because it is subject that is often forgotten if it is not used on a regular basis. This program has been designed by Ivy Tech Community College for the benefit of students getting ready to take the COMPASS test for the first time. It may also be used in helping students who have previously taken the COMPASS test to know what areas of math that they need to work on.

 The Mathematics portion of the COMPASS test 

The math test is consisted of multiple-choice questions that are untimed and begin with the more difficult topics. It provides feedback for the placement in appropriate courses and identifies the student’s area of strengths and weaknesses.

  Mathematics Placement 

The COMPASS test is used to determine what level of math the student is capable of performing for computing answers using basic calculative skills as well as obtaining their knowledge to various mathematical problems. The use of basic calculators is allowed on the test. (No graphing calculators will be allowed) The contents this test covers are as follows: 

  • Pre-Algebra
  • Algebra
  • College algebra
  • Geometry
  • Trigonometry

  Mathematics Diagnostics

The COMPASS test contains questions that will highlight the strengths and weaknesses of a student in the above topic areas and contain the following subtopics in Pre-Algebra and Algebra: 

  • Pre-Algebra – integers, decimals, exponents, square roots, scientific notation, fractions, percentages and averages.
  • Algebra – substitution of values, setting up equations, factoring polynomials, exponents and radicals, graphing one and two variable linear equations and rational expressions.


The COMPASS will generate a report that is important to the placement of the student as well as providing a score that is descriptive in the analysis of the student’s capabilities according to their performance on the test.


The COMPASS test is designed to help students in their academic growth and by preparing for it; the student will gain the most benefit from the test. This will give the student a more accurate measure of their abilities and can place them into the correct course for their level. If a student does not prepare for the test, they may answer corrections correctly by guessing and could be placed in a math class that is too difficult or the student could miss several problems they could have remembered with a little studying and be forced to pay for a math class that was not necessary. A little bit of preparation can save the student from a potential problem and may save them a bunch of time!