The Compass Math Placement test is designed to test how well students know basic mathematics. There are five areas covered by the test: pre-algebra, algebra, college algebra, geometry and trigonometry. The test measures a student's abilities from the basic to the advanced. School admissions personnel use the Compass Math Placement test to decide which level to place a student in. For example, if the student's score reflects poorly in basic math, he may need to take remedial math courses before being put into college-level classes.
Prepare for the test by revisiting your old textbooks and taking practice tests online. There are several sites that offer practice tests for Compass, including the ACT website. ACT is the company that markets the Compass test.
Take a calculator that meets the test guidelines to the test center. ACT provides a list of calculator requirements on its website. In general, basic, non-programmable calculators are allowed.
Take your time answering the questions. There isn't a time limit on the Compass math test. Work your problems out on scratch paper and use your calculator to check the answer. There are a variety of questions on the test to gauge your knowledge, from order of operations to college algebra. For example, to solve 54 - 6 / 2 + 6 = 54 - 3 + 6 = 57, you need to know how to implement order of operations.
Read word problems carefully and underline the key words to be sure you solve for the required information. Take, for example, the problem, "On a math test, 15 students earned an "A." This number is 25 percent of the number of students in the class. The classroom temperature was 72 degrees. How many students are in the class?" The key words are "how many students," which tells you to focus on the number of students earning an "A" and on the percentage, while ignoring the irrelevant classroom temperature.
Click the radio button on the screen that corresponds to your desired answer. Double-check both your answer and your entry, ensuring that you have entered them both correctly, then click "Submit."
- The Compass test is adaptive, which means the more questions you get right, the harder the questions will get. If a question seems especially hard, it probably means you got the former question right, which can be a good confidence booster.
Stephanie Ellen teaches mathematics and statistics at the university and college level. She coauthored a statistics textbook published by Houghton-Mifflin. She has been writing professionally since 2008. Ellen holds a Bachelor of Science in health science from State University New York, a master's degree in math education from Jacksonville University and a Master of Arts in creative writing from National University.