Created by the American College Testing, or ACT®, the COMPASS® exam is a computerized college-placement test that evaluates a student's math, reading and writing skills, as well as language skills for those who are taking the English as a Second Language, ESL, exam. The English placement portion of the exam is comprised of two sections: reading and writing. Though the exam is comprised mostly of multiple choice questions, students are also required to write an essay. Based on the test results, students are placed in appropriate courses.
Review the expectations and exam formats for the reading and writing placement portions of the English test. The majority of the exam is comprised of multiple choice questions that assess your knowledge of grammar, sentence structure and punctuation, as well as your reading comprehension skills.
Take ACT's sample Reading Placement Test online. Read each passage carefully, and then examine the sample questions at the bottom of the page. Write your answers on a sheet of paper, and then compare your answers with ACT's answer sheet.
Take ACT's sample Writing Skills Placement Test online. Read the sample passage carefully, and answer the sample questions. Similar to Step 2, you can write your answers on a sheet of paper. After answering each question, compare your results with ACT's answers.
Write a sample essay to prepare for the writing portion of the exam. ACT has an example writing task on its website. Your essay should be cogent, focused on a specific audience, include a position and solution to your argument and appropriate usage in grammar, sentence structure and punctuation.
Practice reading for at least 30 minutes to an hour each day until the day you take the exam. Whether you choose to read newspapers, magazines or books, reading each day can improve your comprehension and vocabulary skills. After reading a passage or short story, recall and summarize the information you read. If you come across a word that is unfamiliar, be sure to look it up.
Get plenty of rest on the eve of your exam. You should also make sure that you eat properly before taking your exam. Eating and sleeping properly will aid in keeping you focused while you take the exam.
Christina Shaffer is a freelance writer based in New Jersey and has been writing arts and entertainment articles since 2005. Her articles have appeared in "Philadelphia City Paper." Shaffer received a B.A. in journalism and gender studies at Rutgers University.