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COMPASS Test: Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is COMPASS?
  2. What is COMPASS like?
  3. What should I do to prepare for COMPASS?
  4. How can I have my COMPASS scores sent to a different school?
  5. What happens after I complete COMPASS?
  6. How long will COMPASS take?
  7. What will COMPASS assess me on?

What is COMPASS?

The Computer-Adaptive Placement Assessment and Support System (COMPASS) is a comprehensive assessment, advising and retention tool. The American College Testing program (ACT) developed COMPASS to help postsecondary institutions increase the likelihood that entering students would achieve educational success and retention through proper initial class placement.

Computer-adaptive tests are designed to determine which questions are presented by examining responses to previously administered items. This technique helps avoid administering too many items that are too easy or too difficult. The higher an individual's skill level, the more challenging the items will be.

The assessment test gathers information about the students educational needs and plans, and measures skills in the areas of Reading, Writing, Mathematics, and English as a Second Language.

At WCC, COMPASS is administered on a computer using a standard keyboard. Instructions, questions and answers are viewed on the monitor. No previous computer experience is necessary.

What is COMPASS like?

COMPASS is untimed and self-paced, so you can relax and take your time. Also you can take the COMPASS more than once. Advisors use the highest scores to determine your class schedule.

What should I do to prepare for COMPASS?

Feel free to visit the WCC COMPASS preparation website. You'll find more information there about the reading, writing, and math assessments as well as advice on coping with test anxiety.

How can I have my COMPASS scores sent to a different school?

Download, fill out completely, and submit the Compass Score Release Request form.

What happens after I complete COMPASS?

When you complete COMPASS, the Testing Center proctor will print out your score report and review your scores with you. You should then meet with an academic advisor to help you select courses for your first semester.

How long will COMPASS take?

Most students take around two hours to complete COMPASS. Please take your time completing COMPASS--remember it is untimed.

Remember that you'll need to complete COMPASS before you'll be ready to meet with an advisor or counselor to plan your class schedule.

What will COMPASS assess me on?

The COMPASS test has three sections: writing, reading, and math. At the beginning of each section, you'll find instructions on how to complete it. Be sure to read these instructions carefully.

  • Writing: First, you'll be asked to read one or two short essays. The essay(s) will have many errors in punctuation, grammar, and sentence mechanics (there's usually at least one error per line). Then, you'll be asked to identify and correct the errors. To identify an error, click on it using your mouse, then select the best correction option from among your five choices.
  • Reading: You'll be asked to read several short essays and to answer multiple-choice questions about their content.
  • Math: First, you'll be asked which level of math you wish to start with. Your choices will be pre-algebra, algebra, college algebra, and trigonometry. If you don't know which level to choose, it's best to start with pre-algebra. Don't worry - your choice won't affect your final score because the assessment will automatically give you questions suited to your skill level.

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