About The Test


The COMPASSĀ® Test was designed to measure the knowledge levels of incoming college students in the subjects of Mathematics and English. The test results are used by university administrators to place incoming students into the appropriate Math and English classes. The COMPASS test is a product of ACT, Inc. This website is not affiliated nor endorsed by ACT, Inc.

What Material Does The Test Cover?

There are separate COMPASS Tests for evaluating each of the following areas: Math, Writing, Reading, and ESL. This website is designed only to focus on the COMPASS Math Placement Test, which covers these broad subjects:

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

Within each of these subjects there are many topics that will be tested. Since our goal with this site is to help students score high enough to place beyond the more basic of college math classes, we will direct our attention to the subjects of Pre-Algebra and Algebra.

The tested topics within these subjects are:

  • Pre-Algebra
    • Integers
    • Fractions
    • Decimals
    • Exponents, square roots, and scientific notation
    • Ratios and proportions
    • Percentages
    • Basic statistics (means, medians, and modes)
  • Algebra
    • Substituting values
    • Setting up equations
    • Polynomials
    • Linear equations in one variable
    • Exponents and radicals
    • Rational expressions
    • Linear equations in two variables

More Test Details

The COMPASS Test is a multiple-choice Computer Based Test (CBT) that selects new questions based on your scores on the previous questions. For example: the placement test may begin by asking you several algebra questions. If you get most of these questions correct the computer will begin asking you more difficult questions from geometry or trigonometry. If instead you answered many of the initial algebra questions incorrectly, the computer would next ask you a series of pre-algebra questions. Based on your performance the computer gives you a score that school administrators will use to place you into the appropriate mathematics class.

The COMPASS Math Placement Test is not timed and typically takes under an hour to complete.

Students are allowed to use most four function, scientific, and graphing calculators on the exam. For a list of approved calculators check the ACT COMPASS official site.

You’re now ready to read more about why you should study for the test and about strategies that will help you score higher.