Skills and topics required for successful COMPASS passing
COMPASS (Computer-Adaptive Placement Assessment and Support System) is a computerised test designed by ACT (American College Testing) for the colleges to place the new students into appropriate courses matching their academic skills. COMPASS is a placement and assessment system and usually is a part of the institution's orientation program for the new students after the admission to help them enrol in best suited course for them. The test aids the students to be advised about the resources or courses that can help them reap academic success. Simultaneously, the test also benefits the college or institution to increase the student retention rate and graduation rates through facilitating the success of students.
COMPASS is an adaptive test which does not have limitation of time for completion. In an adaptive test, the number of questions and difficulty level of question depend on the answers of the students. For every right answer, the difficulty level of the next question will increase and if the answer is wrong, the next question will be an easy one. Through the COMPASS program, the institutions assess the skills of the incoming students in five subject areas including Reading, Writing Skills, Writing Essay, Mathematics and English as a Second Language (ESL). COMPASS comprises two types of tests in each subject area to gain a robust knowledge of the student's skills: placement test and diagnostic tests. Placements tests are multiple-choice tests aimed at identifying the course in which the student should be placed. Diagnostic test helps in understanding frail areas of the students to plan an optimal student service to help them in these areas.
The Reading placement test includes passages in practical reading, natural sciences, humanities, social sciences and prose fiction. It is aimed at determining if the student's reading skills are to the standards for success achievement in the college courses or the student should be given additional reading guidance. The Reading diagnostic test aids in evaluating the student's skill in areas of reading comprehension and vocabulary.
The Writing placement and diagnostic test together assess the student's skill in the area of punctuation, spelling, capitalization, usage, verb formation/agreement, relationships of clauses, shifts in construction and organization through testing their ability to find and correct errors in essays. Writing essay test or E-write offers instantaneous assessment and scoring in terms of focus, content, organization, style, mechanical conventions of the writing skills of the student through an effective internet scoring engine.
The Mathematics placement test analyses the performance of the student in the basic skills such as application of basic mathematical operations; application skills such as application of skills in easy and complex mathematical operations; and analytical skills such as conceptual understanding of principles and relationships for mathematical operations. The test evaluates these skills through five content area including pre-algebra, algebra, college algebra, geometry and trigonometry. The Mathematics diagnostics tests evaluates the student's skills in 15 sub-topics in Pre-Algebra and Algebra.
The ESL is especially useful for non-native English speaking students. The test helps the colleges to evaluate the abilities of the non-native English speaking students in four areas including: ESL listening, ESL Reading, ESL Grammar and ESL Essay (E-Write) to place them in various ESL courses. ESL listening assesses the ability of the student in understanding standard spoken US English. ESL Reading measures the comprehending and using of standard American English ability. ESL Grammar facilitates in analysing the ability of the students in identifying and using the correct Grammar according to the standard American English. ESL Writing helps in analysing the writing skills of the student and provides scores factored after considering various aspects of writing skills like language use, organisation and style.
The students applying to schools and colleges in the US, thus, are prepared to take up the COMPASS test to be selected for the course they aspire to join. Inhibiting the skills required for scoring in COMPASS is important as most of the colleges in US make the new students take this exam to analyse their capability to be successful in the courses they want to pursue.