COMPASS® Reading Test

The Reading Diagnostics Test is a multiple choice test used to determine the reading level and reading ability of students in the following areas:

  • Reading comprehension (how well students understand what they read)
  • Vocabulary (whether students understand the types of words they are likely to encounter in the material they will be required to read at the college level)
  • Reader profile (whether students can determine the intended audience for a particular passage)

The five different passage types students will encounter are:

  • Practical reading (the types of documents someone might encounter in everyday life, such as advertising brochures, business letters, and consumer manuals)
  • Prose fiction (made up stories that often contain characters and dialogue)
  • Humanities (non-fiction accounts of the human condition)
  • Social sciences (studies on the social life of human groups)
  • Natural sciences (a naturalistic approach to the study of the universe)

Students will encounter both referring and reasoning questions on the COMPASS reading test. Referring items tend to be a little easier because they ask questions about content that is explicitly stated in the reading passage. Reasoning items are more difficult, requiring students to possess a clear understanding of the text, make inferences, and use context clues to figure out the meanings of difficult or unfamiliar words.