COMPASS® Test Tips, Pointers, and Advice

Don’t stress out! Remember, the goal of the COMPASS test is to help you succeed at your chosen college or university. Your scores will help your school decide which classes are best suited to your ability level. The good news is that once you know what your academic weaknesses are, you can get the help you need to improve in these areas.

Prior to taking the COMPASS tests, you can prepare yourself by:

  • Asking your college or university if they have any suggestions and/or resources to help you get ready for the test.
  • Familiarizing yourself with the types of questions on the exam by reviewing sample COMPASS test questions.
  • Understanding that the COMPASS test is not timed and that you can work at your own pace.
  • Scheduling enough time to take the test. Each test typically takes between 20 and 30 minutes to complete, but these times can vary, so it’s a good idea to set aside a few hours of your day to complete the exam.
  • Checking with the testing center to find out what their requirements are and what you need to bring with you to the test (i.e. photo identification, paperwork, fees, etc.)
  • Getting enough sleep the night before the test.
  • Eating a nutritious meal both the night before and the morning of the exam.
  • Arriving early enough before the test begins to allow yourself time to locate the testing area, go to the bathroom, get a drink, etc. It’s important not to feel rushed so that you have time to gather your thoughts before the test begins.


While taking the COMPASS test, you can maximize your score by:

Carefully reading the directions for each test and making sure you understand them.
Raising your hand to get the attention of the proctor or test administrator if you do not know what to do. Although they cannot answer any test questions, they can help you with other types of problems, such as clarifying test directions.
Reading each question carefully so that you understand exactly what it is asking.
Completing all of the steps necessary to answer each test question.
Answering every item. Remember, you will not be penalized for guessing. Answering all questions will provide better placement information to the college or university looking at your test results.
Changing an answer only if you are convinced that what you originally put down was wrong.
Focusing on the test and not letting yourself get distracted by anything else going on in the room.
Once you have completed the COMPASS test, you can understand your results by:

  • Reviewing your COMPASS Student Advising Report, paying special attention to any suggestions or messages it contains regarding what you need to do to succeed at your chosen college or university.
  • Talking not only to your college advisor, but also to your instructors about your results. Make sure you ask them any questions you may have about your program of study, what classes you should take, and what you should do to improve in your identified areas of weakness.