The ACT Compass asks questions that evaluate reading, writing, essay composition, mathematics and English as a Second Language. The test is designed to locate the strengths and weaknesses of incoming college students.
Mathematics questions test a student's ability to perform basic mathematical operations, practical application and analysis in several areas. The test asks questions about trigonometry, geometry, pre-algebra and algebra. For example, the test may ask the student to solve a linear equation with two variables. Approved calculators can be used on the test.
The test takers are required to read and evaluate essay samples to identify spelling, grammar, usage and style. Rhetorical skills, such as writing strategy, organization and style, are also evaluated. The essays are usually two to three paragraphs long and the test takers are required to point out the errors with the mouse cursor. Additionally, several questions ask the student to identify errors identified within the passages.
The reading placement segment of the Compass exam evaluates comprehension skills. Natural sciences, social sciences, prose fiction, practical readings and humanities are the five types of reading comprehension selections used to gauge a student's readiness for college-level courses. A typical reading comprehension question includes a passage followed by several questions that asses the student's understanding of the passage.