COMPASS Placement Testing

All students who intend to enroll at the University of Hawaii Maui College are required to take the COMPASS test. The COMPASS is used to place students in appropriate English and Math courses, and also identifies prerequisite skill levels for certain courses and programs. If you took the COMPASS test but did not enroll in courses, your test may still be valid if you took the test within two years of registering for classes. Placement testing is available on a walk-in basis at The Learning Center (TLC) during regular hours of operation. Placement testing is also available at several Maui public high schools. If you are a high school student, contact your high school counselor for more information.

  • COMPASS Test must begin before the last operating hour of the day. COMPASS will not be administered within 1 hour of closing.

COMPASS Orientation


COMPASS Orientation and Overview

This video presentation will orientate you to the COMPASS test. You will learn about COMPASS test requirements, and learn about the three COMPASS test sections: Reading, Writing, Math.

COMPASS Preparation


Sign up for EdReady COMPASS Math Prep

COMPASS® math prep program through EdReady, an online program which identifies gaps in your knowledge and prepares you to do your best on this exam.

COMPASS Test Sections


Reading Section

The reading comprehension items are of two general categories: referring and reasoning. Within each of these two general categories are several content categories that further specify the skills and knowledge assessed by each item. Referring items pose questions about material explicitly stated in a passage. Reasoning items assess proficiency at making appropriate inferences, developing a critical understanding of the text, and determining the specific meanings of difficult, unfamiliar, or ambiguous words based on the surrounding context.

Writing Section

The Writing Skills Placement Test presents one or more passages, each containing several errors. When an error is detected in a passage, clicking on that section of the passage brings up several alternative segments of text from which a more appropriate segment can be selected and inserted automatically into the text. Items in the Writing Skills Placement Test assess basic knowledge and skills in usage and mechanics (e.g., punctuation, basic grammar and usage, and sentence structure) as well as more rhetorical skills such as writing strategy, organization, and style. Moving the cursor to the section of text in which an error is identified and then clicking the left mouse button to make the alternative text options appear identifies errors. Also note that for each set of answer options, option A is always identical to the text as it appears in the passage. As such, option A represents “no change.”


The COMPASS Mathematics Tests are organized around five principal content domains: numerical skills/prealgebra, algebra, college algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. To ensure variety in the content and complexity of items within each domain, COMPASS includes mathematics items of three general levels of cognitive complexity: basic skills, application, and analysis. Performing a sequence of basic operations can solve basic-skills items. An application item involves applying sequences of basic operations to novel settings or in complex ways. An analysis item requires students to demonstrate a conceptual understanding of the principles and relationships relevant to particular mathematical operations.

Because math knowledge and skills are easily forgotten if not used, students should brush up on their math skills before they take the test.

The math section has a self-select starting point:

  • Pre-Algebra – basic arithmetic
  • Algebra –introductory algebra
  • College Algebra – college algebra

For appropriate placement, students should start at the highest level of math that they have completed in their most recent math course.

Additional Information about the COMPASS Test

Transferring from another UH Community College:

You do not need to take the COMPASS again if:

  1. COMPASS Scores are valid within two years of registering at UH Maui College.
  2. AND/OR You took a Math or English Course at a UH Community College and completed with a C or better.

Out-of-State New Students and Transfer Students from Non-UH College:

If haven’t taken COMPASS yet…

For students who intend to transfer to UH Maui College from a Mainland community college, you can register to take COMPASS at another school or testing site that proctors COMPASS tests.

More Information on Remote COMPASS Testing

If you already took COMPASS…

If you already took COMPASS at another Non-UH school and if they are still valid within two years of registering at UH Maui College, request to have your previous college’s testing center send us your scores. Include your full name and your University of Hawaii Student Number.

Send your scores by Fax (808) 242-1009, or Email

For a Non-UH Community College:

If you have already taken your COMPASS test at UH Maui College and wish to send your scores to another campus, you must fill out test disclosure form. The cost to send COMPASS scores to another college is $25.00.

Download Test Disclosure Form

For a UH Community College:

You do not need to sumbit your scores to any of the UH Community Colleges, Kapiolani, Honolulu, Hawaii, Kauai, Windward or Leeward Community College. All UH Community Colleges will have access to your scores after you take COMPASS at UH Maui College. Your scores must be valid within 2 years of registering for the college, and or if you have completed a Math or English class with a C or better.

You should allow approximately two hours for the entire COMPASS Test. COMPASS is a self-paced, computerized test, which allows you to proceed at your own rate. The last COMPASS exam will be administered 1 hour prior to closing.

Required Items for Testing:

  1. Photo ID (driver’s license with photo)
  2. Your UH ID number. If you have not applied to attend Maui College, you may obtain a UH ID number from the Admissions and Records Office.

You may NOT bring books, dictionaries, notes, papers, or other aids into the testing room. Cell phones must be turned off and put away. A pull-down calculator is available on the math test, and The Learning Center provides calculators to test takers. If students plan to bring their own calculators to the testing session, they are responsible for checking the following web page to ensure that they have an approved calculator:

Check if you are allowed to use your calculator: COMPASS Allowable Calculators

Your scores will be given to you when you have completed the test. Placement results, together with advising from counselors and faculty, should insure correct course placement and assist with planning an academic program.

COMPASS can be taken once every 2 years without a fee. For this reason, you should take the test seriously and try your best. If you choose to retake your COMPASS Placement Test without having to wait the normal 2-year wait period, you will be charged a $25 fee. If you are a high school student, you will be charged a $10 fee.

Online COMPASS Sample Test Guide

ACT COMPASS Sample Test Guides

COMPASS Preparation Books

Chart Your Success on the COMPASS*
COMPASS Exam Secrets*

*Available at The Learning Center on closed reserved. They may only be used in the center.