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Compass® Test

Tips & hints for preparing to take the Reading, Writing and Math sections of the college placement test - the Compass® test.

Writing Reminders

The Compass® Writing Test will evaluate your knowledge of grammar rules and their usage, and your ability to communitcate your position on a topic in an organized and focused manner.

The Kirtland website has some excellent tips for taking the Writing Essay test. They are found on the link for sample test questions. Included are ideas for organizing your thoughts, etc. Howeverm the site does not review grammar.

Review the following grammar rules and be prepared to use them correctly.

Comma Rules

1. Use commas to separate elements in a series.

    Example: There are apples, oranges, and grapes in the basket.

2. Use a comma to separate independent clauses (two complete thoughts).

    Example: I went to the store, but I didn't buy anything.

         Be familiar with FANBOYS. Theses words always accompany independent clauses.

                      F = for

                      A = and

                      N = nor

                      B = but

                      O = or

                      Y = yet

                      S = so

3. Use a comma to separate introductory elements.

    A. Time frames

         Examples: Afterward, we went to see the monument. 

                          In September, we will celebrate four birthdays.

    B. Dependant Clauses

         Examples: Unlike my physics test, my math test will be easy.

                          Upset from receiving the bad news, Mary broke down and cried.

Tip: With dependant clauses -- the next word after the comma must answer the question "Who" or "What" regarding the introductory clause. What is unlike my physics test? My math test.

4. Use a comma to set off added information.

    Examples: His ambition, to become a professional football player, is within his reach.

                      Mrs. Smith, an academic support tutor, is available every morning.

Tip: The information between the commas is sometimes described as "Interrupters". Try removing the information    between the commas. The remaining phrase should still be a complete sentence.

However and Then Rules

These two words should start a sentence followed by a comma. The only exception would be in a sentence using a semi-colon (i.e. when however and then are not sentence starters).

Examples: Basketball is my favorite sport. However, golf is where I excel.

                 Basketball is my favorite sport; however, golf is where I excel.

Avoid --> When....... this

Incorrect: When a person crosses in the middle of the street this is known as jaywalking.

Correct: Crossing in the middle of the street is known as jaywalking.

Tip: This incorrect sentence structure is a common mistake among immature writers. Avoid it!!

Components of a Professional Essay

Paragraph 1 - Establish your reason for writing the essay. Briefly restate the issue that you have been asked to comment on. Address the correct audience.

Paragraph 2 and Paragraph 3 - Pick two or three points that will communicate your position. Provide reasons and evidence for each point.

Paragraph 4 - Consider how others might oppose your position and write a paragraph communicating how you might respond to their arguement.

Paragraph 5 - Summarize your points. Make sure your position has been stately clearly and in an organzied format. Thank your audience for considering your points.

Writing Tips Video