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Home > About NOVA > Directories & Offices > Administrative Offices > Academic Assessment > For Students > FAQ for Oral Communication Skills for HIS 121 Students

FAQ for Test of Oral Communication Skills

Q: What are Core Competencies?
A: Core Competencies are general education areas in which graduates of Virginia higher education institutions should attain some level of proficiency. The Core Competencies are: Written Communication, Technology/Information Literacy, Quantitative Reasoning, Scientific Reasoning, Critical Thinking and Oral Communication.

Q: Why is NOVA assessing Oral Communication skills? And why this way?
A: NOVA assesses general education core competencies for many reasons – to learn more about their student's abilities; to support NOVA’s reaffirmation by SACS; and sometimes to meet VCCS requirements. VCCS uses the Test of Oral Communication Skills (TOCS) to measure general student abilities in oral communication; NOVA has therefore adopted this test for its own independent assessments.

Q: Why have I been contacted to take this test?
A: NOVA is collecting information from students in various courses across the College for all core competencies. For this semester, HIS 121 has been chosen for your campus for oral communication skills.

Q: Is this assessment mandatory?
A: Participation by NOVA students is extremely important and we hope that students will want to take part because these kinds of assessments help us improve teaching and learning. Your instructor may include this activity in your course or suggest it as extra-credit; you should check with your instructor about this.

Q: How can my taking the test help NOVA improve teaching and learning?
A: The more evidence we have about our student's abilities, the better we can accurately evaluate the types of courses and programs that have an impact on student learning.

Q: Will this assessment affect my grades?
A: Your instructor may decide to include this activity in your coursework. However, your score on the assessment activity does not affect your grade.

Q: Will my instructor see the results?
A: If your instructor decides to include this activity as an assignment, you will need to give him/her information that you took the exam. Please check with your instructor on this. Most likely you will print out the last screen before you shut the IE window. However, the score itself is not important and if it makes you more comfortable, you can cross it out from your submission to your instructor.

Q: What happens with my score?
A: Student scores will be aggregated so that they are combined with those of all the NOVA students so that we can have a “snapshot” of the overall abilities of NOVA students.

Q: Should I study for this test?
A: No, you do not need to study for this test. The purpose of this assessment is to learn about the general abilities our students have in oral communication skills, not to test the content of any one course or book.

Q: How long will the test take?
A: You should set aside about 60-75 minutes to take the test.

Q: How do I access the test?
A: You must go to the Testing Center at either the Loudoun or Manassas Campus to take the test.

Q: How will you know if I've taken the test?
A: Once you have completed the exam, the results are submitted to the TOC database. NOVA will receive a list of students who have taken the test after the semester ends. Since NOVA does not receive the list after the semester ends, it is therefore important for you to print out the last screen if your instructor needs to see that you took the exam; we will not have that information to give to the instructor.