Site Search:

A browser that supports JavaScript is required to submit the NOVA site search form and to display search results.

Audience Navigation:

Topic Navigation:

Breadcrumb Navigation:

Home > Campuses & Centers > Manassas > Academic Divisions > Communications Technologies & Social Sciences Division > Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Placement Testing

What is the purpose of the reading and writing placement tests and who should take them?

The purpose of the tests is to assess your reading and writing skills so you can determine the appropriate courses to select to achieve academic success.  Any degree-seeking student is encouraged to take these tests before registering for classes.  Any student who is in one of the following categories must take the tests:

  • A transfer student with a cumulative grade point average of less than 2.00
  • An NVCC student who has completed 9 semester hours and has a GPA of less than 2.00
  • A students whose native language is not English
  • A student who wishes to register for any of the English composition courses.

Where and when can they be taken?

The Testing Center is located in Room 112 of Howsmon Hall.  It is open Monday through Saturday, with evening hours also available.  No appointment is necessary.  You should allow approximately 90 minutes for each test.

When will I get the results of the tests and how will I know what they mean?

The test will be scored immediately after you complete it, and you will be given the results, which will also indicate what English courses you should register for based on your scores.

For further information about these tests, and also if you would like to see a sample of the sorts of questions asked, click to be taken to the Test Center website.

Composition Courses

My major is in a different field.  Why do I have to take these courses?

No matter what your academic discipline or interests, you will be assigned research and writing while you are in college.  These courses are designed to enable you to develop proficiency at both locating information and expressing your own ideas in written communication.  You may find them the most valuable courses you take during your college career.

I need to register for both ENG 111 and ENG 009.  Why is that?

ENG 009 is an complementary course to ENG 111 for students who score between              and  60 and 84 on the writing portion of the English placement test.  These scores indicate an ability to handle credit-level work but also the need for a bit of extra help with composition skills.  ENG 009 is thus designed to provide you with additional feedback and assistance on your ENG 111 essays.  During the first week of classes, all students will be given writing samples to ensure that they are properly placed in the ENG 111/ENG 009 combination.

Is it necessary to take ENG 111 before I enroll in ENG 112?

Yes.  Since ENG 112 builds on the skills developed in ENG 111, any student who had not already successfully completed ENG 111 would be at a great disadvantage.

Literature Courses

ENG 112 included an introduction to literature—how do the 200-level courses differ from this?

ENG 112 provides an overview of the basic elements for analyzing and discussing the different literary genres.  The 200-level courses assume a familiarity with the vocabulary and techniques of literary criticism and concentrate more on in-depth analysis of works from particular periods of literary composition.  Thus, the approach  in a 200-level course is more likely to be chronological, rather than the thematic or genre approach of ENG 112.

Which literary surveys will fulfill my literature requirement?

Any will!  A common misconception is that the American Literature sequence is the only one that meets the requirement for 200 level English courses.  In fact, any literature course does this, and you may find that you actually find greater enjoyment in a different course—such as British Literature or World Literature.

Is it necessary to take two semesters of a literary survey in sequence?

No.  The courses are designed so that the semester breaks occur at the same time as an important literary change.  Thus if you take the second semester of any sequence before you enroll in the first semester, you will not be at a disadvantage in the class.  In addition, in most cases you are not  required to take two semesters of the same survey.  For example, you could take the first semester of British Literature and the second semester of World Literature.

Honors Course

What are the benefits of honors courses?

There are two types of benefits: one tangible and the other intangible.  Honors course work is indicate on your transcripts, which makes you a more attractive candidate both to employers and to transfer institutions.  You also have the opportunity to compete for some scholarships available only to students taking honors course at the Manassas campus.  In addition, you will probably find greater intellectual challenge and stimulation by being working with students of similar skills and interests.

How do I know if I am eligible for honors courses?

Eligibility for ENG 111 is based upon your score on the English placement tests, and you will be notified of this upon completion of the test.  Upon successful completion of honors ENG 111, you are automatically eligible for honors ENG 112.  You can also be recommended for honors ENG 112 by your ENG 111 instructor, even if your scores were somewhat below the cutoff.  Enrollment in 200-level honors courses is not based upon scores but upon requirements that will be described by your instructor during the first week of class.  If you have any questions about your specific eligibility, the honors chairperson is Dr. Jean Goodine, and you can call her at 703-257-6693, or email to

What is the difference between an honors course and an honors option?

In an honors course, all of the students in the class are doing honors work.  If you elect an honors option, you will meet with students in the regular section and then will complete a special honors segment of the course.  In World Literature, for example, this involves a weekly meeting of honors option students to discuss readings on an informal basis.  Thus, while you are technically registered in a different section, you are still completing the curriculum for the regular section.