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Home > Future Students > NOVA ESL > American Culture & Language Institute > Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

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1. Should I take ACLI ESL or College ESL?

NOVA has two programs to help students improve their English language skills. They are the American Language and Culture Institute (ACLI) and College ESL. When we recommend the program that is best for you, we consider your level of English, the amount of time you want to study and your visa and residency status.   

2. Who are the students in the ACLI ESL program?

ACLI ESL students include international students on student visas, immigrants who live and work in Northern Virginia and students who are visiting the area who have diplomatic or other short-term visa status.

3. When do ACLI ESL classes meet?

Most campuses offer daytime and evening classes. Some offer classes on Saturday. To learn more, see the course listings at the campus of your choice. 

4. How do I apply to study in NOVA’s ACLI?

If you are a new student, you must complete an application form. To register for ACLI ESL classes, please be sure to check “CEU” when filling out your NOVA application.

5. Do I have to take a placement test to enroll in ACLI ESL courses?

Before you enroll in an ACLI ESL class, you must take a placement test. The ACLI ESL placement test consists of a writing sample and an oral interview. You can find out more about taking the ACLI ESL placement test from the ACLI representative at the campus of your choice.

6. What is the ACCUPLACER test?

The College ESL placement test is called ACCUPLACER. Students who want to take College ESL or other credit classes must take the ACCUPLACER. It is a computer test of 60 multiple-choice questions in reading skills, language use and sentence meaning. Some students also write an essay as part of the test. 

7. When can I take the ACCUPLACER?

You can take the ACCUPLACER after you complete the NOVA application process. If you plan to take the ACCUPLACER, you should check “Credit” when you fill out the application.

If you are enrolled in Core Skills classes, you may take the ACCUPLACER any time. The ACLI suggests that you try the test when you reach the low-intermediate level in Core Skills ESL.

If you are in the Intensive English Program, you may take the ACCUPLACER any time. The ACLI suggests that you try the test when you are in ESLA 1984 or ESLA 1985 in the Intensive English Program. 

8. How often can I retake the ACCUPLACER?

If you score below 225 on the ACCUPLACER, you can retake the test after six months. If you score above 225, you can retake the ACCUPLACER after one year. In either case, please note that if you are enrolled in an ACLI ESL class, you may retake the test sooner with permission from the ACLI Coordinator.

9. I’m an international student. What steps do I need to take to study at NOVA?

If you are an overseas student who needs F-1 status or an F-1 student transferring to NOVA, follow the step-by-step checklist to apply to the college and request an I-20 form. Students who are eligible for associate degree programs are accepted for the fall and spring semesters. Students who wish to enroll in the full-time Intensive English Program are accepted for the fall semester, spring semester or summer sessions.

10. How do I know which ACLI ESL classes to take?

The ACLI staff will help you choose the classes which are best for you. They will consider your level of English, the amount of time you want to study and your goals.

11. How do I register for ACLI ESL classes?

After you receive the results of the placement test, an ACLI representative at the campus of your choice will advise you about the registration process. Most registration for ACLI courses is completed in person during office hours.

12. Can I register online?

Online registration is not available for ACLI ESL classes.

13. Can someone else register for me?

Yes, if you cannot visit the office during office hours, another person can register for you. The person registering for you must have the necessary documents that show which level you are eligible for. For more information about the registration process, please contact the ACLI at the campus of your choice.

14. How much will I pay for ESL classes in the ACLI?

The tuition for ACLI ESL courses is the same for all students, whether they are permanent residents of the U.S. or are here on a visa. Tuition is based on the total number of CEUs of the course. To learn more, see the course listings at the campus of your choice.

15. How do I pay for ACLI ESL classes?

You have three payment options: cash, check or credit card. The business office can receive cash and check payments before 5:00 p.m. To pay by credit card (Visa, MasterCard or American Express) you must pay on the Web. Please access your account on MyNOVA.

16. When do I have to pay for my classes?

Please talk to the ACLI representative at the campus of your choice regarding payment deadlines.

17. Do I have to pay the full amount when I register?

You usually pay the full amount when you register. However, NOVA does offer a deferred tuition payment plan. To learn more about payment options, please visit NOVA’s Payment Methods and Deadlines page.

18. Does the ACLI have financial aid?

The ACLI does not provide financial aid to students. In addition, state or federal financial aid cannot be applied to ACLI classes. However, if your employer or embassy is able to pay for your education, a third-party contract for payment can be arranged. Please talk to the ACLI representative at the campus of your choice for more information.

19. What is a CEU?

One CEU equals 10 hours of class. Students earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for their study in ACLI ESL courses.

20. Where can I park?

Each campus has a parking lot for students. You can buy a parking sticker for the semester. Some campuses have cash-only hourly parking in garages or metered parking. Parking options at off-campus locations vary. Find out more at the campus of your choice.

21. I am in the ACLI. What do I need to do to take classes in the College ESL program?

If you have an F-1 visa, when you are in the highest level of the Intensive English Program, you will take the Bridge Writing Test. The Bridge Writing Test is administered and scored by College ESL faculty. Successful results will place you in College ESL Level 4, at which time you can begin taking part-time ESL along with courses that will lead to your degree.

If you are a permanent resident or have another visa status, you may take the ACCUPLACER when you think your level of English is at least low-intermediate. You need to score 225 on the ACCUPLACER in order to place into the College ESL program. If you do not score 225, you may take additional classes in the ACLI and retake the ACCUPLACER when you and your teacher think you are ready to score at least 225.

22. When can I take credit classes?

If you would like to take credit classes at the college, you first have to take the ACCUPLACER test. Students who place at College ESL Level 2 are blocked from registering for anything except ESL courses. Since College ESL Level 3 is 15 credits, most students wait until they qualify for Level 4 before beginning their general education courses. In addition, some NOVA courses require placement in ENG 111 before you can enroll.

23. I’m an au pair. Which NOVA classes are available to me?

You are eligible to study in the ACLI or you may take credit classes. If you want to study in College ESL or take other credit classes, you must score at least 225 on the ACCUPLACER. Please note that you will pay out-of-state tuition for College ESL or other credit classes. If you choose to study in the ACLI, you will find a variety of courses that fulfill the academic requirements of the J-1 visa. Tuition for ACLI ESL courses is the same for all students. The amount of credits or CEUs is based on the length of the course. Please talk to the ACLI representative at the campus of your choice for more information.