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Home > Future Students > Placement Tests

Placement Tests

If you are a new student at Northern Virginia Community College, you may be asked to complete one or more placement tests. The results of these tests will help you and NOVA determine the courses you will take. They are not criteria for admission.

Please Note:

  • Students must have completed a NOVA college application for the credit program prior to taking placement tests.
  • Tests are given at each campus testing center.
  • Current Photo ID and Student ID number are required.
    • Examples: Driver's License, military ID, a passport, a personal identification card from DMV, a NOVACard Photo ID or green card.
    • Use NOVAConnect to find your Student ID number and bring this number with you to the Testing Center.
  • Allow at least two hours each for the English and math placement tests.
  • Allow at least two hours for the ESL placement test.
  • Tests are collected 15 minutes before closing.

About the Placement Tests

College requirements are demanding. The links below detail who needs to take the placement tests. The links also provide an opportunity to review for the test to give you the best opportunity to reach your highest competency level and course placement. Failure to review may result in course placement below your skill level. Your placement may require that you take one or more developmental, non-credit courses before being eligible to take college-level courses.

Do you have TEST ANXIETY? Get help here.

The Virginia Placement Test (VPT) for English

If you are registering for classes at NOVA, then you may need to take the VPT-English Placement Test.

Getting Ready to Register for English Courses:

  • You must submit your application for admission to NOVA before taking the placement test.
  • You must take an English placement test before enrolling in any English course, unless you are exempt. NOTE: Many other courses require a qualifying score on the English placement test before enrolling.

Learning About the Virginia Placement Test (VPT) for English:

  • The Virginia Placement Test for English is an adaptive, computerized, untimed test. Please be aware that this test can require two to three hours to complete. We recommend that students not take the VPT for Math and the VPT for English on the same day.
  • English test scores are valid for two years.
  • One retest is allowed within 12 months of the initial attempt on the Virginia Placement Test, if taken before you enroll in any English course.

Who needs to take the English Placement Test?

  • Students who have a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of less than 2.00 after the completion of nine semester hours at NOVA.
  • Students who are transferring to NOVA with a cumulative GPA of less than 2.00 (regardless of the number of hours completed).
  • Students who plan to enroll in dual enrollment classes.
  • Students who entered NOVA in the Fall 2002 semester or later, regardless of the GPA, prior to registering for the 1st credit, unless they present a standardized test score that exempts them.

Who is exempt?

  • Students who have taken a standardized test within the past two years and present test scores as follows may enroll directly into ENG 111 without testing:
    • a minimum of 500 on both the critical reading and writing portions of the SAT exam
    • a minimum combined score of 21 on both the English and writing tests of the ACT, or a 95 or higher on the TOEFL iBT
  • In addition, the following students may be eligible for credit for ENG 111 and may not need to take the placement test:
    • students who have a previous transfer-oriented associate degree or higher from a regionally accredited U.S. institution
    • students with a satisfactory score on AP, IB, Cambridge Advanced Level, or CLEP exams

Completing Your Review Process:

  • The importance of reviewing material that you have previously studied cannot be over emphasized.
  • The placement test is not an admissions test or an aptitude test.
  • The test measures how well you demonstrate skills. Your score indicates the courses you are prepared to take.
  • Not reviewing before taking the placement test could possibly place you in a course that is lower than your actual skill level, costing you time and money.
  • Starting your review process early will give you enough time to practice so that you can feel confident of doing your best on the placement test.

Accessing the Online Free VPT Practice Test:
(This test can be taken on any computer with an Internet connection and browser.)

  1. Go to https://college.measuredsuccess.com
  2. At the login, click Student Registration and enter the following:
    • Institution: Select VCCS Practice Test Institution from the drop down box
    • Site: VCCS
    • Password: Virginiapt
  3. Complete the Student Registration Form noting the following:

    • Student ID Field:
    • Use a combination of letters and numbers for the Student ID field.
    • For current VCCS students, the recommended Student ID is the college abbreviation plus the EmplID, for example NVCC#######.
    • For an individual taking the practice test who does not have an EmplID, the college abbreviation could be followed by a combination of numbers and letters. The Student ID should not be numbers-only following NVCC, because a random numbers-only ID entered by one student may coincidentally match another student’s EmplID.
    • Email Address:
    • Since the VCCS email address will be used for the “real” test; the VCCS email address should NOT be entered when registering for the practice test.
    • An alternate email should be used so that the student can receive an auto-generated email containing the logon and password info to resume the practice test if it isn’t completed in one sitting. (For example, use your gmail, hotmail, aol, or other personal email account.)
  4. Click on Submit.
  5. You will be taken immediately to the testing dashboard. The test can be taken on any computer with an Internet connection and browser.
  6. VPT-English Practice Exam addresses the content of English Units 1-6 and 8.
    • Click on VPT-English Practice Exam to begin the exam.
    • Click on “VPT-English Practice Exam” link after completing the test in order to view the score report. A score report will appear.
    • Click on each item number to view the item, the correct answer, and the answer that was chosen.
    • Click on skill for additional information.
You may take the practice test multiple times, if you wish. Each time it may be slightly different.

Resources to Help Students Review for the VPT English Test

English as a Second Language (ESL) Placement Test

  • ACCUPLACER is the primary tool for placement testing for ESL.
  • This test (called ACCUPLACERTM LOEP {Levels of English Proficiency} test) is a computer test. It is divided into three sections: Reading Skills, Sentence Meaning and Language Usage.
  • Test: Part 1: Multiple-choice test (60 questions) untimed.
  • Test: Part 2: If your computer test score is 300+, you will also write a one-page essay. Time limit: 1 hour. You will have a choice of two essay topics. Faculty will evaluate your essay within two-five working days.
  • You may take the Math Placement Test if you score into Level 3 or higher.
  • Test scores are good for one year.
  • Due to privacy laws, no test results are given by telephone. 
  • You must answer each question before you can go on to the next one. Once you have moved on to the next question, you cannot go back and change your answers. However, the computer will ask you to verify each answer before moving on to the next question.
  • Retests are not allowed except according to college policy as follows:
    • You may retest in six months if you do not score into level 2 or higher. During this time it is recommended that you take an intensive English course through our American Cultural Language Institute (ACLI) or through adult education in your area.
    • If you score into level 2 or higher, but choose not to enroll in the recommended classes, you may retest in one year.
    • Once you enroll in ESL classes, you cannot retest unless it has been one year from the last day of the class.

Sample Questions:

Additional Help:

The Virginia Placement Test (VPT) for Mathematics

Getting Ready to Register for Math Courses:

  • You must submit your application for admission to NOVA before taking the math placement test.

Who needs to take the Math Placement Test?

  • You must take a math placement test before enrolling in any math course.

    NOTE: Some other courses such as science and computer science courses also require a qualifying score on the math placement test. Some programs such as nursing require a qualifying score on the math placement test.

Who is exempt?

  • A student who provides official evidence of a minimum mathematics score of 520 on the SAT or a minimum score of 22 on the ACT taken within the last two years may register for MTH 115, MTH 126, MTH 150, MTH 151, MTH 152, MTH 157, or MTH 181 without taking the math placement test.

Learning About the Virginia Placement Test for Mathematics:

  • The Virginia Placement Test for Mathematics is an adaptive, computerized, untimed test.
  • Personal calculators cannot be used. The test includes a non-graphing calculator for all topics except the test on basic skills with whole numbers.
  • Math test scores are valid for two years.
  • One retest is allowed within 12 months of the initial attempt on the Virginia Placement Test, if taken before you enroll in a math course.

Reviewing for the Test:

  • The importance of reviewing material that you have previously studied cannot be over emphasized. The VPT MathSite provides supplemental study material for the Math Placement Test.
  • The placement test is not an admissions test or an aptitude test.
  • The test measures how well you demonstrate skills. Your score indicates the courses you are prepared to take.
  • Not reviewing before taking the placement test could possibly place you in a course that is lower than your actual skill level, delaying your math sequence by one or more semesters, costing you time and money.
  • Starting your review process early will give you enough time to practice so that you can feel confident of doing your best on the placement test.
  • Review for the Math Placement Test
  • View the content of the precollege math skills on the test.
  • For a comprehensive review you may want to reference the book, Chart Your Success on the COMPASS. (ISBN 0-89892-302-6) This book is available on closed reserve in some of the libraries on NOVA campuses. NOVA no longer uses the COMPASS test for placement in mathematics. The review in this book is still very helpful with preparation for The Virginia Placement Test. You can also purchase an electronic version of a study guide from: http://www.compass-test.com/

Accessing the Online Free VPT Practice Test

  1. Go to https://college.measuredsuccess.com
  2. At the login, click Student Registration and enter the following:
    • Institution: Select VCCS Practice Test Institution from the drop down box
    • Site: VCCS
    • Password: Virginiapt
  3. Complete the Student Registration Form noting the following:
    • Student ID Field:
      • Use a combination of letters and numbers for the Student ID field.
      • For current VCCS students, the recommended Student ID is the college abbreviation plus the EmplID, for example NVCC#######.
      • For an individual taking the practice test who does not have an EmplID, the college abbreviation could be followed by most any combination of numbers and letters. The Student ID should not be numbers only following NVCC as a random Student ID entered by one student may coincidentally match another student’s EmplID.
    • Email Address:
      • Since the VCCS email address will be used for the “real” test, the VCCS email address should NOT be entered when registering for the practice test.
      • An alternate email should be used so that the student can receive an auto-generated email containing the logon and password info to resume the practice test if it isn’t completed in one sitting.
  4. Click on Submit.
  5. You will be taken immediately to the testing dashboard. The test can be taken at home.
  6. Practice Test 1: Addresses the content of Developmental Math Units 1-5.
    Practice Test 2: Addresses the content of Developmental Math Units 6-9.
    Click on "VCCS Practice Exam #1” or “VCCS Practice Exam #2” to begin the exam.
    Click on “VCCS Practice Exam #1” link after completing the test in order to view the score report.
    Click on the item numbers to view the item, the correct answer, and the answer that was chosen.
    Click on the skill for additional information.