All posts by Jennifer

Working through Test Anxiety

Tests have a way of working people up into a serious frenzy. The stakes are much higher around exam time and the pressure becomes almost palpable without the right preparation. There are a number of strategies to help you prepare yourself mentally and physically for an upcoming exam and lower the anxiety around test-taking. Here are some quick tips that may be useful for you in the future:

Change how you view the test. Often our performance is impacted by our perception of the task at hand; if you look at the test as an impending doom, you will respond to it that way. You can conquer anything and you will not be defeated by a little test J. First things first, think of it as an “assignment” (because that’s essentially what it is, it just covers more course material) to take away some of its fear factor.

Create a simulated testing experience for studying. Try to create a studying environment that is as close to the actual testing environment as possible to get used to what taking the exam will really be like on exam day. How can you do this? Try these simple strategies:

If taking the exam in a testing center

Visit the center ahead of time to observe the atmosphere. Is there a lot of people, will you be sitting next to someone, is it cold in the room, etc.? Making note of these things will help you recreate the setting at home when studying.

Try doing practice tests with a timer in front of you to make it easier to perform with a timer when you take the exam. Exams in the testing center are often timed and the timer appears as a countdown on the computer screen during the exam.

If using ProctorU

Do all studying in the spot where you will be taking the test on exam day. This can help your memory because the environment will serve as a cue to help you recall information.

Create practice tests. Look at the textbook publisher’s website to create practice tests. You can also check out Flashcards+ and Quizlet to make flashcards to help you study.

Practice relaxation techniques before and during the exam. The more relaxed you are, the more likely you are to recall the information you’ve studied. On the day of the exam, check out the Omvana app for quick meditation exercises, listen to your favorite song and dance to it to release any physical discomfort (really get into it!), or anything else that calms you. Here is a strategy you can try when taking the “assignment”:

Take relaxation breaks when you hit benchmarks on the exam. For instance, once you have completed three questions/problems/ scenarios, pause, sit up straight with a soft smile on your face, and close your eyes. Breathe deeply and slowly rotate your head in complete circles in both directions. Rotate your shoulders to the front in slow circles and again in the opposite direction. Do as many rotations as necessary. Return to the “assignment” when you feel calmer. You can do this exercise after any number of questions you choose and as often as you need.

Do not worry about those around you; do whatever you need to do to take care of yourself. If at any time during the test you feel tense, return to the relaxation exercise. Pace yourself and take problems one at a time; do not jump or look ahead. And remember, you always know more than you think you do! You will do great! Namaste.

Written by ELI Success Coach, Jennifer. If you have questions or would benefit from additional strategies, reach out to an ELI Success Coach today by calling 703.323.3347 or From test taking strategies to time management, we are here to answer your questions and help you access resources that will empower you to navigate the semester and pave your way to a successful academic journey.

Motivational Minute: Accessing your Support Team

Everything in life is a bit easier to handle when you have the right people in your corner rooting for your success. Sometimes all it takes to stay motivated and self-assured is a simple “you can do it” from someone you know has your best interest at heart.  Lucky for you, your ELI Student Success Coach team  is here for that purpose! All you have to do is reach out and tell us what you need.

support comic

ELI Success Coaches are here to help you get the most out of your time with ELI by linking you to a wide variety of resources (i.e. tutoring, webinars, etc.) and strategies to promote your success. Success Coaches help students manage the many factors that impact student success, i.e. balancing personal life and school, stress management, study skills, test-taking and time management strategies, etc. ELI Success Coaches are here to listen and work collaboratively with you to increase your access to opportunities and resources in order to improve your academic performance and enhance your online learning experience.

Here are a few resources from your coaches that you can access now:

Smarthinking free online tutoring

StudentLingo webinars

Quizlet study/test-taking assistance

Article provided by ELI Success Coach, Jennifer Reed.  For more resources, please reach out to your ELI Success Coaching Team by sending an email to or call 703.764.5076. Can’t wait to hear from you!

Use NOVA’s Payment Plan to Pay Your Tuition!

Did you know NOVA offers a payment plan? The payment plan allows you to break up your tuition into multiple payments which will be determined when you enroll in the plan. What exactly does that mean?pig tax man

  • The earlier you talk with your academic advisor about course selection and register for classes, the earlier you can register for the payment plan.
  • The earlier you register for the payment plan the lower the enrollment fee will be and the more months you will have to divide your remaining balance.

You don’t need to call or visit a special office to set up the payment plan. You will set it up right in your Student Center!

Tuition Management Systems (TMS) is NOVA’s new third party administrator for the payment plan. Many features are similar to the previous payment plan, but some deadlines and processes are different. 

Be sure to have a method of payment in place to meet the Spring 2016 payment deadline. Tuition is due by 5pm on December 15, 2015. If you register for classes after December 15, you will need to have your tuition in place by the following business day at 5pm.

You must have a method of payment in place to secure your seats in the courses you’ve registered for or you could be dropped.

Article provided by ELI Success Coach, Jennifer Reed.  For more resources, please reach out to your ELI Success Coaching Team by sending an email to or call . For any questions related to Financial Aid, contact the Financial Aid Support Center.

Student Lingo: Stress Management Workshop

As finals and projects are approaching, take some time to de-stress, re-focus on your courses, and prepare for your exams. Take breaks, stay focused and manage your stress!

stress comic

From finding time to do assignments between jobs to managing a family and a full-time course load; students juggle multiple responsibilities on a daily basis. Handling the demands of school while balancing the responsibilities of work and personal life can be overwhelming and there is a serious need for students to be equipped to handle the stress that comes along with managing so many things at once. But, fear not because StudentLingo provides a Stress Management Techniques Workshop to help you manage your stress and finish your semester successfully. You can also access a number of stress-taming tools for your toolbox through the Stress Management Online Workshop! Student Lingo offers NOVA students free online workshops that address a wide variety of topics; providing students with information, strategies, and resources to overcome barriers to academic success, and reach their personal, academic, and professional goals.

What is highlighted?

In this workshop you will learn the following information:

  • How to identify and evaluate your unique warning signs and reactions to stressors.
  • Assess your stress triggers and identify the sources of stress in your life.
  • How stress affects your physical health, mental clarity, academic performance, etc.
  • How your mind and body process and internalizes stress.
  • New stress management strategies to practice and integrate in your daily life to deal with stress in a healthy way!

 Once you finish reviewing the workshop, keep your momentum for change by incorporating what you have learned right away. Take action to make what you’ve learned meaningful by applying it when stress arises. Assess the triggers in your life, the sources of stress as it relates to school, your professional life, and your personal life and ask yourself the following questions to actively combat their impact on your life:

  •  How do I react when theses triggers come up?
  • Is my reaction to these stressors healthy?
  • What can I do to minimize the effect that these stressors have on me?
  • Which stress management techniques that I learned from this workshop do I plan on using?
  • How can they to help manage my reaction to these specific triggers?

Like this post? You may also find the Motivational Minute: Many Faces of Stress blog post useful for more stress management tips and information!

Article provided by ELI Success Coach, Jennifer Reed. Contact your Success Coach at or 703.764.5076.

Planning for Your ELI Exams

Whether you are new or a seasoned online learner, it is important to plan well and be aware of ELI’s testing requirements. All ELI courses require proctored exams or assignments. For more about NOVA’s testing policies, view the Testing Information Website.

exam daYA PLUS

ELI offers three methods to fulfill this requirement:

Campus Testing Centers

Students that live in the local area can use any Campus Testing Center. All 6 campuses have a testing center, and it doesn’t matter which one you go to throughout the term. When using a Campus Testing Center:

  • Know the Hours of the Campus Testing Center: Be aware of testing center hours, location, and parking available for the campus you are going to. Double check campus testing center hours before going to campus, just in case!
  • Plan Well: Do not wait until the last minute to take your exam – it is possible that you could be turned away from the testing center if lines are long and you have not provided enough time to wait and then take the test. As you plan, consider the possibility of traffic, weather, parking, lines, etc.
  • Review Your Course Syllabus: Before going to take your test, be sure you are aware of your exam requirements. Any special information about your test should be referenced in your syllabus. Are you allowed to have a note card, scratch paper, etc.? Check your syllabus and be aware of your test conditions.
  • Exam Pass/Photo ID: When you arrive at the testing center, you will need to turn in your Exam Pass and show a photo ID.  You will need to print your exam pass from the Taking Exams and Using Exam Passes section your course Syllabus.
  • Checking In: When you check-in, you will be asked to stow away your personal belongings in a secure locker. You may want to bring minimal items with you.
  • Multiple Exams: If you are taking more than one exam, you will be required to have an exam pass for each exam and wait in the line for each exam. Please plan accordingly.
  • Be Prepared: Be sure to get plenty of rest and eat a healthy meal or snack before testing. You may also want to consider a short walk to clear your mind before going into the testing center.

Out of Area: Proctor Request

If you are out of the area, or planning to be out of the area at any point throughout your course, you will need to identify a Proctor to supervise your ELI exams. If you have not already, you should begin the process immediately.

Virginia residents (outside of Northern Virginia): You may take your exams at any Virginia Community College testing center, via our online proctoring service, ProctorU, if it is available in your course (check the availability of this service in your course under Exams), or at the testing center of another Virginia college/university at which you are a student (submit a proctor request form for approval). Use the College Locator feature on the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) website to find a college near you.

Students in other states/outside the US: You may take your exams at a college/university testing center near you (submit a proctor request form for approval), or via our online proctoring service, ProctorU, if it is available in your course. Check the availability of this service in your course under Exams.

  • It is the student’s responsibility to secure a proctor and to pay any related fees.
  • To request a proctor, complete the ELI Proctor Request Form and submit it with your Proctor’s statement on letterhead to ELI Course Specialists at
  • Requests for proctored exams and proctors must be approved by ELI. ELI reserves the right to reject requests for proctors for any reason.

ProctorU Testing Service

ProctorU might be an option for one or more of your classes, and allow you to take your exams from your home computer. Using a webcam with a microphone, speakers, and a reliable high-speed internet connection, you can take your exams anywhere. Courses offering this option will have the ProctorU Information in the course Blackboard under the links, Taking Exams and Using Exam Passes in your course Syllabus. If you choose to use this online proctoring service:

  • You will need to schedule to take your exam(s) through ProctorU at least 72 hours prior to testing to avoid a late fee.
  • An associate from the ProctorU will scan your room to ensure no one else is in the room and that the area is clear of books, papers, etc.
  • You must be 18 or older and be prepared to show a current photo ID prior to the exam.
  • You must have speakers & microphone and a webcam connected to your computer and in working order.
  • You cannot take bathroom breaks during the exam and no one is allowed in the room with you.
  • Please note there is a 15 to 30 minute period before you begin your exam itself to verify your identity, to ensure your testing environment is secure, and to ensure your system is working properly. Do not schedule your exam at the last minute.

Regardless of your method of testing, the ELI Success Coaches are here to help you succeed in your ELI courses. We offer online workshops, referrals, ELife Blogs with testing tips and more. ELI Success Coaches can be reached at or 703.764.5076.

We wish you much success on your exams and remind you that when testing, you may only use materials your proctor specifically tells you may be used, based on instructions from the instructor. Also, as an ELI student, you are required to follow the code of conduct as outlined in the NOVA Student Handbook.

For more about NOVA’s testing policies, view the Testing Information Website.

Written by Adrienne, ELI Student Success Coach

Updated 2/2016

Motivational Minute: Maintaining Peace Amongst Chaos

inner peace comic

We all have had those times when we go into an interaction with someone feeling positive but walk away from it feeling disturbed, bothered, frustrated, angry, drained (and many more unpleasant adjectives). Sometimes we need to remind ourselves not to let other people’s negativity rub off on us. Think about the ocean and its properties for a moment (stay with me here). The ocean maintains calm and stillness below the surface even if there is a hurricane above. The deeper within the ocean you go, the calmer the waters. We should try to embody those same properties within ourselves and exercise the ability to maintain inner peace regardless of external circumstance. Whenever there is dis-ease (that’s probably not really a word but you catch my drift) around you, connect with the stillness within and find it by retreating and exploring the depths inside yourself.  The peace you need to weather the storms of relentless instructors (whyyy), classmates that don’t pull their weight in group assignments (ggrrrr), and Blackboard malfunctions (aahhh) is just below your surface, just dive deeper and tap into it! Namaste!

Download the Omvana meditation app (it’s free for iPhones and iPads) and try Being the Ocean (it’s only .99!)

–Jennifer, ELI Student Success Coach

Motivational Minute: Finding your Passion

Having passion for what you are pursuing gears you up to tackle all the tasks you have to complete on your way to reaching your ultimate goal. Whether it be writing papers, studying for exams, or reading chapters, you have to feel like there is a purpose behind it all to keep you moving forward. Not everyone can readily identify what excites them, however, and some may find it difficult to pinpoint an area of study that moves them. If this sounds like you, take the following things into consideration to help you find your passion:

It’s important to evaluate your reasons for pursuing the major you are pursuing. Make sure you are signing on to this program for the right reasons. To explore your motivation, ask yourself these questions: Does this interest me? What draws me to this field? Would I be happy pursuing something else?

Explore your interests and be honest about your skills. What if you are interested in a field but you may lack the strength in the primary subjects needed to be successful in that area? For example, you want to study Engineering but you have never been particularly strong in Math and Science. Don’t give up on the vision you have for yourself completely, instead, look for ways to improve the skills that are integral to your success in that area, i.e. taking extra classes, attending online workshops, etc. If your skill set is not conducive to the dream job you want, see what other capacities you can serve in in  that field that would be just as, if not more, fulfilling. Don’t give up just because the route to your goal is not as direct or clear-cut as you want it to be.

Reach out to ELI Counselors for guidance! If you are completely lost and unsure of where to start to pinpoint your area of study, to discover your interests, to select a career path, etc. our ELI Counselors are here to help you figure everything out. You can reach any one of our counselors at

Connecting to your purpose makes the path to success that much smoother. Tune into what motivates you and let it give you hope in the face of doubt (everyone needs the strength of hope to make it through exams!). And never hesitate to reach out for guidance whenever you need it. Namaste.

Check out the FOCUS 2, an online, interactive education and career education tool, to explore careers and majors!

-Jennifer, ELI Student Success Coach

How to Get your Official Transcript

The semester is wrapping up and grades will be posting soon. If you are in need of an official transcript, verify your final grades have posted to your student record before finalizing your request.  When your grades have posted, you can request an official transcript.  Have the address where you would like the transcript sent on hand as it will be required when you are completing the request.

Transcripts are available at no cost to students and requests are processed every 24 hours.

Things to remember about transcripts:

  • Official transcripts are released only after you have completed at least one course at NOVA.
  • If you have any monetary holds on your record, no transcript will be mailed. Check your unofficial transcript and holds online through the Student Center in NOVAConnect.
  • All transcripts are official, and those addressed to students are stamped ISSUED TO STUDENT and sealed in an envelope. DO NOT OPEN YOUR TRANSCRIPT if you plan to send the transcript to a college or organization. An opened transcript will be considered unofficial by most colleges and organizations.
  • If you submitted unofficial transcripts to have a prerequisite waived, those transcripts were not retained. If you would like an official transcript evaluation to see if you have credits that can be applied to your record at NOVA you will need to complete an electronic Official Transcript Evaluation request.
  • You may consider requesting an official transcript to keep unopened for your own records.

If you have questions about the status of an official transcript request, please contact NOVA’s Central Records Office at Please send the email from your NOVA student email and your student identification number.

-Laura, ELI Student Success Coach

Motivational Minute: Be Inspired

The simplest phrase can have the deepest impact. Sometimes all it takes is  a few words to spark a change in someone, validate someone, and inspire them to continue towards their goals. Here are a few words that I hope motivate you to be the best version of yourself. Namaste.

Don’t ruin today with worries about tomorrow.

Talk yourself out of doubt and into greatness.

Enjoyment is a choice and you can choose it every day.

Be yourself; everyone else is taken.

If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.

See today as a step closer to where you want to be.

You only need one reason to try and you are reason enough.

–Jennifer, ELI Student Success Coach

Student Lingo: Stay Motivated and Disciplined in an Online Course

The idea of taking an online course with ELI is amazing! The flexibility of not having to travel to campus and working on assignments when it is convenient for you sounds like a dream come true. But how will you keep from procrastinating and falling behind? What tools will you use to help manage your time? How will you feel connected to your classmates and instructor? What you will do when something unexpected occurs?

If you are new to online learning you might be a little anxious about what to anticipate and what some of the challenges might be.  The How to Stay Motivated and Disciplined in an Online Course online workshop from Student Lingo highlights some of the common difficulties that online students experience such as procrastinating, poor time management, feeling disconnected with faculty and staff and managing the unexpected.

By taking a few minutes to view this on demand workshop:

  • You will have a head start on what to anticipate.
  • Know how to navigate those challenging situations before they even happen and then when they do,
  • You will have a plan in place to ensure you stay on track.

As a Success Coach, I tell my students all the time “Knowing is half the battle!” By watching this Student Lingo online workshop you are going to get a sneak peek into the life of an online student. By doing so you are going to know what to expect and be able to better prepare from the very first day of your first online course.

Plan on taking away tools to help:

    • Create a schedule and ideas on how to break up assignments in turn allowing to build in time for unexpected situations.
    • Know how to use the syllabus can be used as a guide to keep you on track with homework, projects and tests.

Develop strategies to connect with your classmates and instructor.

When you register for college courses you are investing your time and money. Invest in your success by watching this short presentation! Take some time afterwards to reflect and then develop some action steps to implement as soon as your online course begins.

  •  You know yourself as a student, what aspect of online learning is going to be the most challenging for you?
  • Think about the resources provided in the presentation and write down three actionable steps you will take during the first week of your online course that are going to help you be successful.

Remember a driving force in your success as an online student is meeting deadlines and holding yourself accountable. Commit to completing your three action items the first week of class! Liked the How to Stay Motivated and Disciplined in an Online Course Workshop? View more on-demand workshops from Student Lingo to help you succeed in your online courses.

-Laura, ELI Student Success Coach