Test-optional FAQs

College of Charleston is test-optional through fall 2023. This is to ensure that no student is denied the opportunity to be considered for admission, particularly in light of ongoing challenges with access to SAT and ACT test centers. 

Test-optional means that students will have the opportunity to decide whether they would like us to include SAT or ACT exam scores in the evaluation of their application. Students should carefully deliberate their response to the test-optional question on the application. 

We want students to consider their full academic performance while in high school. If a student has a particularly strong academic record, but does not consider their standardized exam scores to reflect their full academic potential, that student may want to apply to CofC and not have SAT or ACT exam scores included in the evaluation of their application. However, if a student feels that standardized test scores supplement their overall academic achievement, we invite them to have their exam scores included in the evaluation of their application. 

We encourage students to use the middle 50% ranges of admitted students as a frame of reference. These ranges will give students some insight into how scores could impact decisions. We also strongly suggest that students discuss this test-optional decision with their school counselor.

Review the information below to learn more and decide on the best path for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How will prior tests that have been submitted to CofC be considered if I now choose to apply without sending my scores?

A: Students who have already submitted ACT or SAT scores to CofC can choose whether they will be submitting scores for admissions review in our admission process when filling out the application for admission. Scores that have already been submitted will not be available to the admissions committee during a student’s admissions review.

Q: Who might choose to apply without scores and how does a student indicate that intention?

A: When students apply for admission, they will decide whether or not they want the College to use their test scores as part of the evaluation process. They will apply test-optional if they do not want to have test scores considered as a part of their admissions decision.

For students with SAT or ACT scores, how you wish to present yourself to the Admissions Committee should be a personal decision. If you do not consider your test results to be an accurate reflection of your past academic performance and future academic potential, you may want to apply test-optional. Subsequently, if you have SAT or ACT results you believe add to your overall academic portfolio, you are invited to submit those scores. 

Q: Is standardized testing required for certain applicants?

A: Yes.

  • Some students (home-schooled, with GED, self-paced, from schools that don’t give grades, for example) will have to submit test scores. If a student applies test-optional but is in a category that requires a test score, the student will be contacted.
  • International students must submit exam scores that demonstrate English proficiency, but not necessarily an ACT or SAT.
  • So long as NCAA Division I sports require a test score for certification, student-athletes will have to submit test scores in order to qualify to participate in their sport. However, they will not necessarily have to submit test scores to be considered for admission to the College.
  • Due to testing issues associated with COVID-19, students who are generally not allowed to apply as test score optional and who are applying for fall 2021, fall 2022 or fall 2023 may request a review of their circumstances in order to allow for test-optional admission. Please contact admissions@cofc.edu to provide more information on your particular situation with regard to the inability to access a test this year and for additional guidance.

Q: I want to be eligible for scholarships. Are test scores required?

A: Yes and No.

  • The state of South Carolina requires an official SAT or ACT test score in order to award state scholarships (LIFE, HOPE, PALMETTO FELLOWS). Applicants to the College can submit test scores for state scholarships after the admission decision has been made.
  • Students who choose not to submit test scores with their admissions application will still be fully considered for College of Charleston academic merit, departmental, and institutional scholarship opportunities.

Q: How will the College evaluate my application without test scores?

A: In the absence of test scores, the Office of  Admission will review applications in a holistic manner – taking into consideration the rigor of high school coursework, activities and engagement outside the classroom, as well as the optional written essay. 

Q: Are tests required for admission to the Honors College?

A: No. When making decisions on applications to the Honors College, the committee has always used a holistic review process in which they value academic excellence in the classroom, leadership and community engagement, and strong writing abilities over a test score. Therefore, applicants to the Honors College will not have to submit test scores in order to be considered for admission.

The Honors Committee will not consider test scores for any student choosing to apply test-optional, and those students will not be at a disadvantage in the review process.

For more information, go to the Honors College website or email honors@cofc.edu.

Q: Can I change my mind about submitting my scores?

A: Before you submit your application, you should determine whether you want to apply test score optional. Once you hit submit, your application file will automatically display the required documents. Once you’ve submitted your application, if you want to change your selection, you can use one of the three options below to change your application type:

  • If your application checklist within your portal is complete (all materials have already been submitted) please reach out to request the change.
  • If your application checklist is not yet complete (at least one item shows a red X) you’ll see an update form within your portal to change your application to Test Score Optional.
  • If your application checklist is not yet complete (at least one item shows a red X) and doesn’t currently show a requirement for standardized test scores, but you’ve chosen to add scores to your application, please reach out to request the change.

Changes to test preferences are accepted through your selected application deadline (Early Decision, Early Action or Regular Notification) and for two weeks following. Requests made more than two weeks after the application deadline cannot be honored, as our admissions committee will be reviewing applications.

Q: Should I wait to submit my application if I’m not sure about submitting my scores?

A: There’s no need to wait to submit your application if you’re still waiting on an upcoming test date. You are able to change your mind about applying test score optional for up to two weeks after your selected admissions deadline. Submit your application and transcript(s) now, and you can update whether or not you will submit scores later.

Q: Will I be at a disadvantage if I decide not to submit standardized test scores?

A: No. There will be no negative impact on your application. Our admissions review has been appropriately adjusted to ensure that no student is harmed in admission selection if they do not submit a test score.