Test-optional FAQs

Students who are applying for freshman admission in fall 2021 can choose to have their application evaluated without SAT or ACT scores. 

Q: How will prior tests that have been submitted to CofC be considered if I now choose to apply Test Score Optional?

A: If you’ve previously sent any test scores to CofC but choose to apply Test Score Optional, those prior scores will be omitted from all review and scholarship consideration. Scores can be used for CofC math placement purposes and SC state scholarships even if they aren’t reviewed by the Office of Admissions.

Q. Who might choose to apply test-optional and how does a student indicate that intention? 

  • 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.
  • Students who may feel that SAT or ACT test scores do not adequately reflect their level of academic achievement and/or predict their potential to succeed at the College of Charleston. For those individuals, test-optional might be the wise choice.
  • Students may not be able to take the SAT or ACT test this year before they submit their application. Test-optional could be their only choice at the time of application.

Note: Our staff is available to discuss what might be an appropriate decision for you.

Q: Do some students have to take the SAT or ACT?

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 NCCA 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 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 will be considered for College of Charleston merit scholarships.

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

A: Traditionally, a student’s grades and rigorous coursework have always been the primary drivers in the selection process. With or without test scores, we will continue to focus on the academic components of a student’s high school experience as we review applications for fall 2021. We take a holistic view of candidates for admission, we want to have as much information about them as possible. So, although we do not require you to write an essay, we strongly recommend you submit multiple writing samples

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 applying Test Score Optional?

A: Before you submit your application, you should change your answer to the test score optional question within your application (either our own or Common App). Once you hit submit, your application file will automatically display the required documents.

Once you’ve submitted your application 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 2 weeks following. Requests made more than 2 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 applying TSO?

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.