Test Optional - Coastal Carolina University
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1.  Who is eligible to apply for test-optional admissions?

Freshman applicants who have earned a minimum 3.5 HS GPA (weighted GPA on a 4.0 scale) may choose whether or not to submit standardized test scores. Applicants choosing to exclude test scores should provide evidence of a challenging academic curriculum that predicts future college success and possess demonstrated leadership in extracurricular, work, or service experiences. Transfer applicants are not eligible to apply for test-optional admission. Applying test-optional does not guarantee admission. 

Please note that students applying for the 1+2+1 Nursing program between Coastal Carolina University and Horry Georgetown Technical College are required to submit test scores (https://www.coastal.edu/nursing/22residentialprogram/.) 

2.  If I am applying test optional, do I need to submit any documents in addition to my high school transcript?

You are highly encouraged to submit additional information to support your application, such as letters of recommendation, and an essay or personal statement. This will provide the admissions committee additional information to review. You can upload this information after you apply online at https://apply.coastal.edu/register/admissionsupload. 

3.  How do I express my interest in applying test optional on the admissions application?

First-year applicants will answer “yes” to the question “are you applying for test optional admission”.

4.  What if I don’t have a 3.5 high school GPA? Can I still be considered for test optional admission?

Yes, if you are unable to take and submit a test score due to the recent test cancellations, you can still apply without a test score. All applicants with less than a 3.5 high school GPA should submit the following information:

  • A written essay or personal statement of 500 words or less. You can share an essay/personal statement on any topic of your choice, or you can answer the following prompt: Please share information about your background, identity, an interest, or a talent that you believe should be considered in the review of your application.  (REQUIRED)
  • At least one letter of recommendation from a teacher, school counselor, coach, employer, or someone else who can speak to your academic potential and readiness for college-level work. (REQUIRED)
  • A resume that highlights your extracurricular involvement throughout high school and includes any leadership positions that you held, community service involvement, and/or jobs that you have had. (REQUIRED)
  • First quarter or first semester grades from your 12th grade (senior) year. (RECOMMENDED)

Please submit the additional information via a secure website at https://apply.coastal.edu/register/admissionsupload.

5.  Does applying test optional guarantee me admission?

No. Applying test optional does not guarantee you admission. If you are not offered admission through the test optional plan, you will be asked to submit either the SAT or ACT test to receive an admissions decision. The Office of Admissions and Merit Awards will communicate this information to you.

6.  Do some students have to take the SAT or ACT?


  • Students who are home-schooled or attend schools that do not give grades will have to submit test scores.
  • As long as NCAA Division I sports require a test score for eligibility certification, prospective student-athletes will have to submit test scores to qualify to participate in their sport. However, tests scores are not required for admission if the applicants meet the test optional requirements.
  • Students applying for the 1+2+1 Nursing program between Coastal Carolina University and Horry Georgetown Technical College are required to submit test scores (https://www.coastal.edu/nursing/22residentialprogram/.) 

7.  Am I required to submit test scores to apply for the Honors College?

No. The HTC Honors College uses a holistic review process that includes an evaluation of your high school program and grades, your response to the essay question, and other documents submitted with your application. 

8.  Can I still qualify for a Coastal Carolina University merit scholarship if I apply test optional?

Yes. The merit scholarship review process uses a holistic approach when reviewing applicants for an award. In addition to your high school GPA, the merit award review committee will also look at:

  1. Institutionally calculated “core” grade point average (see for more information).
  2. Rigor of high school coursework (ie. Honors, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, dual enrollment).
  3. Rank within the graduating class, if applicable.
  4. Academic recommendations.
  5. Writing samples.
  6. Resumes, including leadership and work experience, as well as extracurricular involvement and activities. 

9.  I am a South Carolina resident, can I apply test optional and still be eligible for a SC lottery scholarship?

Yes. You can still apply for test optional admission; however, you will need to submit scores from either the ACT or SAT to be considered for the Palmetto Fellows scholarship or for the SC LIFE scholarship if you do not meet the top 30% high school class rank requirement. Students qualifying for the HOPE scholarship are not required to submit test scores. For more information, visit www.coastal.edu/admissionsaid/scholarships/scstatelotteryscholarships/

10.  Who do I talk to if I have additional questions about applying test optional?

Please reach out to your admissions counselor. You can find their contact information at https://www.coastal.edu/admissions/staff/. You can also contact the Office of Admissions and Merit Awards directly at admissions@coastal.edu or at 800-277-7000..