Is USC Test Optional?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

A female student thinking how to start a college application essay

Is USC Test Optional?

Is USC test optional? Students who apply to the University of Southern California in the fall of 2022 or 2023 will be asked to indicate whether or not they intend to submit scores; if they do, the admissions committee will wait to receive them after we have reviewed their applications. If applicants choose not to submit their SAT or ACT scores, they will not be penalized in any way, nor will they be put at a disadvantage.

Whether USC will be test optional or not, the selection of students for the University of Southern California has always used a holistic approach. USC is confident in its capacity to determine a student’s potential based on the entirety of what is presented to them.

Students writing in a desk in a classroom.

Scores on the SAT or ACT will not be required to be submitted by international applicants for the years 2022 and 2023 applications to the University of Southern California. Those individuals whose first language is not English, on the other hand, will be required to continue submitting test results from an English proficiency examination such as the TOEFL, IELTS, Duolingo English Test, or PTE Academic English.

The pandemic of COVID-19 is just one of the many difficulties that those families and communities have to deal with right now. The pandemic, the economic downturn, and the country’s anti-racist social reckoning all require us to pay greater attention to how USC’s processes can best serve the diversity of students and families they seek to add to the USC community.

This requires us to pay greater attention to how USC’s processes can best serve the diversity of students and families they seek to add. As USC will adopt a test optional policy, USC will evaluate the effects of its policies over the next two years. By the spring of 2023, the university will make a decision regarding its long-term stance on standardized testing.

In addition, applicants who were educated at home will not be required to take any tests as part of the application process. However, USC finds it helpful to have work that is externally graded or examined. Because of this, USC recommends submitting either SAT/ACT results, AP exam results, transcripts from college courses, or the results of other accredited online schooling programs if at all possible.

What is USC’s Acceptance Rate?

What is the current USC acceptance rate?  Approximately 69,000 applications were submitted to the University of Southern California for membership in the Class of 2026. However, the number of applications received was slightly lower than the previous year’s record high of approximately 70,000 students.

Of the 69,000 people who applied, only 8,198 students were selected to join the USC Class of 2026. Therefore, the admission rate was just a hair under 12 percent, which is a number that is marginally lower than the 12 percent figure from the previous year.

Students listening in front of the class.

The University of Southern California (USC) admitted a record number of first-generation college students in the class of 2022, along with an increasing number of students who identify as Black, Latino, or Asian/Pacific Islander.

In addition, the students who were accepted into the class of 2026 have an average grade point average of 3.9, and three-quarters of them identify as either Black or Latino Asian or Pacific Islander… Students from countries such as China, India, Brazil, and many more were among the international students who were granted admission, making up 18% of the total.

What are USC’s Admission Requirements?

What are the needed USC admission requirements? The University of Southern California, also known simply as USC, is a prestigious private research university in the state of California, in the United States of America, that is recognized all over the world for its academic programs. Only the most qualified applicants who come the closest to meeting USC’s stringent admission requirements will be considered for admission.

USC GPA Requirements

The minimum cumulative grade point average required by USC is typically around 3.79. This figure represents the average grade point average of successful applicants granted admission to the University of Southern California; however, the university does not explicitly state this information anywhere on its website. Because of this, USC is a highly competitive college, and to attend, you will need to maintain very high grades throughout your academic career.

Two students talking to a professor.

Having said that, highly regarded educational institutions such as USC don’t often stipulate a minimum grade point average for applicants, as this criterion is subject to change depending on the applicant’s intended field of study and overall application. Because the University of Southern California uses a holistic evaluation process for all applicants, having a GPA or SAT score that is below average will not automatically eliminate you from consideration.

Even if a candidate’s GPA is lower than 3.79, there is still a chance that they will be admitted to USC as long as their application demonstrates that they have exceptional extracurricular activities, sporting accomplishments, great scores on standardized tests, or other outstanding achievements that set them apart from other applicants.

USC SAT Requirements

As USC will continue to be test optional till 2023, this indicates that candidates are not required to submit SAT scores or any other standardized test scores like ACT scores, and they will not be at a disadvantage or be penalized if their application does not include SAT scores. This policy regarding the optional taking of the SAT by USC students applies to international students, students who attend home schools, and students who participate in USC scholarship programs. This policy also applies to transfer students.

University students working on their laptops in a table.

Having said that, a good score on the SAT can help boost your application to USC, and if you meet the SAT requirements for USC University, you can demonstrate to admissions officers that you have the ability to succeed there. The following table, based on official USC internal data, presents the average SAT scores of students who have been admitted to USC in the past. These scores can serve as the foundation for USC’s SAT requirements for the academic year 2022-2023:

SAT Section Average Score (50th Percentile) 25th Percentile 75th Percentile
Reading & Writing 700 660 740
Mathematics 740 690 790
Composite Score 1440 1350 1530

The first column contains the average SAT score of first-year students who were accepted to the university. This indicates that if your total score is 1440 or higher, you will be considered in the USC SAT target applicant bucket. If you score in the 25th percentile, equivalent to around 1350, you have a below-average score but are still eligible for consideration. On the other hand, if you score in the 75th percentile, equivalent to over 1530, you have a score that places you above the average or 75 percent of other successful test takers.

USC ACT Requirements

As USC has adopted a test optional policy, if you choose to submit one, the USC average for the 25th percentile on the ACT is 31, and the 75th percentile score is 34. At the University of Southern California, there are no minimum score requirements. On the other hand, a score that is lower than the 25th percentile will make it difficult to gain admission.

The composite score on the USC ACT is determined by averaging the four separate section scores. To get the best possible composite score, you need to get scores that are relatively close to what you wanted in each of the phases. It is possible that you will have a significant advantage in your overall USC Score if you choose to take the ACT rather than the SAT.

Young woman using a laptop while holding a pen.

When you send in your ACT scores to colleges, you maintain full control over the examinations themselves. You could, for instance, give ten different examinations and send only the one with the highest score. However, several colleges and universities require that you send in copies of all of your previous examinations to take the SAT.

To put it another way, we can say that it is possible that your score on the ACT is higher than you believe it to be. As a result, you should retake the ACT as often as required to achieve the minimum ACT score required by the school, which is 34. Then, once you have obtained a satisfactory score, you can send it to all of your schools, which will significantly impact your final USC score today.

What are USC’s Application Requirements?

The academic performance of incoming first-year students is already quite strong, and they have the potential to do even better. The majority of students who are granted admission are ranked in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class, and the median score that they achieved on standardized tests places them in the top 5 percent.

Aside from mathematics, there is no prescribed or required curriculum; however, students who are offered admission typically pursue the most challenging program available to them in the areas of English, science, social studies, and a foreign language, as well as the arts.

Students are expected to have completed at least three years of mathematics in high school, including Advanced Algebra, with a grade of C or higher in each of those courses (Algebra II). Preparation for the intended major receives a lot of thoughtful consideration and focus.

In addition to this, USC is interested in your potential to make an impact, which includes your willingness to go above and beyond the requirements, dig deeply into texts, explore ideas, and become a learner for life.

Ultimately, USC seeks to enroll students who will become passionate partners in the learning and research processes. The following is a list of the requirements that must be met to enroll in an undergraduate program at the University of Southern California.

Common Application

The Common Application can be used to apply to USC. To accomplish this, go to the “My College” section and add USC there.

Application Fee

You must pay an application fee of $80 when you submit your application.

The Official Test Scores

As USC has adopted a test optional policy, students who choose to send in their test scores will find that USC records the highest scores for those students who have taken the tests multiple times. For the SAT and the ACT, the highest score a student achieves on any given section of the test, regardless of how many times they take the test, will be recorded. The writing portion of either the ACT or the SAT general test is not required to be passed to apply to USC.


Applicants for their first year in college must hand in official transcripts of their previous academic work, including high school and college.

Letters of Recommendation

It is required that you submit a letter of recommendation written by either your school counselor or a teacher from your school. To be considered for admission to the School of Cinematic Arts, applicants must submit two recommendation letters.

A Portfolio, a Resume, and/or Additional Examples of Your Writing

If necessary for the major. Auditions may also be required for students majoring in performance.

Submit Your Fall Grades (when available)

To submit your grades for the fall semester, either use the Mid-Year Report Form that is included in the Common Application or visit your applicant portal.

Application Affirmations

After we have processed your application, you can access your affirmations through the portal. After the application deadline has passed, you can submit your digital signature.

What is USC’s Application Deadline for 2022?

Fall is the time of year when the admissions process at USC gets underway. The following table provides students with important dates to keep in mind regarding the application submission process:

Early Action November 1, 2022,
Regular Decision For majors requiring a portfolio or audition

Application Deadline: December 1, 2022

All other majors

Application Deadline: January 15, 2023,

Financial Aid Early Application Deadline: January 9, 2023,

Regular Decision Deadline: February 10, 2023

Transfer Application For some majors requiring a portfolio or audition

Application Deadline: December 1, 2022,

All other majors

Application Deadline: February 15, 2023,

If you need help putting the finishing touches on your early applications or want some advice on whether or not applying Early Decision or an Early Action is a good option for you, at AdmissionSight, we have over 10 years of experience guiding students through the competitive admissions process, including our athletic recruitment program.

AdmissionSight can help you put your best foot forward when applying to college this fall. Contact us today for more information on our services.



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