How do applications get reviewed?

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by Calliope423, Jul 8, 2010.

  1. Calliope423

    Calliope423 New Member

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    Hello, I am a USAFA and USMA applicant for the class of 2015. I was wondering what is the standard time frame to get everything sent in and how to access the air force academy portal? Do they have a portal like West Point's?

    I have been told that I should turn in my application early, but I need to retake my CFA since I am not satsified with my results from SLS. How soon should I get this in? Also, I need to take the September ACTs. Would I be able to update the scores if I needed? I am afraid that if I turn in my application early. that it would be reviewed early and denied due to medicore test scores and CFA scores.

    Thank you.

    -Caleigh
     
  2. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    I can only speak for Air Force. If you're an applicant, then you will be mailed instructions for the online application portal instructions. Yes, it's an only applications. Should be emailed very soon. This month.

    For air force, it doesn't matter if you're happy or not with your summer seminar CFA. The air force doesn't accept CFA's done during summer seminar. You have to do them at home, and scheduled accordingly. "It's in the online application who can give you the test".

    Yes, if you have a strong application; good gpa; high SAT/ACT; high class ranking; etc... then it is recommended to complete your application as soon as possible. This gives you more opportunities to have your application reviewed; which starts in September. And yes, as you retake SAT/ACT, or any other updates such as athletics, clubs, etc... you can update your application. Some online, some by calling and emailing your academy counselor.

    Best of luck to you. Mike....
     
  3. Calliope423

    Calliope423 New Member

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    Since I am not aiming for an LOA or anything like that, can I turn in my application just before I have my nominations in?

    Thank you for your help,

    Caliegh

    EDIT: I have a high GPA and good class ranking. My GPA is 4.17 weighted and 3.73 unweighted and I am ranked 34 out of 422 students. I do not have very high test scores though. I took the SATs in January, first time without studying and received a 1750. My PSATs equaled to 184 however.

    My ACTs, I took them in June without studying. I received a 27 composite, English 29, Math 26, Reading 29, Science 24 and 27 for combined English/writing.

    Should I still turn in my application with these kind of scores or should I wait until sometime in November to turn in my application.
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2010
  4. onlyplaying

    onlyplaying 2014 Cadet Mom

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    I'm a Mom who just spent 2 years going through this with my daughter, she's in the class of 2014 so can't answer this herself for you since she's at BCT right now, but, as soon as she was done any part of the application process she sent it in. The entire application did not have to be sent in at once. It was an ongoing process and things were being updated as scores got better, etc. Her CFA was the very last thing to get sent in (only sent one set), but SAT was updated after a 2nd testing, class rank and gpa were updated through the year, and nomination was sent by the Senator as soon as his decision was made. So, if you are trying for the class of 2015, get working on it quickly because the deadline will be here before you know it.
     
  5. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    You can submit your application prior to receiving a Nom, but you will NOT go to a board until you have a nom.

    Honestly, I would not submit at this time. Your PAR is 60% of your WCS. Your gpa and rank are good, but your SAT and ACT are low. I believe the median ACT at the AFA is 31. The avg SAT for M and V is actually pushing 1350.

    The other factor you should place into your equation is how competitive the area is. If you are coming from somewhere like VA, NY, CO, CA or TX, those scores will hurt you. Remember the highest WCS wins the appt., and PAR is a large chunk of that equation.

    Think about it this way, the AFA is the only SA that states if your V is below 490(SAT) or 24 (ACT), you will not be deemed "competitive".

    Mike is correct, the AFA will not open the portal unless they deem you competitive. I would assume that if you have submitted your PCQ you should be hearing from them anyday.
     
  6. gotaplay2

    gotaplay2 Member

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    Pima:
    Are both the ACT & SAT tests required? Also, why are some states more competitive than others?
     
  7. buffalo

    buffalo USAFA 2013

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    No. Either the ACT or SAT is fine. Some people are better at one test than the other.

    In terms of competitiveness, it just depends on how well known the academies are. So for example, the districts in Colorado or near a military base will likely have more applicants competing for a nomination than applicants from po-dunk-town Ohio.
     
  8. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    What also makes a state competitive is if there are a lot of military installations.

    You can figure out real quick when you apply for your nom if the MOC's consider the state competitive because the MOC will state on the application for the nom that if you receive one from another MOC they will not be considering you. Also, people will say they had X amt of noms and you can infer from there that if they had 3+ than the state is not what people would deem as competitive.

    The thing about this is do not concern yourself about how competitive the state is concern yourself with having the most competitive package to go to the board. That is why I think you really should not submit until you pull up the scores.

    The process is difficult at first to understand, however, once you do you will figure out what is the best course of action for yourself. At this point it is important to get qualed from the PCQ standpoint and become an applicant. Then you need the nom to become a candidate. Boards will not be meeting until mid-oct so you have more than enough time to use the summer and take the SAT or ACT in Sept. If you submit your scores the board will score you and give you a WCS. Once you have that score, if you submit or update your file, only that portion will be re-scored. Here's the crux though...IF everyone on your slate submits and gets scored, than the appointment is given out. If that occurs before you update, that appointment for the MOC is no longer there and you have to hope your WCS is high enough to be put in the National pool, the process is repeated again with the highest WCS winning, but now you are no longer competing just against 9 other people from your area, you are competing against everyone in the country. Unless you know for a fact that your school district is out the door amazing, you have to expect that there will be fierce competition. For example, VA is considered to be very competitive, they only give 1 nom. Every Fairfax hs (No VA) is and has been on the top 100 hs in the nation ranked by USNWR, Time, Money, etc. Their avg SAT score is 1350 out of 1600...that's the AVG. Thus, many make it in off of the national list because they have high PAR scores.
     
  9. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Pima is correct on many counts. We do however tend to disagree a little on the subject of when to finish submitting the application. No biggie, we always do. But Pima is a sweetie and I have the utmost respect for her. And she is correct on the competitiveness of your area and the impact it has on getting a nomination.

    The thing about "When" to submit your application, has to do with you determining what you have control over and what you don't. Also, when we say "Submitting" your application, we mean COMPLETING IT. You can do a lot of the application immediately, but until it's 100% complete, you won't go in front of the board. So, if you held out just one thing, like the CFA, that means your application hasn't been completed and thus not "SUBMITTED TO THE BOARD".

    Let's be honest here. Whatever your GPA is today, there isn't a single thing you can do to IMPROVE that GPA, until the end of the 1st semester this coming year. That means around December when the semester is over. So don't let your GPA hold you back from submitting your application. You're not gaining anything by waiting. You can add your updated GPA scores when they come out. That will automatically put your application up for a "Re-Review" to award additional points as appropriate.

    Your SAT or ACT scores are also, what they are. You can retake them in September or October, "Whenever it is", and those scores can and will be supplemented to your application. So don't hold off submitting your application because of your SAT/ACT scores. They are what they are.

    In my opinion, there's only 2 times you should hold off on submitting/finishing your application. 1) If you know that you can kick butt on the CFA, but you aren't at that "Kick Butt" stage yet; for whatever reason. Then, you might want to hold off on submitting your CFA scores and completing the application until you have the kick butt scores. 2) The other reason to hold off on completing your application and having it go in front of the board, is if you know you will have some significant additions in the leadership, extra curricular, volunteering, etc... categories. Maybe you're in the middle of something that will look really good on your application.

    But if you're considered "Competitive" at all, then there's no reason to hold off on the application. You GPA isn't going to change until after Christmas. And you're interviews with your congressman/senator will be completed by then. So your GPA is not a reason to hold off on the application. Same with the SAT/ACT. You have to meet and interview with your member of congress on the date they set. "Usually in November". Your GPA hasn't changed, and whatever you do on your SAT/ACT is whatever it is.

    If you complete your application, it will go up in front of the board. Your nominations aren't don't usually until much later. Unless you have a presidential. That's done early. After the board scores you, you are ranked. Every day that another application is scored, the ranks change. If your scores look like a "No Brainer", they might offer you an Letter of Assurance to entice you to not accept another school. Then, if you DO receive a nomination, and pass your physical, you'll be guaranteed an appointment. But don't count on that Letter of Assurance. Less than 10% are offered such an assurance. And those individuals usually have some pretty kick butt applications. Top 10 in their class; 30+ACT, 2100+SAT, 3.9+UGPA, president this, captain that, volunteer this, etc....

    So, look at the things you have control over on the application. The essays, CFA, if you're in the middle of an extra curricular activity or similar where there will be a significant accomplishment, etc... These are areas that might have you hold off that last step of finalizing your application and having it go up to the board starting in September. But if all the things you are concerned about are out of your control, such as GPA, SAT/ACT, etc... then there is nothing gained by waiting on submitting the application. Mind you I did say if you were competitive. If you don't meet the minimum standards in certain areas, such as ACT/SAT, or another area, then there is no reason to submit that portion of your application until you've improved it. GPA, you have no choice. You CAN'T improve that before Christmas. So you have to determine if you are competitive. If you click the link in my signature block, the guide will answer a lot of your questions. Best of luck... Mike.....
     
  10. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Mike, actually had he stated he had stated his ACT was higher (24 in Science is low....very low) or that his SAT was 2150, I would have said submit. However, his SAT scores are below the avg of appt. and that is why I say wait to submit.

    To me when a candidate submits really should be a case by case thing. In our DS's situation he submitted early fall because we waited for the ACT scores to come in, even though he had 1390 out of 1600 SAT, they landed up taking his ACT score since it was higher. Additionally, in the end his MOC's didn't submit their slate until January, and in two of the cases it was the AFA drop dead date. I think this is why CC and I truly differ in this opinion. My belief is that if you have no nom in hand, keep perfecting your application before submission. I do feel once you have the nom in hand you should have your perfected application, or darn close to it.

    The other reason I lean to the don't worry and rush it, is because many lurkers exist on these boards. I don't want them to think they are behind the 8 ball. Honestly, our DS never thought of applying to the AFA until April of his jr yr when he filled out the PCQ. We knew nothing of the process and placed it as an out of sight out of mind issue. He became an applicant in June when school had ended so he didn't have recs lined up, thus, there was no way he would be ready for submission until returning to school in late August. I just don't want kids thinking because they are late to the game that their chances will decrease on receiving an apptmt. DS received all the noms he applied for even though we started the process late.

    There are cadets here will say they submitted in Aug., got an LOA in Oct., appt. Nov. There are also cadets that will say they submitted in Jan and got their apptmt in Mar. It will vary for each cadet, I just don't want you thinking that if I am done in Aug. that means I will be the first to hit the board and get an apptmt. It just doesn't work that way, besides the fact that you will need a nom, and unless you're military the chances of that coming done before Nov.1 is usually rare. Then you will need everyone on that MOC's slate to have submitted AND scored by the board before that MOC can be charged.
     
  11. Farleigh85

    Farleigh85 Member

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    My understanding is the PAR (Prior Academic Record) is a large part of the scoring and that the PAR is really class rank. I also seem to recall reading somewhere that if a high school ranks its seniors according to unweighted GPA, the admissions committee will recompute the applicant's GPA to reflect AP and honors courses in core subjects, and that this is especially important for core subjects including English and Math. Is that right? Does the admissions committee also "recompute" class rank based on the recomputing of GPA? It would seem to me this would have to be done to ensure the integrity of the PAR score.

    Second question. I understand that the admissions committee also considers the highest subscores of the ACT/SAT. Does the committee only consider these subscores, or do the composite scores also get factored into the decision?
     
  12. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    PAR is 60% of the WCS.

    Many things go into the PAR besides rank, and gpa. The AFA requires in the transcript the school profile. They want to see the rigor of the candidates curriculum compared to the rigor of the school curriculum. For example if the school offers AP/IB/AICE and Honors, but the student only takes Honors it is going to be a detriment for re-weighting purposes. They do re-weight the gpa to their standards. This occurs because for some an AP/IB/AICE course could be given a 5.0 and for others it could be a 4.5. Additionally, there is the grading scale that comes into play. In NC, an A is 93+ in VA it is 90+. Classic example, in NC AP is 5.0, in VA it is 4.5. Those two gpas would be weigh off due to the weight and the scale.

    I think it is highly unlikely that they can re-rank the student for their hs if they do not rank because the AFA would have to look at every students transcript at the hs to be able to re-rank. They can't take the assumption that #1 in the class took all stds and got 4.0 while your child took 10 APs.

    They superscore, however, they don't mix the two (SAT and ACT). You can't get the best of the ACT for one and the best for another from the SAT. If memory serves me correctly they do place in your file for ACT M, V and Composite. However, remember this goes back to superscoring, the SAT doesn't have Science, thus, what they are doing is translating the score to the SAT level composite, the ACT would be likely to change without the Science portion being included.

    Some kids will see their gpa go up, some will see it go down. A big clue that I learned from experience was look at your hard copies for the ACT and SAT college board. They also re-weight the gpa on that report. For our DS, his hs gpa went up for the AFA from what was on his actual transcript, the gpa on his file was the collegeboard gpa. For our DD her gpa on her hs transcript and her college board were identical.

    NOW all of that being said, don't think because you have a perfect SAT, and perfect gpa that you are a shoe in. 40% is still left out there, and poor CFA scores can be the make or break of an appointment. No EC's can hurt just as much as the C in APUSH. It is called Whole Candidate Score for a reason.

    As Mike has stated, which I am with him 1000% things you have control over, such as EC's and CFA's should be the best you can submit. Every yr this site and CC are filled with the same questions regarding the CFA...pull-ups, bball throws and how does my score look or where can I find out if I passed score.

    Pull-ups: The max is 18, if you can only do 3, DON'T submit your CFA.
    BBALL: The max is 100, if you are only able to score 50, DON'T submit your CFA

    There is no pass score, however, they do publish the max scores. Aim for the max.

    The AFA is very unique about the CFA due to their high altitude. They understand that many cadets have issues adjusting to the alt. the first few days at BCT, thus, they feel more comfortable with the high CFA candidate. Once the CFA is submitted you cannot take it again and re-submit unless they open the file for you. You never want to live your life on the "what if", what if I did one more pull-up would that have given me enough points to win the apptmt?

    Regarding EC's if you are light on the traditional athletics, make sure you do everything to highlight your non-traditional athletics. I.E. if you are a lifeguard, that is athletic, let them see the responsibilities of your job from an athletic standpoint...required to do monthly certification which included retrieving 10 lb weights from 10 ft deep within a minute without using stairs/steps. Required to swim x feet within x time period. Believe it or not, our DS submitted something on this level and he got a phone call from the swim coach ta AFA, even though he never swam on a swim team. He was also TKD National champ, and 2 time state champ. The Master wrote a letter explaining that Olympic TKD training required 20 hrs a week, 52 weeks a yr, he competed nationally, and he also was an assistant TKD instructor. His EC's relieved their fears that even though he didn't have hs athletics he was athletic.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2010
  13. KveTina

    KveTina Member

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    I thought that USAFA did not look at science scores. I also scored a 24 in science, but a 29 in everything else. My SAT scores are in the mid-1800's. Both these scores were from my first time taking the tests and I intend to re-take these tests in the fall.

    I thought that since my scores are OKAY enough to be qualifying, that I should submit. After reading this thread, I guess that since I have low grades and an okay class rank (still in top 10%), I should wait until the fall to get higher test scores before I submit an application.

    I admit, this was pretty much what I was feeling. If my file doesn't go to the board before I get a nom, then I guess it would not help me much to get my application in earlier?
     
  14. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Unless your gpa or scores are below the minimum standards, and don't allow you to qualify, I would finish up your application and finish submitting it. As you get "Newer" SAT/ACT scores, you will add those to your application once the scores come in. Same with at Christmas time when the semester is over and you get "New Grades" for your classes. Nothing is gained here if you wait. Might as well get them in early. You never know what good things could happen. Obviously, if you don't qualify, because of test scores, then submitting is useless. Might as well wait until you meet the requirements.

    Me personally, I'd complete the application as soon as you can. The other area you have major control over, is the CFA. If you can BARELY reach the average results on the CFA, you might hold off on submitting those scores until you can do your best. But, if you can do real well on that now, then submit it. Best of luck. Mike.....

    P.S. You don't need a Nomination for your application to go to the board. "How do you think you get an LOA?" LOA's basically say, for the air force academy, if you get a NOMINATION and pass your physical, you are ASSURED an appointment. Once your application is 100% complete, it WILL meet the board at the first board available after they process your application. A nomination is not required at that point. But all the stuff that's on the application MUST be completed. GPA submitted, SAT/ACT submitted, questionnaire, essays, teachers survey, CFA, etc....
     
  15. 2011's Mom

    2011's Mom Parent

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    My opinion is that a candidate is best served to complete the application early. While Pima indicates that the file will not go to the board until you get a nomination, I disagree. It is my understanding from very good sources that all files go to the board as soon as they are complete, after all the board determines if an LOA is going to be sent, therefore it must go to the board or those LOA recipients would not be getting LOAs so early. The Board typically first meets in late Sept / early October and will meet once a week. They will review all files that are complete up to that point. Some files in that review will receive an LOA and some will be moved to be reviewed the following week (kind of given a second look automatically). If no appointment on look #2 it is set aside until nominations come in OR if substantive changes occur. As the file changes (i.e. updates, new test scores, awards etc) it is reviewed by the admissions rep and sent to the board again where the board will consider the candidate once again and either give an LOA (if the candidate does not have a nomination or for whatever reason cannot be given a direct appointment this year, they send an LOA as a means to communicate the degree of interest in the candidate). If the Board decides not to give an LOA at this point the file again returns to the pile and will be circulated back to admissions as updates warrant and certainly again when the nomination slate comes in. Bottom line is that YES the file does go to the board early. Your file does not need a nomination to go before the board. You do, however, require a nomination to get an appointment. So those candidates that get an LOA will still require a nomination or they will not be able to enter USAFA.
     
  16. Amy Nan

    Amy Nan Member

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    I'm with Chirstcorp...

    I have all of my candidates submit EVERYTHING that they can as soon as they can--except for a low CFA. You will update test scores as you take the tests. Your numbers are fluid- they will be replaced with your best scores.

    You will go to Selections only after your "package" is complete.

    I advise my kids to get as much done as possible before school starts (if they can) because it is easy to let the application slide when academics and activities rev up.

    The last thing an ALO wants to do is bug a strong candidate to finish up bits and pieces of their applications.
     
  17. WestTexasmom

    WestTexasmom Member

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    when to complete

    My son received a letter about the candidate kit which states, "You should complete all forms within 45 days." This does not sound like an ambiguous timeframe.
     
  18. 1993A10

    1993A10 Member

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    Good score

    People have mentioned that the board scores the applicants. What is considered a decent, i.e. competitive, score? Is there a cut-off score for an LOA?
     
  19. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Nobody knows that score. It is a Whole Candidate Process and it is also tied to the MOC slate.

    A candidate on one MOC slate may get in with X points, but on another where it is more competitive they may need much higher academic scores, thus the WCS will be higher.

    Additionally the score will vary yr to yr since the applicants will vary too.

    As far as the LOA, please realize that it is HIGHLY competitive, and sometimes also used only for recruitment process. The AFA traditionally gives only about 150 LOA's out. Now, remember 10K students open PCQ files, 6K are deemed competitive. In either case 150 out of 6000 is not an easy marker to make.
     
  20. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    PIMA makes an excellent point about LOAs, and I really don't think they are anything to strive for! The point is the appointment and nomination, NOT necessarily the LOA. Case in point: of my twins, one got an LOA, one did not. That was weird since their high school and dual-enrollment gpa's were within 0.03 points of each other, had SAT scores within 20 points of each other (out of 2400), and were both athletic recruits. The point to focus on here: both entered on I-Day. The LOA made absolutely no difference that day, nor any day since.
     

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