When should I turn in my CFA scores?

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by Jobe, Jun 15, 2010.

  1. Jobe

    Jobe New Member

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    I am hoping to be in the class of 2015 for the USAFA. I am a bicycle racer, but have slacked on my core exercises the past few years, and any serious bicycle racer knows more than average strength in the upper body is usually a huge negative. Thus, I am weak on push-ups, pull-ups, and I don't know where I stand on the basketball throw. So, after the National competitions this year (one week from now) I will be doing a lot of training specifically for the CFA test, but I was wondering how long I had to train? I know I could probably find a deadline on the academy website, but it seems like it always helps to turn stuff in early. So in your opinion, what would be the best balance of most training and early score report?
     
  2. Michael

    Michael New Member

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    The great thing about the CFA is you know EXACTLY what is required. You have 3-5 months to train and if you follow a good schedule then you won't have a problem.

    Since there aren't any hidden tricks in the CFA, once you hit ~70 pushups, ~90 situps, <6min run, ~16 pullups then you know you're ready. As for the B-Ball throw, think of it as a "are you willing to bend over backwards to get the max score?".
     
  3. afajms2014

    afajms2014 Member

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    I waited till the end of football season to take mine so I took it mid february I guess. I'm nor suggesting you wait this late to do it, but it did work for me. just try to meet all of the maximums you can.
     
  4. Jobe

    Jobe New Member

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    @Michael: are those scores I should aim for individually or as a part of the CFA?

    afajms: wow, you really waited that long? I thought they were almost giving appointments by then!

    OK, another question, I am currently a "competitive applicant," (on my status page) does the 'competitive' part really mean anything right now?
     
  5. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Unless you consider yourself "Average" in the application process, I would push for 100% completion of the academy application process as soon as possible. This means the CFA and everything. The goal should be to have it all completed by 1 September. Now, if you consider yourself "Average", and that you are meeting the lower end of the minimum standards; and you feel you need real high CFA scores to offset some of your "Average" other areas, then holding off so you can do better, may be an option.

    Example: If you are a 3.9-4.0gpa (Unweighted), with 29-32ACT, class rank in the top 5, varsity letters in more than 1 sport, volunteer time, leadership in clubs, ec, etc... then there's no reason to delay. Get your CFA done, decent scores, send it in. Get your medical exam done, and have your application completed 100% and submitted by 1 September. This will open you up for more reviews and possible LOA or direct appointments if you have a nomination already. If you are a 3.4gpa, 26-27ACT, rank in the top 10%, etc.... then you might think that if you can max the CFA that it might give you a bump to offset some of your more average scores. This is something only you can decide. But if you are in the first category I mentioned, you aren't going to get any bump because your run 1 minute faster, or do 3 more pullups, etc... Best of luck. Mike....
     
  6. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Mike is right, but I want to stress, don't lie to yourself when it comes to your stats.

    Don't say "WELL, I expect to get a 4.0 this fall", when you have only carried a 3.7 last yr. trust me as a MOM SENIORITIS comes on very early!

    You also need to consider if you are in a competitive area. Your moniker does not state where you are from. Coming from a state like Idaho is a night and day difference then coming from Colorado.

    You need to understand that your CFA MAY be your make or break point, but it is very important to be competitive in every aspect regarding your WCS.

    I would train for the CFA to hit it out of the ball park, but at the same time, I would say talk to your ALO and ask him to rack and stack you against the other candidates he/she has for 15. Remember the ALO rec will be a part of your WCS too. Your ALO may see a bigger issue from his perspective than the CFA. For example, you are a rising SR, maybe he sees that your course load is weaker than the others, or maybe he/she sees that your EC's need to be stressed more.
     
  7. Jobe

    Jobe New Member

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    I am from California, so I imagine the competition is pretty tough considering we have quite a few of the top ranked aerospace engineering universities. @christcorp: I will try and outline my stats so you can tell me which category you think I fall in (if you don't mind).

    Attending a charter school.

    GPA: 4.0
    Class rank: school doesn't rank :(
    SAT: verbal: 750 math: 760 writing: 620 (stinkin essay) total: 2130
    ACT: just took it, scores in next 3-4 weeks.

    EC's: unfortunately no military-like groups such as CAP or boyscouts, not sure how much that hurts or not. Also, school doesn't offer sports, so all sports aren't technically varsity or anything (and no letters).

    Athletics:
    Bicycle racer
    5 yrs on Rocket Sports Foundation
    1 yr on SJBC Junior Elite team (continuing next year)
    2 years team captain (RSF)
    1 year team mentor for a youth athlete devo. team (will continue as such next year)
    Advanced skier
    1 season ski instructor
    many other sports for fun (snowboarding, kayaking, swimming, ultimate frisbee, etc.)

    Groups:
    National Honors Society
    California Scholarship Federation
    Church

    Music:
    Violin-9yrs
    Fiddle-6yrs
    Bluegrass band (campbell creek gang)-5yrs as fiddle/singer
    Central Valley Youth Symphony-4yrs (only 1 year during highschool)

    Comm. Service:
    Many volunteer gigs with band over the years for non-profits
    Youth development team mentor
    Harmer campaign volunteer (does this count even though it is political?)
    Pregnancy Resource Center volunteer
    Pro-life counsel volunteer

    Work experience:
    Rockin' S Ranch (ranch hand)-7yrs
    Wagner estates (landscape/upkeep)-2yrs
    Tahoe Learning Center (Ski instructor)-1 season
    Six Oaks Ranch (ranch hand/co-manager)-8yrs

    Awards:
    Mathcounts Individual regional winner (8th grade)
    Mathcounts Countdown regional winner (8th grade)
    State Junior Twin Fiddle Champion-2yrs
    State Junior Individual Champion-this year
    National People's Choice Twin Fiddle Champion-last year
    NHS membership
    CSF membership
    I expect National Merits Scholar finalist, but at least semifinalist. 99th percentile for PSAT index score and my SAT score reflects my PSAT scores.

    Academics:

    Sophomore:
    Human Bio-Community college
    other basic required courses

    Junior:
    pre-calc/trig-comm. college
    US History
    English
    Music
    Comm. Service
    PE (bicycling-school doesn't offer any sports, so this is how I get the reqs to graduate.)

    Planned for Senior: I expect a 4.0, but this is a huge load considering the 1.5 hr. drive every day to go to the community college. We'll see how I do :)
    Calc 1 and 2 at comm. college
    Physics-comm. college
    Spanish
    English
    Gov./Econ.
    Music
    PE

    BTW. I am a male

    as you can see, no AP classes as they are not offered through my school, but does the college course work make up for it? I know I don't have much college courses, but they only allow HS students 11 credits/semester. lots of questions! I appreciate the help a lot.

    Thanks,
    Joe

    PS: does highschool work only count? any non-highschool work has been noted as such in the above.
     
  8. acesmom

    acesmom Member

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    CFA, GPA question

    Jobe....in helping my DS with his app, I'm pretty sure it says somewhere in there that ONLY stuff during 10-12 grades can be used in your application.

    Christcorp....

    Thx for that reply. It helped answer some of my questions in regards to DS's app. What do you know about weighted vs unweighted GPA? I have asked 3 people and get 3 different answers! I've been told AFA does NOT look at weighted GPA whatsoever. I even had an AirForce colonel during my sons frosh yr tell me to pull him out of honors and advanced courses and put him in regular courses so he could make all A's as it would make him more competitive. That was really confusing because all the stuff I read from the academy says to challenge yourself academically to best prepare for AFA. There was no way I was going to "dumb down" my sons education. So, we kept him in honors, AP and dual enrollment classes and it hurt his GPA a bit as he got quite a few B's in some of those classes. He just finished his jr. yr and his unweighted is 3.58, weighted is 4.14. The other thing that made it hard to know what to believe is that both of our senators ask for weighted and unweighted on the apps for nomination; our congressman does not. So why do they ask for it if the academy doesn't look at it at all?

    DS's test scores are good. SATs were not great (math 630, read 610) but ACT he did much better; 31 composite. He's got some work to do on the CFA mostly in that darned basketball throw and pull-ups. He is on a flight home from SS as I type and they took the CFA up there. Considering the altitude and that we are from low alt (AZ) he did well. His plan right now is to train hard till mid Aug and then take official CFA. He's on varsity football and will be hitting the wt room and lots of core training with his team on Monday.

    Another question I have that I've got conflicting answers on is this: does acceptance into SS really mean anything as far as chances of actually getting into the academy? You may have answered this on here previously so I apologize in advance. His file on the admissions site says "competitive". He's crazy excited about that (as I guess he should be) but I'm trying to pull his head out of the clouds as I don't think that really means much does it? I mean he's got to get a nomination first! I just understand how hard it is to get in and I'm trying to keep him grounded so he's not devastated if he doesn't. It's been his dream and his passion since he was a young boy, like I'm sure it is for many cadidates.

    His EC's are fairly strong; not as over-the-top as some but decent. Varsity letter, NHS, Eagle Scout, leadership positions in scouting, just chosen at end of jr year for "Link Crew". It is a national h.s. program where upperclassmen mentor incoming freshman. He's also in JROTC; was element lead soph yr, flight comm jr yr, and SASI has already told us he will be squadron comm this fall as a sr. He's rcvd tons of AFJROTC awards including a couple of national ones; one for academics, one for outstanding officer/leadership potential. His flight was honor flight for one of the 2 semesters this year and then at SLS (he went right before SS) he was a flight comm there too and his flight took honor flight for the whole camp out of 12 flights. So, I think his EC's are pretty strong but that unweighted GPA we are both a bit concerned about. Your thoughts?


    Thanks in advance,
    acesmom
    Pre-Candidate for Class of 2015
     
  9. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Two Part answer, so I don't get confused. (It might overlap). Also, I tend to be long winded, forgive me.

    Jobe: Based on the stats you wrote, I consider you in the first group I mentioned. Meaning, I would try and get you CFA done early and have your application completed 100% as soon as possible. Also, it is VERY IMPORTANT that you reiterate in your application AND to your ALO and Nominators 2 very important things.

    1) That sports are not offered at your school, BUT, that you have participated in athletics. If bicycling is all you've done, then say so. But if you've been involved in ANY other type of physical activities such as martial arts, city baseball/soccer/basketball/etc...; or similar, then definitely mention it. Not matter HOW insignificant.
    2) That AP/IB classes are not available at your school. Make sure they know, and you emphasize on the application, ALO, nominator that you've taken some college courses to "Challenge" yourself. I.e. There are so many places in the application and in your interviews where you're allowed to elaborate; such as the essay questions. If you "Throw in" comments such as: "Being AP and IB classes aren't available at my school, I found it important to become more self motivated and find more challenging endeavors such as community college classes". (Just as example).

    The academy WILL NOT PENALIZE you for something that is not offered at your school. That is why the REQUIRE that your school send the academy a copy of their school profile. This lists the classes available, graduation rate, ranking system if any, where most graduates have attended college, etc... This is how the academy determines if you have indeed taken the most challenging classes available to you or not. Also, activities and extra curricular are not ranked. In other words, being in the school band is NOT less impressive than being in ROTC or CAP. The academy is looking at the whole person. They don't want a bunch of robots. They understand that what you like to do in your spare time might not be what I like. Do the activities that you like. Excel in those activities. Find leadership positions that you can command in those activities. DON'T choose ANY activity because you think you're filling in a square. Best of luck to you. Mike....

    ACESMOM: Your turn. LOL!!! Weighted vs unweighted is the same as I mentioned above. The school profile tells the academy how your grades are figured out and ranking. The academy uses this information to "Adjust" if necessary the grade you provided. I.e. they look at what a 4.0gpa from a kid taking the bare basic classes in your school would look like to a 4.0gpa in the same school by a kid in the IB program or taking ALL AP classes. The academy formulates this into a final GPA that is posted as part of your application. It is individual. Your school with a 4.0gpa unweighted might end up STILL being a 4.0. Another student at a different school with a 4.2 WEIGHTED might have it adjusted to a 3.8 while a different school, the 4.2 weighted is adjusted to 4.0. Each school is different. Each profile is different. So, the calculation for your GPA is going to be also different. Remember, they are looking at not only weighted vs unweighted, they are looking at private and public schools; different school district standards; 50 different state board of education standards; and then throw in the home schooled. Sorry, but that's the gist of it.

    The advice the colonel told you and your son is "Misleading". (My NICE way of responding). However, there's a little truth behind it. In it's simplest form: A 3.78gpa in the IB program, for 4 years, is worth A HELL OF A LOT MORE than a 4.0gpa taking basic classes. However, if the IB program was TOO CHALLENGING, and the student ended up with a 2.95-3.25 gpa; a 3.9-4.0gpa in basic traditional required classes would be better. So, what the colonel said has some truth to it, but ONLY if your child doesn't do very well in the advanced classes.

    I already answered the weighted/unweighted from your senators. The academy DOES look at that. It's formulated.

    I've answered the SS questions many times in the past, but you can never answer it enough. In it's simplest form: SS does NOT give you any official advantage over another applicant. It can't. The academy can only let in approximately 10% of all applicants into summer seminar. They try and spread out the slots around the country. It's not your fault if you aren't selected. And it will NOT in ANY WAY affect your application...... BUT,,, You knew there was a BUT in here. LOL!. Human nature is STILL PART OF THE EQUATION. If you get accepted and attend summer seminar, that will be impressive to your senator or congressman. It will impress them and your ALO into knowing that you are sincere about getting into the academy. Summer seminar is applied for in your junior year. The application process doesn't start until the summer going into your senior year. If you applied to summer seminar; whether you were accepted or not, make sure your ALO and nominators know you applied. It shows you've been interested in the academy for a while. And that you are involved with everything about it. If you don't apply, obviously you didn't attend, your ALO and senator/congressman see you as a neutral applicant. For all they know, the academy is something you just thought about doing during your senior years. SS implies you were interested at least back in your junior year. Again, this is NOT OFFICIAL. It doesn't gain/harm your application at all. But the recommendations and nominations are part of the human factor, and when the ALO or senators asks you questions, your answers mean a lot. E.g. What did you do this past summer? APP 1) "Hung out with friends, went on a family vacation, worked part time at Kinkos". APP 2) "Last day if school, I left for a week at Boy's State. When I returned, I had to leave a couple days later for the Academy Summer Seminar. When I returned from that, I had a whole 4 day summer vacation, (ha ha), and then we started football practice 2-a-days". WHICH ONE SOUNDS BETTER???? Now, if you're the first one, but you applied to SS, even if you didn't get it, and you could throw that in with a: "Well, I was really hoping I would have gotten selected for summer seminar, but there were just too many applicants. So I worked on my physical fitness exam (CFA) for my application. I also worked part time so I could free up my school year to concentrate on my grades and my team (Insert sport). As you can see, it's a matter of perception.

    I hope this helps you all. Sorry for combining to responses into 1 reply. But there is a level of similarities. Plus, for those lurking, it helps them understand better. Good luck. Mike....
     
  10. acesmom

    acesmom Member

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    THANK YOU!

    Christcorp,

    Thanks so much for your time in replying. It helps SO much to talk to parents who have "been there, done that".

    The GPA explanation makes sense as does your eval of the Colonel's comments. I understand. My DS took honors/AP in all of his core subjects last year (junior yr) and will again sr. year this fall. As I said, he unfortunately got B's in many of them; several just missing A's by 1-3% which was a big OUCH:unhappy:

    He is currently on a flight home from SS:thumb: so yes he has been thinking AFA for some time (since he was about 10 actually). He's never waivered in his committment to want to go there. I've played some devil's advocate wanting to make sure he is doing it for the right reasons, for HIM, and that does seem to be the case. I understand the human factor you mention and hope that his attendance at SS will bode well for him with ALO, MOC's, etc.

    From what I told you in my previous post, which group would you place my son in as far as turning everything in early or waiting to bring some things up such as CFA? Obviously he has no opp to bring unweighted GPA up till Dec 2010 grades which won't work..too late. He has a 31 comp ACT but only 28 in math which is his 2nd best subject. He's retaking in Sept to try to bring the math up as he scored low due to geometry which he didn't brush up on before test.

    Thanks again for your help. I'm sure I will contact you again! I've posted on another thread to another parent about letters of rec. I would be interested in your opinion on that too. It's under the "Nominations" board on the home page.

    Take care,
    acesmom
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2010
  11. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    I think your son would benefit from having his application completed 100% early. Why? Because as you recognize, there's nothing that he can improve on between now and december, academically. His act scores are pretty good. And if he retakes them in September, they'll be in his records right about the time his package is being evaluated. The only thing that I would hold out on the CFA for would be if he said he could do remarkably better in a particular area. E.g. He ran in 6min 30 sec, and he knows that he's not feeling well, and that he can definitely take 1 minute off the time. Or he knows he can guarantee 4 more pullups. But if he averages what he averages, no matter how many times he practices, then it's time to get them recorded. (Assuming he isn't in the situation where he can't do ANY of something). Good luck. mike...
     
  12. Jobe

    Jobe New Member

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    Thank you very much for the detailed response, it has helped clear a lot up for me. Two more questions:

    1. Does political volunteer time (e.g. volunteering for a campaign) count as community service?

    2. My possibilities for nomination are: McNerny, Boxer, Polosi, and Biden-all very "pro-choice." In my nomination apps. should I leave out the fact that I volunteer for a pro-life council, or will they not even see/notice/care about that? (I really do not mean to drag politics onto this forum, but I am worried that even though it wouldn't officially harm me, maybe the 'human nature' factor should be considered?)

    Thank you again,
    Joe
     
  13. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Well, both of your questions do have a political undertone to them. Volunteering for a political party as well as a pro-life organization. I need to be clear that my opinions are not necessarily advising you how to handle this. Simply a perspective. My perspective. But you are correct that while you don't want to bring politics into your nomination/application, there is a certain amount of politics that goes into it. After all, that's what interviews are. Trying to impress someone and find something about yourself that appeals to the other person. And there are plenty of ways to mention your activities and achievements without appearing partisan.

    Mention that you're interested in public service and enjoy volunteering to help those who also want to serve their communities. Mention how you want to serve your country because you believe in the constitution and individual rights, and that's why you've enjoyed helping out group and organizations that ensure individual's rights are protected.

    Obviously you should word and phrase it that's more your style and reflects what it is you are trying to convey. Most MOCs are not going to ask your political affiliation, but if you mention specifics like the "Republican" party or "Right to Life", then you've told them without them asking. Will it affect your nomination? No saying. But you are correct that the human factor could very well play a part. You aren't lying when you're being vague; but their potential prejudice shouldn't punish you for your convictions. So I would keep it somewhat vague. Say various political causes or a number of causes insuring individual's rights. I think you get the idea. Let them know who you are and how you would make a fine officer in the united states air force, but don't appear partisan. best of luck.... mike....
     
  14. Jobe

    Jobe New Member

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    Once again, thank you very much for the detailed answers, they really help a lot. Also the wording suggestions are awesome!

    I am currently working on my nomination letters and I have my ECs somewhat in the same format as a listed them on this forum...based on what you said I'm thinking I should have them in more of an essay form; however, there just seems to be so many that I would have to recycle phrases/words pretty quickly. Should I maybe be more general? Or seperate each group of ECs into different headings and then elaborate (such as comm. serv./leadership/awards etc.)?

    Thank you,
    Joe
     
  15. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    I personally prefer bullet statement / outline style. Make it precise, concise, and informative. In other words, don't be long winded like most of my posts. If you've ever take a speech class, there's different styles of speeches based on the audience. Written communications is the same way. Realize your audience and understand what you want to say.
     

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