Why test out?

Discussion in 'Military Academy - USMA' started by mikebravo, Feb 9, 2014.

  1. mikebravo

    mikebravo Member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2012
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi everybody,

    I'm an appointee to USMA 2018, and the more I've been thinking about Beast, the more I remember people talking about the academic testing that occurs during CBT. My question is why is it beneficial to take these tests and score high enough to advance to the next level? From what I've been told, it only bumps you up to the more advanced class. With the obvious exception of an improved education, are there other benefits to successfully testing out of the basic level courses?

    Thanks,

    MB
     
  2. mja2014

    mja2014 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2014
    Messages:
    111
    Likes Received:
    2
    Just an assumption, but wouldn't testing out will limit you the position you get after graduation? You are lucky enough to get an appointment to a top academy, why waste this opportunity and take the easy road? Sure doesn't sound like the mindset of an officer
     
  3. hopeful2018

    hopeful2018 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2014
    Messages:
    70
    Likes Received:
    0
    The more opportunity you take to advance in the field you want might help you on branch night
     
  4. Stevewar2

    Stevewar2 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2013
    Messages:
    238
    Likes Received:
    0
    Testing Out

    Two schools of thought. One, you want to do something like a double major. Testing out will get you some more electives and make it easier. If you test out of a class, you may take a harder class in that area or start on some of your Yearling classes. Two, you are weak in another area (history, military, physical) and need some easy classes to spend more time on your weaknesses. Neither option means you are wussing out on doing the right thing. Each Cadet needs to do a self assessment and make their own decisions. Better to take a couple of easy classes than fail a class and risk STAP or worse. I was a Prepster and barely got by academically, but excelled in the other areas. Rarely is a Cadet perfect in all areas.
     
  5. LJM

    LJM Member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2014
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    0
    What classes can you test out of COMPLETELY? Learning a language has been something I'm passionate about, and I would definitely like to study abroad. I'm not exactly sure how that would work without knocking a few gen ed requirements out of the way.
     
  6. Stevewar2

    Stevewar2 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2013
    Messages:
    238
    Likes Received:
    0
    Test Out

    Math would be VERY hard. Chemistry/Physics/History are probably candidates. Current Cadets would probably know better.
     
  7. ca2midwestmom

    ca2midwestmom Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2013
    Messages:
    1,275
    Likes Received:
    178
    There are several threads on here about the AP scores needed to validate classes, and what can be validated. Also, there are discussions re. the pros/cons of validating and/or retaking a class that should have been validated. (Similar discussions over on the USNA forum)
     
  8. tylerdavis1708

    tylerdavis1708 New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2014
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Lets say you did decide to not test out. Now you are just wasting your time in classes that you could opt out of freeing up time in your 3 and 4 year. Why not have it easy later when most don't get to have it easy?
     
  9. BigBear

    BigBear Class of 2015

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Messages:
    699
    Likes Received:
    1
    Here's a quick breakdown for you:
    Classes you can completely test out of (i.e- no more difficult replacement): Chemistry, Physics, History, IT, English - there may be others that I'm forgetting

    Classes that you will have to bump into a more difficult course: Math, foreign language

    Validating any class that completely gets you out of the course is always a good thing in my opinion. It gets you out of the core requirements (which I find mostly tedious) and into your major/electives faster. Validating a class that only bumps you into the harder class depends on your major. For math/engineering types, validating math early opens up more space later on. The flip side is, you will be taking a more difficult course than your plebe buddies, and your workload will reflect it.
     
  10. mikebravo

    mikebravo Member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2012
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks! This is just what I was looking for. Validating was what I meant, the word just slipped my mind.
     
  11. buff81

    buff81 Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2008
    Messages:
    2,644
    Likes Received:
    263
    I knew a cadet who validated out of several classes and regretted it.

    He was put in higher level classes which meant he was, as a Plebe, with upperclassmen in his classes. He would have preferred to have been with other Plebes.
    He also had to declare his major the next semester instead of beginning of Yuk year and he wasn't ready to declare his major that soon.
    I'm not sure why, but it also prevented him from doing a study abroad that he wanted to do.

    This is not going to be the case with everyone who validates but just some other things to take into consideration when thinking about validating.
     
  12. BigBear

    BigBear Class of 2015

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Messages:
    699
    Likes Received:
    1
    I'd be interested to hear more of that story. I got out of 4 classes and was still given the same amount of time to declare my major as the rest of my classmates.
    As for taking classes with upperclassmen, that part is true- it was definitely awkward for the first week or two, but I never ran into any problems with it. In the end though, I was glad to be getting requirements out of the way early, which has allowed me to choose more electives.
     
  13. buff81

    buff81 Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2008
    Messages:
    2,644
    Likes Received:
    263
    I'll try to find out.

    There are pros and cons to validating.
    It does allow you to possibly double major and to take more electives.
    I was sharing this one cadet's experience that wasn't positive so that those that are considering validating, can see both sides.
     
  14. EagleScout13

    EagleScout13 USMA Class of 2017

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2011
    Messages:
    174
    Likes Received:
    6
    BLUF: Validate what you can!

    I'm currently a plebe who validated 5 classes, and I can assure the workload is not too difficult. Honestly, in some classes like multivariable calculus, differential equations, and physics (which I am in now since I validated chemistry), the instuctors purposely strive to give the cadets the grades they deserve. I am in one advanced yuk class and the rest advanced plebe classes and I speak from experience when I say the professors know that the kids in the advanced classes deserve A's and B's, as long as you strive to put the work in to excel. And to hit on the other question, I still will have 5 core classes next semester unless I choose to change my 8tap, meaning you do not have to declare your major early (again unless you want to). Because of my validations, majoring in engineering will not force me to ever overload on classes in a semester or do STAP, like most.
     
  15. EagleScout13

    EagleScout13 USMA Class of 2017

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2011
    Messages:
    174
    Likes Received:
    6
    Sorry to double tap, but advanced classes also guarantee better lab grades in science classes. In my PH251 course, it would take half as long to do the lab, and since we all understood the material, everyone contributed.
     
  16. oldcorpsdad

    oldcorpsdad Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2011
    Messages:
    103
    Likes Received:
    24
    My DS validated Plebe History, Plebe English, and one semester of calculus. That got him into the advanced math sequence plus 4 extra electives for his Cow and Firstie year. He declared his Major the same time as everyone else. He couldn’t do a semester abroad as he was told he had to speak the language of the country he was going to and they had to have a program that supported his major. Those 2 didn’t line up for him. Way back in the day I validated Plebe history and got some extra electives that were some of my favorite classes at the Academy. This also sort of ties into what sort of person you plan on being. If you can validate some classes but choose not to so you can coast through your other classes may not be how you want to define yourself. If you were academically weak it might be a different story but if you think you can validate some classes, you probably aren’t a rock. Are you going to be challenged?
     
  17. My3Sons2017

    My3Sons2017 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2013
    Messages:
    142
    Likes Received:
    1
    Honestly, my cadet made his highest grades in the areas of study that he validated. Typically those are your areas of "passion" and you should try to get the most out of your academic career at West Point.
     
  18. Casey

    Casey USMA 2015

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2010
    Messages:
    378
    Likes Received:
    29
    Validate what you can - for both the classes where you completely validate out of the requirement (as discussed: history, chemistry, physics, etc.) and the ones that would put you into a more advanced section (i.e. math).

    I'm coming from this having had the opportunity to validate 6 classes. That is 6 more blocks of free space than most your classmates will have for which you can explore and do what you want with. If you are an engineering major, it can mean bringing you down in course work so you aren't overloaded like the typical engineer cow/firstie year which means a lot more time on your hands. More time generally equates to you doing better here, because you won't be as rushed in your other work. It also provides engineers an opportunity to get more depth in the discipline which isn't always the case here at the Academy if you choose electives within your department.

    It also means having time to explore other disciplines if you want (I've taken random electives in the English and Defense and Strategic Studies departments which isn't normal for a Mech major) or having time to explore independent research which is what I'm doing this semester.

    Yes, you will probably take a few classes with upperclassmen, depending on what route you go. I took physics II and my language with the class above me. As a plebe, it was weird, but you get over it and odds are, the yearlings there are going to want you in their group because they think you're smart and will respect you for that. For something like Mil Art, they generally don't mix plebes with firsties for precisely the reasons you'd be worried about, meaning you will be in a Mil Art class if you validate history with your peers (other plebes).

    Last note I'd leave you with on the subject is that most the classes you have a shot at validating are core classes. In my opinion, the core curriculum are the worst classes we have to take because they're catering to everyone. Not to say that this is a bad thing, but I've found them a lot more tedious and more check the block than my major classes or classes I've chosen to take with my own free will. Yes, that's probably because my interest isn't in these classes, but that also goes to show that people tend to do better at the classes that you are interested in and want to learn from. Taking a class you already have taken before, while as tempting as it may be to try and ease up your course work, you aren't challenging yourself and are more likely to slack off and not give the class the time it deserves thinking that you already know it. I saw a lot of my classmates in chemistry struggle or not do as well with the class as they should've because of that.

    In the end, do what you're comfortable with. You're here to make yourself better. Challenge yourself the most you can in all areas. That's what this place is for so you end up the best you can be at graduation.
     
  19. hawk

    hawk ButterBar Dad

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2010
    Messages:
    856
    Likes Received:
    65
    To add to to the input...

    Most of the core classes are "stacked" by capability. They call it "sectioning".

    So let's say you sandbag, don't validate anything, or intentionally blow the placement tests...

    Once the course starts you are doing great, all A's!!! Then Bamm! Mid-semester you are resectioned to a harder class. Different students, different point in the coursework, etc.

    Most of the time it happens in classes without placement tests, but it can also happen in the others. I'm aware of it happening to 2015 plebes in Chemistry, History, Math, and the computer class (forget the number)

    Does not seem fair, I know as it can erode your GPA. But the Army does not care (much) about your GPA, it wants to have you develop to your max capability. It's a key difference from civvy schools.

    As others have said... with very few exceptions there is no disadvantages to validating. And you can even validate courses in your yuk year with AP scores, etc.
     
  20. DHinNH

    DHinNH USMA 1989

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2011
    Messages:
    190
    Likes Received:
    0
    For some.

    For others, testing out of (or "testing up in") anything other than math would be very hard.
     

Share This Page