I am giggling a bit at this thread. I've been doing Service Academy Admissions for almost 30 years now and the number of times that CFA has come up as a major thing is close to zero EXCEPT on here. Of all of the candidates that I've had over that time, I don't think more than a couple did any training for the CFA, they just took it and did fine. I can see looking into the passing numbers and even the goals but seriously, a lot of people are overthinking this.
I'm a grad and a Blue and Gold Officer and I'll be dammed if I could tell you how I did on my own except that I know that taking it at the end of a 2 hour Wrestling Practice while wearing wrestling shoes was a mistake (shuttle run was pretty ugly). One of my sons is a grad and I don't have faintest idea how he did expect that he obviously passed. I do know that he took it fresh, not after practice though.
I don't want to speak for others here but maybe a few of the other OGs (old grads) here can tell how much time they spent on the CFA.
My take is that if you are reasonably active and make sure that you're above the minimums that you've gotten where you need to be and could better spend your time on SAT/ACT practice, your own schoolwork or excelling at leadership by DOING SOMETHING then overthinking the CFA.
I'm going to echo my "learned" friend, OldRetSWO...I've been an ALO for 25 years, and in that time I've probably averaged 25-35 candidates each year. I can count on both hands (once) the total number of candidates that the CFA was an issue for: those are the failures. And I knew they would fail, and I think they did too. Most just worried, overthought (as he said) the entire thing, and ended up doing just fine.
I'm a grad...and all I can tell you about my CFA...both of them (one the year I didn't get appointed and the next year when I did) was that I freaked the officers scoring me and the others (a bunch of us were testing) with my basketball toss. I was (back then) ranked in the top 100 high school shot putters and discus throwers...throwing something like a basketball was not a challenge (on one toss I hit the far wall of the gym so they weren't sure what score to give me). The rest...I honestly don't remember. As I recall I asked my track coach to "test me" one day after school...and we did all the events. I think he said something like "Ah, you'll do fine." And that was that.
I describe the CFA to my candidates as a bell curve "pass-fail" exceed all dreams challenge. MOST of the candidates will take it, fall in the "middle four sigma's" and be fine: they get a big "checkmark" and move on. The other "two sigmas..." the bottom end are the ones that fail one or more event...they hope for a retest. The others? They're the "where did this person come from" types? You know the kind...they walk in, do more than the max on every event because they say "it's the challenge..." they get (I'm guessing, I don't know this) some sort of "gold star" mark someplace such that if they come up tied with someone...that "might" be the decider.
Don't go crazy on the CFA. Make sure you're fit, be ready, know how you'll do before you go out to do it (that means practice it a few times), and then just follow the Nike phrase: "DO IT." Better to do as OldRetSWO said: put the extra time into the SAT/ACT and crush those!!
Just my opinion...which with $1.09 should get you an XL Polar Pop at Circle K.
Here's another thing, if USNA really wants you, they will work with you on the CFA. Several years, there was an absolutely outstanding candidate. Had 3 MOC noms from a very, very large and populous state (can't tell you how hard that is to accomplish -- one of the MOC committee members said this was the most impressive candidate they'd ever seen). Was a varsity athlete but in a sport where running isn't emphasized. Zero weight or body fat issues. Failed the mile portion of the CFA. USNA gave him an extra month to pass with an LOA pending his passing the mile. He did. Ended up not going to USNA for unrelated reasons. Did end up really getting into PT including running big time. Ran a marathon. Became a varsity rower at the college he attended.
The moral of this story is that you do want to take the CFA seriously and it can be one factor if there is a close call. But if you are a truly outstanding candidate (and aren't an overweight, out-of-shape young person who's never stepped inside a gym or on a field), a poor score is unlikely to be a death knell.
To clarify, this refers to USNA only; other SAs may take a different approach. And, what USNA did in the past is the past . . .