CFA - Passed but will it ding my application?

Joined
Sep 3, 2021
Messages
17
Hello! I am at the end of my application, with all checkmarks checked off, medically qualified, and CFA says "qualified." I have heard here that CFA is pass/fail with very poor passing scores getting a little "ding" and very great scores getting a little bump. I also heard that they will look at it differently if you are a varsity athlete, especially an accomplished one in multiple varsity sports. I consider myself to be an accomplished swimmer, being a regional champion in both my long-distance freestyle events. I can easily make the "Outstanding - high" grade on the PFA if I swim rather than run. I have heard elsewhere on this forum that the Naval Academy takes being accomplished in a non-land-based sport into consideration as well. Taking all of this into consideration, will my current CFA score "ding" my application and hurt my chances of getting in? Thank you in advance for your input.

Pull-ups: 3
Push-ups: 38
BB throw: 51.00
Shuttle run: 9.6
Crunches: 77
Mile run: 7:15
 

Usnavy2019

5-Year Member
Joined
Mar 31, 2013
Messages
256
The CFA is a pass/fail evolution for USNA. I know USMA scores it and if memory serves me correctly, it equates to 10% of your WCS. The purpose of the CFA is to determine if a candidate has a foundational level of fitness that can be built upon. Part of Plebe Summer is physical fitness and PRT prep. Over half the class fails the IST (Initial Strength Test... pretty much the Junior Varsity PRT), but the pass rate for the exit PRT is in the high 90s. Obviously, do as well as you can since that won't ever hurt you. Your flavor of sport won't really make a huge difference either. Otherwise, the going advice would be to do all water based sports available to you and then there would be an average appointee CFA score value for each event.

Overall, the CFA and the sport you do won't have a substantial impact on your admissions status. A good CFA and a letter in swim/dive is not going to save an otherwise marginal application. On the flip side, a less then awesome CFA is not going to kill an otherwise competitive application. This is where the whole person concept comes into play. Part of USNA's mission is to train so USNA is fine giving you extra attention in your weak area. There are three things that you need to work on as a MIDN: grades, PT, and military stuff (conduct, aptitude, being a good leader/person). You'll be just fine if you master two and work on the third.

And as a side note, unless there is a waiver in place (usually seen for those with known medical issues or that compete in a sport that requires a large body mass like linemen on the football team), PRTs are all done with the running option. I knew only one person that swam and they had back problems. The Fleet is where you'll see the alternate cardio options.

Hopefully, that helps a bit. I get it, everyone wants to have as many warm fuzzies about their admissions status. You've done all you can. And now you're in the worst part: the decision window. It'll come and it'll go. All you can do is hope (and pray if that's your thing... it's mine for the record) and if something awesome happens in the meantime (like a prestigious award), let USNA know. Enjoy your last semester of high school and your friends' company! It might be the last time you see/hear from some of them for a while.
 

cbasulto1

Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2021
Messages
65
I'm not exactly sure about the exact weight of the CFA, but from experience, I do know that many of these areas can be improved very quickly. In about a matter of two weeks of track training, I was able to bring my mile down from 7:14 to 6:28. In the following month, I was down to 5:55. Sit-ups and push-ups can also be quickly improved on.

Imho, I would try to improve these scores, because no matter how they are weighted, might as well at least make an attempt to make them better. I'm not sure how much longer you'll have to change your CFA scores but even if you can't change them your improved physical abilities would surely come in handy once at the academy in PS!

Good Luck!
 
Joined
Sep 3, 2021
Messages
17
The CFA is a pass/fail evolution for USNA. I know USMA scores it and if memory serves me correctly, it equates to 10% of your WCS. The purpose of the CFA is to determine if a candidate has a foundational level of fitness that can be built upon. Part of Plebe Summer is physical fitness and PRT prep. Over half the class fails the IST (Initial Strength Test... pretty much the Junior Varsity PRT), but the pass rate for the exit PRT is in the high 90s. Obviously, do as well as you can since that won't ever hurt you. Your flavor of sport won't really make a huge difference either. Otherwise, the going advice would be to do all water based sports available to you and then there would be an average appointee CFA score value for each event.

Overall, the CFA and the sport you do won't have a substantial impact on your admissions status. A good CFA and a letter in swim/dive is not going to save an otherwise marginal application. On the flip side, a less then awesome CFA is not going to kill an otherwise competitive application. This is where the whole person concept comes into play. Part of USNA's mission is to train so USNA is fine giving you extra attention in your weak area. There are three things that you need to work on as a MIDN: grades, PT, and military stuff (conduct, aptitude, being a good leader/person). You'll be just fine if you master two and work on the third.

And as a side note, unless there is a waiver in place (usually seen for those with known medical issues or that compete in a sport that requires a large body mass like linemen on the football team), PRTs are all done with the running option. I knew only one person that swam and they had back problems. The Fleet is where you'll see the alternate cardio options.

Hopefully, that helps a bit. I get it, everyone wants to have as many warm fuzzies about their admissions status. You've done all you can. And now you're in the worst part: the decision window. It'll come and it'll go. All you can do is hope (and pray if that's your thing... it's mine for the record) and if something awesome happens in the meantime (like a prestigious award), let USNA know. Enjoy your last semester of high school and your friends' company! It might be the last time you see/hear from some of them for a while.
Thank you for all this info! It is super useful. I will take your advice for sure and am going to work on getting my mile down to retest the CFA or, if I can’t retest, to get my times down before plebe summer! I’m definitely going to pray that I get good news soon!
 

usna1985

15-Year Member
Joined
Jun 9, 2006
Messages
6,568
It's not uncommon for h.s. swimmers to have challenges with the CFA because it doesn't necessarily play to the strength of swimmers. I would generally echo the comments of USNA2019.

The reason USNA looks at the CFA is that it largely mirrors the PRT that you take during your time at USNA. While the PRT has evolved over the last couple of years, running and core strength remain the key elements. At USNA, you must take the PRT with the run unless you have a medical waiver. This includes the swim team. Swimming is tested separately.

My sense is that your CFA was on the very low end of passing. It's easy to improve crunches, push ups and pull-ups by repetition exercises. The challenge you have is that it's Jan. 12 and (unless something has changed) the last date to submit a CFA is Jan. 31. That doesn't give you much time and thus, the improvement you make is likely to be marginal. That small change won't make a difference in your application.

I'd let things be for now. If you do receive an appointment -- to any SA -- you need to up your game between now and I-Day or you will really struggle during the summer.
 
Joined
Sep 3, 2021
Messages
17
It's not uncommon for h.s. swimmers to have challenges with the CFA because it doesn't necessarily play to the strength of swimmers. I would generally echo the comments of USNA2019.

The reason USNA looks at the CFA is that it largely mirrors the PRT that you take during your time at USNA. While the PRT has evolved over the last couple of years, running and core strength remain the key elements. At USNA, you must take the PRT with the run unless you have a medical waiver. This includes the swim team. Swimming is tested separately.

My sense is that your CFA was on the very low end of passing. It's easy to improve crunches, push ups and pull-ups by repetition exercises. The challenge you have is that it's Jan. 12 and (unless something has changed) the last date to submit a CFA is Jan. 31. That doesn't give you much time and thus, the improvement you make is likely to be marginal. That small change won't make a difference in your application.

I'd let things be for now. If you do receive an appointment -- to any SA -- you need to up your game between now and I-Day or you will really struggle during the summer.
Thank you for the info. To clarify, does “on the very low end of passing” mean possibly deducting a few points because of the CFA from my whole person score? I have researched it a lot from the official naval academy Virtual Admissions Forum and an admissions officer specifically said they would contact you to try and improve if it was barely passing, and I have not been contacted for it. However, it is still somewhat unclear to me so I would really appreciate that clarification! Thank you!
 

usna1985

15-Year Member
Joined
Jun 9, 2006
Messages
6,568
No one knows exactly how the CFA factors into the admissions decision. BGOs have heard that a very strong CFA can be a slight help and that, all things being equal (which they rarely are in life), a weak but passing CFA could have an impact. However, it is rarely a game changer for those who are otherwise active in sports.
 
Joined
Sep 3, 2021
Messages
17
No one knows exactly how the CFA factors into the admissions decision. BGOs have heard that a very strong CFA can be a slight help and that, all things being equal (which they rarely are in life), a weak but passing CFA could have an impact. However, it is rarely a game changer for those who are otherwise active in sports.
Thank you for the wise words! I am hoping it isn’t a game changer for me then, but I have been working hard since I took the CFA to be ready for Plebe Summer and my coach started experimenting with dryland for swim as well. I’m definitely going to take it again then, if I can find a place to take it that isn’t snowed in! I really appreciate the advice.
 

hello-there

Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2021
Messages
30
I had very similar scores (3 pullups, 9.4 shuttle, 56 BB throw, 48 pushups, 56 situps, 7:23 mile run) and I'm also a swimmer. My portal said I was qualified but I'm definitely going to retake since there's really nothing to lose (worst case scenario you do worse and they take the first score), and my mile time was a minute slower than normal because my track was icy. Best of luck and hopefully I'll see you at the Academy!
 
Joined
Sep 3, 2021
Messages
17
I had very similar scores (3 pullups, 9.4 shuttle, 56 BB throw, 48 pushups, 56 situps, 7:23 mile run) and I'm also a swimmer. My portal said I was qualified but I'm definitely going to retake since there's really nothing to lose (worst case scenario you do worse and they take the first score), and my mile time was a minute slower than normal because my track was icy. Best of luck and hopefully I'll see you at the Academy!
NO WAY! My track was the same way ice and snow on it, gotta love living in cold places :)
I hope to see you at the academy too. Best of luck!
 

Heatherg21

USNA mom Bacon Lover Dog Lover
Joined
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Messages
3,013
Living in cold places is also a reason to take your CFA very early if possible. Like September. Than, if you need to retake you can train and retake (if allowed) before winter kicks in. Good luck to you guys!
 

hello-there

Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2021
Messages
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Living in cold places is also a reason to take your CFA very early if possible. Like September. Than, if you need to retake you can train and retake (if allowed) before winter kicks in. Good luck to you guys!
Absolutely. I took my Coast Guard fitness test very early in anticipation of weather issues, but I knew I needed a lot of work on pullups for Navy.
 

Heatherg21

USNA mom Bacon Lover Dog Lover
Joined
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
3,013
Absolutely. I took my Coast Guard fitness test very early in anticipation of weather issues, but I knew I needed a lot of work on pullups for Navy.
I assumed there were reasons for a late test. Wasn’t trying to be snarky. It’s just a good opportunity to remind future candidates of the perils of weather or late CFA’s.
 
Joined
Jan 7, 2021
Messages
110
I had very similar scores (3 pullups, 9.4 shuttle, 56 BB throw, 48 pushups, 56 situps, 7:23 mile run) and I'm also a swimmer. My portal said I was qualified but I'm definitely going to retake since there's really nothing to lose (worst case scenario you do worse and they take the first score), and my mile time was a minute slower than normal because my track was icy. Best of luck and hopefully I'll see you at the Academy!
Just double check that I thought if you retook it you had to live with the new scores regardless. Better or worse. I’ve seen that mentioned on these forums many times. I’m not an expert but based on what I’ve seen over time would just want you to make sure, since your score is passing.
 

hello-there

Member
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Just double check that I thought if you retook it you had to live with the new scores regardless. Better or worse. I’ve seen that mentioned on these forums many times. I’m not an expert but based on what I’ve seen over time would just want you to make sure, since your score is passing.
Thank you for letting me know, I'll reach out to Admissions to check.
 

usna1985

15-Year Member
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Jun 9, 2006
Messages
6,568
If you decide to retake, USNA will zero out your scores and the new test replaces the old one, for better or worse. At this late date, I suggest you do not retake unless you are 100% certain you will do significantly better (for example, you've taken multiple practice tests and all result in much higher scores). Doing 1 more pull-up or a couple more pushups or run 10 seconds faster, it's unlikely to make a difference. Yes, every bit counts, but the benefit in this case doesn't outweigh the potential negatives. And, if you do worse, you don't have time to improve and retake.

Not to be cynical, but Jan. 14 is not the date to be revisiting your application. What you've submitted is the product of years of effort. Go with it! If it turns out not to be good enough, you have an entire year to improve for next year.
 

hello-there

Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2021
Messages
30
If you decide to retake, USNA will zero out your scores and the new test replaces the old one, for better or worse. At this late date, I suggest you do not retake unless you are 100% certain you will do significantly better (for example, you've taken multiple practice tests and all result in much higher scores). Doing 1 more pull-up or a couple more pushups or run 10 seconds faster, it's unlikely to make a difference. Yes, every bit counts, but the benefit in this case doesn't outweigh the potential negatives. And, if you do worse, you don't have time to improve and retake.

Not to be cynical, but Jan. 14 is not the date to be revisiting your application. What you've submitted is the product of years of effort. Go with it! If it turns out not to be good enough, you have an entire year to improve for next year.
I normally run over a minute faster, but I did the best I've ever done on pullups, so I'll probably just stick with my original score. Thanks for the insight!
 
Joined
Sep 3, 2021
Messages
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If you decide to retake, USNA will zero out your scores and the new test replaces the old one, for better or worse. At this late date, I suggest you do not retake unless you are 100% certain you will do significantly better (for example, you've taken multiple practice tests and all result in much higher scores). Doing 1 more pull-up or a couple more pushups or run 10 seconds faster, it's unlikely to make a difference. Yes, every bit counts, but the benefit in this case doesn't outweigh the potential negatives. And, if you do worse, you don't have time to improve and retake.

Not to be cynical, but Jan. 14 is not the date to be revisiting your application. What you've submitted is the product of years of effort. Go with it! If it turns out not to be good enough, you have an entire year to improve for next year.
Thanks for the advice! On a side note, to be clear, will a poor but passing CFA like mine ruin an otherwise competitive package? That is the biggest worry for me with not retaking. I have plenty of swimming accomplishments, lots of competitive leadership roles and titles, SAT reading and math are both above the 75th percentile of USNA’s SAT scores on their class portrait, top 5% class rank, and super good reccomendations from good teachers and role models I have gotten to know very personally. Since my CFA score is really the only “bottleneck” on my application since it’s on the very low end of passing, will USNA likely look past the once weak part, or since it is low will they deem me too unfit to be able to make it through plebe summer and reject me because of it because it is on the very low end of passing? Also, do they send applicants to NAPS for lacking in the CFA part of the application ever? Thank you for your comments and help!
 

Old Navy BGO

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Jan 5, 2012
Messages
3,411
On a side note, to be clear, will a poor but passing CFA like mine ruin an otherwise competitive package?
Also, do they send applicants to NAPS for lacking in the CFA part of the application ever? T

There are few absolutes in the Admissions process, but pretty easy to say NO and No. As I've said before, there is to much emphasis on CFA on SAF. My opinion only , but a weak (but passing) CFA is not going to "ruin" an otherwise strong application any more than a super strong CFA will buildup a weak application. I also reiterate USNA 1985's comment -- January 14 isn't the time to thinking about improving your CFA.
 

SA2026hopeful

Member
Joined
Jan 10, 2022
Messages
22
Living in cold places is also a reason to take your CFA very early if possible. Like September. Than, if you need to retake you can train and retake (if allowed) before winter kicks in. Good luck to you guys!
Couldn’t agree more! I made the mistake of waiting, and got injured during a fall sport. Recovered just in time to take the CFA in late December. 15°F was not my friend, luckily I was able to perform well in the cold weather.
 
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