Discouraged...need some brutal honesty.


10-Year Member
5-Year Member
Jun 17, 2008
Despite the tag, I am not look for "chances" of acceptance, just some advice about whether or not I am competitive and should continue to pursue.

My test scores are what really scare me. I do well in school (above average) but struggle with the standardized tests: not so much with their difficulty as how quickly I have to work to finish; I usually end up having to guess on a third to a half on the ACT or leave them blank on the SAT. Anyway my parents and faculty advisor assure me that WP is looking for a "well rounded" individual and despite my test scores, which I am working to improve, when considering all my, I am competitive. I am not sure they know though this is the first time for all of us. Here are the numbers, the good the bad and the ugly. Don't sugar coat your responses. I want the truth.

Physical (10%) Currently
  • BB Throw:90+ ft
  • Pullups:16
  • Shuttle-Run:8.0 sec
  • Situps:95
  • Pushups:75
  • Mile Run: 6 min.

Leadership (30%)
  • Lettered in two Varsity sports (Baseball and Soccer)
  • 2-year captain in soccer
  • 3 years premier level club soccer (2 year captain)
  • Freshman and Senior Class President
  • President Junior Optimist Club (VP Junior Year) - J.O. is service club
  • Beta Club (kind of like NHS)
  • Going to Boy's State next week
  • Volunteer coach a U5 soccer team and umpire in the city's little-league

Academic (60%)
  • Enrolled in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (similar in rigor to AP)
  • 3.9 Weighted GPA (A's and B's in Science and Math, B's and C's in English and History)
  • Top 15% of my class (approx 60 out of 500)
  • SAT (taken twice)and ACT (taken twice but don't have second scores yet) both with scores below the averages published by USMA for incoming freshman.

That's it. Thanks in advance for the taking the time to read an overly long post and give some honest feedback.
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Anyway my parents and faculty advisor assure me that WP is looking for a "well rounded" individual and despite my test scores, which I am working to improve, when considering all my, I am competitive

Wise they are.

The truth - having just "survived" a two year long admission process with my daugter - how much do YOU want this? Are you willing to spend an extra year in a prep program? Study and prep for the SAT's/ACT's?

IF USMA is what you want then forge ahead. You are correct - your test scores are low and this will give you difficulty. I take it you are a rising senior?
Please - take an SAT prep class if you can. At least get the College board books and practice. My daughter took the SAT's numerous times (6) and the ACT's twice.

Your high school schedule - are you taking Calculus next year? Have/are you taking Chemistry and/or Chem II (or the equivalent of AP Chem)? How about Physics as well?
Those courses will help you.

Apply for every nomination you have available - do a good job on the applications. IMO the nomination process is another way to show your whole package. Many MOC's will accept references from coach's and advisors who can emphasize your leadership experience.

Other things -
get in contact with your MALO.
Plan to visit West Point as a candidate if at all possible.
Realize that 30% of all entering cadets do not come directly from high school. Advise the admissions office that you will accept a prep program if offered.

If you are interested in playing soccer for Army then contact the soccer coach.

One more thing - apply for an Army ROTC scholarship as a back up. Go to this website: http://www.goarmy.com/rotc/
find some school that interest you and apply soon! this summer! Apply today!
Take the SAT and ACT as many times as you can in the coming year. Usually your scores will go up. There are also classes you can take to help you improve your scores. You would need to do some research to see what is available in your area.

My son is also not great at taking the standardized tests but he just finished his plebe year at West Point. He was chosen for civil prep and spent a year at a military junior college before going to West Point. I think his mediocre SAT and ACT scores had something to do with this.

Don't give up yet! Your other stats look competitive.
if2wp- The advice your parents and the folks above are giving you is pretty good- kepp plugging on, take an SAT prep course and take the test itself multiple times. You may surprise yourself by the rise in scores and they will take the best of each so you have nothing to lose. I sent you a PM with some other thoughts.

As an admission rep, I can assure you that you have all the right things going for you. A great aid in preparing for the SAT and Act verbal testing is a book called 30 Days to a More Powerful Vocabulary by Wifred Funk. It was first written in the early 1940 time frame. I know of people I recommended it to who have raised their SAT verbals by 100 or more points. Read, read and read some more. Do crossword puzzles and use the monthly test in Readers Digest.

My DD spent countless hours prepping for the SATs - we enrolled her in private classes to boost her score. She took them 5 times and the last time was the charm. Don't give up hope....remember to read, read, read...that certainly increases your verbal and if you take a class, they teach you strategies on how to take the tests. The classes significantly helped her. She also took AP Stat in her junior year and AP Calc and AP Chem in her senior year. Those classes helped as well. If you could, enroll in a SAT prep course, it is worth it!
Thanks for feedback...

To followup. The IB Diploma Program is equivalent to AP in rigor. The difference is you have to take it for every class on your schedule for 2 years (Math, Science, English, History, Foreign Language and an elective). In B you are also required to take the IB administered validating exams for each course. When done I will have had roughly the equivalents of AP Physics B, AP English Lit., AP English Language, AP US History, AP Spanish and AP Psychology. The IB Math is not full bore calculus but a combo course of Pre-calc topics and intro calc topics.

I plan on continuing to take the ACT until my scores are where I want. Should I also take the SAT? Is there a benefit to taking one over the other?

I do want this, and not just because of WP prestige. I want to be an Army officer and while I know that ROTC can also get me there, I want the experience and camaraderie that can only come with USMA, to launch me into that career.

Do you think where I am now will at least get me a "second-step" packet. I think that if given the opportunity I can make the case and I know that with work I can beat those tests.

Thanks for the encouragement!
Another book my sons found helpful was Up Your Score. It's an irreverant (but very helpful) book designed to help you strategize your way to a better score. For example, it helps you determine the detractors immediately, so you don't waste time even considering them. It's written in teenage vernacular, so it's a fun read.
You may want to enroll in a test prep program to learn strategies for working more efficiently as well.
Good luck!!
Since you asked.......getting accepted at ANY of the Academies is a very competitive process. Honestly, no one on here is actually on the admissions committees, so the best we can do is offer opinions based on our experience of what tends to happen.

Everyone applying should also have back-up schools in mind. Never a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket. You may or may not get an appointment for reasons we can't assess due to the nature of the application process. No one here can tell how you will do during the MOC interviews, but that too is part of the process. Are you confident and comfortable in interview situations, have you prepared for that part of the process?

They might discover some previously unknown medical condition during your DODMERB physical that could disqualify you. That's reality, but you should continue to pursue your dream. Lots of people start but never even complete the application process. Since you are apparently going to be a h.s. senior, most of your resume is already completed. It is certainly time to visit the Academy and/or sign up for one of those leadership seminars or perhaps a sports camp. Seeing the place up close and personal can certainly help you to make up your mind if this is truly what you want.

Since ACT/SAT are a big part of the application process, you need to honestly assess why you don't seem to do well on standardized tests even if you have above average h.s. academic performance. Sometimes it is a matter of believing in yourself and being focused to achieve your goals. Some people say those test prep things are wonderful, others have said they are a waste of money. So I guess you have to decide for yourself on that.

Read back over older threads and this question comes up over and over and a lot of good advice has also been offered in the past and really doesn't change from one person to the next.
Since you're in the IB program, you must have already taken 2 of your IB exams. How do you think you did? (Scores come out in July?) If you pass with a 4 or above, then that shows that you are able to do well on standardized tests with preparation. If that's the case, then go get the ACT/SAT practice exam book(s). Don't mark in the book(s), but keep taking the tests. Practice, practice, practice.

If you don't do well on the IB tests, then you may have an issue with taking standardized tests.

Definitely take both ACTs and SATs. Some students do better on one than the other. Students that are more math and science oriented usually do better on the ACT. "Verbal" students usually do better on the SAT. Once you figure out which you're better at taking, then concentrate on that test.

The prep programs are only as good as the instructor. Get references from your friends or guidance counselor.

Use this summer to get your extended essay totally done and practice for the SAT/ACT. And read, read, read. Also, try to bring your grades up during your senior year.

Will you get a "second-step packet"? I don't know, but you are working towards your goal. Previous posts have made really good suggestions: having a backup plan, re-applying if you don't make it this year, and contacting WP soccer coach. What's the old adage? Anything worth having is worth working for.

Good Luck!
Do you think where I am now will at least get me a "second-step" packet. I think that if given the opportunity I can make the case and I know that with work I can beat those tests.

I would be dumbfounded if you did not get a second-step packet. Don't worry about that.