Single Most Important Factor?

Dadx4

Member
I know that there are no absolutes in the Academy admissions process. I have read most of the threads here on SAF for years. I'm curious though. If you "had to" pick the single most important factor for admission to any service academy, what would it be?
 

NavyHoops

Super Moderator
5-Year Member
Honestly I can't. Because one single item won't cut it. If I had to list three: test scores, GPA and leadership. A 36 ACT will definitely get some attention. But if everything else is not satisfactory it won't get them in. I have seen 35s on this forum get a TWE with all around amazing applications. I could say geography is an important factor. Northern VA, good luck. North Dakota, not nearly as competitive (probably less than a 1/10 of what NOVA alone has). But if someone isn't 3Q they won't get in regardless. Passing DoDMERB and the CFA are also requirements. For some applicants one or both of these could be challenging. About 2 weeks on this forum we had a young man with an LOA failure to receive a medical waiver from USNA, he got the TWE.
 

Dadx4

Member
Thanks Hoops. DS is from a very competitive congressional district. So, geography not in our favor. He's working on all of the above. There is no way to know "how much is enough." I just encourage him to do his best and sprint to finish. Just looking for those one or two things that might be weighted more heavily.
 
We too live in a competitive district, but think sons SAT score, 10+ APs, and GPA probably worked in his favor. He was not athletic and had limited leadership skills. We were worried because he never did boyscout, boystate, sea cadet, air patrol, or even campfire/camping. My point is, you never know !
 

Dadx4

Member
We too live in a competitive district, but think sons SAT score, 10+ APs, and GPA probably worked in his favor. He was not athletic and had limited leadership skills. We were worried because he never did boyscout, boystate, sea cadet, air patrol, or even campfire/camping. My point is, you never know !
Thanks. It seems like GPA/class rank/standardized testing are always in the top 3. But there is no absolute winning recipe for success.
 

Maplerock

Proud to be an American
5-Year Member
Just beat all the competition in your district in academics & test scores, have stellar references, play several sports, being captain and
/or all state, go to boys or girls state, ace your interviews, and enroll in ancestry.com to see if you might have any ethnicity that might get you a diversity boost.
Do all that and you'll have a pretty darn good shot at a nomination and later an appointment. Then you'll have to deal with DODMERB. Hopefully you won't have to deal with eyesight waivers, AD/HD, acne or Accutane, scoliosis, eczema, OCD, concussions, etc. Good luck!
 

USMA 1994

Member
There is no single factor but if you look at the WCS calculation, academics is the highest weighted portion. Test scores and class rank have the most impact on your score.
 

time2

10-Year Member
USNA has never published their WCS formula. Those on here who quote figures about that are most likely referring a 10+yr old Rand study done for WP. Do not assume the formula is the same for all SA's and/or that is hasn't evolved in the past 10 yrs.
 
How do you know if your district is 'competitive', or not?

What is WCS calculation?

Thanks!
Competitive districts probably comprise of districts with military families, bases, & high schools. Also, competitive school districts will have students with high standardize test scores, ex. DS school is small but had 20 national merit finalists. Usually, Congressional offices post names of SA nominated students & high schools every year.
 

Dadx4

Member
Looking at class profiles, varsity letter is the most frequent (highest percentage) factor for most candidates for all the academies. In this thread, I am looking for this (specifically): if you had to pick the single most important factor for admissions to any service academy (lets say if you "had to" pick one on a multiple choice exam), which would it be?
 

brovol

Member
While all the factors are important, if you had to pick one single factor that you could get perfection on, without a doubt it would be ACT/SAT scores. Academics are the most weighted part of the application at all of the academies, by a huge margin, and the test scores are half of that, or all of it if the schools don't rank. Other than the CFA, the other factors are assessed less objectively. That does not make those factors unimportant. They are quite important. But the test scores are measured on the same standard for every applicant. A 36 on the ACT will not get a kid in all by itself, but neither will perfection in any other factor. The 36 ACT though will get the attention of those deciding, and on the WCS nothing else will count for more. Most other factors aren't even close.

People frequently diminish the thought of the test scores meaning "too much", emphasizing that they are just one part of the equation, which is true, but don't lose sight of reality either. The academies want bright, accomplished, and athletic kids who are strong enough to survive or excel at the academy, and to learn to be leaders. The test scores are an imperfect but pretty good instant assessment of academic potential. The daily chalanges for most academy Cadets/Mids are with academics. The CFA is a pretty good snapshot of how fit a kid is. But the CFA is only worth about a third of what the test scores are worth.

Most important factor? ACT/SAT.
 
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Just beat all the competition in your district in academics & test scores, have stellar references, play several sports, being captain and
/or all state, go to boys or girls state, ace your interviews, and enroll in ancestry.com to see if you might have any ethnicity that might get you a diversity boost.
Do all that and you'll have a pretty darn good shot at a nomination and later an appointment. Then you'll have to deal with DODMERB. Hopefully you won't have to deal with eyesight waivers, AD/HD, acne or Accutane, scoliosis, eczema, OCD, concussions, etc. Good luck!
Do concussions disqualify you?
 

SAMom

10-Year Member
I've had thee kids accepted to the Academy and would say they all had different Sat scores and grades but the one thing they did have in common was they had a large well rounded resume. They had varsity letters, clubs, and volunteer work. They proved they could handle a case load of anything.. I think being well rounded is a big factor...
 

brovol

Member
I've had thee kids accepted to the Academy and would say they all had different Sat scores and grades but the one thing they did have in common was they had a large well rounded resume. They had varsity letters, clubs, and volunteer work. They proved they could handle a case load of anything.. I think being well rounded is a big factor...
Agreed. Goes without saying; if you don't have enough to fill each factor, you won't get in.
 

jl123

Member
Those on here who quote figures about that are most likely referring a 10+yr old Rand study done for WP. Do not assume the formula is the same for all SA's and/or that is hasn't evolved in the past 10 yrs.
The figures quoted have nothing to do with a Rand study. USMA weights WCS score as follows: 60% academics, 30% leadership, 10% athletic. USNA may have a different weighting, but I am sure it still places the greatest weight on academics.

There are too many variables to come up with a single most important factor - all appointees are well-rounded. For most candidates, because of the higher weighting, academics is the most important area at any of the SA's. A recruited athlete may get by with marginal scores in other areas, but no level of physical fitness will overcome mediocre academics for a non-recruited candidate.
 
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