What to improve on?

J1317

5-Year Member
Joined
Dec 25, 2016
Messages
39
Hi,

I'm currently a junior and am highly interested in the Naval Academy. I would greatly appreciate any advice regarding what aspects of my application I could improve. I realize that the nomination/interview area is a large factor but any thoughts would be awesome.

Freshman year + sophomore year GPA: 4.04. English, History, and Math were all advanced classes. One history class was AP.
Junior Year: My max GPA is 4.67. The semester has not ended, but I am expecting either a 4.5 or 4.67.
Taking APUSH, AP Lang, Honors Japanese, Honors Chemistry, Advanced Integrated III for advanced classes.
Senior Year: Expecting to take AP Lit, AP Biology, AP Art (have to take an art class...), Political Science (college course), AP Calc or a college math course offered that is Calc AB and BC in one year.

I have taken AFJROTC all three years so far, and plan to do so next year also.

Athletics: Varsity swim every year of high school. JV Water polo sophomore year, varsity this year. JV captain and MVP last year.

Leadership: Flight Sergeant for AFJROTC. President of Future Doctors Club. Vice President of Japanese National Honor Society. Senior board member (first in charge) of NJHS (freshman year).

National Honor Society member. Hopefully will be receiving a position next year.

I have small awards and other extracurriculars here and there. The one that may make an impact is a nonprofit me and a friend have started. We do videos online, and do presentations for middle schoolers on medical knowledge.

Community service: Tutor students every day for an hour and fifteen minutes.

My father is a commander in the Navy with 22 years in.

SAT/ACT: Plan to retake, but they are as follows:
SAT: 720 Reading, 690 Math (Composite 1410)
ACT: 35 Reading, 35 Writing, 32 Science, 27 Math (Composite 32)

I think these are the main things... If I'm missing anything that I should mention let me know.

Your help is very appreciated. I want to make sure that I'm on top of things when applications come out. Thanks!!
 

Padre101

Parent
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Sep 29, 2015
Messages
902
In order to be competitive for USNA, you need above 30 on the Math Section of the ACT or above 700 on the Math Section of the SAT. Composites are irrelevant.

Keep taking the tests until you can clear 30/700.

You also need to do well on the CFA. In my experience, swimmers do not do well because their bodies are not accustomed to the CFA events. They may be in terrific shape but their muscles are not used to the strain caused by performing the events consecutively. Train now and train often.

Best wishes!
 

J1317

5-Year Member
Joined
Dec 25, 2016
Messages
39
In order to be competitive for USNA, you need above 30 on the Math Section of the ACT or above 700 on the Math Section of the SAT. Composites are irrelevant.

Keep taking the tests until you can clear 30/700.

You also need to do well on the CFA. In my experience, swimmers do not do well because their bodies are not accustomed to the CFA events. They may be in terrific shape but their muscles are not used to the strain caused by performing the events consecutively. Train now and train often.

Best wishes!
Thanks! That's why I'm retaking those tests... If only my math were as good as my reading and writing! Just gotta practice more. I'm pretty strong in the CFA events since I love exercising outside of my sport, too. The only thing I could really improve on is my run time, which still is decent.
 

J1317

5-Year Member
Joined
Dec 25, 2016
Messages
39
One thing to add: I'm gonna take a guess based on stats from previous years, but my class rank should be top 5-10%.
 

jebdad

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Aug 19, 2013
Messages
654
You also need to do well on the CFA. In my experience, swimmers do not do well because their bodies are not accustomed to the CFA events. They may be in terrific shape but their muscles are not used to the strain caused by performing the events consecutively. Train now and train often.

Padre, not sure what your experience is, but you are a bit off on the swimmer statement. Do you know what competitive swimmer's do before they swim for 2+ hours a practice. They do something called dryland: pushups, situps, pull ups, run. I am hard pressed to think of a sport that better prepares someone for the consecutive nature of the CFA. They have both the lungs and the strength to do well at the CFA.

Neither of my swimmers ever "trained" for the CFA. They did CFA related workouts several times per week at swim practice and then just went and took it. The thought of having to specifically train for the CFA seemed funny to them.
 

NotCollege

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Feb 25, 2016
Messages
135
I am a swimmer and I can attest that the CFA was a struggle for me even with all of the drylands my team does. You don't realize it until you take the test. I struggled with the pull ups not due to strength but technique (I am also a female so that played into it). The run is tough to not because a lack of strength but because I was not used to running and had to teach myself to sprint. Now this is my personal experience and after taking my first CFA I redid it worked on my weaknesses. My determination from swimming and athletic ability helped me overcome by weaknesses quickly. It should not be a problem for you as long as you practice the events in sequence.
 

Maplerock

Proud to be an American
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Jan 31, 2013
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In order to be competitive for USNA, you need above 30 on the Math Section of the ACT or above 700 on the Math Section of the SAT. Composites are irrelevant.

Keep taking the tests until you can clear 30/700.

Not true. Many are admitted with scores lower than you have posted. 690 on math is very solid. Is 700 better? Yes, but believe me, more people will score lower than 690 than those that score higher. Your ACT is great. 27 on Math is respectable but not stellar. However, they will superscore, and use that 690. Your packet looks good to me. Don't become so obsessed that you forget to enjoy the rest of high school. Just keep your grades up and work on leadership roles. Good Luck!
 

Padre101

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Messages
902
Padre, not sure what your experience is, but you are a bit off on the swimmer statement. Do you know what competitive swimmer's do before they swim for 2+ hours a practice. They do something called dryland: pushups, situps, pull ups, run. I am hard pressed to think of a sport that better prepares someone for the consecutive nature of the CFA. They have both the lungs and the strength to do well at the CFA.

Neither of my swimmers ever "trained" for the CFA. They did CFA related workouts several times per week at swim practice and then just went and took it. The thought of having to specifically train for the CFA seemed funny to them.

I don't know what you're definition of "funny" is. Unless you do all the CFA events in sequence, you don't know how taxing the cumulative effects of the CFA are. I’ve seen Division 1-level athletes puke during the CFA because they thought they could wing it and not practice the events in test like conditions.
 
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Padre101

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Messages
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Not true. Many are admitted with scores lower than you have posted. 690 on math is very solid. Is 700 better? Yes, but believe me, more people will score lower than 690 than those that score higher. Your ACT is great. 27 on Math is respectable but not stellar. However, they will superscore, and use that 690. Your packet looks good to me. Don't become so obsessed that you forget to enjoy the rest of high school. Just keep your grades up and work on leadership roles. Good Luck!
Maplerock, don't want to get into a flame war with you. The question from the OP was "What to improve on?" Do you lower Math scores get into the USNA? Statisically speaking yes. But why risk it when the OP can possibly do better.
 

jebdad

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Aug 19, 2013
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654
My point was simply that my kids thought it was funny (i.e. strange, unfamiliar, etc) that someone would specifically train for the CFA as it was not something they ever thought of or needed to do. Being swimmers, they trained for the CFA on a daily basis through their dryland and through swim practice.

What does funny really mean to you? To be prepared is funny? To be ready is funny? Do you think the CFA and preparing for the life at the USNA is a joke? Is that funny?
Wow. Not sure where you are going with that one. Your response reminds me of Joe Pesci's line in Good Fellas. Do I amuse you? What do you mean I'm funny?? :):)
 
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Padre101

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My point was simply that my kids thought it was funny (i.e. strange, unfamiliar, etc) that someone would specifically train for the CFA as it was not something they ever thought of or needed to do. Being swimmers, they trained for the CFA on a daily basis through their dryland and through swim practice.

Wow. Not sure where you are going with that one. Your response reminds me of Joe Pesci's line in Good Fellas. Do I amuse you? What do you mean I'm funny?? :):)

One of my favorite movies.

No disrespect to you, jebdad. I'm sure your kids were well prepared. However, there are/were two candidates to the USNA from my DS's school. One this year and one last year. Both varsity swimmers. Both failed their CFAs at summer seminar. That's the basis of my previous comment. I understand I shouldn't generalize. Again, no disrespect. CFAs, in my opinion, should be approached with preparation and practice. IMHO.
 

usna1985

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Jun 9, 2006
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A few thoughts. Your senior year seems "soft" for USNA purposes, even with all the APs. For example, I don't see physics in your schedule. You really should take that next year. And you aren't continuing with Japanese -- is there a reason, such as you've already taken the highest level your h.s. offers? Skip AP bio and the "college" poly sci course and replace them with physics and something else relevant for USNA purposes, such as statistics or advanced language.

USNA is ok with one "fluff" course (again, speaking from USNA perspective not life in general), such as art, music, psychology, etc. You said you must take art, so that's your one. The rest of your schedule needs to consist of hard core math, science and writing courses.

As for the CFA, EVERYONE should do a practice test well in advance of the real thing, just as you would prepare for any test. Do it under test conditions. That will give you a good idea of whether it will be "easy" for you or whether there are areas in which you need to improve. At some level, the CFA is no different from the SAT or your h.s. AP chemistry test -- some people are naturally better at taking certain tests. For everyone else, dedicated study/practice is likely to lead to improved scores.

As for your board scores, they are currently good enough to get into USNA. That said, I still recommend you retake them. Why? As an above poster noted, every little thing helps and getting a higher math score especially will definitely help. Also, depending on where you live, they may or may not be good enough to snag a nomination. Where I live, your scores would be average at best, but then again I'm in a hyper-competitive area. Improving your scores makes you really stand out to nom committees, though of course, scores are but one element in your USNA and MOC applications.
 

time2

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Jul 17, 2007
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As for the CFA, EVERYONE should do a practice test well in advance of the real thing

I agree, since the events are done consecutively where fatigue becomes part of the equation. The basketball ball throw requires you to develop your technique to get the best rests (read older posts on that topic.)
 

J1317

5-Year Member
Joined
Dec 25, 2016
Messages
39
A few thoughts. Your senior year seems "soft" for USNA purposes, even with all the APs. For example, I don't see physics in your schedule. You really should take that next year. And you aren't continuing with Japanese -- is there a reason, such as you've already taken the highest level your h.s. offers? Skip AP bio and the "college" poly sci course and replace them with physics and something else relevant for USNA purposes, such as statistics or advanced language.

USNA is ok with one "fluff" course (again, speaking from USNA perspective not life in general), such as art, music, psychology, etc. You said you must take art, so that's your one. The rest of your schedule needs to consist of hard core math, science and writing courses.

As for the CFA, EVERYONE should do a practice test well in advance of the real thing, just as you would prepare for any test. Do it under test conditions. That will give you a good idea of whether it will be "easy" for you or whether there are areas in which you need to improve. At some level, the CFA is no different from the SAT or your h.s. AP chemistry test -- some people are naturally better at taking certain tests. For everyone else, dedicated study/practice is likely to lead to improved scores.

As for your board scores, they are currently good enough to get into USNA. That said, I still recommend you retake them. Why? As an above poster noted, every little thing helps and getting a higher math score especially will definitely help. Also, depending on where you live, they may or may not be good enough to snag a nomination. Where I live, your scores would be average at best, but then again I'm in a hyper-competitive area. Improving your scores makes you really stand out to nom committees, though of course, scores are but one element in your USNA and MOC applications.

I appreciate the advice! I took physics freshman year, and the only physics option for next year would be AP Physics... Not very strong in the subject, but since you mention it I will definitely take a look into it. I've already taken the highest level of Japanese at my school; otherwise, I would have continued with it. Poli Sci or Government is required, and I would prefer to take the college course over the AP course. Any thoughts on that?

Are there any other courses that I should really consider besides Physics?

I have the option to take Computerized Graphic Design as my art requirement, too. Would that look better of AP Art?

As several people mentioned, I do plan to retake my tests. For ACT I believe I can realistically score 33+ (hoping for 31+ in math... it's my lowest score right now), and for SAT 1520+
 

J1317

5-Year Member
Joined
Dec 25, 2016
Messages
39
Any additional advice or comments would be great! I'd like to get as many opinions as I can.
 

NotCollege

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Feb 25, 2016
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  • To improve your chances of qualifying scholastically, your high school preparation should include the following:
    • mathematics-four years of mathematics courses, including a strong foundation in geometry, algebra, and trigonometry. Courses in pre-calculus and calculus are also very valuable and are highly encouraged.
    • science-one year each of chemistry and physics, with lab if possible.
    • English-four years of course work with special attention to the study and practice of effective writing. Surveys of English and American literature are especially helpful as background for future study of literature.
    To further enhance your competitiveness for admission, the following courses are also recommended:
    • foreign language-at least two years.
    • history-one full year of U.S. history and, where possible, a full year of European or world history.
    • introductory computer and typing courses are recommended because all midshipmen are required to use personal computers in most courses.

    This is what USNA recommends for high school classes. This is to prepare you for....(see image)
Now add on to the plebe schedule all of the extra pressures of plebe year. Pick courses that will challenge you so that you will be ready for the academics.
 

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usna1985

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Courses that will help include physics, chem, calc, English, history and advanced language. Others, if available, include probs and stats, engineering, and computer courses (that involve math/engineering). Only you know what is available at your school and what your remaining requirements are. You want to show USNA you are taking the most difficult courses you can while still satisfying your school/state requirements.
 

AcadAdmCoach

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Jan 8, 2017
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Calc over stats though, yes?

It is the "standard" recommendation; however, go with your desire for the stats versus calc. Your record looks great. Keep up the good work. I recommend applying to the Summer Seminar to kick-off your application to the Academy, in general. Also, starting in the Spring, you will kick-off letters to all of your nomination sources, including a Presidential nomination since your father is a Navy member. If you are interested, I would apply to the different Service Academies to increase your chances, but only if you are interested. Best of luck!
 

usna1985

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Definitely take calc over stats. If you can add stats to your schedule in addition to calc (or if you've already finished your h.s. calc courses), then do so as it's a very useful course to have and is needed for quite a few majors at USNA.
 
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