Last Updated on January 10, 2022

Of the 3 main service academies, USAFA was fairly transparent with revealing how their admissions process works. This is great news as it gives you an excellent chance to look behind the curtain and see how USAFA selects cadets! 

We’ve highlighted the key components from a recent RAND study that breaks down the admissions process to tell you what really matters. To see the full RAND study, read here.

How hard it is to get into the Air Force Academy?

Many places you’ll see admission stats claiming that USAFA has around a 10% admission rate. This is true if you include the thousands of students who inquire about admission. 

In reality, the offers of admission for QUALIFIED applicants range from 50-60%. We like those odds a lot more! What does it take to be qualified? Let’s break it down:

How Are the Air Force Academy Requirements Weighted?

The admissions scoring process is broken down into 3 components: academics, leadership, and a board score. Academics is the single most important factor for admission, as it makes up 60%. The other two categories are 20% each. Let’s break them down even further.

Academics – 60%

  • SAT/ACT Scores
  • Prior Academic Rank
    • Class rank
    • GPA
    • Transcript
    • Rigor of classes

We went back and looked at 8 years of average test scores and here’s the deal: the averages don’t change much. You should start preparing early for the SAT or ACT and shoot for the moon! 

Graph showing average Air Force Academy SAT score requirements for admission

source: USAFA class portrait 12-19

Graph showing average Air Force Academy ACT score requirements for admission

source: USAFA class portrait 12-19

Your grades are also an important academic factor. The average GPA for USAFA cadets over the past decade is around 3.8. If you don’t meet these criteria, we still encourage you to apply as your test scores can help make up for a semester of poor grades, etc.

Steps for Academic Success

  1. Take harder classes – including AP or IB classes
  2. Strive to get excellent grades throughout high school
  3. Prepare for your SAT and/or ACT and retest if necessary

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The Remaining 40% of the USAFA Requirements Admissions Score

The leadership and selection panel scores are vaguer than the academic score, in that these are more subjective. Here are some general guidelines for achieving high scores in these areas. 

Leadership – 20%

  • Activities
  • Leadership

Steps for Getting a Higher Leadership Score

  1. Get involved in activities that matter to you and take on a leadership role
  2. National Honor Society, Boy Scouts, Varsity Sports are great examples
    1. Quality over quantity! 

Selection Panel – 20%

  • ALO evaluation
  • Writing samples
  • Teacher evaluations
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Candidate Fitness Assessment (CFA)

Steps for Getting a Higher Selection Panel Score

  1. Get to know your teachers – let them know early of your interest in a Service Academy
  2. Reach out to your ALO early and communicate on time!
  3. Spend time thinking through your writing samples and edit, edit, edit.
  4. Practice your CFA before taking it officially- get a plan here

Use our Air Force Academy admissions calculator to estimate how competitive you are, by plugging in all the information we mentioned above.

If you know the Air Force Academy is right for you, make sure you meet all the application deadlines on time! If you haven’t yet made up your mind about which service is right for you, you can read our post about the West Point admissions process here. Unfortunately, the Naval Academy is somewhat secretive in its admissions process. 

For additional information on the Air Force Academy and how to make yourself competitive, you can get a copy of our book here.

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