We here at Gain Service Academy Admissions took a sample of essay prompts from Members of Congress and identified the trending essays required.  Here are the most common Congressional nomination Service Academy essay samples with responses along with an explanation of what makes each essay great.

Interested in the entire Congressional nomination process? Read how the nomination process works for West Point, Annapolis, or the Air Force Academy.

Prompt #1: Explain why you want to attend and service as an officer in the military.  

Sample Service Academy Essay Answer:

Serving alongside the brave men and women fighting for our country has long been a desire of mine. Being a United States Army officer is a substantial undertaking worth careful consideration. I explored the duties and responsibilities involved in being a West Point cadet and pursuing an Army career.

I also wanted to explore what my duties and responsibilities would be as a lieutenant in the Army so  I contacted Major Dugan Smith and visited Fort Jones Army Reserve Center. I spoke to several full-time employees who emphasized that an Army career is an unparalleled opportunity to give back to our country. I met First Lieutenant Matt Jones, who told of his West Point experience and Army career. He highlighted networking opportunities and countless jobs and experiences the Army offers. He explained how people could pursue their interests and find Army careers within that passion.

Leadership and adaptability are traits key to success in the Army. As a two-time captain of the basketball team and assistant basketball coach for elementary students, I’ve gained leadership experience. Adaptability has been prominent in my life. Having always lived abroad and traveled extensively, I was raised in a way that allows me to be sensitive to other cultures and adjust in different environments easily.  West Point allow me to further develop these important skills

Through my research and activities, I feel I understand what it takes to be a West Point cadet and an Army officer and I am prepared for the challenge. I would be honored to be an officer in the United States Army and have the chance to give back to our country in such a meaningful way.


Note that this first essay is not a laundry list of accomplishments the candidate did in high school.

Rather, it centers on what the candidate did to find out more about what life would be like both as an officer candidate and an officer in the United States Army. Notice the candidate talked to officers as well as took time out of his/her schedule to visit a local Reserve center unit to meet with officers and see what life in the Army would be like. This shows your Member of Congress that you understand that becoming a cadet is a serious commitment and that “get” why you are making this commitment is important.

Prompt #2: What are the most important qualities in becoming a successful Service Academy cadet and a successful officer?

Sample Service Academy Essay Answer:

I spoke to several currently serving and retired Air Force officers and non-commissioned officers as well as visiting a local Air National Guard unit near my home to answer this question. In my conversations and visits, I asked each of them what they felt were the most important qualities in becoming a successful cadet and Air Force officer. In short, they emphasized that officers have strong character and core values, they get things done, they communicate clearly and effectively lead. These characteristics, they felt, were the foundation for success as a cadet and future Air Force officer.

Military officers do the right thing for the right reasons, all the time. It means doing the right thing whether someone is watching or not. They are loyal first to the Constitution and nation, then to the institutional Service, then to their units, then to their soldiers and finally to themselves. They do not tolerate deviations from what is right from subordinates, peers, superiors or friends.  Military officers are self-confident. They are confident in their ability to accomplish assigned missions and their ability to control themselves. They project a calm, unflappable, martial image regardless of how challenging the environment so as to inspire confidence among their subordinates. Military officers know how to be and are in charge when appropriate. Military officers get things done. They are able to determine how best to divide large tasks into smaller parts and then develop plans to accomplish them. They are able to set priorities and manage their time accordingly, then organize themselves and others to accomplish the priority tasks. Then, they relentlessly apply themselves until they get the job done. Air Force officers are clear verbal communicators. They recognize that clear communication requires effective listening, careful thought, and articulate and appropriate responses. They have exceptional verbal delivery.  Finally, military officers are effective leaders. They are skilled at influencing and directing others in order to accomplish a task. They have a knack for employing group problem-solving, developing commitment from teammates, delegating and following-up on tasks, and motivating the people they work with to accomplish a group goal.


Note again that the candidate kicks the essay off again emphasizing that he/she went out and asked officers and non-commissioned officers the exact question that the Member of Congress is posing to him/her. Rather than simply guessing the answer to the question, this candidate shows that he/she went out of her way to find out the answer. Then, the candidate shows what he/she learned from these officers and effectively lays out the characteristics that he/she felt made good officer candidates and future officers.

Prompt #3: Describe a personal experience you have had which you feel has contributed to your own character development and integrity.

Sample Service Academy Essay Answer:

I have tried to fashion my life to work on increasing my responsibility and modeling selfless service to others that is the hallmark of a military officer.  I am a caregiver for my brother Peter, who has a significant intellectual disability and autism. My parents both have jobs that require early starts and frequent travel, so I take care of Peter before and after school each day, and also help with his care on weekends and holidays. My care includes getting Peter to and from school, helping him get dressed, meal preparation, medications, and overall supervision for safety. There are aspects of this that are tough. It has meant that I can’t join clubs or sports that meet before or after school, that I have to stay patient and calm even when Peter is having a really difficult day, and that I always need to put his safety and well-being ahead of all else. The experience has taught me the importance of selfless service and leadership at home, and I have learned that service to others isn’t always easy or fun, but that it always the right thing to do.

I have also embraced increasing responsibility through scouting by obtaining the rank of Eagle Scout.  It was in the Scouts, through service projects that benefited the community, face to face mentoring of younger scouts, and building a cohesive and self-sustaining unit, that I learned that leadership was the way to serve others and to put their good before my own.

Becoming an officer and submariner in the Navy would be an honor and privilege. The years I have spent growing as a leader at home and in scouts has shown me the importance of service and I look forward to pursuing future service to my country starting as a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy.


Make sure you tell a story and make it inspiring. Emphasize selfless service and putting others ahead of oneself. Military officers lead by example and care for their soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines. Mission first—People always. End the essay with perhaps a brief summary of your leadership and other things you have done but conclude forcefully with your excitement and desire to serve others as an officer in the military.

Final Thoughts

These are the trending essays that Members of Congress are asking this year.  In our opinion, the key to most of these essays is to do some legwork and ask serving or retired officers about these questions as well as go out and visit local Guard or Reserve units to see the military in action and forcefully answer these questions drawing on these interviews and experiences. If you do the above things, you will impress your Member of Congress and be that much closer to a Service Academy appointment!  

Find your Senator or Representative here.