West Point has an admission acceptance rate of anywhere from 8-11% depending on the year. We’ve broken down this acceptance rate and identified why it is too low (closer to 50% for qualified candidates) in the post: Is the West Point Acceptance Rate Accurate, but in this post we will show the specifics the admissions team is looking for and the system West Point admissions uses to determine which applicants are offered appointments.
West Point Admissions has been very open about their admissions process with recent studies. The first thing to understand about how hard it is to get into West Point. For more information on all the West Point application requirements, read our Ultimate Guide on How to Get Into West Point.
Read on for the keys to success! Additionally, you can calculate your own estimated Whole Candidate Score here.
How hard it is to get into West Point?
The answer is, it depends! What West Point admissions is looking for are candidates who have academic ability, leadership potential, and physical aptitude. The three of these categories make up the entirety of the Whole Candidate Score. By understanding the different components of this score you can focus on your weak areas and the areas that carry the most weight with the admissions team.
Breaking Down the West Point Admissions Process to Improve Your Chances
The Whole Candidate Score is the most important part of the West Point admissions process. This score is the top reason why applicants do or do not receive appointments!
The Whole Candidate Score is a total score of potential out of 8000 points.
For reference, a recent class of admitted appointees received the following WCS by percentile:
The margins are fairly small to move up in admitted candidate rankings. Adding 12 points moves the candidate up 1%. Adding 120 points is a 10% jump. For reference, a 100-point increase in SAT Math, for example, equates to approximately 200 WCS points. For the verbal section, a 100-point jump increases the candidate’s WCS points by 150.
What makes up these points? Let’s break them down by category – keep in mind these are estimated.
Academy Ability Score – 60%
- ACT and/or SAT scores (whichever is higher in percentile)
- High school rank, class size, and difficulty
Math and high school rank are considered the most important estimations as to your success at West Point, so it’s no wonder so much emphasis is put on these categories. Test early and often. The admissions team will accept the highest scores for each category by percentile.
Community Leader Score – 30%
- Sports leadership and involvement
- Extracurricular involvement
- Recommendations from teachers and coaches
Showing leadership in this category is vital. This means both sports and extracurriculars. Lettering and leading Varsity sports will help you significantly. Additionally, being active in the National Honor Society, your class cabinet, and other organizations will help your extracurricular involvement. Pick things you are interested in and stick with them. Finally, developing strong relationships with teachers and coaches will help you when it comes time for recommendations. You get to choose the coaches and teachers that write recommendations, as long as they taught you from grades 9-12, so choose wisely!
Physical Aptitude Exam Score – 10%
- Candidate fitness assessment
The CFA is a 40-minute test that measures your physical fitness. There are 6 test areas:
- Basketball throw from kneeling position
- Pull-ups or flexed arm hang (female only)
- Shuttle run
- Modified sit-ups
- One-mile run
Note you are also required to capture a video of your execution of push-up and pull-up/flex arm hang events during the test and submit this with your test results.
If you have taken a practice exam you can input your scores here in our CFA calculator to see how well you did and would score on the 800-point scale towards your Whole Candidate Score.
Understand that the fitness test is important, but when looking to spend time improving your WCS score, it will be more strategic to spend an hour studying for the math section of the SAT/ACT than to shave off a few seconds on your one-mile run time.
Need Help Preparing for the Fitness Test?
We recommend the CFA book written by Stew Smith. He is a former Navy Lieutenant (SEAL) who graduated from the United States Naval Academy and Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training. He has been personally training, testing, and writing workout books and eBooks that prepare people to ace fitness tests for over 25 years.
What to Focus on Improving
So now you understand all the components – where to look to improve? Since we have general guidelines for what the admissions team places the most importance on, you can strategically determine what to focus on.
The following chart shows that SAT/ACT Math/Science is the single most important factor to your admission. Focusing on improving that category, if able, will have the largest impact on your admission.
See where you place with our Whole Candidate Score calculator, including estimated score to point conversion for standardized tests, athletic and extracurricular involvement, and HS rank.