West Point is one of the most prestigious Service Academies, with its legacy dating back to the Revolutionary War. Every year, about 10,000 students start the application process and only a little over 1,000 are admitted. In order to be appointed to West Point, you’ll need:

  • Excellent grades
  • High SAT or ACT test scores
  • Outstanding recommendations from teachers and others
  • Community involvement
  • Demonstration of leadership potential
  • A strong athletic profile
  • A nomination, most likely Congressional
  • Medical qualification

In this guide, we break down all of the above to help you understand what West Point is looking for in the next generation of Army leaders.

An overview of how to get into West Point:

Don’t get overwhelmed by the process or the low admission rate. Breaking it down into pieces can help you understand the entire timeline and give you confidence in your application.

The West Point Mission

The mission of the United States Military Academy, also known as West Point, is to educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets. The goal is for each graduate to commission as a leader of character dedicated to Duty, Honor, Country, and prepared for a career of professional excellence.

Above all, West Point is seeking out committed leaders who will serve the Nation as officers in the United States Army.


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Basic Requirements – Who West Point is Looking For

There are both legal requirements and unspoken requirements for admittance into West Point. Legal Requirements:

  • 17-22 years old
  • U.S. Citizen
  • Unmarried
  • Not pregnant; with no legal obligation to support a child

West Point Academic Requirements

Academic capability is an important part of how to get into West Point. Your high school GPA, class rank, and academic test scores are the primary aspects the admissions team looks at.

What GPA do you need to get into West Point?

West Point wants to take academically successful high school students and turn them into successful Army officers. You’ll need to be at the top of your class if you’re applying to West Point, with nearly straight A’s. Year over year, the average GPA for West Point appointees is 3.9. Over 75% of West Point cadets received a GPA of 3.75 or higher during high school.

You can make up for a lower GPA (to a certain extent) by focusing on your SAT or ACT scores.

Just because you have a GPA that fits this criteria doesn’t mean you’ll receive an appointment from the admissions team, as they focus on the whole person concept (with the Whole Candidate Score). On the other hand, the WCS also gives you a chance if you started excelling later in your high school academic career and your GPA isn’t as high!

Note: Any Ds or Fs on your high school transcripts will be questioned by the admissions team, especially if they occurred further along in your high school career.

West Point SAT and ACT test scores – The most important factor for admission

The West Point admissions team puts a lot of importance on your SAT or ACT score. GPAs can be subjective based on the school you’re attending, but the SAT and ACT are the great national equalizers.

The SAT/ACT makes up 40% of your application score. Although physical aptitude and leadership potential also play a role in your admittance, your SAT or ACT scores are weighted strongest in West Point’s consideration of your application. Math and Science are weighted higher than English and Reading:

  • Math – 25%
  • English – 15%

Improving your Math score is the single most important factor under your control as a candidate!

If you have limited time to prepare across all the areas of your application, spending time achieving the highest possible SAT or ACT score will pay off much more than any other category!

Recommendation: test often

You may perform great academically but not be the best standardized test-taker, so testing early and giving yourself time for improvement is a great strategy.

West Point super scores for both the SAT and ACT. If you’ve taken either test more than once, then the highest score will be used for your application. For the SAT, West Point uses the highest Math and Evidence-Based Reading scores. For the ACT, West Point uses your highest English, Math, Reading, and Science scores.

What SAT score do you need for West Point?

West Point does not have a minimum SAT test score, but if you want to earn an appointment you’ll need around a 1200 SAT to even be considered. To be competitive, you should aim for a much higher score.

West Point Admissions recommends retesting for SAT scores below 600 in Math and Verbal sections.

Here are a recent class’ test scores for comparison:

Graph showing the West Point SAT Scores of admitted Cadets for the 2019 to 2020 school year

West Point SAT score statistics

West Point Average SAT Scores

What ACT score do you need for West Point?

Just like the SAT, West Point does not have a minimum ACT test score, but if you want to earn an appointment you’ll need around a 26 ACT to even be considered. To be competitive, you should aim for a much higher score.

West Point Admissions recommends retesting for ACT scores below 29 composite.

Graph showing the West Point ACT Scores of admitted Cadets for the 2019 to 2020 school year

West Point ACT score statistics

Understanding where you fall within these scores can help you decide if you want to retest or are happy with your score. Even a 100 point increase on your SAT composite can make a huge difference!

West Point Average ACT Scores

Why you should find out if your school ranks you

West Point also considers your class rank when determining how to score your overall application (part of the Academic Ability Score). If your school doesn’t rank students, then West Point will use your SAT or ACT score to calculate a class rank for you. If this is you, your SAT or ACT scores become that much more important.

West Point Fitness Requirements

Fitness is a major part of the application process and can make or break you when it comes to getting into West Point.

The West Point Candidate Fitness Assessment (CFA)

The physical test, known as the Candidate Fitness Assessment, is a series of 6 exercises that you can practice before the test, and we highly recommend doing just that! You can calculate your estimated CFA score using our Candidate Fitness Assessment Score Calculator.

Here are instructions for the fitness assessment. As you prepare for the test, understanding these max and average values will help you succeed:

West Point fitness test max scores

West Point fitness test average scores

The good news is that this test is the same across all service academies, so if you are undecided about which service academy to apply for you can still prepare for all and only test once. The test can be administered by any physical education teacher, a Field Force representative (or other liaison officer), military officers or NCOs, JROTC instructors, or professors of military science.

West Point CFA video recording requirement

A note for West Point: unlike the other Service Academies, West Point requires you to film all reps performed for the CFA’s pull-ups and push-ups portions. If you’re undecided on which Service Academy you want to attend but West Point is included, make sure someone is recording during your test!

You’ll also want to make sure you meet the height and weight requirements for West Point.

West Point Leadership Requirements

To be considered “fully qualified”, you should build a solid record of extracurricular activities and/or athletics throughout your high school career. Leadership is one of the pillars you must understand when learning how to get into West Point.

The admissions team is looking for leadership potential. This is measured through your athletics, extracurriculars, and information from your teachers.

Taking on an active leadership role is a great goal for any clubs, sports, or activities you are involved in. Additionally keeping active in classes and developing strong relationships with your peers will demonstrate leadership capability to your teachers.

Here are some sample questions that your teachers will fill out – these are great items to keep in mind when interacting with others throughout your high school career:

  • Do you show interest and concern for the welfare of others?
  • Do you work effectively with others toward group goals?
  • Do you influence others in a positive manner?
  • Do you communicate effectively in face-to-face discussions?
  • Do you communicate effectively in written work?
  • Do you set an example of good conduct for others?
  • Do you set high standards for own performance in a number of activities?
  • Do you maintain composure and perform effectively under pressure?
  • Do you adjust to demanding schedule of activities without neglecting schoolwork?
  • Do you seek academic challenges beyond that required by normal course work?
  • Do you reach sound, logical conclusions based on the analysis of facts?
  • Do you accept full responsibility for your own actions?

The Whole Candidate Score & Getting Into West Point

Academics, fitness, and leadership are all taken into account for an appointment. All of these topics combine to form what West Point admissions refer to as the “Whole Candidate Score” (WCS).

You can calculate an estimated Whole Candidate Score to see your chances of receiving an appointment with our West Point Admissions Calculator.

The higher your WCS, the higher your chances of admission.

Academic ability is computed by an Academic Ability Score, which makes up 60% of your WCS.

Physical aptitude is measured with the Physical Aptitude Exam score and makes up 10% of the WCS.

Finally, leadership potential is measured by a Community Leader Score, which makes up 30% of the WCS.

The WCS is a total of 8000 points. 50% of the appointees fall between 5700 and 6300 points.

If you’ve used the calculator, we go into more detail on the components of the Whole Candidate Score by each category and explained the scoring process here: How Hard is it to Get into West Point?

West Point Admissions Deadline

No matter where you are in your high school career (or before for that matter) understanding the admissions timeline is vital! For the class of 2027, the West Point application deadline is January 31st, 2023.

If you’re a procrastinator, now is the time to change! Since many of West Point’s application items involve other people, start the process as early as possible. If all of your application requirements are not complete as of January 31st, your application file with West Point will be automatically closed.

Here is a brief overview of the admissions timeline. We recommend starting the official process during the second semester of your junior year of high school.

Junior Year – get the process started

  • Summer-Fall
    • Prepare for the SAT/ACT
    • Apply for the Summer Leaders Experience
  • Winter
    • Take the SAT/ACT for the first time
    • Get in contact with your regional Field Force Representative
    • Start a file with West Point – the Candidate Questionnaire – you’ll need SAT/ACT scores
    • Apply for a Congressional Nomination

The Candidate Questionnaire (CQ)

The West Point Candidate Questionnaire becomes available to high school juniors every January. If you make the cut you’ll receive a second step kit, which gives you access to the Candidate Portal. To complete the Candidate Questionnaire, you’ll need:

  • SAT and/or ACT scores
  • High School address and ETS code

Notification of qualification usually takes 24-48 hours.

Attend Summer Leaders Experience

This is completely optional, but we highly recommend you experience West Point so you’ll have a better idea if it’s a good fit! SLE is a week-long immersion in academic, military, and social life for those considering the United States Military Academy.

SLE takes place at the beginning of summer between your junior and senior years on the West Point campus. 500 students are chosen, and the application deadline is usually the end of March of your junior year. The program does cost several hundreds of dollars, so factor that into your decision. A small price to pay to help you make a life-altering decision.

You can find information for the current year in our post on Service Academy summer programs.

Your Field Force Representative

West Point values your character, resilience, and desire to serve. The best way they have to measure these is to interview you! The West Point admissions team cannot feasibly interview all applicants so they use Field Force Representatives, who are volunteers who help you navigate the admissions process and personally conduct the interview. Maintaining a positive and respectful relationship with your Field Force Rep is highly recommended.

We recommend establishing contact as early as possible. You can find your local Field Force Rep here (even before you open an application)

Most of the interviews occur from July through December of your senior year. Most of the time this interview happens in your home, their office, or a neutral location and lasts anywhere from 30-45 minutes. We offer interview prep as part of our consulting services and generally see large improvements in 2-3 one-hour sessions.

Senior Year – finish up application items

  • Summer
    • Attend the Summer Leaders Experience
    • Start the second/main portion of the West Point application
      • Resume
      • Essays
      • Teacher recommendations
      • Letters of recommendation
      • Counselor/school profile
      • Transcripts
    • Schedule your Field Force Representative interview
    • Take the physical fitness test (Candidate Fitness Assessment)
    • Start the DoDMERB medical qualification process
    • Continue taking the SAT/ACT until your score is as high as it can be
  • Fall
    • Complete all USMA forms
    • Complete your Congressional nomination interviews
  • Winter
    • The West Point Application Deadline for the Class of 2027 is January 31st, 2023. All application items must be completed by this date in order to be considered for admission.
  • Spring
    • Continue to get good grades
    • Get medically qualified by April

You don’t want to be rushing along with interviews and Letters of Recommendation by starting your application during your senior year. The whole process is already confusing and lengthy, don’t put added stress on yourself! Give yourself plenty of time to complete all items in the West Point application timeline.

Get to Know Your Teachers

You’ll need 4 letters of recommendation from teachers for your School Official Evaluation, to include the PE teacher administering your Candidate Fitness Test. Having good relationships with teachers will communicate character and potential to the West Point Admissions team.

Take the Candidate Fitness Assessment

It’s a great idea to prepare for the fitness assessment early. If you are an athlete, keep in mind you could get injured and be unable to complete the CFA in time. We recommend taking the CFA no later than the summer before your senior year.

Tips for success: prepare for the CFA by practicing the six test areas. Running, general conditioning exercises and competitive sports will also strengthen your abilities.

Get Medically Qualified

West Point requires you to be physically fit to commission upon admission and requires you to complete a physical examination. The Department of Defense Medical Examination Review Board (DoDMERB) physical is scheduled by West Point. Start the entire application process early, in order to get your physical scheduled as early as possible. You’ll receive an email with instructions on how to schedule your physical. We recommend completing your medical exams as soon as possible in order to allow time for processing waivers should the need arise.

Once all your appointments are finished, DoDMERB will receive the results and usually make a decision within 2 weeks. Get back quickly with your follow-up appointments to make sure you are following along with West Point’s application timeline!

Second Semester Senior Year Grades Matter!

Your high school will send in your transcripts. These transcripts will include your grades up to the first semester of your senior year. Keep in mind that West Point Admissions looks at your final grades. The second semester of your senior year is not the time to get senioritis! We’ve seen candidates who had accepted admission have their admission revoked after the submission of final grades due to sub-par grades.

Letter of Assurance from West Point – Receive “Pre-Approval”

A Letter of Assurance is a reservation of an appointment to a Service Academy contingent upon medical qualification, physical qualification, Height/Weight, continued excellent work in school, and file Completion.

Letters of Assurance are conditional and subject to review throughout the entire application process. Candidates receive Letters of Assurance based upon excellent scholar, athlete, leader credentials as noted in our post on How to Earn a Letter of Assurance.

When does West Point make admissions decisions?

The Admissions Committee meets from early October of your senior year through early May.

Official Offers of Admission are sent out from January through Early May, giving you time to prepare for your Reception Day.

How to Get a Nomination for West Point

If you are seeking a Congressional Nomination, the process is similar across the four of the service academies (except for the Coast Guard Academy). The nomination process can be confusing when learning how to get into West Point. Understanding how the nominations process works will help you plan accordingly.

First, do you know the difference between a nomination and an appointment?

When applying to a Service Academy, you become a “candidate”. When West Point offers admission to candidates, this is also called being offered an appointment. You become an “appointee”.

In order for West Point to offer you appointment, you must have some type of nomination. West Point will not make you an offer of appointment unless you have a nomination. A nomination gives the Service Academy admission teams the legal authority to consider a candidate for an appointment.

Most cadets receive their nominations through Congress – either a State Senator or their local Congressional Representative.

There is also a Vice Presidential Nomination, although this is incredibly competitive. If you have a parent who was active duty or retired, you are also eligible to receive a Presidential Nomination.

Who are you eligible to receive a nomination from?

Typically you are eligible for at least your U.S. Congressional Representative, your 2 U.S. Senators, and the Vice Presidential nomination. These usually increase in competition as you increase from the local to national level.

Each Member of Congress is authorized to have 5 candidates at any one-time. Typically Senators and House Representatives will have 4 candidates and 1 open slot. They will usually use one open slot per year. Each slot can be filled by up to 10 nominations from the Senator/House Representative.

This chart depicts the nomination slots that each Senator/Representative has:

flow chart showing how the congressional nomination process works for service academies

Although the class years have different designators at each Service Academy, we simplified them to make the chart easy to understand.

The most important part of the nomination process

Your best bet of receiving a Congressional nomination is usually from your local district Congressional Representative. Less people (compared to the entire state) are eligible to apply for a nomination from your local Rep compared to your Senators.

This piece is extremely important: Members of Congress can choose how they wish to nominate candidates.

Most nominating authorities (Members of Congress) send West Point a list of names and let the West Point admissions team decide who is most qualified. Other Members decide who they want to be appointed and send that person to West Point, along with backups. For this second method, West Point must consider the candidate to be fully qualified in order for them to be offered an appointment.

If you can determine what type of process your Member of Congress uses, this will be extremely helpful in your application. If you find out that your district’s Representative chooses who to appoint, focus extra attention on your congressional nomination process. Excelling during the interview could mean the difference between getting into West Point or not.

We go into more detail on each method that Members of Congress can be used in our post on Service Academy Congressional Nominations.

You should apply to every nomination source you are qualified for in order to increase your chances of selection for nomination.

Additional Nominating Sources:

  • Presidential: children of military personnel
  • Regular Army & Reserve Components
  • ROTC & JROTC schools
  • Children of deceased and 100% disabled Veterans
  • Children of Medal of Honor Winners

Find your Senator or Representative here.

Remember, just because you are offered a Congressional nomination does not mean you will automatically get into West Point. Once you have your nomination you are potentially competing against 9 other candidates.

What happens when a Congressional Representative sends those (up to) 10 names to West Point?

Assuming the Member of Congress is letting West Point decide who is most qualified, West Point computes a raw score (the Whole Candidate Score) for each candidate, based on:

  • SAT/ACT scores
  • High school class rank
  • Athletic activities
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Faculty appraisal
  • Fitness test score (CFA)

Based on the score that you receive as a candidate, you’ll be ranked against the other West Point nominees from your district. In reality, you are competing against the other (up to) 9 candidates in your district. SAT and ACT scores make up the largest percentage of your ranking, so keep testing! Only 1 of the 10 candidates nominated will be offered a definite appointment.

If you are competing against 9 other candidates, the best thing you can do is to get your SAT or ACT scores as high as possible.

Want to learn if you’re doing everything you can to earn a West Point appointment?

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Our Mission

Many high school students dream of attending one of the elite U.S. Service Academies. West Point’s prestige and long history make it highly sought after. So, how exactly do you get into West Point?

The rigorous admissions process for West Point can be daunting and mysterious, especially for candidates with no history of military service in their family. Our goal here at Gain Service Academy Admission Consulting is to help you understand the admissions process to give you the best chance to receive a coveted spot at West Point.

As a West Point Graduate, my team and I have written the most comprehensive guide to getting into West Point. Our mission is help you to understand what Congressional Representatives and admissions officers at West Point are really looking for and how to go about gaining admission!

If you are looking for someone to help you navigate the admissions process, my team and I are here to personally guide you through everything from understanding the Whole Candidate Score to Congressional Nomination interview preparation. It is crucial that you become educated about the process and set yourself up the best you can in order to get that call from your Member of Congress.

I wish you the best of luck in your pursuit of an appointment and your honorable goal of becoming an officer in the U.S. Army.

-Lieutenant Colonel Robert O. Kirkland (U.S. Army, Retired)

A Photo of Robert Kirkland in Army Dress Blues, founder of Gain Service Academy Admission