How to Get Into West Point - Admission Requirements + Tips

Student typing on her laptop on a white desk researching how to get into West Point
Updated:
December 12, 2023
9 min read
Contents

”Mary

Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 11/24/23

Curious about how to get into West Point? Below, we’ll discuss eligibility requirements, application deadlines, and everything else you’ll need to learn how to get accepted into West Point.

A smiling student holding his college application

Recognized as one of the nation's leading and oldest military schools, West Point demands academic and physical excellence from its students and alums, alongside a natural aptitude for leadership.

Known as an elite military college, students at West Point receive a rigorous, fully funded four-year university education. Upon enrollment, students are also considered members of the U.S. military and can expect to serve for a minimum of 5 years. 

The school has gained its moniker of "America's Academy" based on its long history of educating future heads of state, cabinet members, high-ranking military officers, and more. 

West Point only accepts the best of the best—and that could include you! Read on to learn how to get accepted into West Point.

West Point Acceptance Rate

West Point has an acceptance rate of 11%, meaning they are very particular about who they choose to admit. By following the tips outlined below, you'll be on your way to being a part of that coveted 11%. 

How Hard Is It to Get Into West Point? 

West Point is a selective school, where approximately 1 in 10 applicants are admitted. Beyond its selectivity, applicants must also pass a physical aptitude test in addition to demonstrating academic excellence; for this reason, getting into West Point can be more challenging than other regular colleges.

West Point Initial Eligibility

The admissions requirements for West Point are quite particular. Eligible applicants must meet the following criteria

  • “Be at least 17 years of age, but not 23 years or older, on July 1 of the year you enter West Point
  • A U.S. Citizen
  • Not married
  • Not pregnant 
  • Not legally responsible for child support”

If you meet these initial requirements, you are encouraged by West Point to submit an application for consideration!

West Point Application Requirements

A strong GPA and SAT/ACT score are required to get into West Point. Competitive applicants boast 3.9 GPAs, SAT scores higher than 1311, and ACT scores above 29. Additionally, top candidates showcase exceptional physical aptitude, including achievements such as 75 push-ups (male) and 50 push-ups (female) in two minutes!

Because West Point is unlike any other college, the application process is also unique. West Point will evaluate you on your academics, physical strength, and leadership skills. 

The process first begins by gathering all of your personal information. You must confirm that you meet the initial eligibility requirements and submit your SAT or ACT scores.

Hopeful applicants will then need to complete a questionnaire, which West Point will use to confirm their eligibility. 

Academic Requirements

West Point has a strict reputation for accepting students with high GPAs and test scores. As a result, you'll want to achieve the best scores you can on whichever test you take and the best possible grades in your courses

To be competitive, you'll want to aim for an SAT score of 600 in the math and verbal sections. If you're writing the ACT, try focusing on achieving a score of 29 or higher. 

Regarding academics, you will also need to supply what is known as an SOE, or School Official Evaluation. This will include four letters of recommendation from your teachers in subjects like math, chemistry, physics, English, and physical education. 

Physical Requirements

Hopeful students applying to West Point must pass a physical aptitude test to be considered for acceptance. You will also need to pass a medical examination from a registered doctor. 

The West Point Candidate Fitness Assessment (CFA)

The Candidate Fitness Assessment (CFA) at West Point is a series of six exercises all candidates must pass to get into West Point: 

  • Basketball throw (from a kneeling position)
  • Cadence pull-ups or flexed-arm hang (woman’s option)
  • 40-yard shuttle run (for time)
  • Modified sit-ups (to be completed in two minutes)
  • Push-ups (to be completed in two minutes)
  • 1-mile run (for time)

Here are the max and average values of each test: 

Basketball Throw Pull-Ups Shuttle Run Sit-Ups Push-Ups 1-Mile Run
Male (Max) 102 18 7.8 95 75 5:20
Female (Max) 66 7 8.6 95 50 6:00
Male (Average) 67 9 9.1 72 54 6:43
Female (Average) 41 3 10 68 33 8:06

The CFA can be administered by any physical education teacher, military officer, NCO, JROTC instructor, or a Field Force representative. 

Video Recording Requirement

When you complete your CFA, you must film all your reps during the pull-up and push-up portions of your test! 

Nomination 

Getting into West Point requires a formal nomination from an appointed U.S. representative, senator, or the Vice-President of the United States. 

A nomination is mandatory unless you are already an active member of the U.S. military or the child of a deceased or disabled veteran/prisoner of war. In this circumstance, you may omit the nomination within your application. 

West Point recommends seeking nominations as soon as you confirm your eligibility as a prospective cadet. Generally speaking, they can take a long time - so the sooner you receive it before the application deadline, the better.  

The Interview

A significant component of the West Point application process is the interview. You will need to prepare for one to two interviews, depending on if you choose to have a recommendation from an appointed U.S. representative. 

Regardless of your choice, it’s important to note that the interview with a representative of the Field Force is mandatory for all applicants.

A local Field Force Representative will contact you with information about your interview. When the big day comes, you may be asked questions such as:

“Why do you want to be an Army officer?”
“What is your opinion of the military honor code?”
“How long do you plan on being in the military as an officer?”

Regarding your answers to these questions, the representative will evaluate you not only on the quality, length, and clarity of your answers but also on your posture, eye contact, and tone, alongside their first impression of you at your introduction.

They may ask themselves, "Did the candidate give a firm handshake? Did they arrive on time?”

Remember to take this opportunity seriously and treat it as you would a job interview. Make sure you are punctual, dressed appropriately, and have rehearsed your answers to the questions ahead of time. 

This is your opportunity to make a positive first impression and demonstrate you have all the qualities West Point is looking for. Make sure to get lots of practice!

West Point Application Deadlines

The process for applying to West Point is a longer process than a typical college application. It's recommended that you begin your application journey in your junior year to accommodate requesting formal nominations, should you choose to.

Junior Year

Your junior year application process will look a little like this:

Month Tasks
December Take and Submit Test Scores
Contact your regional Field Force Representative
Complete the Candidate Questionnaire (CQ)
Apply for and attend Summer Leaders Experience (SLE)
Prepare for Candidate Fitness Assessment (CFA)
January Apply for nominations
February Acquire and submit initial transcripts
Summer Months Attend Field Force Interview
Acquire and submit School Official Evaluation (SOE)
Complete and submit Candidate Assessment

Source: West Point

While the majority of the preparation happens in junior year, it's essential to be aware of the senior year deadlines to complete the West Point application process.

Senior Year

In senior year, you’ll have to do the following:

Month Tasks
September Take and submit medical exam
Attend nomination exams
December Acquire and submit final transcripts
End of January Deadline for application and all supporting documents to be sent in

Source: West Point

Remember to keep a close eye on these deadlines and start as early as possible so that you’re well-prepared for the admissions process.

West Point Application Essays

While your grades, fitness tests, and nominations tell one story, it's vital that you tell your story in your own words. This is where the essay prompts come into play. These are West Point’s most recent supplemental essay prompts, although they change annually: 

1. Explain why you want to attend the United States Military Academy and serve on active duty as an Army officer.
2. Think of some things in the past that were difficult for you. Pick one and discuss what steps you took to address it. Include whether you turned to anyone, the role that person played, and what you learned about your character as a result of this challenge.
3. West Point and the Army are committed to the idea that respect for others and an understanding of diversity are important leadership traits. Why will you be successful in working with leaders, peers, and subordinates of a gender, color, ethnicity, and/or religion different from your own?

There are no right or wrong answers, so use these essays to show why your values and beliefs are an excellent match for West Point. 

How to Write Your West Point Application Essays

These are some top tips to help you write your West Point supplemental essays. 

Demonstrate Your Interest in West Point and Joining the U.S. Military 

West Point is meant for students who are dedicated to joining the military. The decision to apply to West Point will impact your life past graduation, so you want to show the school you’re sure about the path you’ve chosen. 

Emphasize Your Academic and Extracurricular Activities 

Since West Point is selective, you need to show precisely why you’re a stellar candidate. While passing the physical requirements matter, you need to show West Point that your experiences and activities up to this point have prepared you to enroll in the school. 

Spend Adequate Time Writing and Editing Your Essays 

Your responses should be concise, compelling, and free of errors. Essays can take time to perfect, so expect to write multiple drafts and perform many edits. Start early to give yourself enough time!

Tips to Get Accepted Into West Point

It's no secret that getting into West Point can be challenging. Despite this, we've gathered some tips below to help you become one of the select few to receive an acceptance. 

Join an Extracurricular Activity

Chess board

West Point is looking for outstanding community members to admit to their school. What better way to show how outstanding you are than to excel at an extracurricular activity, particularly one where you can demonstrate your leadership skills?

Suppose you're keen on applying to West Point and subsequently joining the military. In that case, consider becoming a part of the American Legion Boys State or the American Legion Auxiliary Girls State. West Point often accepts one applicant per high school enrolled in these programs, so being a part of them will give you a better chance of acceptance!

Of course, you are not limited to clubs in the military family. You may pursue leadership positions on sports teams or academic clubs or even go after a student government position. 

Become a Member of the U.S. Military Beforehand

Receiving a nomination from a U.S. representative, senator, or VP is required for admission into West Point. However, if you are an active member of the U.S. military, you will not have to seek a nomination from a government official.

For most people, joining the U.S. military beforehand is easier than seeking a nomination. So, if going to school at West Point is your dream, be proactive and join the military beforehand, assuming you meet all of the requirements.

You will already be considered a member of the U.S. military once you are accepted to West Point, so it's just a matter of staying one step ahead!

Make Physical Fitness a Priority

person lifting big weight

Getting into West Point means being in tip-top physical shape - arguably, in the best physical shape of your life. This is something that cannot be done in less than one day - instead, you will need to have a workout plan and schedule to achieve the high level of fitness that West Point demands. 

To ensure that you pass the fitness test with flying colors, be consistent with your workouts and push yourself to the limit. You'll also want to make sure you're getting the proper nutrition and dietary needs that having an active lifestyle requires.

It's recommended that you practice the fitness test ahead of time so that you're extra prepared when the big day comes. Historically, most candidates struggle with the basketball throw and the one-mile run, so you'll want to focus on those parts of the fitness test.

Apply and Attend the Summer Leaders Experience (SLE)

West Point offers a taste of what being a cadet is all about during the Summer Leaders Experience. Offered to students in their junior year, this program, run by West Point cadets, allows hopeful applicants to learn valuable leadership skills while participating in practice cadet exercises. 

Applying to this week-long program will show the admissions committee that you are committed, passionate about the program, and possess the skills and values West Point is looking for.

FAQs: How to Get Into West Point

Still looking for answers to your questions about getting into West Point? We've gathered some frequently asked questions and their answers to put your mind at ease.

1. What Is West Point Looking for in Its Students?

Regarding admissions, West Point is looking for students with excellent grades, phenomenal critical thinking skills, and the athleticism necessary to meet the demands of West Point's rigorous military training.

Hopeful applicants should have the academic and physical skills needed to thrive at West Point, as well as a natural aptitude for leadership and an imminent responsibility to serve their country.

West Point also looks for applicants who have "grit." They look for applicants who can overcome challenging circumstances and are resilient in their efforts to keep going and reach their goals. This mentality is ideal for the demanding expectations you need to succeed at West Point. 

2. How Hard Is It to Get Into West Point?

West Point is notorious for being very selective, with an 11% acceptance rate. Those admitted are expected to have stellar academics, strong leadership skills, and be in peak physical condition to keep up with the school’s intense military training. 

3. What GPA Do You Need to Get Into West Point?

To be accepted to West Point, students will need to aim for a 3.7-4.0 GPA.

4. Can You Go to West Point Without Joining the Army?

Yes, you can receive an acceptance to West Point without joining the army. However, in lieu of this, you will need to receive a formal nomination from an appointed U.S. representative, senator, or Vice-President of the United States.

5. How Much Does It Cost to Go to West Point?

Successful applicants will receive a four-year, fully funded university education with room and board, so they will not have to worry about tuition. 

Final Thoughts

West Point is a military academy with a high reputation for excellence. Given the number of successful alums and the dedication to academics and military duty, it still serves the same purpose it did all those years ago in the American Civil War.

While achieving acceptance into West Point is rare, it is possible if you put in the preparation, time, and effort. The information we've outlined in this article will provide you with the tools necessary to have a stellar application to West Point—now it's up to you to put in the time and effort necessary to receive an acceptance. 

Best of luck!

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