Located in West Point, NY, West Point is also known as the United States Military Academy.
West Point is one of the most prestigious universities in the country and is extremely competitive to get into. It also has an in-depth application process with some unique requirements that you won’t see at non-military colleges and universities.
In this article, we’ll cover exactly how to get into West Point, from the test scores you should aim for to the logistical requirements of your application.
How Hard Is It to Get Into West Point?
In order to judge how competitive a school is, you need to look at its acceptance rate. West Point has a 10% acceptance rate. That means it’s very selective.
When you’re applying to a highly selective school like West Point, you need to make sure your application is as perfect as possible so that you stand out from the crowd. The vast majority of West Point applicants will be highly qualified - you need to be even more so.
Your SAT/ACT scores, grades, recommendations, essays and extracurricular activities are all super important parts of your West Point application. You need to have high marks across the board to be a competitive applicant.
What Is West Point Looking For in Its Students?
You can learn a lot about what a college or university is looking for in its students by looking at its mission. Let’s take a look at West Point’s mission:
The United States Military Academy's mission is to educate, train and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country and prepared for a career of professional excellence and service to the nation as an officer in the United States Army.
West Point has a unique mission among colleges and universities: it’s not only trying to educate students at the highest levels possible, it’s also preparing students to serve in the United States military after graduation.
West Point graduates will go on to act as officers in the United States military; they’re required to serve for five years on active duty. Because West Point graduates will become soldiers, West Point looks for unique qualities among its applicants including:
Academic Prowess: West Point trains officers in the US military who will go on to lead people in challenging situations. West Point wants the best and the brightest for its students.
Physical Fitness: West Point requires applicants to pass a physical fitness test (more on that later). Students at West Point will have to take rigorous physical fitness classes, so it’s important they have a base level of fitness.
Character: Being involved in the military requires a strong character and spirit of service. West Point looks for applicants that have demonstrated a selfless desire to help others.
Can You Apply to West Point Early?
West Point doesn’t have an early action or early decision deadline. Every applicant has to abide by the February 28 regular admission deadline.
West Point Admissions Requirements and Deadlines
All West Point applicants must meet the following personal qualifications before applying:
- Be at least 17 but not older than 22 on July 1 of the year they enter West Point
- Not be married
- Not be pregnant
- Not be legally responsible for support of any children
- Be in good physical and mental health
- Pass a medical exam (DODMERB)
- Above average strength, agility, and endurance
- A strong performance on the West Point Candidate Fitness Assessment (CFA)
West Point provides a candidate questionnaire if you have any questions about your eligibility based on these requirements. In addition, all applicants must have a Social Security number at the time of their application.
West Point also requires that applicants receive a nomination to attend. You can get either a congressional nomination or a service-connected nomination. There are only a few approved sources of congressional nominations:
- Your representative in Congress
- Your US senators
- The Vice President of the United States
- Delegates to the House of Representatives from Washington, D.C., the Mariana Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Virgin Islands
- The Governor of Puerto Rico
- The Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico
- The Secretary of the Army
The following applicants have what are known as service-connected nominations, which means that the applicant has a connection to someone in the US military.
- Sons and Daughters of "career military personnel" (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard)
- Members of Regular Army and Reserve Components (Army, Army Reserve, and Army National Guard)
- Sons and Daughters of Deceased or Disabled Armed Forces Veterans
- Sons and Daughters of Medal of Honor Recipients
- Army Junior and Senior ROTC Programs and Honor ROTC Units of Other Services
There are specific requirements to being service-connected, so make sure you check them out on West Point’s website.
West Point applicants are also required to submit the following:
- High school academic transcripts
- SAT or ACT scores
- SAT or ACT writing scores
- 4 letters of recommendation
- West Point application essay
What GPA Do I Need to Get Into West Point?
West Point is very competitive to get accepted to. West Point only accepts 10 students out of every 100 applicants, which means that you need to have a stellar application to be considered.
One of the most important factors on your application is your GPA. While West Point doesn’t have a minimum GPA requirement, you can look at the average accepted GPA of West Point students to see what you need.
The average GPA of admitted West Point applicants is 3.74. You’ll want to at least meet this GPA to apply. Your application will look even better if it’s higher than the average.
That means you’ll need mainly A’s (you can have a few B’s peppered in) to achieve this GPA.
Since West Point values the academic preparedness of its applicants, you can also demonstrate how serious you are as a student by taking AP, IB, honors, or other advanced classes.
If your grades aren’t perfect, you can compensate with high standardized test scores.
What Test Scores Do I Need to Get Into West Point?
West Point applicants traditionally have competitive standardized test scores. Just as with GPA, you’ll ideally want to meet, if not exceed, the average standardized test scores of West Point’s admitted applicants.
The average SAT composite score for West Point admitted applicants is 1340 (on the 1600 point scale).
West Point does something known as “Highest Section” scoring. That means they consider your highest scores on each section.
So, for instance, if you took the SAT in May 2018 and earned a 690 on Reading and a 740 on Math, then took it again in August and earned a 770 on Reading and a 700 on Math, West Point will take the highest score on each section (in this case, 770 and 740).
That means it’s in your best interest to take the SAT at least twice before applying to West Point - you can’t hurt your score by going down the second time you take the test.
The average ACT score for West Point admitted applicants is 28. West Point doesn’t indicate whether it also takes your highest score on each section for the ACT.
You’re also required to take the writing section on both the SAT and ACT.
West Point doesn’t require any SAT subject tests.
How to Write Your West Point Application Essays
West Point requires that you submit an essay as part of your statement. The essay topic changes yearly and you only get access to the prompt after confirming your eligibility via birthdate and Social Security number, so I can’t offer specific information on the prompt for this year.
However, you’ll likely also have to write an essay as part of the nomination process so that your representative, senator, or the Vice President can get to know you.
While there’s no specific formula for what you need to write to get nominated by your congressional representative, successful essays typically do the following:
#1: Clearly Demonstrate Interest in West Point and the US military
Deciding to go to West Point is a big choice - one that will affect the rest of your life, even beyond graduation. Your essay should indicate why you want to make a commitment to West Point and the military. You need to have clear, compelling reasons.
#2: Highlight Your Qualifications for Going to West Point
It's extremely competitive to get into West Point. Your representatives will be asked to write multiple letters, so the competition really starts with this letter. You need to show why you deserve their recommendation. Your representative won't have your full West Point application, so you'll need to highlight your academic and extracurricular qualifications to them.
#3: Write Clearly and Double-Check for Errors
It should go without saying, but your letters should be well-written and error-free. Ask someone to proofread your work and get (at least) a second opinion on the content. so you can be sure you're making a compelling case for why you need a letter of recommendation.
3 Tips for How to Get Into West Point
Getting into West Point is difficult, but not impossible. Here are some tips for successfully being accepted at the US Military Academy.
#1: Start the Process Early
West Point has unique application requirements. Among them, a nomination from an important political representative. You need to build in time to reach out to these representatives and establish a relationship before submitting your application.
You also have to pass a physical fitness test. That’s not even to say anything about the other application requirements, such as taking the SATs and writing your West Point essay.
West Point recommends that students start their applications as early as possible - often, mid-way through their junior year. If you wait too long, you won’t be able to get all of the application pieces together in time.
#2: Know the Application Requirements
West Point has unique application requirements. If you’re missing any one of them, your application won’t even be considered.
Make sure you familiarize yourself with these requirements before submitting. Otherwise, you’ll waste your time.
#3: Demonstrate Why West Point Is Right For You
West Point is not like most other colleges and universities. You need to prove that it’s the right opportunity for you, which means thinking about more than just the stellar education you’ll receive. You need to show that being a part of the military is something important to you, too, and that you’re committed to this career path.
Recap: How to Get Into West Point
West Point is one of the most competitive schools in the United States to get into. In order to be accepted, you need to have strong academics, high test scores, and stellar recommendations from many people, including your member of Congress or US senator.
Start on your West Point application early, put effort into it, and you’ll be on the right track.
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Hayley Milliman is a former teacher turned writer who blogs about education, history, and technology. When she was a teacher, Hayley's students regularly scored in the 99th percentile thanks to her passion for making topics digestible and accessible. In addition to her work for PrepScholar, Hayley is the author of Museum Hack's Guide to History's Fiercest Females.