School in Focus: West Point

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

United States Military Academy campus

School in Focus: West Point

The United States Military Academy, also known metonymically as West Point or simply as Army, is located in West Point, New York. It was originally constructed as a fort due to its strategic location on a hill overlooking the Hudson River 50 miles north of New York City.

Where is West Point?

Where is West Point, though? Well, on the western bank of the Hudson River, approximately 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of New York City, the academy is situated. West Point, New York, is incorporated in Orange County as a federal military reservation and is adjacent to Highland Falls.

The majority of the academy area was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960 due to the significance of both the Revolutionary War fort ruins and the military academy itself. In 1841, when Charles Dickens visited the academy, he remarked, “It could not stand on a more appropriate or beautiful site.”

Trophy Point, one of the most visited and picturesque locations on post, overlooks the Hudson River to the north and is home to many captured cannons from past wars as well as the Battle Monument designed by Stanford White.

The United States Military Academy front building while a platoon of student cadets pile up in the front yard

The entire military reservation encompasses 15,974 acres (65 km2), but the academic area of the campus, known as “central area” or “the cadet area,” is entirely accessible by foot to cadets and visitors.

The Boston architectural firm Cram, Goodhue, and Ferguson was awarded a significant construction contract in 1902 that established the prevailing neogothic architectural style. The Cadet Chapel, constructed in 1910, exemplifies this architectural style, which is predominant in the central cadet area.

The majority of these structures are made of predominantly gray and black-colored granite. The 1960s barracks were designed to resemble this architectural style. Other structures on post, including the oldest faculty private residences, are constructed in the Federal, Georgian, or English Tudor styles. Few structures, including Cullum Hall and the Old Cadet Chapel, are constructed in the Neoclassical style.

On the grounds of the academy there are numerous monuments and statues. The Plain, the central cadet parade ground, includes the Washington Monument, Thayer Monument, Eisenhower Monument, MacArthur Monument, Kosciuszko Monument, and Sedgwick Monument.

Patton Monument was originally erected in front of the cadet library in 1950, but it was moved to storage in 2004 to make room for Jefferson Hall. Patton’s statue was relocated and unveiled at a temporary location on May 15, 2009, following the completion of Jefferson Hall, where it will remain until the completion of the renovation of the old cadet library and Bartlett Hall.

In the cadet central area, just outside Nininger Hall, there is also a statue honoring brotherhood and friendship from the École Polytechnique. The remaining campus area contains twenty-seven additional monuments and memorials.

Many notable graduates and faculty are buried in the West Point Cemetery, including George Armstrong Custer, Winfield Scott, William Westmoreland, Earl Blaik, Margaret Corbin, and eighteen Medal of Honor recipients.

Several recent graduates who died during the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are also interred in the cemetery. Egbert Viele (class of 1847), chief engineer of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, is commemorated with the largest gravestone. A monument to the Revolutionary War hero Margaret Corbin is also located within the cemetery.

How to get into West Point

How to get into West Point from “Nominated” to “Qualified” to “Admitted”? Only 4,005 of the 12,294 applicants for the Class of 2022 at West Point ultimately received nominations. However, the pool was cut in half once more when the admissions committee determined that 2,228 candidates were “qualified” physically and academically.

a female military academy student

Another round of scrutiny reduced the number of remaining men and women to 1,210, which corresponds to a 9.8% acceptance rate.

The class of 2024 had a 9% acceptance rate. Only 1,471 out of 15,856 applicants were accepted.

SAT, GPA, and class rank of accepted West Point applicants

The USMA projects an image of perfection that may discourage those with SAT scores below 1600 from applying. However, an examination of the freshman class of 2020-21 reveals a significantly less intimidating picture. This cohort had an average SAT score of 1322 and an average ACT composite score of 31.

Regarding class rank, 43% of high school graduates finished in the top decile, 70% in the top quartile, and 93% in the top half. Over two-thirds (63%) of the students had a weighted GPA of at least 4.0, while only 10% earned less than a 3.5. The average high school grade point average for the Class of 2024 at West Point was 3.88.

Admissions trends and notes

  • There were 4,865 female applicants versus 10,991 male applicants.
  • The 75th percentile SAT score was 1370 a decade ago.
  • Slightly more applicants submit SAT scores than ACT scores, but both are represented in significant numbers.
  • The class of 2024 included 493 minority cadets, 18 combat veterans, and 12 international students.

West Point’s unique nomination or application requirements

Admission to Stanford’s Computer Science program does not require the endorsement of Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, and Sergey Brin, co-founders of Google. That would be odd, wouldn’t it? In fact, in order to apply to West Point, you must obtain a Congressional nomination from one of the following sources:

  • A member of the U.S. Senate
  • A member of the U.S. House of Representatives
  • The Vice-President of the United States
  • The Governor or Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico
  • The Secretary of the Army

While receiving multiple Congressional nominations is not advantageous, applicants should apply to both their Senators and their local representatives in the House of Representatives, as doing so will increase their chances of receiving a single nomination. Each MOC has five nomination slots for each of the five service academies per year. Each senator is given the same.

Nomination connected to service

If your mother or father served on active duty for eight years or more in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard, you are eligible for a Presidential nomination.

Sons and daughters of a retired/disabled/deceased veteran of the armed forces have the same opportunity; however, the number of Presidential nominations is limited to 100 per year, so it is recommended that these applicants also submit requests to their MOCs.

Cadets from The West Point

The same privilege is extended to the children of Medal of Honor recipients, but there is no annual limit imposed on them. However, individuals enrolled in ROTC may be nominated by their Senior Instructor rather than a MOC.

How many West Point students receive Congressional vs. Service-Connected nominations?

The majority of West Point’s roughly 4,400 undergraduate students were nominated by the 435 members of the House of Representatives (each of whom typically nominates one candidate to each academy annually), followed by Senate-nominated applicants and Service-Connected nominations.

When to apply for a West Point nomination

Although West Point does not require your nomination paperwork until January 31 of your senior year, it is advisable to begin contacting your MOCs in eleventh grade. The online nomination application for Vice President opens on March 1 and closes on January 31 of the following year.

Each MOC nomination office has its own set of deadlines. Some application deadlines for the HOR and Senate are in September of senior year. Alternately, others have a November deadline; the majority will allow you to submit your applications as early as your junior year.

How Hard is it to get into West Point?

Now the important question; how hard is it to get into West Point? If you want to be admitted, you should examine the acceptance rate first. This tells you how competitive the school is and how serious their requirements are.

The West Point acceptance rate is 10.3%. Only 10 of every 100 applicants are accepted.

This indicates that the school is highly selective. Meeting their GPA and SAT/ACT requirements is crucial to advancing through their first round of filters and demonstrating your academic preparedness. If you do not meet their requirements, your chances of admission are nearly nil.

After overcoming this obstacle, you will need to impress the West Point application readers with your extracurricular activities, essays, and letters of recommendation.

West Point GPA requirements

Numerous schools stipulate a minimum GPA requirement, but this is frequently the bare minimum to submit an application without being immediately rejected. The GPA requirement that truly matters is the minimum GPA required to have a realistic chance of admission.

West Point requires you to be at the top of your class with a 3.9 GPA. To compete with other applicants, you must earn nearly straight A’s in all of your courses. In addition, you should enroll in challenging courses, such as AP or IB courses, to demonstrate that college-level academics are simple.

SAT and ACT requirements

Standardized testing requirements vary from school to school. Many schools require SAT subject tests in addition to the SAT or ACT. To submit an application to West Point, you must either take the SAT or ACT. Importantly, you must perform well to submit a strong application.

West Point SAT requirements

Many schools say they have no SAT score cutoff, but the truth is that there is a hidden SAT requirement. This is based on the average score of the school. The average composite SAT score at West Point is 1270 on a scale of 1600.

Analysis of West Point SAT Scores (New 1600 SAT)

The score at the 25th percentile on the SAT is 1170, while the score at the 75th percentile is 1360. In other words, a 1170 on the SAT places you below average, while a 1360 will move you up to above average.

SAT Score Selection Policy

Your school’s Score Choice policy is an integral part of your testing strategy. The Score Choice policy at West Point is “Highest Section.”

This is also known as “superscoring.” This means that you can select which SAT tests to send to the institution. Your application readers will consider your highest section scores across all SAT test dates for which you submit scores.

Therefore, if your SAT superscore is currently below 1360, you should strongly consider SAT prep and retaking the exam. You have a very good chance of improving your score, which will substantially increase your admissions chances.

Even better, because of the Superscore, you can focus all your energy on a single section at a time. If your Reading score is lower than your scores on the other sections, you should only prepare for the Reading section before taking the SAT. Then focus on Math for the next test, and so on. This will result in the highest possible Superscore.

West Point ACT requirements

Similar to the SAT, West Point probably does not have a hard ACT cutoff; however, if your score is too low, your application will be rejected.

The average ACT score at West Point is 28, making it a Moderately Competitive institution for ACT scores. The score at the 25th percentile on the ACT is 25, while the score at the 75th percentile is 30.

a soldier carrying books

Even though West Point may claim to have no minimum ACT score requirement, if you apply with a score of 25 or below, you will have a very difficult time gaining admission, unless you have a very impressive application in other ways. There are so many applicants with scores of 28 or higher than a score of 25 will appear academically subpar.

ACT Score Sending Policy

If you’re taking the ACT instead of the SAT, you have a significant advantage in how you send scores, and this has a significant impact on your testing strategy.

When sending ACT scores to colleges, you have complete control over which tests to send. You could take ten exams and only submit the highest score. This is in contrast to the SAT, for which many schools require you to submit all previous tests taken.

This means that you have more opportunities to improve your ACT score than you may realize. To meet the school’s minimum ACT score requirement of 30, you should take the exam as many times as possible. When you are satisfied with your final score, you can send only that score to all of your schools.

ACT Superscore Policy

In general, the majority of colleges do not superscore the ACT. (Under Superscore, the institution combines your best section scores from all test dates you submit to determine your best possible composite score.) Consequently, most institutions will only consider your highest ACT score from a single sitting.

We were unable to locate the institution’s exact ACT policy, which suggests that it does not Superscore. Regardless, you can submit your best ACT score to West Point, so you should study until you achieve our recommended target ACT score of 30.

SAT/ACT Writing section requirements

The SAT and ACT both include an optional essay section.

West Point requires that applicants complete the SAT Essay/ACT Writing section. This will be considered as another factor in their admissions decision.

SAT Subject test requirements

Different schools have different SAT subject test requirements. Typically, selective schools require them, whereas the majority of American schools do not.

We were unable to find evidence that West Point requires SAT subject tests, so it is likely that it does not. At least six months prior to the application deadline, you should verify that you will have sufficient time to take the examination.

Obtaining a high SAT/ACT score and GPA is essential for admission to this school due to its rigorous admissions standards. If you do not meet their SAT/ACT and GPA requirements, you will likely be rejected without much thought.

To have the best chance of admission, you should aim for the 75th percentile with a SAT score of 1360 or an ACT score of 30. You must also have a minimum 3.9 GPA. If your GPA is below this threshold, you must improve your SAT/ACT score.

For an institution as selective as West Point, you must also impress with the rest of your application materials. We’ll discuss these particulars next.

But if you apply with a score below 1360 on the SAT or 30 on the ACT, the odds are stacked against you and you have a very small chance of admission. There are simply too many applicants with strong SAT/ACT scores and applications, and you must compete with them.

Tips for applying to West Point

If you intend to join the nearly 16,000 USMA applicants for the next admissions cycle, you should be aware of the following information.

  •  The United States Military Academy prioritizes six factors above all others. They include the rigor of your coursework, your GPA, your scores on standardized tests, your extracurricular activities, your character and personal qualities, and your admissions interview.
  • Interviews are mandatory and an integral part of any application. Interviews typically last 30 to 45 minutes. The interview is conducted by a Field Force Representative, Military Academy Liaison Officer, or ROTC Professor of Military Science.
  • Candidates should come to their admissions interview with knowledge of West Point and prepared to discuss why they wish to become an Army officer. Other typical topics include examples of your integrity/ethics and how you respond to pressure and stress.
  • In addition, your handshake, eye contact, and posture will be assessed. We strongly recommend conducting a practice interview with a reputable adult before the actual interview.
  • West Point gives “demonstrated interest” considerable weight, so you will be evaluated based on whether or not you visited the campus, contacted an admissions officer, etc.
  • Start the Candidate Questionnaire by the middle of January of your junior year.
  • We also recommend contacting your Field Force Representative for direct admissions process assistance.
  • The USMA allows you to apply for the Summer Leaders Experience when you are a junior in high school. 15 March is the deadline for submitting an application to the SLE.
  • Finally, you must schedule and pass a Candidate Fitness Assessment. Your physical education instructor can administer the exam. This consists of push-ups, a one-mile run, abdominal crunches, a 40-yard shuttle run, pull-ups, and a kneeling basketball throw.

We can help. AdmissionSight is one of the world’s best admissions consulting services. We combine world-class admissions counselors with our data-driven, proprietary admissions strategies. For over ten years, we’ve overseen thousands of students to get into their top choice schools, from state colleges to the Ivy League.

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