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How to Get Into West Point Guide
West Point is one of the most competitive American Military Universities. Its admissions decisions are made based on a wide range of factors which differ from typical college admissions. So, if you’re wondering how hard it is to get into West Point, you’re not alone.
In this guide, we’ll discuss the criteria West Point uses to make admissions decisions. We’ll also offer a rundown of your statistical chances of getting in and offer some tips as to how you can maximize your chances by assembling a strong application. After that, we’ll include a quick rundown of some alternatives to West Point so you can be sure of what your fallback options are. Let’s get into it:
Don’t miss: What are American Military Universities?
What is West Point?
West Point is an American Military University located in West Point, New York. It is one of five service academies in the United States, which are the most competitive and intensive of the military universities. Most graduates receive commissions that place them directly into the role of Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. What’s more, the government pays for the entirety of your educational expenses. Those include tuition, board, books, and medical and dental care.
Education at West Point is just as rigorous as its admissions process. Cadets wake up early in the morning to complete military training, and then attend a series of intensive courses, and complete more military training. The academy maintains strict rules of discipline and most students spend the vast majority of their time completing schoolwork and training.
How does West Point make admissions decisions?
West Point and other service academies have uniquely selective admissions processes. In addition to maintaining the academic criteria of a highly selective traditional university, they test students’ physical fitness and their commitment to serve in the military.
This means that admissions officers look for students who have succeeded in school, maintained strong physical fitness, and demonstrated a commitment to military service. They test physical fitness through a series of rigorous physical tests. Commitment to military service is judged through a student’s essays, their extracurriculars, among other factors. Because West Point pays for its students’ education, it needs to know that they will go on to serve in the military and that they know the discipline and sacrifice it entails.
What test scores do I need to get into West Point?
You can find West Point’s admitted class test scores on their class profile webpage. In 2022, at least 25% of their admitted students scored a 1400 or higher on the SAT and at least 65% scored a 1200 or higher. Keep in mind though, that these are not set in stone, and a high score does not guarantee admission, nor does a low score guarantee rejection.
What GPA do I need to get into West Point?
West Point considers a large variety of factors aside from GPA, so a GPA alone will not guarantee students admission. That being said, due to West Point’s highly selective admissions process, most admitted students hold a 3.9 GPA or above.
Related: High school and college GPA guide
What is West Point’s acceptance rate?
West Point has an acceptance rate of about 9%. To put that into perspective, it’s a lower acceptance rate than Cornell University, which accepted 10% of applicants in 2022. Because of West Point’s prestige and the amount of money that the government spends on every student, they maintain a very low acceptance rate to be absolutely sure of every candidate they accept.
Does West Point accept Early Action or Early Decision?
West Point does not use Early Action or Early Decision. Instead, they maintain one regular-decision deadline for January 31 every year.
How important are extracurriculars?
Extracurriculars are very important for West Point applicants. Military service is a huge responsibility and commitment, and West Point wants students who have shown an initiative towards leadership, service, and discipline. Extracurriculars are one of the most powerful ways to do this. There are a few different types of extracurriculars that West Point admissions officers look for:
Serving your community
Students who have performed selfless acts such as volunteering at food drives or soup kitchens show that they are willing to give up their own time to help others. This is a great way to prove a commitment to service.
Related: Top community service scholarships
It’s a great idea to seek out extracurricular activities that demonstrate a strong sense of discipline. This can come through sports, through working a difficult job and balancing it with school, or through a host of other activities.
The admissions officers are also looking for leadership in their students. Taking on leadership roles through your school or other activities is a great way to get a leg-up in West Point admissions. You could run for student government, captain a high school sports team, or start your own initiative independent of your school.
Finally, you can help your admissions chances through extracurriculars that prove that you care about your physical fitness. Staying in good shape is an important part of being a strong member of the military. Sports teams and physically demanding jobs are great examples of this type of extracurricular.
How to get into West Point
Ok, now we’ve told you what the deal is at West Point and what their admissions officers care about. But how do you get in? Next up, we’ll go over five important tips to maximize your chances of admission.
1. Write great essays
Essays are one of the best ways for a student to stand out from the crowd on a college application. Applications are not just about your accomplishments – they’re about demonstrating what you’ve learned from them and how they reflect your character.
Try to make sure that your essays demonstrate that you are a disciplined, strong student who is willing to make great sacrifices for your community and your country. We can help you through this process through a host of guides to writing essays. Check out our articles on how to start an essay, how to write about yourself, how to write a 250 word essay, and how to write a 500 word essay. Remember that you shouldn’t just repeat your accomplishments in your essays – you should expound upon them.
2. Earn a strong GPA
Another very important factor for getting into West Point is to earn good grades in high school. Most students who gain admission hold a 3.9 GPA or higher. So, although extracurriculars are important for your application, you should make sure they don’t come in the way of your schoolwork.
Also see: GPA guide for high school and college
3. Stay in shape
One thing that makes the admissions process unique at American Military Universities is the physical fitness component. Students must pass a series of medical and physical tests to gain admission. Make sure that as you go through high school, you are working out, eating healthy, and getting good sleep. All of these behaviors will help ensure that you impress when it comes time to take your physical tests.
4. Perform well on standardized tests
Having good scores on standardized tests can only help your application at West Point. You’ll demonstrate an overall capability in academics and showcase what you’ve learned throughout high school. It can be helpful to get a test prep tutor, and oftentimes, students will retake the SAT or ACT to improve their score. Overall, the best way to score well is to study early and often, and to take many practice tests.
5. Put your money where your mouth is
All of the previous tips are very important to show that you are a competent student who could succeed at West Point. But in addition to your competency, they are interested in your commitment. So, you should try to find ways to prove that you are devoted to the intense sacrifice that comes with studying at West Point. If there is an ROTC program at your high school, you should join it, and if there isn’t, you might consider transferring to a school that has one.
You can also find other extracurriculars to prove your strength, stamina, and discipline. You might sign up for some outdoors military prep programs, such as the ones NOLS offers. Or, you can devote yourself to a sports team or a leadership activity such as Eagle Scouts. Extracurriculars elevate your application to a whole new level.
Alternatives to West Point
West Point is an amazing option for students who are devoted to joining the military, but it is not the only one. Remember, there are four other service academies with similar prestige and full-ride scholarships out there. What’s more, there are plenty of senior military universities and military junior programs as well. If you are devoted to serving in the military and earning a college education, you will be able to find a way.
If your attraction to West Point doesn’t lie in military service, but rather in the free tuition, remember there are other options for this too. College alternatives such as coding bootcamps offer education with no charge up-front, and only begin charging you after you start earning a high salary. You can also look into apprenticeships, which pay you to work for them while you receive your education. Military service is a huge sacrifice, and if you are in it for the money rather than for the cause, you will have a very difficult time.
Frequently asked questions about how to get into West Point
Does West Point come with a service commitment?
Cadets at West Point must fulfill a service commitment of at least 5 years after graduation. So, once you graduate, you will have to serve for at least five years in the military. This is not true of all American military academies, but it is of all service academies.
Does West Point charge tuition?
Technically, West Point does charge tuition, but they also pay the entirety of tuition for all of their students. On top of this, they pay for your board, your medical and dental expenses, and your books.
Is West Point competitive?
West Point is one of the most competitive American Military Academies to get into; it has an acceptance rate of about 9%. Additionally, they utilize a very comprehensive application process which analyzes a students’ academic skills, physical fitness, commitment to a career in military service, and more. This makes sense considering the substantial financial aid and prestige that come with admission to West Point.