Curious how Academies score their applicants?

Let’s dive in!

The Air Force Academy uses a formula called the Selection Composite Score (SCS). The SCS quantitatively scores the package to deem if the applicant is competitive.

Academics 60%

Leadership 20%

Selection Panel 20%


Your academic composite is made up of your standardized test scores and your performance in the classroom.

SAT/ACT score comprises 40%.

PAR score comprises 20%. USAFA converts your GPA, class rank, transcript, strength of high school, and rigor of curriculum into what is called the Prior Academic Ranking (PAR).


Your leadership composite score (20%) is comprised of your extracurricular activities, leadership positions, and resume. The applicant will complete the Candidate Activities Record to display their activities outside the classroom.

Selection Panel.

The selection composite is a variety of scores. Your essays, letters of recommendation, Cadet Fitness Assessment, and your interview score with your Academy Liaison Officer (ALO).


1. If I go to a difficult high school, will that be factored in? Answer: Yes, part of the PAR calculation is an adjustment due to strength of the high school. Ie. If your high school is sending 100% of their students to 4 year schools, you can bet admissions will notice.

2. Why is SAT/ACT such a high %? Answer: Statistically, the SAT/ACT has had a positive correlation to an applicant making it through the Academy. It is difficult for admissions to judge academic aptitude and compare applicants without a standardized test score.

3. How many essays are there, and how long do they have to be? Answer: Historically there have been 3 essays, with a 400-500 word limit.

4. If I have a higher Selection Composite Score (SCS) score than another applicant, does this guarantee me admission over my peer? Answer: No, the SCS is a way for admissions to quantify your application competitiveness. However, admissions are made up of people at the end of the day. The Academy admissions board makes the final decision, and the board is comprised of people, not computers.