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  • Writer's pictureLTC Brechin, USAF, Ret.

Air Force Academy Pre-Candidate Questionnaire (PCQ)

Updated: Nov 18

It begins with the Summer Seminar application that opens December 1 of your junior year

Starting the Pre-Candidate Questionnaire for USAFA

The Pre-Candidate Questionnaire (PCQ) is the start of your AF Academy application. It opens annually in the Spring of your Junior year on March 1. If you completed the Summer Seminar application in December or January, then a large portion of the PCQ will be pre-filled for you using the information that you provided during the earlier application process.

One important note: if you chose to 'opt in' and use the Summer Seminar application for your PCQ, then you DO NOT REQUIRE a new PCQ application. The key is to choose this option when you complete the Summer Seminar application in December!

In either case, your aim with the PCQ is to qualify for "candidate status." For most students, it is straightforward. The eligibility requirements are quite clear. They are:

  • Be at least 17 years old, but not past your 23rd birthday by July 1 of the year you enter the Academy.

  • Be a United States citizen.

  • Be unmarried with no dependents.

As you complete the necessary information, your sign-in and password will allow you come into the application and save information. You will be able to add changes until the point you submit the PCQ. If you applied to the Summer Seminar, then you will use the same sign-in and password you used with that application in December. You can find the PCQ at this link.

Three of the five U.S. service academies use a 'PCQ process.' USMA and USNA employ the PCQ as a portion of their summer seminar application, just like USAFA. All use the same eligibility requirements. The only exception is U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, which has an older entry age limit of 25 years old (i.e., a entrant cannot be 26 years old prior to July 1 in the year of entrance). However, USMMA does not host any summer programs due to their unique trimester-based academic and training schedule.

Let's discuss the information required in order to complete the AF Academy PCQ . . .

1) Full legal name, birthdate and Social Security number

PCQ entry blank for your SSN

After completing your full legal name and birthdate, you will be asked to upload a clear image of your Social Security card. Note that your PCQ name must match the name on your SSN card. If you have lost your SSN card, then you may provide a PDF copy of your parent's tax return listing you as a dependent. and displaying your SSN. Note that Admissions will not move forward until you provide your Social Security details.

2) Mailing address, home phone and email address

This information is straightforward. However, if your parents are divorced, then 'picking' one address over another may impact your Congressional District. Be sure to check if there is a difference. I also recommend using the same email address for all of your service academy, ROTC and college applications. I would avoid 'school' email addresses if possible as this address will no longer be valid (in most cases) after you graduate from high school.

3) High school name and class size

Again, this information is straightforward. You may need to consult with your school counselor to determine your class size.

4) Class rank and grade point average (on a weighted 4.0 scale)

A number of schools do not provide a 'class rank' to their students. If that is your circumstances, then state that fact as "n/a" or similar in the blank. Again, you may need to ask your school counselor for this information. Your GPA should be reported on a 4.0 scale (i.e., A = 4, B = 3, C = 2, D = 1). Later when you provide your school transcripts, the details of course quality, precise grades and other information will be noted and considered as part of the entire application process.

5) One or more test scores: PSAT, PreACT, SAT and/or ACT

You will be asked to provide your test scores at this point. If you decide to wait for better scores, then you may leave this portion blank. I recommend submitting your scores if they are equal to or greater than the USAFA 'soft' minimums. These are stated as an SAT total of 1200 points (Math 580, English 620) or ACT components of 25 Math/Science and 24 English/Reading. Note that you will be able to raise your scores with additional testing throughout the application process ending on January 31 of the following year.

One important point: All of the information in the PCQ is self-reported. Do not 'fudge' your GPA, class rank and/or test scores. It is a dumb move, and it will end your application when you do not provide the supporting proof.

The Pre-candidate Questionnaire is available online starting March 1 every year. To gain candidate status, you must complete and submit it. Summer Seminar applications will serve as the PCQ if you choose this option when you apply. If your self-reported qualifications meet USAFA candidate guidelines, then you will become a candidate. I wish you all the best!

[I would welcome a chance to discuss details with you. I offer coaching services to pace and prepare you (and your parents!) for the entire Academy application process . . . including preparing the PCQ! Contact me at chris@cbbrechin.com and/or 503.515.7406 -- my contact form is here]

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