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  • Writer's pictureLTC Brechin, USAF, Ret.

West Point: 3Q and the National Waiting List

Updated: Feb 11

"Three Q" is an important designation for any USMA candidate


A student on the US Military Academy national waiting list

At the end of the application process, a candidate for the United States Military Academy at West Point may receive a letter stating that they have been placed on the "National Waiting List." The letter from USMA Admissions is a "3Q letter" meaning that a candidate has fully qualified for an appointment. For about 2500+ students, the waiting will continue as each hopes to earn one of the approximately 1200 appointment slots in the incoming freshmen class.


The reference to the NWL is something of a misnomer because it can mislead candidates into thinking that they lost their member of Congress' slate and are down to waiting on the NWL (i.e., the national order of merit listing) for an appointment -- which is wrong. The letter simply notes that you are fully qualified and may win an appointment through a number of ways -- including winning the MoC's slate. Often, if you receive a congratulatory phone call or letter from your Senator or Representative, it will not include these details. In fact, who will care . . . as long as you have a West Point appointment!


Let's briefly explore the important "3Q" designation . . .


A candidate is Academically Qualified through a determination by the USMA Admissions review board. Considerations for this qualification includes your prior academic record, SAT/ACT scores, teacher evaluations and other factors. USMA guidelines along with class profiles provide an indication of the academic record a student must have to meet their requirements.


A candidate is determined to be Athletically Qualified through the Candidate Fitness Assessment (CFA). Your PE teacher's SOE may also impact this determination. My blog about the CFA discusses details about passing or failing the fitness assessment. USMA's evaluation of your push-ups and pull-ups videos is also an important component of this evaluation.


The Department of Defense Medical Examination Review Board (DoDMERB) determines if you are Medically Qualified. The agency employs DoDMETS to administer the medical and eye exams. This process includes considerations for medical waivers. My blog about the 'basics' of the DoDMERB process is a good reference offering more details.


USMA is unique among the service academies in telling candidates that they are "3Q." Air Force and Navy typically do not notify a candidate that they are 'academically qualified' through the review board. However, through the status checklists featured on each portal, a USAFA and/or USNA candidate will see that s/he has achieved athletic and medical qualifications.


Congratulations on your 3Q letter from West Point. An appointment is hopefully arriving very soon. You should be proud of the hard work that you have accomplished to complete this part of the process. Now, the waiting begins . . . good luck!


[I would welcome a chance to discuss more details with you. I offer coaching services to pace and prepare you (and your parents!) for the entire Academy application process . . . including your ability to be 3Q! Contact me at chris@cbbrechin.com, 503.515.7406 or complete my contact form on the home page.]


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