US Military Academy at West Point/Admissions Questions before the 1950's
I write to you while in the process of creating an essay chronicling experiences while attending college, and how they have met or not met the larger purposes of a college education in present times.
I remember reading about how admissions into USMA at one point relied partly on how applicants responded to admissions questions. I can't remember exactly what they were, but I remember they were particularly difficult - relying on applicant's understanding of history or mathematical/social phrases/ideas of the day. I realize this sounds vague, but it's the best I can say on the matter. I believe these types of questions were before the 1950's, and may have even been in the 1800's. It must have been before SAT testing, so I imagine it was before the 1920's.
Some years ago I applied several times to be admitted to West Point. Ultimately, I decided against applying to the Academy after receiving a letter through my Congressperson. But during the time I was studying for ways to better my chances of being accepted, I found the above fact while reading either a biography of a military leader who attended the Academy, or one of the 5-6 books I read about the history of the place: Absolutely American, Last of Their Class, Once an Eagle, The West Point Candidate book, Duty, Honor, Country: A History of West Point, Reminiscences by Macarthur, etc...
I write to you because after looking through all the books I still have on the subject (I donated many of them to the ROTC program I subsequently attended after transferring to university.), I can't seem to find anything about these admissions questions.
They stuck out to me, because as I was studying for countless honors courses, beefing up on leadership positions, and spending whatever leftover time on community service activities, it felt weird seeing this was how potential cadets were reviewed for admission.
Any help would be appreciated,
It's good to hear from you, Marcus. Thanks for your interest in West Point Admissions.
Unfortunately I have no information personally nor do I have direct access to such information before my Admissions cycle in 1965 (I entered in July 1966 and graduated in June 1970). What you recall sounds right, but I simply can't verify any of it. I might suggest that you contact the Special Collections and Archives Branch of the Academy Library. If anyone has such information they will have it. You can reach them at 845-938-3259.
As to my own experience, that was FIFTY years ago and I don't have any specific recollections about admissions questions. I also have two sons who graduated, in 1995 and 2001. I DO recall that my 2001 son dealt with a very interesting open ended question. The instructions were, "Pose a question about West Point. Then respond to your question." I thought that was a pretty good and thoughtful question.
Good luck in your quest, Marcus.