The Army ROTC Scholarship CBEF is a critical component of your scholarship application

When you’re aiming for an Army ROTC scholarship, think of the Candidate Background and Experience Form (CBEF) as a crucial step in your journey.

This form carries a weight of 18% in your overall evaluation—meaning it plays a significant role in whether or not you’ll be awarded a scholarship.

What is the purpose of this test?

How does the ROTC scholarship board use it?

Does it impact your chances of earning a scholarship?

What is the CBEF?

The CBEF is an online survey you complete to give the Army a clearer picture of who you are. It digs into your background and experiences to help determine if you’ve got what it takes to become a successful Army officer.

Why does it matter?

You might wonder why a single survey is so important. Well, it’s not just about answering questions; it’s about showcasing your potential to lead and thrive in the Army. The information you provide helps the Army select candidates who are most likely to succeed in the ROTC program and, eventually, as officers.

The Big Picture

Initiated as an experimental tool, the CBEF has proven its worth by helping to identify candidates who are not only likely to complete their ROTC training but also to excel in their military careers.

It’s all about finding the right fit—the Army wants individuals who are committed and ready to embrace the challenges of military life.

In short, the CBEF is more than just a form.

It’s a vital part of your ROTC scholarship application that helps the Army see your true potential as a future leader.

Taking it seriously and answering honestly can significantly boost your chances of securing that coveted scholarship.

An Example Question from the CBEF

To give you an idea of what to expect, here’s an example question related to procrastination:

How often have you put off doing a chore that you could have taken care of right away?

  • A. Very often
  • B. Often
  • C. Sometimes
  • D. Seldom
  • E. Never

This question aims to assess traits like responsibility and time management, which are vital for success in the military.

Understanding the Army ROTC Scholarship Evaluation Criteria

But first, let’s look at the overall scoring process for Army ROTC scholarships.

The total score for a scholarship applicant is out of 1400 points, divided among several key areas.

Each part of your application has a different weight, reflecting its importance in the selection process.

Here’s how each component stacks up in the overall evaluation:

Selection Board Score (25%): This is the heaviest portion of your application, accounting for 350 points out of 1400. The selection board reviews your overall qualifications, including your academic performance, leadership experience, and extracurricular activities.

College Board Scores (18%): Your SAT or ACT scores are next in line, worth 252 points. These standardized tests are a significant measure of your academic readiness for college-level coursework.

Civilian Background Experience Form – CBEF (18%): Equal in weight to your College Board scores, the CBEF also contributes 252 points to your total. As previously discussed, this form provides insight into your personal background and potential as an Army officer.

Scholar, Athletics, and Leadership (14%): This category, valued at 196 points, assesses your achievements in academics, sports, and leadership roles, showcasing your well-rounded capabilities.

Interview (14%): Also worth 196 points, the interview offers a chance to make a personal impression and demonstrate your communication skills and leadership potential.

Physical Fitness Test (10%): The lowest weighted at 140 points, the fitness test evaluates your physical readiness and ability to meet the demands of military training.

Development of the CBEF

In an effort to find out how to decrease disenrollment rates, a collaborative effort between the U.S. Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences and the Human Resources Research Organization led to the development of the CBEF.

The Candidate Background and Experience Form (CBEF) includes two main scales to evaluate applicants:

  • The Rational Biodata Inventory (RBI) and
  • The Propensity for Commitment (PFC)

These scales help the Army ROTC assess the potential of candidates for military leadership and their likelihood to successfully complete the ROTC program and commission as officers.

Rational Biodata Inventory (RBI)

Purpose: The RBI is designed to assess your temperament and past behaviors by looking at your life experiences and actions.

Key Areas:

  • Army Identification: Measures how well you identify with and understand Army values and culture.
  • Educational Commitment: Assesses your dedication to your studies and how seriously you plan your future career.
  • Stress Tolerance: Evaluates your ability to cope with and manage stress effectively.

Why It Matters: Your responses give insight into how well you might fit into the Army environment and adapt to its challenges, predicting your potential for success in military training and leadership.

Propensity for Commitment (PFC)

Purpose: The PFC scale looks at your general tendency to stay committed to groups or organizations to which you belong.

Focus: It measures your loyalty, reliability, and overall commitment, indicating how likely you are to persist through the challenges of the ROTC program and a subsequent military career.

Why It Matters: This scale helps determine if you are likely to honor your commitments and remain with the Army long enough to complete your training and fulfill your service obligations.

In the context of the CBEF, RBI and PFC are tools that provide a deeper understanding of an applicant’s fit for military life, predicting their success in the ROTC program and their future as Army officers.

Army ROTC Disenrollment Rates by How Candidates Scored on the CBEF

Note that from the above graph, Army ROTC cadets straight out of high school who scored in the bottom 25% on the CBEF in the RBI had disenrollment rates of 20%, compared to only 6% disenrollment for candidates in the top 25%.

For a deeper dive, the study is available for reading.


What does this mean for you?

Answer Honestly

When taking the CBEF, it’s crucial to answer honestly. Your responses should reflect your true character and suitability for military leadership. The survey is designed to gauge your natural inclinations and how well they align with the demands of Army life.

Integrity is paramount in the selection process. The goal is to commission officers of character who will lead with honor and distinction.

Being truthful ensures that the Army ROTC can accurately assess your fit for the program and for a military career.

Reflect on Your Experiences

Think about your past experiences and how they demonstrate your leadership skills, resilience, and commitment.

Your answers should provide a comprehensive picture of your personality and potential as an Army officer.

Understanding the Bigger Picture

Remember, the CBEF is just one part of a larger effort to select candidates who are not only academically and physically capable but also well-suited for the challenges of military service.

Your performance on the CBEF helps the ROTC determine if you have the qualities needed to succeed in the Army and ultimately serve the nation effectively.

Best of luck in your quest to serve our nation!

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LTC Robert Kirkland

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Kirkland (USA, Ret.) is an expert on military admissions and leadership. He served for over 25 years in the United States Army, including stints as an instructor at West Point and as a commander of two Army ROTC programs. He has helped students win ROTC scholarships for 8 years.

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