In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Wesley Crusher is shown to be a genius. In addition to this, he had a great deal of Starfleet experience, as he was a sort of intern on the flagship of the Federation. All this should make him an ideal Starfleet cadet candidate, yet when it was time for him to apply, it was treated as though it was likely Wesley would fail the acceptance exams.

Contrast this to Nog in Deep Space 9. He's not shown to have an exceptional intellect or physical capability. Commander Sisko recommends him, but surely Wesley had Picard's recommendation as well. And yet Nog has no problem passing the acceptance exams (setting aside Quark's interference), and ends up a cadet.

Did the exams become easier between the two candidates' applications? Did Starfleet give Nog preferential treatment as one of, if not the, first Ferengi applicants to Starfleet Academy? If so, is it Federation policy to make it easier for applicants from non-member worlds to get in to Starfleet Academy?

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    I think there is a much more obvious problem with this. It was implied Wesley wouldn't do well, but he routinely made a number of SENIOR OFFICERS of the ship look less then brilliant. If he wasn't smart enough how the heck did the rest of them do it?
    – erdiede
    Mar 16, 2012 at 4:57
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    @erdiede - I doubt that Starfellet Academy exams consist entirely of IQ tests. Mar 16, 2012 at 13:18
  • Almost anyone can get in. But getting into the program you want is another story. I dont think Wesley was interested in being a cook.
    – Chad
    Mar 16, 2012 at 19:25
  • @DVK We know for a fact it doesn't - there's the Kobayashi Maru early on, then "greatest fear" no-win type of scenarios that replaced it by the time Wesley gets in.
    – Izkata
    Mar 16, 2012 at 23:45
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    Bloody Ferengis, coming over here, taking our Academy places. Mar 28, 2012 at 20:22

3 Answers 3


Look at the example of Spock, who was always portrayed as being one of the first if not the first Vulcan in Starfleet. Or Worf, the first Klingon.

Emphasis seems to have been placed on those distinctions, indicating that diversity was valued.

Or, maybe it was all of the times that Wesley put the Federations flagship in direct peril that made his admission less than certain.


I can think of one possible in-Universe possible explanation. Between Wesley's time of entry and Nog's, Starfleet had gone through two major battles with the Borg and there was a growing threat from the Dominion and increasing tensions with the Klingons, Cardassians and Romulans. As with all militaries, in times of war and great need, standards probably relaxed a bit in order to supply enough personnel to keep up with the perceived demands of the moment.

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    Just look at the recruitment scandals the American army went through a few years ago.
    – Chris
    Mar 18, 2012 at 23:35
  • This is a good answer that reflects how realities affect policies and procedures. My own father got into US Army Officer Candidate School (OCS) with a BA in Elementary Education and no real work experience in anything except flipping burgers. I don't think he really even cared much about what he was studying - he knew you could get in with "a degree" and my mother happened to be majoring in that so why not? You can't expect to do that today, but for him it was the middle of the Vietnam War. They needed second lieutenants who met minimum requirements and they needed them right then. May 17, 2019 at 15:48

One needs to look at the entrance exams themselves. We see only part of the exams in both those cases.

Wesley has academic exams, physical exams, and stress response test; the part shown but not explicated is the integrity test. The integrity test is clearly where Wesley was in danger of failure - he's repeatedly shown a casual disregard for safety protocols. (We see that this doesn't end when he joins, either - he does, after all, come close to being cashiered for an honor-code violation.)

Nog would have less issue with the integrity portion - it is normed by race, tho biased towards Federation-accepted standards. The stress reaction test, while unique to each testing location and cycle, Nog would probably have flown through. Further, Nog was, while not brilliant, a good solid student by the indications given, and was bright. His physical presence, for a Ferengi, is pretty good, and his health has no indications of being sub-par.

And Nog does come to be a fine officer... despite a bit of an issue during a cadet cruise.

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