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7 Steps to a Successful MIT Application

Posted by Christine Sarikas | Nov 30, 2018 12:30:00 PM

College Info, College Admissions

 

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In 2018, MIT admitted only 6.7% of students who applied to the school. With such a low admissions rate, it may seem like getting accepted is close to impossible, but we’re here to help!

In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know to complete the MIT application, including when every important MIT application deadline is, what exactly you need to submit with your application, what admissions officers are really looking for when they review your application, and how you can make each part of your MIT application stand out from the pack.

 

Key Info for the MIT Application

You should know all the important information about the MIT application well before you plan on applying to make sure you gather all your materials and meet all the deadlines.

  • How to submit the MIT application: When you’ve completed the MIT application, you can submit it by hitting the “Submit” button at the end of the application. SAT and/or ACT scores, as well as your official transcript, must be sent directly to MIT.
  • When to submit the MIT application: It's very important to know the MIT application deadline. MIT offers both early action and regular action application submissions. Below is a chart of the key deadlines for each option. It’s important to know every deadline since missing just one could mean your application won’t be looked at.

Early Action

Deadline
What's Due
November 1
Application parts 1 and 2
Two letters of recommendation
Secondary school report
November testing date Standardized Test Scores
February 15 February Updates & Notes Form
February 15 Financial Aid Materials (optional)

 

Regular Action

Deadline
What's Due
January 1
Application parts 1 and 2
Two letters of recommendation 
Secondary school report 
December testing date Standardized Test Scores
February 15 February Updates & Notes Form
February 15 Financial Aid Materials (optional)

 

If you’re applying early action, you’ll need to have both parts of the application completed, and your transcript and letters of recommendation sent, by November 1st. You can still take the SAT, ACT, and/or SAT Subject tests in November, however. You’ll receive your admission decision in mid-December.

For students applying regular action, you’ll need to have all parts of the application completed/sent by January 1st, and you can take your standardized tests no later than December. You’ll receive your admission decision in mid-March.

 

Should You Apply Early Action or Regular Action?

There are two options for applying to MIT, early action and regular action. Is one better than the other? If you apply early action, you do have a slightly better chance of getting accepted. According to MIT’s admission statistics, if you apply early action, you do have a slightly better chance of getting accepted than if you apply regular action.

However, MIT specifically states this about its early action cycle: "There is no positive or negative prejudice associated with or conferred by applying during either cycle. We do not have a preference, and there is no strategic benefit to be had. We have two cycles for two reasons: 1) it helps us spread our work out over a longer period, devoting more time to each application and 2) it provides applicants with more options so they can choose which works best for them."

Additionally, the majority (about 66%) of students who apply early action end up getting deferred and considered in the regular action applicant pool. So an early decision is by no means guaranteed if you apply early action.

Bottom line? Apply early action if you can get all the materials in before the deadline, but don’t stress too much about it if you can’t since it likely won’t impact your chance of getting admitted.

 

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How to Apply to MIT

There are six main steps you need to follow to submit your MIT application. Below are the steps, numbered in the rough order you should complete them in.

 

Step 1: Create a MyMIT Account and Start Your Application

The first step to applying to MIT is simple; you just need to create a MyMIT account. Creating an account only takes a few minutes, and once you do this you’ll be able to complete an application, track the pieces of the application you’ve submitted, join the MIT mailing list, and get your interviewer’s name and contact information.

To create an account you’ll have to fill out some basic demographic information such as your birthdate, high school name, and home address.

 

Step 2: Complete Parts 1 and 2 of the Application

This is the bulk of the MIT application. Part 1 focuses on biographical information, and Part 2 focuses on your essays, activities, and test scores. Part 1 is the shorter section and should only take you about 30 minutes to complete. You’ll fill out information about whether you're applying early action or regular action, what your parents’ jobs and highest level of education are, if you have siblings and where they attend college (if applicable), and all the high schools you attended, among other information. After you submit Part 1, you’ll pay the $75 MIT application fee.

Part 2 is more in depth. You’ll enter information about all the extracurriculars and jobs you’ve participated in, advanced classes you’ve taken, awards you’ve won, and your exam scores (although you’ll still have to send official copies of these scores). You’ll also self-report all the classes you’ve taken and the grades you got in them although, again, you’ll still need to submit your official transcript. This is also the section where you enter the information about the two teachers who are writing evaluations for you (see Step 5 for more info) and submit any supplemental materials (see Step 6 for more info).

Finally, you’ll complete the MIT’s personal statements. Unlike many other schools, MIT doesn’t require one long essay; instead, you’ll answer five short prompts. Here are the essay prompts, along with the word count requirement:

  • We know you lead a busy life, full of activities, many of which are required of you. Tell us about something you do for the pleasure of it. (100 words or fewer)
  • Although you may not yet know what you want to major in, which department or program at MIT appeals to you and why? (100 words or fewer)
  • At MIT, we bring people together to better the lives of others. MIT students work to improve their communities in different ways, from tackling the world's biggest challenges to being a good friend. Describe one way in which you have contributed to your community, whether in your family, the classroom, your neighborhood, etc. (200-250 words)
  • Describe the world you come from; for example, your family, clubs, school, community, city, or town. How has that world shaped your dreams and aspirations? (200-250 words)
  • Tell us about the most significant challenge you've faced or something important that didn't go according to plan. How did you manage the situation? (200-250 words)

After you’ve finished each of these sections and reviewed them, you can submit them. Part 1 must be submitted before Part 2.

 

Step 3: Submit Your Secondary School Report and Standardized Test Scores

You’ll need to send your official high school transcript to MIT. MIT also requires three test scores. You must take either the SAT or ACT (the writing section/essay isn’t required for either exam) as well as two SAT Subject Tests. One subject test must be a math test (either Math Level 1 or Math Level 2), and the second subject test must be a science test (either Biology, Chemistry, or Physics).

 

Step 4: Ask Two Teachers to Fill Out Your Evaluations

You’ll need two letters of recommendation for MIT, one from a math/science teacher and one from a humanities/language teacher. On your MyMIT Dashboard, you’ll fill out each of your recommender’s names and email addresses so the form can be sent to them. Your recommendations are due the same day as the rest of your application.

 

Step 5: Set Up and Complete an Interview

Interviews are not technically required, but MIT highly recommends them and admits very few applicants who didn’t interview, so you’ll want to do one if it’s at all possible. Once you complete Parts 1 and 2 of the application, you’ll be contacted by an Educational Counselor (EC), who will be the person doing your interview. The EC is an alum of MIT who conducts interviews, and there are over 5,000 of them around the world.

You and your EC will set up an interview at a place near you. Most early action interviews take place in November, and most regular action interviews take place in January. The interview typically lasts an hour and often take place in a location such as a coffee shop, restaurant, or library. Some may also take place over Skype. MIT recommends thinking about questions you might be asked before the interview, and here are 14 of the most common college interview questions.

 

Step 6: (Optional) Submit Supplementary Materials

You also have the option to submit supplementary materials, this is a completely optional step and is typically done by students with a fine arts portfolio, those with research experience, and/or those who hope to play a varsity sport for MIT. There are six different supplemental materials you can send, and most (all except the varsity sports interest form) come with an additional fee of $5-$10.

You can find more information about each of these options on your MyMIT Dashboard. If you choose to complete any of these materials, you’ll submit them separate from the rest of your application.

Here are the options for supplementary materials:

  • Maker Portfolio
  • Music & Theater Arts Portfolio
  • Research Portfolio
  • Supplemental Recommendations
  • Varsity Sports Interest
  • Varsity Sports Interest

 

Step 7: Submit Your February Updates and Notes Form

If you applied Early Action and were accepted or applied Regular Action (you won’t have your admission decision yet), you’ll also need to submit your February Updates and Notes form by February 15th. You’ll be emailed information about this form which will mostly consist of letting MIT know what your fall semester grades were and what classes you’re taking for your spring semester.

 

MIT Application Checklist

Below is everything you need to submit with your MIT application. You can use this application checklist to stay organized and make sure you've submitted all the required materials.

  • Parts 1 and 2 of the MIT Application
  • Evaluation A: Letter of recommendation from a math or science teacher
  • Evaluation B: Letter of recommendation from a humanities, social science, or language teacher
  • Scheduled Interview
  • SAT or ACT scores
  • Two SAT Subject Test scores (one from each of MIT’s two categories)
  • February Updates & Notes Form (due in February)
  • $75 MIT application fee

 

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How to Do Well on Key Sections of the MIT Application

How can you have a stellar MIT application? Because MIT is so competitive, your application will need to be strong in all the key areas MIT evaluates. MIT is looking primarily for academic excellence, leadership experience, passion for learning and your future major, and sociability. There are numerous ways you can show you have these qualities on your MIT application.

In this section we go over the five most essential parts of your application and explain exactly what you need in order to stand out and show MIT you have what it takes to succeed there.

 

#1: High School Transcript

Your high school transcript is often the single most important piece of your application, so you want it to shine. Your goal here is to show admissions officers that you took difficult classes and got top grades in them, particularly the math and science classes.

MIT has rigorous classes, and they’re looking for applicants who have already challenged themselves by taking advanced classes in high school. If your school offers honors, AP, and/or IB classes, you should aim to take at least some of these advanced classes, especially those in the field you plan to major in. If your school doesn’t offer these classes MIT also has suggestions for alternative ways to challenge yourself. 

MIT has no requirements for classes you had to have taken in high school but it recommends the following:

  • One year of physics
  • One year of chemistry
  • One year of biology
  • Math, through calculus
  • Two years of a foreign language
  • Four years of English
  • Two years of history and/or social sciences

Remember, this is the minimum MIT recommends; you’ll likely have to go above and beyond in some areas to be a competitive applicant. Most applicants will have taken at least four years each of math and science, including multiple advanced classes.

Your GPA is also a crucial part of your MIT application since taking difficult classes but doing poorly in them doesn’t show that you’re prepared for the rigor of MIT. The average weighted GPA of MIT admitted students is about 4.13, which means you should aim to get as many A’s as possible in your classes.

 

#2: Standardized Test Scores

MIT doesn’t have a minimum score requirement for the SAT/ACT, but because admission is so competitive, you should aim for a high standardized test score. Your goal should be to reach the 75th percentile score for admitted MIT students. Meeting this score for either the SAT or ACT means you will have scored higher than 75% of other admitted students, which puts you in a strong position during the admissions process.

For the SAT, a 75th percentile score is an 800 in Math and a 770 in Evidence-Based Reading and Writing. For the ACT, it’s a composite score of 35. You can get scores lower than this and still get accepted to MIT, but these are solid goal scores to try to aim for.

For your two SAT Subject Tests, you should aim for at least a 750 in both exams. It doesn’t matter which science subject test you take (although if there’s one that’s close to your intended major, try to take that one), but you should try to take Math Level 2 for the math requirement if at all possible since a high score on this exam is more impressive than a high score on Math Level 1.

 

#3: Letters of Recommendation

You’ll need two letters of recommendation for MIT, and they should both come from teachers who know you well and can write convincingly about your strengths. A strong letter of rec will include specific examples of your academic abilities and personal skills; it will also explain why you’re an excellent applicant for MIT.

Speak to the people you’d like to write your letters fairly early, ideally at the end of your junior year or beginning of your senior year. Check out our guide on letters of rec for more information on who to ask to write your letter of recommendation and a step-by-step guide on how to ask.

 

#4: MIT Essays

For MIT, you’ll need to write five short essays, each less than 250 words. MIT requires multiple short essays to get a more complete view of who you are, so make sure you show your personality and what you care about.

There are three main goals for your MIT essays:

  • Show who you are
  • Show what’s important to you
  • Show why MIT is the best school for you

For tips and strategies on how to answer every one of the MIT essay prompts, check out our in-depth guide to answering the MIT essays.

 

#5: Extracurriculars

Your extracurriculars are also a key part of your MIT application. The best way to stand out with your extracurriculars is to emphasize your passion and leadership skills. You can do this by pursuing extracurriculars in a field related to your future major, sticking with them, and achieving leadership roles in them. Learn more about the types of extracurriculars you'll need to get into top-tier schools.

It’s also important to note that you should choose your extracurriculars based on what you’re interested in and passionate about, not what you think will impress MIT. On their website, MIT specifically counsels against this, as they’d rather have students doing what they love than those spending their time on things they don’t care about just to try and look impressive.

 

Recap: MIT Application

Because MIT only accepts less than 7% of applicants, your application needs to stand out if you want a chance of getting in. Before you do anything else, make sure you know that MIT application deadlines. They differ depending on whether you’re applying Early Action or Regular Action.

Give yourself enough time to complete all parts of the application, which will include entering in all your grades and classes, completing five MIT essay prompts, and entering in your test scores. Don’t forget to send in additional materials such as your transcript, official test scores, and letters of recommendation. MIT also highly recommends doing an interview.

To give yourself the best chance of getting admitted, you want your MIT application to b strong across the board. The five most important parts of your application are your: transcript, standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, essays, and extracurriculars.

 

What's Next?

Want to see what an MIT acceptance letter look like? Take a look at an actual MIT acceptance letter and learn tips for getting in.

Essays are an important part of the MIT application. Learn how to write stellar MIT essays by checking out our guide to the four tips you need to know when writing MIT essays.

Want to know how to make your extracurriculars stand out even more? Check out this guide to four amazing extracurricular activities and learn why they're so impressive to colleges.

 


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Christine Sarikas
About the Author

Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.



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