MIT Admission Counselors

A Guide to the MIT Admissions Process - Essays, Interviews & Deadlines

MIT Admissions Guidance

Our MIT admissions consulting services offer you an insider look at what exactly it takes to be admitted to MIT. Every university is different, and we are proud to offer MIT specific information that will benefit you as you apply. Take a look at our MIT admissions guidance below.

MIT Admissions Counselor

How To Get Into MIT​

Since its founding in 1861, MIT is looking for student scholars who are independent, have their own individual interests and have cultivated and demonstrated those interests beyond themselves even in civic engagement.

In MIT’s holistic evaluation, the first question a student’s credentials need to prove is that they are academically successful and equipped to be studying in this highly demanding and highly intense environment. This is proven through the numbers of your application:

Standardized testing, Transcript (UW GPA and Course-load). The key question here is “Is this kid going to be able to come to MIT and handle the course-load which requires a mature level of independence and high-level problem-solving?”

Independent Initiative. Individuality. Passion. High level of academic success. These are the key hallmarks of successful MIT applicants.

What is MIT’s rating scale?

MIT assigns every applicant three separate ratings on a 1-5 scale (1 being the lowest, 5 being the highest): Ideal would 555 but most applicants who 544 are still competitive, however, in rare cases 444s could be offered acceptances.

  • Academic Rating (1 to 5) (recalculated STEM GPA, STEM standardized testing scores; Other academic achievements such as research, competitions)
  • Activity Rating (1 to 5) (a balance between extracurricular vs. co-curricular is an important distinction in this section)
  • Interpersonal Rating (1 to 5) This is was the hardest category to get a 4 or 5 in.

***At MIT, your GPA is recalculated based on the following:

  • Math/Science grades
  • Math/Science SAT/ACT and subject tests

So parts of your transcript are used in the academic rating. Overall GPA and composite scores are less important. However, the GPA does matter. Getting multiple Bs, Cs, or any Ds may disqualify you as an applicant. What it does mean is that PARTS of your GPA are more important than others.

Example of MIT's Academic Rating of 5 (highest rating):

The objective evaluation is actually a way of looking at the applicant’s academic preparation (grades, rank in class, SAT scores):

  • Top 1-2% of high school class
  • The most challenging course load of AP science courses and dual enrollment
  • SAT/ACT scores in the 99th percentile in math and science
  • Math and Science GPA 3.8+
  • Glowing letters of recommendation from math or science indicating that student is best out of applicants from past several years from his or her high school
  • Winner of INTEL competition- win a national level academic award
  • Published author- research publication

Example of MIT's Activity Rating of 5 (highest rating):

Activity-wise, MIT looks for specialists who have high-level achievement in one or two things over students who are well-rounded. The distinction and balance between extra-curricular versus co-curricular is important here. Co-curricular activities can be linked back to an academic core subject (i.e. Math Olympiad, French Club, Robotics team).

Extra-curricular activities are everything else (i.e. sports, community service, personal hobby). Candidates should show their intellectual aptitude in pursuit of something STEM-related yet also pursuing something completely outside of STEM at a high-achievement level will result in a high rating.

Combination of:

  • Wins national music competition
  • Athletes- national ranked (at least)

Example of MIT's Interpersonal Rating of 5 (highest rating):

Unlike the Ivies, MIT has a separate rating for interpersonal, which measures an applicant’s potential contribution to the community.

  • Founder of the organization that fulfills a community need with demonstrated impact
  • Manages to work long hours while attending high school to help support the family

An explanation of MIT's 5-5-5 Rating

Academic/Activity/Interpersonal 5-5-5's at MIT are rare and comprise less than 1% of the applicant pool at MIT - they are almost always admitted as long as they write good essays. MIT does utilize hard cutoffs to eliminate applicants as it relates to STEM GPA and STEM Standardized scores. MIT often admits 4-5-5’s over 5-4-4's. This is why the MIT application questions are where MIT finds their most compelling applicants (i.e. applicants who have taken risks and failed who are able to articulate how they bounced back). It is about achieving a level of distinction within your activities and showcasing your passion in your activities.

Approaching the MIT Admissions Essays

MIT has its own application and portal. The questions they ask are meant to help you show (not just tell) them about your authentic self.

MIT Short Answers:

  1. We know you lead a busy life, full of activities, many of which are required of you. Tell us about something you do simply for the pleasure of it. (100 words or fewer)
    • This should be non-academic. Focus on a hobby or quirky interest you have.
    • MIT prides itself on having a diverse campus, so this is an opportunity to show how you will contribute to that
  2. 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)
    • Speak in terms of the Course #s. Find that by researching your intended major on their website.
    • Know that MIT does not have quotas for particular majors.
  3. 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)
    • This should showcase your civic engagement in whatever capacity you have tried to improve your community. Make sure you mention how doing this civic engagement also changed you or your mindset.
    • You can also write about helping your family or your classmates. The main point is to show that you care about others. Write this as a straightforward story.
  4. 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)
    • You are answering what is the source of your inspiration. This can refer to people or places but it can also refer to your racial/ethnic/religious heritage.
  5. 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)
    • Tell your story of failure and how you dug deep to overcome and what you learned from it.
    • This can be academic, but it can also be social/personal. The point here is that MIT is a difficult place where you are going to encounter a lot of setbacks, and the admissions committee needs to know that you have already faced a setback in some area of your life and gotten past it. This could also be a place to show your problem-solving ability (if appropriate). MIT is all about problem-solving. Again, this essay should be in the form of a straightforward story.
  6. Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
    • Use this opportunity to share anything that was not covered in other parts of your application.

Tips for your overall approach to the application essays:

  1. BE YOURSELF: the reader needs to learn something new about you.
  2. You author what the reader learns about you- do not say things you think the admissions reader wants to hear. That is the easiest way to get a 2 rating under interpersonal.
  3. Respond with vivid anecdotes; show, don’t tell; use the active voice, not the passive voice; avoid excessively complex words/phrases; relate your interests to the culture of MIT.
  4. The overall purpose of these essays is to show how you will fit in and be successful at MIT.

For more information about the MIT application process, contact us at one of the following: