How to Get Into MIT: Admissions Stats + Tips

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What’s Covered:

 

Want to join the ranks of Buzz Aldrin, Andrea Wong, Kofi Annan, Ben Bernanke, and Ilene S. Gordon? These and other notable alumni of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have gone on to become leaders in business, science, engineering, mathematics, politics, and more. 

 

Founded in 1861, the esteemed Cambridge university is synonymous with talent and success. MIT is also enormously selective. So, what does it really take to get into this prestigious school? Here’s what you should know.

 

How Hard Is It to Get Into MIT?

 

For the class of 2025, 33,240 students applied, and 1,365 were admitted, for an acceptance rate of 4.1%. Of these, 15,081 applied Early Action, and 759 were admitted, for an EA acceptance rate of around 5%. 

 

680 students received a place on the waitlist, and 25 were admitted.

 

MIT is extraordinarily selective, but your unique chances of admission vary according to the strength of your profile. Curious about your odds of getting in? CollegeVine’s free admissions calculator will take into account factors like your GPA, test scores, extracurricular activities, and more to predict your chances of acceptance, plus give you tips on how to improve your profile.

 

Average Academic Profile of Accepted MIT Students

 

SAT/ACT

 

77% of applicants submitted SAT scores, while 42% percent submitted ACT scores. The SAT composite middle 50% range for accepted students was 1510–1570 (EBRW 730–780; M 780–800), and the ACT composite was 34–36 (M 35–36; R 34–36; E 35–36; S 34–36).

 

Class Rank

 

100% of admitted students who submitted their class rank graduated within the top 10% of their class. Thirty-seven percent of applicants submitted class rank.

 

What is MIT Looking for?

 

Like most schools of its caliber, MIT employs a holistic admissions process, reviewing factors beyond the strength of your academic profile. Your grades and test scores are, of course, important, but most applicants will have an excellent academic profile.

 

MIT is well known for accepting students who demonstrate excellence in STEM areas. However, today, the university seeks to go beyond the stereotype and build a student body with people who exhibit additional qualities, including strength of character. 

 

Key components

 

According to MIT, the university looks for the following key components:

 

Alignment with MIT’s mission

 

MIT is a research-driven institution that seeks to “make the world better.” The university notes that they don’t expect you to cure an infectious disease as a teenager, but you should demonstrate an impact in small ways.

 

Collaborative and cooperative spirit

 

Demonstrate ways you’ve exemplified teamwork and collaboration, since you’ll be expected to work in groups routinely at MIT (and beyond). 

 

Initiative

 

You must be able to seek out opportunities, such as conducting research and holding leadership positions. According to MIT, “for those students who take initiative—who take advantage of what’s around them—MIT’s resources are unparalleled.”

 

Risk-taking

 

“MIT wants to admit people who are not only planning to succeed but who are also not afraid to fail,” the institution says. “When people take risks in life, they learn resilience—because risk leads to failure as often as it leads to success. The most creative and successful people—and MIT is loaded with them—know that failure is part of life and that if you stay focused and don’t give up, goals are ultimately realized.”

 

Hands-on creativity

 

Demonstrate creativity through innovative extracurriculars. “You shouldn’t just enjoy thinking, you should also enjoy doing,” MIT says.

 

Intensity, curiosity, and excitement

 

Exemplify true passions, focusing on one or two areas that really interest you over trying to cram a plethora of activities that have no common theme into your resume.

 

The character of the MIT community

 

MIT may have a reputation for being cutthroat, but according to the university, the community “is comprised of people who take care of each other and lift each other up, who inspire each other to work and dream beyond their potential. We’re looking to admit people who by nature will sustain the qualities of this community.”

 

The ability to prioritize balance

 

MIT is not all work and no play. You should be able to achieve balance and know when to take a break. This is demonstrated on the application, where you’re asked to describe something you simply do for the pleasure of it. Be honest!

 

Discover your chances at hundreds of schools

Our free chancing engine takes into account your history, background, test scores, and extracurricular activities to show you your real chances of admission—and how to improve them.

How MIT Evaluates Applications

 

According to the 2020–21 Common Data Set, MIT considers this factor “very important”:

 

  • Character/personal qualities

 

These factors are “important”:

 

  • Rigor of secondary school record
  • Academic GPA
  • Standardized test scores
  • Application Essay
  • Recommendation
  • Interview
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Talent/ability

 

These factors are “considered”:

 

  • Class rank
  • First generation
  • Geographical residence
  • Racial/ethnic status
  • Volunteer work
  • Work experience

 

These factors are “not considered”:

 

  • Alumni/ae relation
  • State residency
  • Religious affiliation/commitment
  • Level of applicant’s interest

 

How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into MIT

 

1. Achieve a high GPA while taking the most challenging classes available.

 

While MIT doesn’t provide information about the average high school GPA of accepted students, it does say that all those who submitted class rank were in the top 10% of their graduating class. MIT is enormously selective, so it stands to reason you should have extremely high grades.

 

Competitive schools like MIT use the Academic Index to essentially “weed out” unqualified students before evaluating more qualitative aspects of their applications, like extracurricular activities and essays. These refer to academic values like grades and test scores. Given that most students who apply to MIT are academically talented, you need to further set yourself apart by taking the most challenging curriculum available to you, including plenty of AP or IB and honors courses.

 

If your GPA is lower, and you’re earlier on in your high school career, check out our tips for increasing your GPA. If you’re a junior or senior, it will be harder to increase your GPA, so the easiest way to increase your Academic Index is to get a higher test score.

 

2. Aim for a 1570 SAT and 36 ACT.

 

While anything within the middle 50% range of test scores (1510–1570 SAT/34–36 ACT) is acceptable, try to aim for the 75th percentile to make yourself that much more competitive. Moreover, if you’re able to safely do so, we recommend submitting test scores if they are at least in the 25th percentile of admitted students at MIT, even in light of COVID-19 test-optional policies.

 

Get personalized recommendations on whether you should apply test-optional using our free Chancing Engine

 

MIT does superscore, meaning they consider only the highest section scores from multiple sittings. To improve your score, we recommend taking the SAT or ACT two to three times.

 

Check out these free CollegeVine resources for more guidance:

 

 

3. Cultivate at least one or two Tier 1-2 extracurriculars (find your “spike”).

 

MIT evaluates extracurricular activities according to a tier system, with Tier 1 representing the most exceptional and specialized activities, such as conducting independent, prize-winning research, and Tier 4 representing the most commonly-encountered activities, like being a member of a science club. You should develop a spike — specialization in a couple areas — rather than having scattered interests and activities. 

 

Remember, too, that MIT values extracurriculars that don’t just show academic talent. They want to see leadership and character, too through your activities, too. Perhaps, for example, you might be the president of your school’s chapter of the Science Olympiad.

 

Find additional impressive ECs for college.

 

4. Write engaging essays.

 

Remember that unlike many other colleges, MIT does not accept the Common Application. Instead, it has its own application and essay prompts. Your essays give the adcom insight into your personality and your real voice, so take care to present your authentic self and demonstrate your fit with the university.

 

Here’s guidance on how to tackle the MIT essays for the 2021–2022 academic year.

Once you clear the academic thresholds, essays are the best way to set yourself apart from other applicants. You want to share your authentic voice and demonstrate your fit with the school.

 

5. Have plenty of STEM experience

 

No matter which program you pursue at MIT, it will culminate in a Bachelor of Science. STEM experience, demonstrated through every aspect of your application — extracurriculars, essays, coursework, and so on — will help show that you fit in at this predominantly STEM-focused institution.

 

6. Exemplify your personal characteristics and develop strong relationships with teachers.

 

MIT ranks interviews and teacher recommendations as “important,” which means they are more important at the university than some other competitive schools. Make sure you practice for interviews and prepare sufficiently, including having questions ready to ask.

 

MIT asks for a recommendation from a math or science teacher and an additional one from a humanities, social science, or language teacher. Choose teachers with whom you have strong relationships both in and outside class, not necessarily the ones who gave you the highest grades (although it’s not a good idea to choose recommenders from classes where you did poorly).

 

How to Apply to MIT

 

Deadlines

 

Application Timeline

Deadline

Early Action

November 1

Regular Decision

January 5

 

Application Requirements

 

  • MIT application
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Secondary School Report
  • February Updates and Notes Form
  • Interview (if available)
  • Creative portfolio (optional)

 

Learn more about MIT

 

Wondering if MIT is right for you? Check out our additional resources:

 

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Short Bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in Creative Writing and minored in History. She lives in Brooklyn, New York and works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She dreams of having a dog.

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