In order to get into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, you will need to have a near-perfect high school GPA, top scores on your ACT or SAT and the types of extracurricular activities that allow you to demonstrate your commitment and leadership abilities. You will also need to be able to write an essay that tells a compelling story about you and your thoughts while also showing your exceptional writing skills.
MIT is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and it is regarded as one of the most prestigious universities in the world. While it is famous for its programs in the physical sciences and engineering, its other programs are also quite competitive. Graduates of MIT are leaders in many different industries and are some of the brightest minds today. If you hope to attend MIT, you’ll face stiff competition. Read on for the school’s admissions requirements, and learn how you can boost your chances of admission.
Stated vs. Unstated Admission Requirements
Because the admissions process at top universities like MIT is holistic and so competitive, there is a difference between stated and unstated admissions requirements. Selective college admissions is a two-step process.
First, you must meet the minimum academic qualifications. This includes explicitly-stated requirements, such as the classes you must take and implicit minimum standardized test scores and GPAs for students of your background. Then, among students who meet the threshold, holistic admissions factors such as essays, your extracurricular profile, and other, more subjective qualities come into play.
The requirements you’ll find on MIT’s website or college search portals like US News are merely the stated admissions requirements. Do not trust them blindly: meeting these minimum requirements doesn’t mean you will get accepted to MIT. However, as long as you do meet these requirements, you will not be actively prevented from matriculating at MIT.
Literally tens of thousands of students meet those standards, so the unstated requirements separate 1,400 actual accepted students for a given class from the more than 10,000 who meet the minimum requirements and apply. These are qualities like the strength of your extracurricular accomplishments, the quality of your essays and writing, and your alignment with what MIT is looking for on a cultural and skillset basis.
How Your Background Impacts These Requirements
One of the biggest myths about admissions is that all 20,000+ applicants to MIT are judged against each other. In reality, universities are looking for a rough volume of students with different skill sets. For example, a selective college like MIT might want a class with 20-30 journalists, 15-20 students with experience overcoming adversity, and a certain number of students with other characteristics (both objective and subjective).
Because of this factor, the criteria for admission are different based on your background. For example, a student from an affluent suburban school district with a prototypical STEM profile will need to have higher scores and more traditional extracurricular achievements, while a student who grew up in the inner city and is a student-athlete will not need as strong qualifications due to the other characteristics she brings to the class.
MIT’s Unstated Requirements
The highest level goal on your application is to show alignment with MIT’s culture of deep academic inquiry and theoretical foundations. It’s not about STEM alone; that’s a misconception many people have about MIT. But anyone at MIT who pursues disciplines such as English and History approaches the field with that ethos of theoretical inquiry.
Another common archetype is the tinkerer or researcher, someone who pursues projects on their own and shows initiative. If this describes you, it must come across in your essays and extracurriculars.
For example, if you want to study history at MIT, the following profile:
- President of the Debate Club
- President of the Red Cross Club
- President of the Gardening Club
Is actually often less effective than:
- Creating a stellar independent National History Day project
- Working with a professor at a local community college to do research into an arcane period in European History (i.e. Belarus from 1650-1800)
- Creating a YouTube series that breaks down a highly specific history topic (say Ukraine from 1850-present) with bite sized deeply researched videos
Even though the latter profile has less formal accomplishments, it offers better cultural alignment with what MIT is looking for in its class. If you’d like to get a more precise estimate of your chances of admission at colleges like MIT, CollegeVine’s Applications Program includes access to our “chancing engine,” which is built from the data of thousands of applications.
What SAT Subject Tests Do You Need to Take to Get into MIT
MIT reguires all applicants to take two SAT subject tests in order to apply for admission. If you want to get into MIT, you’ll need to take either the Math Level 1 or the Math Level 2 subject test along with a SAT subject test in chemistry, physics or biology. It is important that you prepare for these tests and that you do well on them in addition to doing well on your ACT or SAT test.
What Should I Write About in My Personal Statement to Get into MIT
MIT does not ask students to write a single long essay. Instead, the school asks applicants to complete several short-answer essays. There is no formula of what you should include, but MIT does not want you to use your essays simply to list your accomplishments. Write about something that inspires you, and use the opportunity to show the school that you are a thoughtful person who the admissions office should want on MIT’s campus.
While getting accepted into MIT is exceptionally difficult, it is possible to do so if you have the right help. You must also be willing to do your best in your classes and to thoroughly prepare for your standardized tests.
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