How to Get Into MIT

To get into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), 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.


Massachusetts Institute of Technology Facts

Motto: Mens et Manus (Mind and Hand)
Established: 1861
School Type: Private
Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Athletics: NCAA Division III
Nickname: Engineers
Website: web.mit.edu


To get into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), 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. The university counts 96 Nobel laureates, eight Fields medalists, and 26 Turing Award winners among its alumni, staff, and faculty. Companies that have been founded by MIT alumnae enjoy annual revenues of more than $1.9 trillion as of 2014. Together, these 30,000 companies founded by MIT alumni employ an estimated 4.6 million people.

Want to know how to get into MIT? To assist you as you think about whether MIT is the right fit for you, following are several frequently asked questions (FAQ) about how to get into the prestigious school.

What GPA Do I Need to Get Into MIT?

To earn the prize of admission at MIT, your grades in high school must be exceptional. This does not mean that you should take easier classes just so you can get all As. MIT looks at the courses that you take during high school and wants to see that you have challenged yourself by taking the most rigorous courses that are available to you while also scoring As in them. If your school offers AP courses or IB courses, you should choose them over the less difficult options. In math, you should go beyond pre-calculus. MIT reports that 97 percent of its admitted students graduated in the top 10 percent of their classes and 100 percent were in the top quarter. This means that you should aim to achieve a weighted GPA of at least 4.13. To improve your odds, you should aim for a GPA that is even higher.

While MIT and other top schools state that they use a holistic process and consider more than your grades, you should understand that the school’s holistic process is primarily used for students who are high-achievers and who have earned top grades in high school. This makes it important for you to strive to secure As in all of your courses, including courses that you don’t enjoy.

If you are already a junior or senior, you do not have much time to increase your GPA. This makes it important for you to score as well as you can on the SAT or ACT to make up for any issues with your GPA. Again, getting As in advanced courses is better than getting As in easy classes that do not challenge you.

If you are enrolled in a course that you find particularly difficult, get help from a tutor as early in the semester as possible. With help, you might rise to the challenge and score a much better grade than you might think possible. Along the way, you might also develop an interest in the course that you didn’t previously have.

Use a scheduler to plan times to study for each class. You can check your schedule to see what you need to do and when to do it. This can help you to keep on track as you work to achieve the highest grades that you possibly can.

What SAT or ACT Scores Do I Need to Get Into MIT?

MIT admission will also depend on your ability to obtain top scores on your SAT or ACT. MIT, unlike some other prestigious universities, will allow for Score Choice and superscoring your tests. So you may take the highest score you obtained for each section on any sitting of the test. If you want MIT to superscore your test results, you’ll want to submit all applicable tests.
According to MIT, the mid-portion of the class of 2023 earned the following scores at the 25th and 75th percentiles on the SAT and ACT tests:

  • SAT Math – 25th percentile score was 790
  • SAT Math – 75th percentile score was 800
  • SAT Evidence-based Reading and Writing – 25th percentile was 730
  • SAT Evidence-based Reading and Writing – 75th percentile was 780
  • ACT Math – 25th percentile was 35
  • ACT Math – 75th percentile was 36
  • ACT English – 25th percentile was 35
  • ACT English – 75th percentile was 36
  • ACT Composite – 25th percentile was 34
  • ACT Composite – 75th percentile was 36

Given that the highest scores that you can earn on the SAT and ACT are 1600 and 36, respectively, the percentile scores of the middle portion of the entering class of 2023 is informative and demonstrates the highly selective nature of the MIT admissions process.

It is possible to obtain a higher SAT or ACT score through preparation. Start as early as possible taking practice tests under circumstances that are similar to what you might expect during the actual test. Time yourself, and see how you do. Consider working with a test preparation tutor or counselor for tips on how to improve your scores. If you continue practicing, you might achieve a higher score.

Figure out which standardized test to use. Some students do better on the SAT while others do better on the ACT. MIT accepts scores from either test and does not favor one over the other. The timing of the tests might be important. The SAT includes a total of 154 multiple-choice questions to complete during a testing window of three hours. The ACT includes a total of 215 questions to complete during a testing window of two hours and 55 minutes. This means that you will have approximately one minute and 10 seconds to answer each question on the SAT and 49 seconds to answer each question on the ACT.

The SAT includes three tests while the ACT includes four tests. Both the SAT and the ACT also have an optional essay test. The SAT includes a reading test, a writing and language test, and a math test. The ACT includes a reading test, an English test, a math test, and a science test.

Picking the test that you will take early is important. This will give you more time to prepare for the test of your choice. Once you become familiar with the exam, you can identify your areas of weakness. This allows you to concentrate on your weaker areas so that you can achieve score improvements in those sections.

Start taking the test of your choice in your junior year of high school. This provides you with more opportunities to improve your score by taking the test multiple times. Both tests offer fee waivers if your family’s income is lower, helping to defray the costs.

Students with certain disabilities might be eligible for extended test-taking time. For example, if you have a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder or ADHD and need more time to take tests, you might be able to secure more time to take the SAT or ACT. However, getting approval for extended test-taking time is not automatic and will require you to provide diagnostic information and recommendations from a professional and your school. Simply having a diagnosis is not enough. Instead, you must be able to demonstrate a true need for additional time on the test that you take. You also have to request the accommodation early, so sign up for the ACT or SAT as soon as the application window opens for the date that you want.

Finally, while the essay portion of the SAT or ACT is optional, you should choose to take the essay test. Providing more information about you to MIT can help you. If you choose not to take the essay, the admissions officers will have less information on which to base their decisions.

Do I Need to Take AP Courses to Get Into MIT?

MIT does not require you to take courses beyond what is offered at your high school. However, if your school offers the advanced placement or international baccalaureate courses, you should take them. Taking these courses helps to show MIT that you are willing to challenge yourself by taking difficult classes.

Some high schools do not offer advanced placement classes, and MIT understands that. If your school does not offer AP courses, take the honors curriculum and work to achieve the highest scores possible in every class. To demonstrate that you are willing to challenge yourself, you can also take courses at your local community college or university while you are in high school.

While AP and IB classes allow you to take the end-of-course exams for college credit, MIT generally does not accept the credit from these tests. The school wants all of its incoming freshmen to start at MIT on equal footing. However, MIT does grant credit for specific AP tests on which you score a five. You can look at the list of credit policies at MIT for different AP exams and scores on the school’s website. Each department at MIT establishes its credit policies for AP and IB tests. For a list of the credit policies for IB exams, you can look at the list on the school’s website.

If you are accepted to MIT and want to skip beyond some of the entry-level courses, you have the option of taking advanced standing exams. An advanced standing exam at MIT is similar to taking the final exam for the course. If you score well on the ASE, the score will serve as your grade in the class. If you do poorly, you can take the class, and the ASE score will disappear from your record at MIT.

Some high schools offer dual credit courses that give you credit at both your high school and at a community college or university. If you have taken dual credit courses and have earned college credits before you begin your studies at MIT, the departments will review the information about your courses to determine whether transfer credit will be granted.

To request a review of your transfer credit, you will need to submit the following information:

  • Your college transcript
  • Catalog description of each course with the syllabus, the textbook used, the chapters that were covered, and the number of hours that you were credited
  • Request for additional credit form

Even if you might not receive credit from MIT for your AP, IB, or dual credit courses, it is still a good idea for you to take them if they are available to you. Taking challenging courses demonstrates that you are ready to tackle what lies ahead when you attend MIT.

Do I Need to Take SAT Subject Tests to Get Into MIT?

Yes. In addition to the SAT or ACT, you will also have to take at least two SAT subject tests. These are tests that you can take to showcase your particular skills. As a math and science-focused institution, MIT requires you to take either the Math Level 1 or Math Level 2 subject test. You must also choose to take one of the following SAT Science Subject tests:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics

If you are confident in your math skills, you should take the Math Level 2 subject test than the Math Level 1 test. While MIT states that it has no preference for either level, the Math Level 2 test can allow you to show that your math skills are at a higher level. If you can achieve a top score on the Math Level 2 test, it makes sense to choose that version of the math subject test.

Like the SAT and ACT tests, you can take the subject tests multiple times. MIT accepts the super score for the SAT, which allows you to pick the highest score in each section of the SAT or the best SAT subject test score to submit. This allows you to present yourself at your best in each area. The ACT also gives you the option of submitting the highest scores that you achieve in each section over multiple test attempts. This is another reason to start taking the tests early during your junior year to allow yourself plenty of chances to achieve the highest scores possible.

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.
The personal statement is something that many students dread, and students who are applying to MIT are no exception. You should never submit the same essay to multiple schools. Each essay should be tailored to the institution to which you apply. You should view your application essay as a chance to show the admissions officers at MIT who you are and why they should want you to become a part of the school’s community as a student.

Selective schools like MIT receive countless applications from high-achieving students who have attained top grades and test scores. Your essay allows you to stand out. You should not simply list your accomplishments in high school in your essay. The admissions officers will want to learn more about who you are and what makes you tick. Your essay should tell the unique story of you, your background, and how you became the person you are today. Writing the essay will take a lot of work, but it is well worth it. Many students make the mistake of attempting to sound smart instead of like themselves. Do not toss in huge words that sound unnatural. Don’t let your parents write your essay for you. Admissions officers can tell when parents write essays for their children, and it will harm your chances rather than help them.

Writing your essay for MIT will require you to write multiple drafts. After each draft, have someone you trust to look over it for you. Continue honing your essay until you shine through compellingly. Don’t rely on your parents to look over your essay. While they will certainly want to read it, your parents are biased for you. Let someone who can look at it with a critical eye review it for you such as an English teacher at your high school or your guidance counselor.

How selective is MIT?

Thousands of students apply to MIT each year. The school is among the most selective in the U.S. For the class of 2023, MIT reports that 21,312 students applied, and the school accepted just 1,427 for an overall first-year admissions rate of 6.7%. Out of the total number of applicants, 9,600 students submitted early action applications. Out of the early action applicants, 707 were admitted, and 6,350 were deferred to the regular action process. Of the students who were deferred to the regular action from the early action process, 190 were admitted to MIT.

There were a total of 11,712 students who applied to MIT through the regular action process. Including the 6,350 who were deferred from early action to regular action, a total of 18,062 applicants were considered during regular action, and 720 were admitted. Another 460 students were offered places on the waitlist. Ultimately, 17 of the wait-listed students were admitted to MIT for the class of 2023.

These statistics demonstrate just how difficult it is to gain admission to this highly selective school. According to U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges Rankings for 2020, MIT is tied for third with Columbia University and Yale University for national universities in the U.S. This means that MIT is one of the very best schools in the nation, leading many students to dream of getting in. Given the school’s ranking and selectivity, you must prepare if getting into MIT is what you dream about for your future.

What Does MIT Look for In Students?

MIT admissions officials use a holistic process when they evaluate applicants. Your grades and test scores are highly important, but they are not definitive as far as your ability to get accepted to MIT. You will still need to have top grades and test scores. However, MIT also searches for applicants who are innovative, creative, and who enjoy working with teams of others to solve problems. On its website, MIT states that the key factor that its admissions officials look for is whether MIT is a good match for an applicant.

The school identifies several components that it considers when determining whether an applicant is a good fit for MIT or not, including the following:

  • Alignment with the school’s mission
  • Spirit of cooperation and collaboration
  • Taking initiative
  • Willingness to take risks
  • Being hands-on with creative thinking
  • Being passionate, curious, and excited about what you pursue
  • Ability to enhance the character of the community at MIT
  • Ability to make balance a priority

What Extracurricular Activities Do I Need to Get into MIT?

You should not view your extracurricular activity choices in high school as things that will simply look good to MIT. Instead, the school is more interested in students who actively pursue activities about which they have true passions. The admissions office recommends that students participate in extracurricular activities that truly delight them rather than trying to figure out what activities might appeal to MIT. You should pursue one or more extracurricular activities that you continue with throughout high school.
Many students have the mistaken idea that they need to spread themselves thin and try to participate in as many different activities as possible to demonstrate that they are well-rounded. Schools like MIT are not searching to find well-rounded students. Instead, MIT is looking for students who show high levels of intelligence combined with singular talent in the areas of their interest.

On its admissions mission page, MIT emphasizes its commitment to the public interest. The school wants to find leaders and innovators who are dedicated to making life better for the good of everyone. The school accepts top students from all backgrounds to further its institutional goals. MIT points interested students to a book written in 1966 by B. Alden Thresher titled “College Admissions in the Public Interest.” This book is informative about MIT’s philosophy on the admissions process and is well worth the read. It is available in PDF format on the internet here.

Your extracurricular activities should also be used to demonstrate that you have leadership skills. When you join clubs, try to secure leadership positions in them. Don’t be afraid to run for an office in your club. If your school does not have a club in your interest area, talk to the administration about starting your own. You will likely find that there are several other students at your high school who would enjoy participating in a club that you create. Starting your own club also allows you to show your initiative and your leadership skills.
If you start high school with the singular goal of gaining admission to MIT, you should recognize that the school accepts a very small percentage of the students who apply. You should instead focus on being the best student and person that you can be and in gaining a better understanding of who you are and what you enjoy. If you focus on bettering yourself rather than simply gaining admission to MIT, you might make yourself a more attractive applicant when the time comes to submit your applications.

What enrichment opportunities will help me get into MIT?

There are many enrichment activities in math and science that you can participate in to prepare yourself for the rigors of studying at MIT. Enrichment opportunities also provide you with the ability to meet other like-minded students who also love science and math so that you can forge friendships that could last a lifetime. MIT has a list of enrichment opportunities both at MIT and through competitions that you might consider. MIT also offers several selective residential summer programs that might allow you to gain hands-on education on the campus of MIT. Even if you are unable to attend a summer program at MIT, you can take advantage of similar programs in your state to advance your knowledge in math and science.

Will visiting MIT help me get in?

Possibly. Visiting MIT and learning about the school could give you an advantage. In addition to meeting current students, you will more material for your essays that will demonstrate you have researched the school and why you are a good fit. If you can, visit MIT during one of the school’s scheduled visiting days. You can participate in a campus tour and information session and sign up to attend a class. Visiting MIT allows you to show that you are interested in the school. Like other elite universities, MIT wants students who have a strong desire to attend, and visiting is one way to express your interest. Visiting the campus can also allow you to determine whether the feel of MIT is right for you.

If you are unable to travel to Cambridge to visit MIT, MIT’s admissions officers travel each fall to hold information sessions around the U.S. and the world. Check their website to find a session that is close to you.

Does MIT accept the common application?

No. While some schools participate in the Common Application, MIT does not. The application for MIT must be completed and submitted through MIT’s website. You can register and start the process here. The application is designed to be completed online. You can scan in supplemental materials. If you need to do so, you can also submit them via fax at 617-687-9184. MIT prefers that you do not mail in supplemental documents. However, if you cannot avoid mailing documents, you can send them to the following address:

MIT Undergraduate Admissions Processing Center
P.O. Box 404
Randolph, MA 02368

MIT asks several short answer questions on its application. Take your time answering each question. Double-check your grammar and spelling, and answer every question thoughtfully within the requested maximum number of words. Before you click submit, it is a good idea to print out your application and have a teacher or college admissions counselor look over it with you. That gives you a chance to get input from others so that you can revise your answers as necessary.

What are MIT’s deadlines?

MIT has two application processes, including early action and regular action. Applying through early action does not increase your chances of gaining admission to MIT. However, it does demonstrate that you are very interested in attending MIT. You must pay attention to the application deadlines whether you plan to apply by early or regular action. If you plan to apply via the early action process, your application materials must be submitted no later than November 1. Your deadline for taking the ACT or SAT will also be the November test date. Early action applicants will receive their decisions by mid-December.

If you plan to apply to MIT by the regular action process, your application materials will be due no later than Jan. 1. The deadline for your ACT or SAT will be the December test date. Regular action and deferred action applicants will be notified of whether they have been accepted during the regular action process by April 1.

MIT states that it does not have a preference for early action or regular action. The school also does not limit you to applying only to MIT during the early action process, which means that you can apply to other schools through their early action processes as well. However, MIT stresses that if another school’s early action process is a single-choice school, you should respect that. For example, if you apply to a school that states that early action students must attend its school if accepted, MIT expects you to attend that school even if both MIT and the other school accept your application.

Who should I ask to write my MIT letters of recommendation?

You will need to ask for two letters of recommendation. You will not be able to read these letters, so you should choose who to ask to write them wisely. Refrain from asking someone who does not truly know who you are to recommend you to MIT. For example, it may be better to ask your calculus teacher to write a letter of recommendation to MIT for you than to ask your local congressional representative to do so. MIT specifically requires you to have two teachers submit letters of recommendation, and the school also wants additional information from your guidance counselor. The two teacher letters must be from a science or math teacher and a teacher in the humanities, languages, or social sciences. You should choose teachers who know you well as both a student and a person. The letters of recommendation are submitted online. You can learn more about the process here.

Does MIT require an interview?

Sometimes. MIT is unable to interview all applicants. If you are chosen for an interview, you will be notified by email. Respond to the email promptly to schedule a time and day to meet with your interviewer. If you are not interviewed, that does not mean that you will not be accepted to MIT. It simply means that there are a limited number of interviewers and thousands of applicants, so not everyone can be interviewed who applies.

The interviews are not conducted on campus. If you are chosen for an interview, you will be interviewed at a location in your area at which you and the MIT representative agree to meet.

MIT has a network of 5,000 MIT graduates located around the U.S. and world who conduct interviews with some of the applicants to MIT. This is because the school wants to know more about you beyond what you submit in your application and supplemental materials. If you are chosen for an interview, you will receive an email. Respond to this email promptly. Interviews are conducted in your area at a location that both you and the interviewer agree to. Common examples include coffee shops, restaurants, libraries, or book stores. It is sometimes possible to arrange an interview via Skype.

Do not overdress for your interview, but don’t look like a slob. Think business casual. The interview is normally not a formal event. Instead, dress for the location at which your interview will be held. Read blogs about the MIT interview and talk to others who have gone through it to get an idea of some of the questions that you might be asked. Think about your answers and practice. Do not bring your parents to your interview, and make certain to arrive early. It does not look good to bring a parent to an interview with an MIT representative or to keep him or her waiting. Show up early, be friendly, and be prepared.

Be yourself in the interview. The importance of authenticity cannot be overstated. If you try to pretend to be someone you are not, your chances of being admitted to MIT will decrease. You want to be accepted for who you are. Trying to put forward an image of someone you are not will be a disservice to you.

How much does it cost to attend MIT?

According to MIT, the total cost of attendance for the 2019/2020 school year is $73,160. However, this is the cost before financial aid has been subtracted. MIT is dedicated to helping students from all backgrounds to afford the cost of attendance. For example, 59% of MIT undergraduate students receive an MIT scholarship, which does not have to be repaid. For the 2018 to 2019 school year, the average MIT scholarship was $47,593. To apply for the MIT scholarship, you will need to apply for financial aid and complete the CSS profile. Low-income first-year students are also able to secure a $2,000 grant to help pay for things that they will need as they transition to life at MIT such as towels or a coat.

You can also apply for federal student aid by completing the FAFSA. There are also thousands of scholarship opportunities available for which you can apply to cut down the costs of attending MIT.

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. The team at Going Ivy has a successful track record of helping many students with gaining admission to MIT as well as to other elite institutions.

What can I do in high school to increase the chances I get into MIT?

Some of the actionable steps that you can take in high school to increase your chances of gaining admission to MIT include the following:

  • Work hard to get top grades.
  • Take advanced placement courses to increase your GPA if your school uses weighted GPAs.
  • Take advanced courses even if your school doesn’t weight GPAs.
  • Complete at least the courses MIT recommends, but be willing to go beyond the list.
  • Be kind to others and participate in public service projects.
  • Choose extracurricular activities wisely while focusing on quality instead of quantity.
  • Participate in enrichment activities and research opportunities.
  • Study for the SAT or ACT regularly and take practice tests with a focus on improving your score.
  • Consider getting help from a tutor in subjects that are difficult for you.
  • Start the application process early.
  • Write an essay for MIT that is focused on MIT rather than a generic essay that you use for all applications.
  • Remember to schedule time for yourself to do the things that you love.
  • Above all, be yourself.

When you look at this list, an underlying theme is an importance of getting organized. Writing an action plan with measurable steps can help you to work toward your goal of gaining admission to MIT as well as your goal of becoming the best person that you can be. Writing a plan with actionable steps can also help you to stay on track and to see your progress as you work toward achieving your goals. It can be exciting to check off the boxes as you make progress and to look back to see everything that you have achieved. Developing good organizational skills can also help you to manage your time more effectively so that you can stay on track.

The team at Going Ivy is made up of graduates of the most selective schools in the nation. An elite college admissions preparation company, Going Ivy has helped many students with getting admitted into MIT, Stanford and the schools that make up the Ivy League. This page was created to help you understand how to get into MIT. To learn more about the help that Going Ivy can offer, schedule your free consultation today.

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