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MIT staff blogger Ben Jones

Answers To Your Questions by Ben Jones

...and happy thanksgiving!

Hi everyone,

I’m taking a short break from reading applications today to answer the many questions that have been showing up in my blog comments. Hope these answers help!

Have a wonderful and safe thanksgiving.



Ron wrote: “hey i miss the october test for the SAT because of the department here in India. so they arrange make up test in october 28th but i could attend it for that. now i got a problem in november test due to clash of my exam and i couln’t give it. in december i have my exam again for SAT. so i couldn’t complete my test on time that had set up by the MIT. the latest for me to complete is on january test so pls advice how i could manage it.”

Take the January test and make sure to send your scores to MIT. It should be okay.


Michael Roberts wrote: “I was wondering why MIT does not recognise Chemistry A-Level. I find this baffling. Also, as my final grades come out in August 2007 will MIT make a conditional offer i.e. I will need to get three A’s to gain entry to MIT.”

I’m not sure of the answer to your first question, so I’ll ask the international admissions guru. To answer your second question, we’ll use your predicted scores to make our admissions decision.


J.J. Minkoff wrote: “I gave my recommendation letter for social studies and English teachers to a teacher who no longer teaches at my school, and, as of today, he had not sent off the letter. Is this enough to invalidate my application?”

Definitely not. We will track it down if we need to. If it still appears to be missing, please try to have it faxed to our office – (617) 258-8304.


’10 wrote: “I’ve heard rumors that current students can see their admissions files (teacher recs, admission’s comments, etc…). Is this true? Where do we go to see them?”

No, admissions comments are destroyed after decisions are made. You can see the top part of your admissions summary card which contains a bunch of data that you already know anyway. Pretty boring, but you’re welcome to come check it out.


Shuja wrote: “Is it ok if my MV Cal and Physics C grade reports are in by the end of January to mid-February? They are online classes, so it takes some time to process the reports. Also, can I send in a research paper I did?”

My buddy Evan ’10 actually answered this one in the thread. He wrote: “If you’re applying EA, then the admissions staff aren’t expecting to see senior year grades at all, and if you’re applying RA, mid-February should leave them with plenty of time to make an informed decision. As for the research paper, Matt talks about that in his entry on supplemental materials.” Quick answer: we prefer summaries or abstracts to big papers. :-)


Ed wrote: “I was just curious if MIT recieved the scores of the October SAT II’s. Also, though you don’t set a cut off score, what is the average score of accepted students for the Math Level 2 or Physics Subject Test?”

First question: I think we have, but I’m not 100% sure. We’ll definitely have them before we go into selection in December. Second question: I’m honestly not sure. I’ll ask Matt what he thinks about adding it to the stats page.


Kwan wrote: “Um, my chemistry teacher wrote my letter without having looked at the MIT evaluation A form. Would her letter be fine, or should she remail another letter, this time with the MIT evaluation A form filled out and attached?”

Her letter should be fine, no worries.


Ying-Ying wrote: “If parts of my application (like transcript) are lost in the mail or through whatever other catastrophes, will I be informed of my file’s incompleteness and allowed to send whatever is missing?”

We will track down any missing pieces that we need before reviewing an application.


Arash wrote: “So are decisions going to be online in December? I’m trying to figure out how heavy-duty I need my F5 key to be…”

Our goal is to release decisions online at noon MIT-time (EST) on Saturday December 9th. Decisions will also be sent via postal mail around the same time. I won’t be able to confirm 100% until we’re a bit farther along in the process, but I’ll let you know if anything changes.


Anonymous wrote: “Hi, I just found out that there was a form that needed to be filled out for the interview. Where might one find such a form?”

I’m not sure; please check with the Educational Council office by writing to [email protected]


a1228w wrote: “In my physics honors class last year, we only covered mechanics and waves; we never even mentioned E&M. If MIT demands the SAT physics, will they consider my situation when looking at my score?”

Context is always considered. The key is to make sure we have the context! So make sure to mention this somewhere in your application, in question 14 perhaps.


Brandy wrote: “Is it acceptable to substitute a humanities/social science/language teacher recommendation for a guidance counselor recommendation?”

We recognize that not all guidance counselors submit recommendations. If you’d like to submit an additional recommendation you may, but it’s not necessary.


Worried Applicant wrote: “I thought I had submitted my application a couple of minutes before midnight, but apparently when I checked the application today, the last line said that I submitted it Nov. 2, 2006. Does this mean I will be automatically deferred?”

Definitely not! If we really cared, we’d just shut off the online app at exactly midnight. :-) You’re fine.


AnotherApplicant wrote: “I’m an applicant from Indonesia. If I had decided to send my application by mail, should I include my MyMIT account name inside so I can track it? What if my scores (SAT, TOEFL) arrived before my Part 1 applicaton? Will they be held or discarded?”

You will be able to track your application online whether you apply on paper or electronically. You don’t need to do anything special to set it up, other than registering for a mymit account, which it sounds like you’ve already done. If your scores arrive before your application, a file will be started for you – the order in which we receive things doesn’t matter at all.


Reg wrote: “If you guys do use the predicted grade to see if you’re accepting people, what’s gonna happen if they get worse than predicted? Like a predicted A applicant got a C or something. The MIT admissions site says we need 4 years of English. For people in the UK system, would that mean 4 years from Year 10? or from Year 7? What if we don’t take English for A-levels, does it make us have only 2 years of English? And does taking very specialized courses in A-levels (like all sciences and maths) affect admissions in MIT, or any US university, since US has more emphasis on broad education?”

We’d look at that on a case-by-case basis. I wouldn’t recommend getting a C, however, if your predicted score is an A. :-) MIT doesn’t require anything for admission; the “4 years of English” is a recommendation. We understand that there are exceptions, especially for international school systems which can be quite different. Courseloads that are heavy in science and math are definitely not a bad thing when applying to MIT, although I don’t know enough to comment about other US colleges and universities.


Jacqueline wrote: “I applied Early Action, and marked my physics subject test as the one I would like to use for my science. However, on a whim, I decided to also try at the chem and bio ones while I took my math one today. Will MIT admissions just consider my highest score?”

Yes, we’ll receive all of your scores and only the highest will be considered.


Mike wrote: “For the SATs, I took chem, math I, and math II today. On the app there was only room for two tests, so I marked math I, figuring it’d be the higher score. After walking out of there I am not so sure. Since my scores are automatically sent, you’ll see that I took all three anyway, right? And scores are evalauated in context? Because I haven’t had chem since last year and I forgot a few things!”

Yes, same answer as the previous question. :-)


A Transfer Hopeful wrote: “I am trying to gain transfer admission to MIT (transferring from a 2 year school). I have filled out all the transfer information but never took an SAT II. How important is this for a transfer student to have if I have already taken Physics III and Calc III? Will they look at the grades for these courses instead of looking at an SAT II score?”

I’m not on the transfer admissions committee and I don’t read transfer applications, so I’m not the best guy to ask. But I’d say yes, grades are most important, but you should still try to take the SAT II if you can. I don’t think it’s too late.


Adam wrote: “I took the October SAT I and just recently took the SAT II (November 4th). I just got my scores back from the SAT I, and they were way below what I was expecting based on my other test scores and classroom performance. I have a bad feeling now about the physics and chemistry portions of the SAT II as well, as they contained a lot of material I had never been taught, even despite taking all of my school’s offered physics and chemistry classes. I was just wondering how much a couple of poor test scores will detract from my application…”

It really depends on how “poor” they are and how they fit into the overall context of your application. Scores are important, but at the same time they’re one of many components considered when making an admissions decision.


srk wrote: “hey… i’m not able 2 log on 2 mymit or find my online app… or find info about my interviewer… please help.”

You’ll need to write to our office at [email protected] for help with logging into mymit.


Leo wrote: “If I graduate one or two years early and attend the local university (Univ of British Columbia), can I still apply as a freshman when I am in the normal age group?”

If you are simply taking classes there, you may still apply for freshman admission to MIT. If you have enrolled in a degree-seeking program, however, you will be considered a transfer applicant.


Rajko wrote: “Are science olympiads (like International olympiad in Informatics, International Mathematic Olympiad, etc.) important when deciding whether will someone be admitted or not?”

International Olympiads are of course very impressive. That said, they are one of many things that can impress an admissions committee. :-)


Ruben wrote: “When should the checks next to the evaluations and transcripts appear?”

At this point, if you have applied EA and are missing any evaluations, school report, etc., you should have them faxed to our office – (617) 258-8304.


Kelly wrote: “Should I be worried that my secondary school report isn’t processed yet? My school says they’ve sent it…”

Please see above.


Anonymous wrote: “I’m curious, is the whole big envelope small envelope thing true, or just a myth?”

The package for admitted students will indeed be significantly larger than the deferred and denied letters.


Stephan wrote: “Hi! Will you also review international transfer applications? Then you will read about me someday. I am from Germany and I’m so excited about applying to MIT!”

Unfortunately I don’t review any transfer applications, whether domestic or international. :-(


Anon wrote: “My second quarter only ends in late january – is that when i should send in my mid-year grade report?”

That is fine.


Edward wrote: “Hello. Among those who give responses here, I think I must be a unique one. Because the purpose I came here is to make friends. Well,I am a freshman studying at DUT (Dalian University of Technology) China. MIT has been my dream since I was at middle school. And at the same time I think more communication with students abroad is necessary for us. So,can we make friends? My email address is [email protected] My major is Electronic information engineering & English. Thank you.”

I love it when people use my blog to connect and make friendships around the country and the world. Hope you get some great pen-pals Edward.


Karen wrote: “There used to be another girl that blogged. Anne, I think. She was Asian… What happened to her?”

Anne is involved with many things at MIT and found that she simply didn’t have enough time to keep up with her blog.


Arash wrote: “You use a Mac? I’m disappointed in you, Ben! ;) Any stats you can give us, like maybe a target date for when decisions will be released?”

Macs rule my world. I’ve actually turned down job offers after finding out the offices were PC-based. There is simply no substitute for a Mac! :-) See answer above for decision release date info.


David wrote: “How much are school grades considered for admission? The explanation of disciplinary action is supposed to be almost as long as the essay, can I use it for both? ;) Why is sec. 15 – affirmation of accuracy under the “Completely Optional heading” on the pdf?”

Grades are probably the single most important factor in any decision. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending how you look at it), most of our applicant pool has great grades, which is why admissions decisions are never driven by grades (or scores).


Jane wrote: “Hi Ben, what do you think about the Jian Li’s case against Princeton?”

I can’t comment much on that because he applied to MIT last year and obviously I can’t discuss any of our applicants, past or present. But I’ll say this: from what I understand, the case depends heavily on numbers (scores/grades) to make its argument, which shows a woeful lack of understanding as to how decisions are actually made. Re-read this entry to see how numbers are used in our process (summary: grades/scores are very important but will never drive a final decision); that will hopefully help you to draw your own conclusions…


Anu wrote: “I already know my interviewer. Will this be a problem during my interviews, or do I need to try and set one up with someone else? I’ve taken 3 college math courses so far and will have taken 4 by the time I graduate from high school. Would I still be able to get transfer credit for them even if I got credit for them on my high school transcript as well? I have official transcripts from the college, but I know some schools won’t accept credit if my school gave me credit for it anyway, even if I didn’t need it to graduate.”

Great question about the interviewer – I’m not sure what our policy is on that. Please write to [email protected] and explain your situation. I’m also not sure about the credit question, but I’ll inquire and edit this when I get an answer.


Anon wrote: “I took my SATs and ACTs in october and subject tests in november, and asked that all the scores be sent to you guys. However, on my application tracker, they say they haven’t been received. should i panic?”

No, don’t panic. We get them in bursts from the testing companies, sometimes only once a month. It should be fine by December when we go into selection.


A wrote: “When do we get EA decisions?”

On December 9 if all goes according to plan. See above for details.


Anonymous wrote: “When do Regular action applicants get to know ur decision…? And the ones on the waiting list?… When our tests on our complete course material are taken in jan… which would be after i’ve sent in my application… can we send our grade updates?… Email it or mail an official report?… And updates of other achievments?”

It’s too early to predict RA decision release dates; the deadline to apply is still a month away! :-) I also have no idea if we’ll go to the waiting list this year – that depends on many factors. You can always send in updates, grades or otherwise, to [email protected] or via postal mail at the usual address.


I also want to publish some answers I gave on College Confidential here because I think they’re important.

Can you find a quote from an adcom at an elite college saying that “we do not distinguish between a 2400 and a 2250”?

No problem. In most cases we do not distinguish between a 2400 and a 2250. The exception would be a breakdown of 800/800/650 with the 650 being in math; obviously we’ll consider if the 150 point difference is entirely in one of the three scores. But we don’t distinguish between a 750 and an 800 on any single test. Period.

…even if one adcom at MIT says a 760 is the same as an 800, it is impossible to get the opinions of every adcom on the matter.

Not true – at least at MIT. Any of my colleagues would tell you the same thing, including the Dean, Marilee Jones. One of her favorite quotes is “we’re looking for excellence, not perfection.” And 750 is excellent.

The directive from the top down is to use scores solely to measure our confidence in an applicant’s ability to thrive academically at MIT. A “7” at the beginning of any score makes us plenty confident assuming the rest of the app is solid. Even scores with a “6” at the beginning can be fine in many cases. Once you’ve demonstrated that you can thrive academically at MIT, it’s everything else that actually gets you admitted – what you will bring to the community, whether you’re a good match, etc.

How these things correlate with the various graphs and curves of “successful” SAT scores that people like to publish and reference I couldn’t tell you. This sort of hair splitting is certainly not on our minds when we’re deciding whether or not to admit someone.

85 responses to “Answers To Your Questions”

  1. Daniel says:

    It is interesting to read other people’s circumstances and MIT’s approach to their situations. It is good to know that admissions isn’t as cold as some people lead you to believe–at least not at MIT raspberry

    Have a good Thanksgiving!

  2. Benjamin says:

    Linux! That is all that needs to be said on that topic.

    Also, Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. Dan S. says:

    But how about those “5”s? There is still a chance with such people, right? I am not going to lie – reading something I’m not interested in is very difficult to me. But I enjoy writing, and I love math! My math is 220 points higher!

  4. Ben says:

    Linux – agreed!

    And Dan, yes, I didn’t mean to imply that there was any kind of cutoff. One score in the 500’s isn’t going to keep someone out of MIT if the rest of the application is exceptional.

  5. Brandy says:

    Happy Thanksgiving Ben and to everyone in the admissions department.

    Thanks Ben for answering all of our questions.

  6. hello. one more question? please? (or two?) =P

    1) Would it be inappropriate/discouraged to get a recommendation letter from a current MIT undergrad student? (not just because he/she is at MIT, of course…)

    2) Do you remember specifically (or can you imagine) admitting anyone… (I’m wondering. This isn’t necessarily true)
    (a) with a 3.5 gpa (including several B’s in math/science).
    (b)without special accomplishments (such as high school research, or competition in science olympiad, etc., even though the applicant is from a region where such oppurtunities are available)
    (c)who has been suspended (for a computer related, non-academic violation)
    (d) a + b + c + with a passion for math/science

    Thanks for your response, and for your time!… (yes or no answers are perfectly fine)

  7. glairflair17 says:

    I have a question for you to answer whenever it is convienient for you: Would a 580 score on the SAT I math section be grounds for a second look at the application (or even termination) if the rest of my application materials are up to par?

  8. Reg says:

    thanks soo much for replying my questions! smile

    another question: from what i remember, you need a science/math teacher rec and a humanities/language teacher rec. do they have to be a teacher teaching you currently? i haven’t taken a humanities or language subject for A levels, can i ask my GCSE teachers? or is that too long ago to count?

    many thanks!

  9. muneeb says:

    hi thanx for taking the time to update ur blog. its a great relief to know that i am in the same boat as most others facing the same problems.
    i just wanted to ask if we have to send our tofel scores before the application deadline to be considered for admission.

  10. Daniel says:

    I am not an admissions staff representative, but I’m fairly certain they will tell you that decisions about department and program are NOT made on the application, but rather at the end of your freshman year. They know that it would be ridiculous to make such a binding decision before you’ve even seen what each program has to offer!

  11. Daniel and Mihaela –
    Daniel is correct. MIT does not admit at all based on expected major and students don’t declare a major until the end of their freshman year, or even the middle of sophomore year if they want to stretch it out.

    Also, Macs are amazing. Period. I had to send mine in for service and I’ve been using all Windows and Linux machines, and it’s very, very painful. And no, I don’t just use Macs because they’re pretty. BSD underpinnings rock at least as much as the eye candy. If you look around most college campuses today, you’ll find that college students as a whole agree.

    Check out this article from some other Cambridge school for example.

  12. Olivia says:

    Hey Ben! Above you said “we don’t distinguish between a 750 and an 800 on any single test.” Is this philosophy also applied to grades? For example, would a B+ in an application be viewed in the same way as an A- or maybe even an A, provided that the applicant had mostly A’s or A-‘s and only one or a few B’s/B+’s? Thanks, and have a great Thanksgiving!

  13. Sampson says:

    Unrelated, yet hilarious, note:

    The New York City Dept. of Education internet filters automatically blocked this website ( from being viewed on all school computers. Reason why? The filters detected the word “hack” and labeled this site as off-limits.

    Other than that, Happy Turkey Day.

  14. anonymous says:

    i think the two answers at the end would comfort many people =)

    but say we push it further, would a 2100 (690 800 600) be considered the same as the (750 750 750) 2250 which would be considered the same as 2400?

  15. Yuri says:

    Hi Ben,
    I’m an early applicant for the class of ’11, and I’ve been lurking around here for a while – (since I’m finally speaking up) I’d like to say thank you for all your hard work. You’ve made me appreciate how much heart really goes into this process. smile

    Just out of curiosity, what are your thoughts on (I guess particularly on the assumptions/judgments made in) this NY Magazine article?

    Thanks – and happy Thanksgiving!

  16. Sarab says:

    And i agree! Mac’s Rule! Enjoy reading my app!

  17. Thanks Ben!

    and happy Thanksgiving over there!

  18. Melissa says:

    C’mon, guys, we’re falling into this number game again. No matter how tests and grades are treated, they’re over for a lot of us, and almost over for the rest. Knowing what you “need” to get on test day won’t help you test better. Just do what you can, hope for the best, and let it happen.

    This sounds totally strange coming from me, the ultimate worrier O.o Maybe ’cause it’s Thanksgiving and I know I get to pig out on stuffing soon =)

    Happy turkey day everyone!

  19. Michelle says:


    How can we make sure that supplementary materials were received? I sent in some music clips to the auditions e-mail on the website and never got confirmation. Should I just assume it went through?


  20. Mihaela says:

    A also have a question. How bounding is one’s choice about the department and program one points in his/her application? Is it possible for example (in case one is admitted at all) to have pointed School of Engineering in one’s application and decide to go to School of Management?

  21. Evan '10 says:

    Reg –
    The recommendations do not have to come from a teacher who is currently teaching you. I did not have either of the teachers that wrote my rec letters senior year. What’s important is that they can help to build the picture of who you are as a person, not just as a collection of grades numbers.

    – Evan

  22. Evan '10 says:

    Oh, also, Reg –
    Many schools will also tell you that you should have had the teacher junior year or later so that they’ve had recent experiences, but I don’t think that’s a hard and fast rule at most schools of MIT’s caliber.

  23. Sarab says:

    Q. I have had my interview a little after the deadline but it isn’t showing on my MyMIT page. Will it be considered EA or will my paper go without an interview?

  24. Anonymous says:

    Not true – at least at MIT. Any of my colleagues would tell you the same thing, including the Dean, Marilee Jones. One of her favorite quotes is “we’re looking for excellence, not perfection.” And 750 is excellent.

    on that same note, how would a 720 on CR on the SAT I be percieved?

  25. Dan S. says:

    Thanks Ben. You’re the man.

  26. I’m from Sydney, Australia, where our education system is slightly different to other countries. Here we have certain schools known as “selective schools”, where an exam must be taken at the end of primary school to gain admission into these schools. Once in these schools, the competition gets heated up, thus it is much more difficult to come top 5% or top 10% in the grade. However if students from these schools are placed in standard “non-selective” schools, they would easily be able to come top 5%. My situation is a bit more interesting. I hail from the highly academic James Ruse Agricultural High School which is THE top “selective school” in the state. This means that coming top 5% or top 10% in my school is extremely challenging as opposed to other schools due to the extremely competitive nature of the student body. This is interesting because almost every student at my school would be able to come top 5% at most other schools. Keeping this in mind, how can you judge people based simply on ranks in their school? Coming top 5% in my school is almost like coming top 5% in the state, which means someone who comes even top 75% in my school is more than capable of coming top 5 or 10% in a standard school. Could you please tell me if and how you account for this problem. Do you take a candidates school into account when reviewing their application?

  27. hi ben.

    quick question. how holistically would you say MIT reviews applications?

    i have been talking to my guidance counselor quite a bit lately and just by some of the things she is telling me, i have come to be quite nervous about applying to MIT. i know that my test scores do not fall in those middle 50% ranges, and i really do not know where i would stand.

    now, i don’t believe MIT has a cutoff test score, so i guess what i am asking is if MIT will still seriously consider the rest of an application even if the numbers are not quite there.

  28. hmmm, just a though, but it is interesting that the placement of hundreds of little pencil marks on a piece of paper decides where one goes to college. it is unfortunate that so many people have the ability to succeed at MIT (or any other top institution for that matter), but are just not offered the chance to prove it.

    …and i just read that response about the big/small envelope thing. oooohhhh man. that makes me very anxious/nervous.

  29. Jawwad says:

    Well firstly, i am really stunned by the fact that you, being the most important person in the world for me, are personally replying to each and every question. AMAZAING!!!!!
    I have been sometimes visiting this blog from the time i read ur entry following last years decisions, which was actually quite moving…
    anyway, the main reason i post is that i am in a spot of bother! My interviewer according to the MyMIT profile is in another city (which happens to be my bithplace) but i reside in another one. So i e-mailed [email protected] so they might help me out here, but have not got a reply as yet. i am going to mail [email protected] right now about the problem, but i think it would be great if u can tell me exactly what to do.
    I know, it might be a little late, but i really want to go for the interview because of obvious reasons…An immediate reply would be most appreciated smile

  30. Saurav says:

    wat if instead of doing well in the intl physics,maths and other olympiads, one stands on the podium of the “green olympiad”-intl. environment olympiad for 2 consecutive years,and loads of intl.and natl. quizzes too?will that be considered as good as an achievement as the intl maths/physics olympiads…also i’m pretty good at maths and physics in school!

  31. Saurav says:

    what if someone instead of doing well in the intl physics,maths and other olympiads, stands on the podium of the “green olympiad”-intl. environment olympiad for 2 consecutive years,and wins loads of intl.and natl. quizzes too?will that be considered as good as an achievement as the intl maths/physics olympiads…also i’m pretty good at maths and physics in school!BYE!

  32. Fahad says:

    What if someone who has studied in an engineering university for one semester only wants to apply to mit as a freshman provided he has left the university after 1 semester only because of poor teaching standards….should he submit his university semester result along with high school record and is he allowed to send along any lab reasearch work he has done in that semester at the university…

  33. sorry about my long name…..I’m just really really craving turkey and stuffing right now but can’t get any because I live in an LDC

    QUESTION: Once I submit Part 1 of the application, is a file created for me to recieve the paper mails that are sent by my school, or must I complete part 2 as well?(because my school has an internal deadline of Dec. 1, on which it will send out the all the mail parts of the app. but I want more time to work on my essays in part 2)

  34. Samiue says:

    I have a question regarding how you guys consider the SAT Reasoning test scores. I did reasonably well, with 800 in math,670 in reading and 760 in writing. Now I have heard that the writing section isn’t taken into account when reviewing applications. Is this true, and is there any positive impression made if one does score highly on the writing section?

  35. Mark says:

    Dear Ben:

    Is there an acceptable way of adding updated information to the already submitted EA application, such as recent participation in Intel, and another competition that was not mentioned on the application?

    Thank you,

  36. Rebecca says:

    Hi, I have a quick question.
    Did the admission office get my TOEFL scores?
    I requested them to be sent to MIT like a month ago but it seems like you guys haven’t received yet.
    I’m being worried because I have applied to EA and the decision will be made soon.
    I really want my TOEFL scores to be considered for the decision.

  37. Saurav says:

    got this from the “international students-tips” webpage:-

    Your application will be read by a committee of experienced MIT admissions officers. We are familiar with many international school systems, including, but not limited to, the IB, A Levels, the French Baccalaureat, and CBSE, and we assure you that we will understand your curriculum and your context.

    ..and CBSE…
    that’s the Central Board of Secondary Education(India)..right?

  38. Hey Ben,

    These replies are really useful, thanks!

  39. Hi there,
    I’m an international applicant.My predicted grades for the A Levels are not as good(probably) as the rest of the applicants because my school’s exams were really tough.My school also follows the policy of predicting the same grades as the school preliminary exams.Would you advise on still applying to MIT?

    Also, in my country the SAT2 subject tests is only offered in january. should i just apply to sit for it and will MIT take into consideration my scores?

    Thank you (:

  40. I live in a remote part of India.Istarted preparing for SAT only in November after reading from your website.Due to limited financial resources,I can only give the inimum requesite of all the tests.:-
    2)SAT Maths Level 1 and Biology.
    Do you discriminate betwenn Maths Level 1 and Level 2?between sat reasoning and TOEFL?
    would that affect my application
    Many of the topics in SAT maths level 2 and biology,chem,phy r those that we havent covered in class in our school system.Would that affect my chances?
    Also, nowhere near the 450 km radius of where I live is any kind of GCSE,IB or AP offered.I only do what is taught in the school though my performance here is really impressive,would that affect my application.
    should i mention all these point on my application.if yes,where?
    Would extra curricular activities like rigrous quizzing help my application?
    What should i do.pls help me.

  41. Ziyue Wang says:

    Is this video accurate about life at MIT? How many people applied early this year?

  42. Melissa says:

    Ziyue Wang, my guess is that the video isn’t terribly accurate. I visited the website, and it only had 6 evaluations for MIT – hardly a reasonable sampling, IMHO. I doubt everyone’s really on the brink of suicide because of the work load – I mean, MIT’s not out to kill its students, I hope =)

  43. 112358132134 says:


    I attend a university for 3 classes and high school for 5 classes. My high school is not affiliated with the university and will not receive my college grades. What should I do for the mid-year grade report?

    EA applicant

  44. Melissa says:

    Hello Ben!
    Could you give us an update on how the admissions process is going? Are you still reading applications individually, or are you now officially admitting/denying/deffering people?
    Also, what sort of things are people denied for in EA?

  45. Tom says:

    Hey Ben,

    I forgot to put on my self reported course work that I am taking AP Psych, but I did list it in the AP Test section and it will be on my transcript. Hopefully this doesn’t affect my application.

  46. Dear Ben,
    My name is Adelin Miloslavov and I am applying to MIT. I am orignally a Bulgarian citizen but I am also a U.S. permanent resident. I need some help with a problem in my application. The MIT application requires a copy of my green card to be sent along with it. Since I’m applying online I don’t have a way of sending the copy with the rest of the documents. Therefore, I want to know if it would be a problem if I give a copy of my green card to the college counselor in my school to send it along with my secondary school report? If this is a problem can you please explain to me in what other ways I can get the document to the university. Thank you.

  47. lucy says:

    Dear Ben,
    two quick questions. does the admission’s office review the additional materials sent even after the application has been reviewed already? and is there a way for me to know if they have even arrived?

  48. siva says:

    hi ben,
    i’m siva,from india.i have been trying 2 contact my interviewer by phone, for the last couple of days,but am not able to get through.please tell me what to do,as i have mailed him as well & have not received a reply, so far.

  49. Hammad says:

    I am really scared i will end up no where although my app seems good…. this is because all the people in my school as smart as me are applying to the same places as me… does that make a difference? nad i wanted to ask that if i apply next year aswell in case i dont get in now… how much will this affect my chances of admission next year. thanks

  50. Kiran says:

    Hey Ben,
    I’m just a sophomore right now but with my brother applying to college I’ve been swept up in the frenzy. MIT seems somewhat surreal- I’ve talked to some alumni, and it got me wondering, do the people there get as big a kick out of simply learning and applying their knowledge as it seems like they do? Also, I know you keep stressing the idea of competitive grades- hypothetically will a sprinkling (say 3 or 4) of B+s in AP classes throw one out of the loop?

  51. Willy says:

    Thanks for posting up everyone’s questions and your respective answers! I have a question about score reports and the MyMIT site. On my MyMIT account, there is a check next to “Testing Requirements,” however, when I go into the Application Tracking page, it says that “No test results have been recieved.” I checked the CollegeBoard website, and it said that my score reports were sent out 9/18/06. So I’m wondering what exactly is going on, and if I should simply order another set of score reports to be sent out.

  52. so…i was just reading thge part where somebody asked you if he could submit his mid-year grade report around the end of jan..
    i’m an international i dont have to submit the midyear grade report…but canthe secondary school report and transcript be submitted around the beginning of feb?
    ..if not…if my grades improve..and i send the updates…will they be considered?…and do i email them or mail an official grade report from the school?

  53. Guyomar says:

    It’s encouraging to hear all this, but I’m scared right now. . .

  54. Manu Hegde says:

    Hey Ben,
    In my online application, there is space for only 2 SAT Subject Scores. I took 3 and got the same number of points on each, how can I include all three scores? BTW College board has sent MIT all 3 scores. Is that enough?

    In the online application, if I cannot find my school, does it automatically give me a code of 6999999? Should I put in the name of my school, or leave it as ‘NO SCHOOL AVAILABLE’?

  55. Tomo says:

    You mentioned that EA decisions would be posted online probably on December 9. Does “posted online” mean they will show up on our myMIT accounts or will they be emailed to us?

  56. Stephanie says:


    I’m an 08 student here at MIT! I actually was interested in blogging as well for the admissions office, where can I get more information on it? I totally think this is a great idea, and would love to help share the awesome-ness of MIT.


  57. LHS says:

    Stephanie from LHS by any chance?

  58. Hi Ben
    I am an international student, therefore I wrote ‘SAT Subject Tests’ [Math Level 2 = 800, Physics=800, Chemistry=770]. I will write SAT Reasoning and TOEFL. Which one of the two, SAT Reasoning or TOEFL, would you consider during the admission process; moreover what if there is a big difference in SAT score and TOEFL score? For instance: if I get 2000 in SAT and 110+ [out of 120] in iBT TOEFL, would the low score in SAT decrease the chances of my admission to MIT despite a relatively much better TOEFL score; please note that English isn’t my first language, so while I am sure I’ll score 800 in Maths in the SAT Reasoning Test, I won’t be able to score equally high in Critical Reasoning and Writing Section. I have written a paper; might I submit the paper or should I submit a summary of paper?

  59. Hopeful says:

    Hi. Can you please tell me how you evaluate GCE A Level Scores?

  60. Hi Ben!!

    Thanks a lottt for those answers!!! Umm…one more question, apart from all those physics and math intl olympiads, would an intl robotics olympiad look good on the app???!!…pls…pls do reply!!

    Happy Blogging!!

  61. Chris says:

    These question things are great! I have a question about the common data set, if that’s okay. It lists enrollment by race, but does not allow for bi- or multi-racial students. Where does that put a half-hispanic, half-white applicant like me?

  62. freaked out says:

    Dear Ben,

    For the SAT II Math, I took it twice and the score went down from 700 to 610(I was sick on this day). I’m sure I’ll be able to raise it up to above 750 if I take it one more time. Does MIT consider all the test scores or just the best one?? Is it bad to take the same test three times??

  63. Dan Beard says:

    Hey all you Early applicants out there, I set up a countdown clock to the EA decision (currently projected to be 12:00 noon EST on dec 9th) at to give you a better idea of how close we are!

    I wrote it in javascript and PHP, so the clock is synced with my server’s clock and should be accurate within a second no matter what time zone you live in. If you find any errors in the code, or just wanna chat, e-mail me at

    Anywho, december 9th is just around the corner, so good luck everyone!

  64. Actually,
    I want to send in some certificates that relate to my extra curiicular activities and I feel will shed some light into my overall personality helping you in your admissions process.I know you dont need certificates but I feel those will give you a broader look about me.
    should I send those in?
    I am very nervous because i dont have a plan B.If i get into MIT,good,if i dont ,i would try again next year but not join any other institution.Its been my dream to be in MIT since long.
    pls help me…….

  65. Robertson says:

    sorry I wrote this in another section not seeing this one

    I was wondering what exactly the policy is for standardized testing from January.

    I ask because of some poor planning on my part (a good excuse, I know). I had not planned on applying to MIT until Thanksgiving break due to my opting for a senior year with three foreign languages in place of a senior year with chemistry. I regret not taking chemistry now, but as an applicant to mostly UK schools (where one specializes immediately), I wanted to branch out in a subjec I’m interested in before focusing entirely on my chosen subject, economics.

    As a result, I have no SAT 2 Science tests. After finding out I needed on last friday I immediately bought the Princeton Review’s study book and read about 120 pages, before realizing that in no way will I achieve an adequate score (I have not taken physics since 10th grade…last year I took robotics and electronics). And a bad score would be seen by all my other schools (which might admit me, as compared to the likelihood of MIT admitting me given my school’s admission statistics at your institution and my lack of chemistry courses).

    I am very interested in your institution, but there is no way I can take the test this month (poor choices on my part, I know). Is there anyway that I can take it in January?

  66. adnan says:

    i recently came to hear that mit and other ivy league universities do not take more than one international student fromt the same school!!!!
    i want to know whether this is true or not….
    can somebody please answer my query???

  67. j says:

    Adnan, I am not an admissions officer, but I would say that while there is probably no specific 1-student per school limit on international admissions, the likelyhood of admitting more than 1 student from the same school is very low. Given that international admissions are so competitive, with only ~100ish spots to fill, it just seems unlikely that 2 of the 100 most qualified students in the world outside of the US come from the same high school (or equivalent). So from my understanding, what you said is not true, but more often than not occurs in practice.

  68. Shana F. says:

    There seems to be so much focus on AP tests in the blogs here, but I’m having difficulty finding information on IB. Does MIT look at IB classes as equivalent to AP classes? I am in the IB program at my school and the only AP classes I have been in were ones offered as joint AP-IB (French, Lang + Comp, and Calc). There are plenty more AP classes that I would loved to take (especially physics)offered at my school, but as I am in IB I was unable to take them. I don’t want it to look like I’m not passionate about learning, because I am, but schools tend to look to AP to see when a student challenges themselves. I just want to know IB measures up to AP when you look at a student’s file. I have taken the toughest courses offered at my school, but it’s hard to know if colleges care with so little reference to IB.

  69. Andre says:

    I got honorable mention on international physics olympiad. Would it make any sense ?:)

  70. Manu says:

    Hey Ben, another question if you will.
    I heard that MIT especially looks for kids who show extraordinary curiosity in a certain field. Mine would be assembling electronics.
    I have a pretty impressive school project and I wanted to send the report to MIT.
    I ran this by my counselor and she said, “When a college recieves 20000 applications, do not add much extra unasked stuff”.
    What are your thoughts? Should I send it? Should I carry it to my interview.

    Yours faithfully,

  71. aroy says:

    i am an international student(india) and plan to apply to mit in future. i was wondering if you considered ALL school grades for international students…for eg. would a ‘d’ in vernacular(hindi, bengali) be a problem. I haven’t got a ‘d’, but it isn’t unlikely…
    what grades do we need to send in…as in, how many years(11 & 12, or 9 to 12)?

    also, mit is probably not familiar to our board of education(cisce/isc)…is that a problem?

  72. Sonhee says:

    I’m very impressed that you took the time to answer all the small picky questions that we as applicants constantly run into. Thank you!

    Oh and I want to give props to the people who wrote the MIT application; it’s alot more relaxed than other schools’ applications! I wasn’t quite sure whether I should apply because I my test scores aren’t up to par at all (my chemistry and math 2 scores are start with 6’s!) It’s somewhat comforting to know that it still doesn’t hurt to try.

    Thanks for the time you put into helping out the applicants because we really appreciate it! smile


  73. Zhexi says:

    Just a random thought but i love Gmail! It rules. (and for everyone that doesnt have it raspberry haha… sorry) Anyway i have a GPA of 3.767 out of a 4.000 i know that’s not like genius level but i was wondering if i still had a chance to get into MIT and if the courses you take have any impact.


  74. Anonymous says:

    Well i really dont know what thankgiving is, but its some celebration i suppose, so:
    Happy Thanksgiving.

    Dear Ben,

    You replied to Dan’s query that SATs in 500s do not matter, i have my CR score in 400s and all maths tests ie, Ic,IIc and SAT 1 maths in 600s and physics in 700s. The point here is that my app otherwise is best you can probably can get from my country, the only downfall seems to be SAT scores.
    Iam a school topper from 2 years. Have some exceptional talents and researches which even an undergrad will feel hard to dream of.
    But here people say that as my SAT is not enough, it will become a deal-breaker and MIT and i will not even qualify the app gateway and will br rejected rightaway, is that true?

    and yes,
    i have toefl of 263 (CBT), will that substitute enough for CR section, plz help!

  75. Steve says:

    hi international appl, with 300s on CR, u wont even pass the admissions doorway, it is a sure kick on the ass!

  76. Hi Ben,

    I am an international applicant. Let me explain you my case,, SAT math: 600s,SAT Cr/V : high 300s. And i am going to do the SAT subject test of Physics/Chemistry/MathIC. Most likely ill get 600+ in these 3 subjects espacially math and chemistry. And i got in TOEFL ibt 93. Since i got what MIT requires for TOEFL, will this TOEFL grade cover my SAT CR/V grades. Also, my grade in english in school is in the mid-high 80s. Also i have won two national awards in math and chemistry. And many academic awards. I ranked #1 in class with an average of 95.4 in grade11. So basically I only have the problem of the SAT CR/V.

  77. Thank You STEVE!! But,, they replied by saying that my TOEFL would replace the CR/V. And they said DONT WORRY!!

  78. Anonymous says:

    Intenational app,

    who is ‘they’ in yer last reply?

    and 93 in iBT is a req., not competitive!

  79. TO Anonymous,,

    How are you,, They: admissions office. Since I am an international app.. they look at whatever is higher either SAT or TOEFL.. FROM WHERE DO YOU COME FROM?? Have a nice day.. smile

  80. in considering me for application what is concidered most between my project or practical experience and theoretical knowledge

  81. Hi Ben! I am Arvind Ragunathan. I live in the Southern part of India. I aspire to get in to the MIT. Can you provide me contact details of MIT graduates and those currently studying at the MIT, from my part of the world? That would help me know MIT a lot better.

  82. Wendy says:

    As a parent of an applicant, I help with my son’s applications by addressing all those return postcards to keep track of receipt of materials by colleges. Of all the 6 schools (big and small) my son has applied to, MIT is the only one who has not been sending them back. Since you receive thousands of applications and, therefore, tens of thousands pieces on incoming mail, I can understand things being lost or your not returning them even when they are self-addressed.

    So the question is whether to contact by phone to check on status. When to do it? How often?

    My son tells me that he can check status online and assumes that you will let him know if something is missing. However, With the work load, will anyone at admissions really be able to let an applicant know if info is missing or needed? If an applicant’s admissions is in the balance, would missing pieces of info tilt the balance towards rejection? But then might pestering not do the same?

    On the other hand, conventional wisdom seems to suggest regular contact with your office show stong interest. [My son’s response: I applied, didn’t I?] It would also allow applicants gain insight as to what else to send in to strengthen his or her application.

    So how and where do you draw the line?

  83. Rob says:

    I have a technical question about the online application: I am ready to submit, but when I hit the “validate application” button, I am told that I have errors on the essay pages because several of the essays “exceed the required word length.”. I know that these essays are slightly over the limit, and I saved them as such. When I look at the pdf version of my application, all the essays appear to fit properly in the spaces. My question is: is this okay? I want to make sure that the applicaton will appear to the admissions officers exactly as I see it in my “preview.” Thanks!

  84. John says:

    hey Ben — just wondering, for the optional essay asking us to describe something we created, could we talk about a “novel” we’ve written… I write it in quotations because currently it’s just a story I’ve been working on since early this summer, but writing is often something I do when school becomes too stressful at times, so I’ve spent quite a bit of time on it.

  85. Anonymous says:

    Ben sure seems to be busy!