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.