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MIT staff blogger Ben Jones

Ben’s Sixth Semi-Annual Q&A by Ben Jones

Answers to questions received through 2PM on 12/22/05.

Answers to questions received through 2PM on 12/22/05…


Sendie wrote: “If the last SAT scores I sent to MIT was November, do I have to send the December scores again or will collegeboard still be sending my December score?”

I’m almost positive that you have to request that CollegeBoard send them to us, but for a definitive answer you should call the main office at 617.253.4791.


Steven wrote: “Is there any way for deferred students to send supplementary essays online?”

You can email them to [email protected] Remember to include your full name and birthdate.


Lindsay wrote: “I didn’t realize that we could send January scores, so I wasn’t planning on taking the SAT on January 28th. After seeing that we can send in our January scores, I would like to take the SAT again. I have already submitted my RD application, without filling in the “SAT to be taken” date. Who do I need to contact in order to change it so my January scores will successfully be matched to my account?”

If you tell CollegeBoard to send the scores to us, they will automatically go into your file. There is no need to give us a heads-up.


Prashant wrote: “I know there are many different international schooling systems that you guys have to consider…But among indian school systems (I’m sure you must be familiar with most of them) how highly do you rank the CBSE system…also…i had a very high precentage<96% with 100/100 in maths and science> in our class 10 public exam….but my transcripts dont reflect these (puts me at a disadvantage as both an 85 and a 100 are considered A+), so should i send in my official marksheet….as this is kind of considered to be a big achievement (highest rank in the middle east)….and some how the application doesnt show that… Although i got a very high precentage in my class 10 public exam..the top 10 in the whole of india, i guess…it somehow doesnt show on my transcripts< i got two 100/100s in maths and science, but both an 82 and 100 are considered A+) so should I send in my class 10 marksheet....would it provide better insight into the exam as a whole..?"

You should send us whatever will put your application into the best light. You’re also welcome to explain the details in one of the optional essays.


Adnan wrote: “Can we remove optional essays from our EA application?”

No. Once you’ve submitted your application you can only add to it, not change or subtract any components.


Rafael wrote: “How tall are you measured in smoots?? :)”

I’m not sure about Smoots, but I’m precisely 1.1 McGanns.


Csaba wrote: “I am a foreign applicant from Romania. I took the ACT late October and got my result via snail mail early December. However, they don’t appear on the mymit tracking section. “Patience rocks” is a good guideline here, I guess, but the SAT2 scores I just received online (->->quick) are already there! Now, is there some kind of a policy here that requires every student to either apply as a foreign student or as a regular applicant testwise? I have already taken the TOEFL and then perhaps you don’t take my ACT (and my 3rd SAT2) scores into consideration? Or the ACT scores haven’t arrived yet? Just wondering. Thanks!”

Sounds like the ACT scores haven’t arrived yet for whatever reason. Regardless of the TOEFL, if you submitted ACT scores to us, they should show up in the app tracking portlet. I would call our office and try to talk to someone in the records room.


Sam wrote: “I was deferred, and really do not like the essay I wrote. I know that the essay cannot be completely changed, but would it be beneficial to send in a new essay that I feel better explains who I am? Should I just leave it as is, and hope that it is good enough?”

Unfortunately that’s going to have to be your call. I can tell you that any new essay you send will definitely be read and considered – but make sure it’s really going to add something substantial to your app; otherwise it’s probably not worth the time.


Alex wrote: “You mentioned on here that all accounts are terminated in late August, so if I am a junior right now, does that mean I have to sign up at MyMIT again if I wish to begin my application process next year? Does that mean that the earliest I can start is in August? (I like to get things done before schedule, esp because I am thinking of applying EA)”

Sorry, I should have been more clear and said: “all accounts that designate the intended entry year as 2006 will be terminated…”


Sarah wrote: “I know that you all say that scores aren’t as important, but I got a 440 on the SATII chem test. No, it’s not a joke, I got fourth percentile. To give me some credit I am currently in chemistry and physics so it was either fail at chem, phyisics or bio(which I last took in ninth grade). So will my horrible score count against me that much? Also, will it count against me if I am better at english than math? I know it’s a math and science school, and I love math, I just don’t seem to do as well at it.”

Well, it won’t *help* you, but one score by itself certainly won’t keep you out of MIT. Mollie wrote that her boyfriend scored a 450 on one of his SATII’s and now he’s a rocket scientist at MIT, so there you go. =)


Deferred EA Applicant wrote: “For the Jan SAT test – do you recommend taking the SATIIs again [take Math IC (score higher on practice tests) instead of IIC, (which didn’t score so hot on – 710) *OR* take the SATI for a higher Math score (didn’t score so hot on that, too – 670)? Which is more important in consideration for admission?”

I wouldn’t say that one is more important than the other, but since you have a 710 on your SATII (which is a totally fine score) I would try to get your SATI Math over 700 as well if you can. There is no need to retake the SATII.


BT wrote: “How does anyone know if you’ve visited a school before? Do you have to go on a tour? I don’t think it’s possible to monitor everyone who walks in (although what do I know?), so I imagine it’d either have to be recorded somewhere, or just self-stated. I never saw any such thing in the app, or any other app, and while MIT seems to be lax about this, some other schools which will go unnamed seem to care a bit more. A more relevant question… if I want to send a web link as supplemental material, how should I go about doing it?”

We have no idea who’s visited and who hasn’t and we don’t really care – sure we’d like for you to visit, but it’s not considered in your application. If other schools do care, it seems to me that it should be their responsibility to give you a way to record the visit in your file somehow. If they don’t and you’re worried about it, find a way to drop the hint in an essay: “When I visited XXXXXX last fall, I really enjoyed meeting blah blah blah” or somesuch. You can send a web link to [email protected] – don’t forget to include your full name and birthdate if you want it to go into your folder.


Ender’s side kick wrote: “I spend about thirty hours a week in my CT High School’s theater building sets. I was wondering what the MIT Theater’s offered in terms of back stage work for freshman. Also, are students allowed to bring power tools and keep them in their dorms? What are the carpentry opportunities at MIT? Because, to paraphrase Charleston Hesston, you can take my pneumatic stapler from my cold dead fingers.”

Technical theater is huge here, from what I understand. I don’t know the specifics, but I’d suggest asking this question in the student blogs. As for power tools, well, they seem to be everywhere, and that’s a good thing. =)


Manisha wrote: “In reference to the question about something I’ve created, I wanted to talk about a painting I submitted for a charity art competition. But now I don’t have it anymore. So I can’t send a photo or a scanned version of it. Should I still describe it anyway?”

Sure, if you describe it well, I think that would be fine.


Prashant wrote: “I was thinking of sending some c++ programs that I have made, on cd for you people to check out.. Unfortunately, I had trouble creating the requisite .exe files… and as a result, I’ve only sent one program on cd to you guys, along with the rest of the application material… Since my cd is already sent… is it ok, if I get my other programs ready and relay them to you via email?…”

If I’m not mistaken, our email system is set up to reject .exe attachments as they so often contain viruses. You’ll need to send them in on another CD, or alternatively send an email describing the program(s) perhaps with screen shots.


Prashant wrote: “Just curious, have you seen My Fair Lady <1964> starring audrey hepburn? Dont you think she’s just too beautiful?”

Yes, and yes. :-)


Harish wrote: “Can I fax my supplemental materials? If yes, I’m assuming that the fax no. is on the application booklet. Can I have it here, though? My English teacher filled out my recommendation form, but my Science teacher gave me a letter instead. Is that okay? Should I get the letter attested by my school or USEFI or something?”

The fax number for supplemental materials is 617.258.8304. Letters are fine as long as they address the questions on our form.


Dhrubo wrote: “Somebody posted about doing poorly in SAT 1 and you advised to take TOEFL. Well, my SAT scores are 670 (CR), 720 (Writing) and 780(Math L2). Also, I got perfect scores in SAT II Physics, Math L2 and Chemistry and a 780 in Biology-M. I just received my TOEFL result: I got a perfect score (300/300) in TOEFL CBT. Now, my question is: Should I retake SAT 1 in January to improve Writing and CR scores? Or is my perfect TOEFL equivalent to perfect SAT 1?”

Your TOEFL will be used instead of the SATI. Spend the time you would have used to retake the SATI doing something FUN! =)


Anonymous wrote: “Hi!!! I just need a help. There was a mistake with my application fee because the fee waiver was selected by mistake,I realized that I was not eligible for fee waiver.I didn’t know how to solve it so I created another account on MYMIT and then I paid the application fee with a credit card. The problem is that the SAT SCORE has been received in the oldest account. How can I solve this problem?”

You’ll need to call the main office (617.253.4791) or write to [email protected] – this will need to be corrected in the records system, which I unfortunately can’t do.

27 responses to “Ben’s Sixth Semi-Annual Q&A”

  1. Aditya says:

    Hey Ben I got 700 in Physics and 690 in maths level2 do you think they are enough. i also got 280 in TOEFL

  2. Dan says:

    Heya Ben,

    Just wonderin…why didn’t you answer my question? I asked something about my MITES application in your last Q & A post.


  3. Dan says:

    Well, looks like you’re gone until the 2nd….

  4. Anonymous says:

    //The worst part about being deferred is that it’s already too late for me to apply to any of the other really good colleges out there.//

    Hey, man, it’s never too late. I’m still stringing along some colleges. The actual app really isn’t all that hard, and if you were set on going to MIT, you have all the test scores you need for most schools. The only thing that takes time are the apps and you can always recycle those.

  5. Danish says:

    Merry Christmas Ben!!!

    I was happy to see my question answered in your fifth semi-annual Q&A. I took the SAT IIs in October this year and did not score upto the MIT standards. I am a student from Pakistan and follow the local educational system (no ‘O’or ‘A’ levels). This was the very first time I took the SAT IIs. I have got very good grades in my high school. I am sure I would have done much better if took the test again in January 2006, but my father was reluctant to reregister. Having said this, I feel better now.

    You also mentioned that Mollie’s boyfriend scored a 450 in the SAT IIs and he is a rocket scientist at MIT. My scores aren’t so bad. I know the admission officers would look at other parts of the application as well and if am a match, thumbs up. But Ben, I don’t want to be rejected only because of my SAT II scores. I am really very nervous about it. Pls help!

  6. SpeckJr says:

    The worst part about being deferred is that it’s already too late for me to apply to any of the other really good colleges out there.

  7. Sendie says:

    Hehe, thanks for the prompt reply Ben. Have a nice and safe holiday ^^

  8. Anonymous says:

    Hi again ! I have written to them but no one answers me.Can I do anything else??

  9. uren Dhanani says:

    thnx 4 all the answers ben! i was wondering about prashant’s question – if we do indeed send you a c++ program, r u guys actually going to try it out? won’t it be better if we just explained what we did in Q#13? & hey prashant! which country r u from? i’m also from the middle east (oman).

  10. SpeckJr says:

    Well, I mean as far as teacher recommendations that have to be in in what, 8 days.

  11. Ben says:

    Hey Dan,

    I am so sorry – I must have missed your question!

    I’m not involved with MITES at all – to be honest I’ve never even seen the application. You should ask Bryan ( who I believe sits on the MITES admissions committee.

    Happy holidays!

  12. Ben says:

    Danish – not sure how I can help, except to say what I’ve already said – one score won’t keep you out of MIT if everything else is really strong…

    In response to Speck’s post, I’ll just say that no one should ever *expect* to get into MIT and therefore everyone should plan accordingly for other options. It’s not a school where you should apply early and not think about other apps until after the decision is released – way too much risk. I’d argue the same for most other schools at this level.

    Anonymous: no idea what the context of your question is… =)

    Uren – ideally you’d do both (send it *and* explain it).

    Edward – you’ll need to get in touch with the records room (by calling our office) – unfortunately I’m not sure of the answer to that.

    Aditya – those are certainly competitive scores but remember that scores don’t get you into MIT, just past the first hurdle.

  13. SpeckJr says:

    Heh, my apologies. My frustrations had gotten the best of me. The three other of my applications had all fallen through (or seemingly so) due to some strange *USPS* twist of fate.

  14. Hey Ben,

    I was wondering, do you answer questions sent to you in email (to [email protected]), or just on these boards. I emailed a question to you the other day, but realized afterward that you might not answer emails from prospective students (since they could number in the hundreds) or it might get sorted as spam.

    I do remember you offered to get information for several applicants at the info session I attended in East Brunswick NJ (October, I think), and that would have definitely been in email. So, if you do, I’ll wait for your response after the holidays. Thanks again for the answers, and happy new year everyone!

  15. Edward says:

    Hi Ben.

    Thank you for all the answers.

    I noticed that my SAT 2 scores appear on MyMIT but I can’t see my TOEFL or SAT 1 scores, which I did much earlier than the SAT 2 tests.

    Do I need to tell the testing agent to send them to MIT again?

    Have a very merry christmas and a lovely new year, and a nice day too.

  16. Sushant says:

    For the SATI, on the application, the writing section is said to be ‘optional’. Does this mean that it will not be considered as much as the critical reading and math scores (especially if it is lower than the others)? Or is that for applicants who took the old SATI?

  17. Dhrubo says:

    Hey Ben!

    You are great!

    Thanks for your reply, indeed!

    Apart from everything else, do you think my scores are competitive?

    One more thing: I have dispatched my app materials via DHL on 23rd December. I heard them DHL people saying that the stuff would easily make it to MIT before 31st, but asked whether there will be somebody to recieve it?

    Its christmas, and there is the New Year’s Eve coming up. Will there be people @ MIT to recieve our admission materials as the deadline approaches?

    Thanks Again!! And *Merrrry Chrrristmas* Everyone!!

  18. SpeckJr says:

    OK, here’s a totally serious question. I’m definitely sending in some supplementary material to let my personality really come through (nothing like my essay). Is it possible to really be too honest? or how far should I really go into expressing who I am? Like, where do they start to go, “Now that’s just weird and immature.”?

    No super rush to answer, I need to take my time anyway.

  19. Vivek says:


    If I am not confused January one is postmark date and i hope i read it somewhere ,blogs or may be on application booklet, its ok if it reaches a few days after january one but should be post marked no later than january 1st.

    so you are well in time.

    All the best grin


  20. sly says:

    i sent an email to [email protected] about an application i sent but i never got a reply.i posted them in november but they havnt been ticked on my application can i get to know when it has arrived?

    can you suggest what i can do if it doesnt arrive before the deadline?

  21. Vivek says:

    Sly; strictly speaking i have no idea about what you should do but in my opinion if you do have its copy you should send it online again and write a note to the admission office via email that you are again sending the application

    that way you are covered if there is any postal loss and also admission office may understand if it receives two copy that it is the same application.

    -hope someone knows of a better way , probably you should ask it at Ann’s blog (or some other blog since Ben will return only after deadlines), she would give a better advice.

    EDIT:why dont you try calling admission office

    all the best


  22. Hossein says:

    Hey Ben,

    I was wondering what aspects MIT looks at its students. I have not taken my SATs or SAT II yet but I usually don’t do all that well on multiple choice and standardized tests. I am at the top of my math class but I just seem to do poorly when it comes to those tests. Also, I’ve been taking taking classes at my local college since i was very young and was wondering if I sent in my transcript, would you guys look at it just to see my motivation and consider that a factor since most the classes aren’t transferable to MIT. And one last question. I go to a high school with a high level of competition in grades within our classes but lack of extracurricular academic programs. Anyways, because of the competition the teachers have changed the structure so in classes especially math, the top grades in my class at least, are around a low A or A -, however some teachers have different structures allowing for higher grades. I was wondering if MIT would be aware of this at admission to show leniancy and not punish applicants for the high school or teacher they have.


  23. SyRx says:

    I’m an international student (foreign school system) and I was wondering whether I have to send in a Mid-Year Report. One of MIT’s application brochures says I don’t have to, but I just wanted to clear the matter up since the Online Application Tracking has a checkbox for the Mid-Year Rep too. Please advise.

  24. Vibhore says:


    I have taken the SAT and two subject tests (maths level 2 and physics).Am I at a disadvantage if I do not take the Toefl exam?

  25. henry says:

    i have not yet recieved my sat and toefl result which i did on the 22nd of decenber 2005

  26. henry says:

    what!my result is still not yet out can you plz mail the exact date for the ressult of my exams which i did on 22nd of december