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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

Early Action Updates by Matt McGann '00

With one week until the deadline, answers to frequently asked questions.

*Update as of 2015: Early action is available to both domestic and international students.

Hi! We have one week until the Early Action (EA) deadline, November 1. I'd like to use this entry to answer some of the common deadline-time questions. There are many answers already here on the site — for example, about standardized test requirements or statistics. And below, I've provided answers to some additional FAQs:


  • Word count: Yes, the word count is enforced. Perhaps a little overly strictly. My understanding is that MyMIT is counting words like won't and first-class as two words each, and father-in-law would be three. Thus, you may find that you can only fit, say, 247 words for a 250-word prompt. My advice would be to not sweat the small stuff. Everything will work out. These short-answer essays are only one small part of the application, and the word limit will in no way influence an applicant's admissibility.
  • Copy & paste: If you copy and paste from a program like Microsoft Word into the application, you may lose some formatting. Be particularly careful of characters like apostrophes, em dashes, and quotation marks. If you type directly into the text box on MyMIT, everything should be fine.
  • Additional Information: In Part Two, Section Nine, we are aware that the font shrinks and is not traditionally formatted; this affects everyone equally. Also, if you put too much text into the box, the bottom will be cut off and the admissions committee will not be able to see it.
  • Preview: On the last section of both Parts One and Two, there is a link that will allow you to preview your application as a PDF. This PDF is exactly how the admissions committee will see your application. You should always preview your application before submitting it. Two common problems that are often not caught without previewing are listed above: pasting special characters from Microsoft Word and a too-lengthy Additional Information section.


  • The deadline is November 1, meaning you can click "submit" on your application any time on November 1 or before. (I strongly discourage waiting until the last minute, though.)
  • It is perfectly fine if, through no fault of your own, your school forms (e.g. teacher recommendations, secondary school report, transcript) come in after the November 1 deadline. We are much more understanding of and flexible with late documents from schools than with late documents from the applicant.
  • If you are an Early Action applicant, and you take the November SAT, you must list MIT as a school to receive your scores directly or we will not receive them in time for our review. If you do not send them directly and plan to use Score Choice for the November test, we will likely not receive it in time for EA review. You do not need to use rush reporting.
  • Please note that you do not need to express mail or overnight any part of your application.

Recommendations, School Forms, and Other Documents

  • You can mail documents to us. All letters must be typed or written on official school letterhead and signed by the evaluator. Letters not on school letterhead and not signed by evaluators will not be accepted. Please do not send additional copies via Docufide or fax. Envelopes may be addressed to: MIT Admissions; Room 10-100; 77 Massachusetts Avenue; Cambridge, MA 02139.
  • You can submit teacher letters and school forms (such as transcripts) in three ways. Please use only one method; duplicate submission will only slow down the processing.

    If your school uses Naviance/Docufide to submit letters of evaluation and transcripts, your school can send these documents directly to MIT, a registered Docufide Document recipient. This is true even though MIT doe snot use the Common App; submission of materials works in the same way. We encourage you to have your school use Naviance/Docufide over other means of document submission, if possible. Please do not send additional copies via fax or mail.

    You can fax the documents to us. All letters must be typed or written on official school letterhead and signed by the evaluator. Letters not on school letterhead and not signed by evaluators will not be accepted. Please do not send additional copies via Docufide or mail. Documents may be faxed to: (617) 687-9184.

    You can mail documents to us. All letters must be typed or written on official school letterhead and signed by the evaluator. Letters not on school letterhead and not signed by evaluators will not be accepted. Please do not send additional copies via Docufide or fax. Envelopes may be addressed to: MIT Admissions; Room 10-100; 77 Massachusetts Avenue; Cambridge, MA 02139.

  • It is okay if your teacher or counselor does not include the MIT cover sheet with their letter. We prefer to receive it, but letters without it are at no disadvantage. We will accept your school's own forms, the NACAC forms, or the Common App forms.
  • Please include the MIT Supplemental Document Cover Sheet from MyMIT for any additional documents you send. It helps with filing. (Documents without the cover sheet will be fine, too, as long as there is enough information for us to match the document with your file.)

Application Component Tracking

  • The MyMIT Tracking is up-to-date, but please recognize that processing can take 2 weeks. You do not need to worry at this time about documents that are not showing on MyMIT; we currently have a backlog of materials in our processing center, and expect to have that backlog into November. Do not send a second copy of any document at this time. Also, you do not need to call MIT Admissions at this time to check on any such documents (there is a time for this later). Do not worry about materials that have not yet shown up on MyMIT Tracking.
  • Application tracking is available on MyMIT after you submit your Part 1. For this reason, I recommend submitting your Part 1 sooner rather than later, so that you can track your documents.


  • The deadline to have contacted your interviewer (EC) has passed; it was October 20. However, even if you missed thta deadline, you should still contact your interviewer ASAP in case your EC can still accommodate you. An interview is very helpful for your application. (Students with waived interviews are at no disadvantage.)
  • If you have already interviewed with your EC, or have scheduled your interview for the near future, you are all set. Do not worry if your interview report has not yet appeared on your MyMIT Tracking; the deadline for ECs to submit their reports has not yet arrived. If you wish, you may now fill out the conducted interview form and we will be sure to get the interview report.
  • If your EC has not gotten back to you, but it has been only a short time since you made contact (say, a week), be patient. By having contacted the EC before the deadline, you have taken your important step.
  • If your EC has not gotten back to you, and it has been a long time (say, two weeks with multiple attempts to contact), please either call the Educational Council at 617-258-5510 or email us at interview at mit dot edu.

Submitting the Application

  • If you are having credit card problems, please email applicationpart1 at mit dot edu. If problems delay your application past November 1, we will extend the deadline for you due to any problems on our end.
  • We are happy to accept fee waivers for any student (foreign or domestic) who needs one. Using a fee waiver will not negatively impact your admission. You may use the SAT Fee Waiver, the NACAC Fee Waiver, or a letter from a school official detailing your situation. We will accept other fee waiver forms as well. Generally speaking, if you are in tough financial shape and make a good faith effort to inform us of your circumstances, we will waive your fee.
  • Early action results will be released in mid-December.

I hope this is helpful. Best wishes as you finish and submit the application!

48 responses to “Early Action Updates”

  1. ANS says:

    Is there any way for me to find out if my supplemental recommendation was received from my research mentor?


  2. m_quinn says:

    Yep, what a great way to celebrate the holiday season: getting notice you’re deferred, or more likely , rejected.

    If you’re deferred, you’ll see some sort of rubbish like “MIT wants you – that’s why you’re deferred”. Don’t believe it; you’re being denied admissions pending an MIT double check of your financial information (they want to make sure no rich applicants get over looked).

    As for interviews, I wonder what sort of information about you MIT can glean by sitting down and looking at you … hmmn


  3. KP says:

    This helps a great deal! Thanks, Matt!
    So excited.

  4. Ken L. says:

    Ah, it’s down to the wire now. Good luck, everyone! smile

    How exactly is the word limit enforced? Is each essay run through the word counter before it is evaluated? At how many words above the limit should I start to break into a cold sweat?

    Also, this is definitely a bit premature, but is the Midyear Report necessary for EA admits?

    Thanks a lot!

  5. Ha Hyung Lee says:

    Thank God! I was so confused to find out that the application would not accept my essays (few of them are a little over limit).
    I looked everywhere-collegeconfidential, and old blog posts!

    I got few days to trim my essays down.

  6. Richard says:

    I’m a bit confused.

    I have received notifications that my essays exceed the word limit, but by after checking the “ignore” box, I can proceed to viewing my application PDF and my entire essay is visible, not cut off, and at normal font size (if it matters, the essay exceeded the limit by less than ten percent).

    Does this mean that MIT will accept essays slightly over the limit, as the interweb would tell me, or that the essays are cut off at the word limit some time between previewing/submission and reading?


  7. jvl says:

    You domestic applicants are so lucky. I would apply Early Action if I could. Good luck to you all.

  8. Anthony L. '15 says:

    The word limit is enforced this year? Ouch. My essays last year were all about 10-20 words over, and I think one was about 50 over. Heh. Whoops.

  9. Ashlee B says:

    I’m just curious – why is the essay word limit 250 words? Not that I’m complaining! It makes my work load easier, but was there any particular reason that limit was decided on?

  10. Chengxin Gong says:

    for EA, do we need to complete FAFSA and CSS profile before Nov 1 also? If not, does completion of these two forms before Nov 1 make any difference? thanks.

  11. Ceili B. says:

    Are you saying if our essays are over 250 words those extra words will be cut off and admissions will only see the first 250 even though the preview shows the entire essay…?

    Thanks for the post! smile

  12. Ash says:

    For the arts supplement, one of the requirements is a letter of recommendation that must be emailed to the address provided on the supplements page. Wouldn’t that seemingly compromise the integrity of the recommendation?

  13. Matt McGann '00 says:

    @Ken: I don’t exactly know what the code looks like for the word count. If you can validate it without an error, the essays will appear just as they do in the preview PDF.

    @Richard: My understanding is that you will not be able to submit the Part 2 if you are getting that error during validation.

    @ANS: You can call admissions: 617-253-3400.

    @m_quinn: Admissions decisions are made in a need blind process, without any access to financial information.

    @Ashlee: Admissions staff got together and discussed it — it was a staff decision, with many reasons.

    @Chengxin: No need to submit the CSS and FAFSA at this point. In fact, you should not submit them until after January 1.

    @Ash: If your letter cannot be emailed directly by the recommender, it would be acceptable to send it on their behalf — but we would obviously know that you have seen the letter. (Or are you concerned about non-PGP encrypted email? Can’t help you there.)

    @Ceili: Have you done the validation? If the validation shows no error, it will show just as it does in the preview PDF.

  14. supkttn says:

    Should I send my AP test scores? Or is it ok to just self report them on the application?

  15. mekkawy says:

    which Egyptian graduate student MIT prefers…. a Cairo university student or an american university in Cairo student ??please reply help in my decision!!!

  16. Thuy Nguyen says:

    Hi! I came from Vietnam. I just been here one year. I took my SAT and my reading is 460 . Do I need to take the TOEFL?

    Thank you very much!

  17. Thuy Nguyen says:

    Hi! I came from Vietnam. I just been here one year. I took the SAT and my reading score was 460. Do I need to take the TOEFL?

    Thank you very much!

  18. Ceili B. says:

    Thanks for the response! I’m still a little confused because upon validation, it does say there is an error – however my essays that are over the limit still show up entirely on the PDF despite that error. Will the system will not let me submit the application if it detects any errors or will it just cut off my essay even though the PDF shows it..? (I’m just afraid of sumbitting something and having the end chopped off)

  19. Ash says:

    Thanks for the response. I simply meant that the arts supplement page (which is pretty unclear) says performers should attach “One letter of recommendation from a Music teacher attached in PDF or Microsoft Word format” which makes it sound like the *student* should include the letter of recommendation in the email, and that the *teacher* emailing the recommendation would be unacceptable.

    Thanks for clarifying. Should my teacher include any identifying information, or attach my supplemental recommendation cover sheet? I am a little confused because the supplemental recommendation page says that all supplemental recs should be mailed, but the arts supplement page says that recs should be emailed. Which is it, and what should I tell my recommender to attach?


  20. Mary Sun says:

    I have short Spanish quotations in one of my short answers – is there any way for me to fix the special character problem in the MIT application?

    Also, if you essay is above the word limit can you still submit the application? Mine is barely over (it’s counting contractions) and it definitely fits in the pfd preview.

    Thank you!

  21. Gandalf says:

    Hi. The I-551 Stamp on the passport is considered equivalent to a greencard for all purposes until the actual greencard arrives. The text on the stamp itself says it is evidence of permanent residency. Some university websites (e.g., Duke) even explicitly mention that they accept this stamp as proof of permanent residency. Can you please confirm whether this is OK with you also for early admission?
    Thank you.

  22. Daniel says:

    Hi Matt,

    I am in the process of applying Early Action online as a freshman applicant. I am a US citizen and a US passport holder but I do not have a Social Security Number because I have been living outside the US.

    I am required to give the Social Security Number when I apply online. I tried to type “n/a” but the answer is not accepted. Could you please let me know how I should fill in the blank in order to submit the application?

  23. Daniel says:

    Hi Matt,

    Since writing the comment, I have now solved my problem and successfully filed my application.

    Thanks anyway!

  24. prospect says:

    is there any way to make sure that mit received additional documents such as mites evaluations if they were sent by fax? should we mail mites evaluations as well?

  25. Greg says:

    This is good information. As an EC, this is also information I’d like to be able to point my interviewees to, and have access to in the EC FAQ, since I can barely remember breakfast. I actually found this blog posting while researching a question from an interview candidate.

    Is there any way that Admissions can collect the helpful blog postings (that close after 30 days) and add to the MIT Admissions and EC sites for future reference?

    EC in Florida

  26. timothy says:

    I am sending in my scores for the SAT and ACT and my transcript but they will not arrive at MIT by November 1. However, I sent them before November 1. Is that okay or will I be unable to apply for EA?
    Also, the word count says punctuation is included. Does that mean that every period and comma I use counts as a word?
    Hope for a reply soon!

  27. Jin Bing Lin says:

    Do we need to send in our first marking period grades if we’re applying EA?

  28. vickyg says:

    Thanks for the blog. It was very helpful!
    I do have a question about the additional documents. I was wondering if sending in photographs of my artwork/ myself and/or actual photographs would be recommended, even though it isn’t an art supplement. I do talk about some of these throughout my essays, but thought perhaps photographs could help the admissions office visualize better.
    Thank you!

  29. Ari says:

    Hi, I go to school in England and I was wondering if I needed to list GCSE results in part 2 section 4. There aren’t enough boxes to list both A-Levels and GCSEs so what should I do?


  30. Daniel says:

    Hi Matt,

    In the past, I’ve heard from students that they went over the word limit and were accepted. Does going over the limit by a few words (10-15) negatively affect my chance of admissions?

  31. Panicking Student says:

    Hi, my area has been hit by a snowstorm which has resulted in power outages, affecting at least my entire town. There are a lot of fallen trees, live wires down, and obviously snow, so it would be near impossible for us to go somewhere with power. Currently I am using my dad’s phone (only connection to Internet) but I doubt I can finish the application on it (though I will try). I still had some last minute stuff to take care of, such as copy pasting essays into the form and worriedly contacting my teachers. In the possible case that the power outage continues past November 1, am I just kind of screwed? (Unless this phone lasts really long.)

    Somewhat flipping out,
    Hopeful student smile

    PS: In any case I will of course do everything I can to turn it in on time!

  32. VP says:

    Is there any way to modify Part I data after it is submitted? For example, fix a typo or change field of study?

  33. Matt McGann '00 says:

    @supkttn: Self-report all scores.

    @mekkawy: Sorry, I can’t help.

    @Thuy: You need not, but I would recommend it.

    @Ceili: My understanding is that if the validation shows an error for your essays, you will not be able to submit it. You should keep working until you can validate without an error.

    @Ash: The arts/music/athletics supplemental processes have different procedures than the main admissions process. No need to include the Supplemental Document Cover Sheet. You should email the letter to the music department as indicated.

    @Mary: Sorry, I’m not aware of using the special characters. Also, my understanding is that if the validation shows an error for your essays, you will not be able to submit it. You should keep working until you can validate without an error.

    @Gandalf: Yes, it’s OK.

    @Daniel: Glad you solved it!

    @prospect: Please send any document only once. Multiple submissions of the same document will slow processing. You can check on supplements by calling admissions several weeks after you submitted it.

    @Greg: I have sent your suggestion on to Kim.

    @timothy: That’s fine (even expected); you can still apply for EA. My understanding is that commas are not considered words, but some contractions and hyphenated phrases are.

    @Jin: No, but if you have them it would be nice.

    @vickyg: If you include it as a link under “Inventions/robots/etc.” we may be able to review it.

    @Panicking: Don’t worry! I’ve been out of power too due to the storm (that’s why I haven’t replied to comments recently, sorry). We have extended the EA deadline to November 6 for people impacted by the storm.

    @Ari: You could include the overflow in the “Additional Information” section, or combine multiple results on the same line.

    @Daniel: You will not be able to submit essays that are over the word limit this year. Our technology has changed from previous years.

    @VP: You can send email to the admissions office notifying of any changes.

  34. Panicking Student says:

    @Matt: Oh my goodness that is such a relief. Yaaaaaaay! Thank you for responding. smile

    No longer flipping out that much,
    Hopeful Student

  35. Ash says:

    Thanks again. That cleared things up, but unfortunately my recommender just sent the recommendation with the cover sheet to admissions. I’ll tell him to email it to the music department as well, and I’ll do the same with the rest of my arts supplement.

    You might want to clear up the distinction between the arts supplements being sent to the music department and the rest of the application being sent to admissions for future reference, though.

    Thanks again!!!

  36. Matt McGann '00 says:

    @Chengxin: Yes, the application has been submitted successfully.

    @Ryan: You don’t need to worry. I bet it will appear on your tracking in the next week or so.

    @timothy: You should email admissions explaining your AP problem. Have you tried a different browser?
    Also, I strongly recommend that you not wait until a time that would make your question important. Our deadline is relative to the time in Cambridge.

    @Worried: We will contact your teacher directly if we need a new copy.

  37. Chengxin Gong says:

    Hi, Matt,

    My daughter submitted her EA yesterday, but we don’t remember if there was any confirmation online saying that the submission was successful. When we checked at her My.MIT, the Tracking Detail shows “processed” for Part 1 and Part 2, and “Fee Paid” for application fee. The status for Evaluation, transcript and mid-year report is “not processed”. Does this mean she has already submitted her application successfully?

    Many thanks!

  38. William C says:

    Hi, Matt. No question, I just wanted to thank you for being so clear with what ‘by November 1st’ meant. This is the only college I am applying to where I was able to find someone who actually took the time to clarify that, which was a huge help.

  39. Ryan says:

    On my myMIT account every box that should be checked in is except for the Evaluation A from my teacher. He sent it in over a month ago, and even though I told him that you didn’t want another copy he faxed it two weeks ago to be safe. Should I worry if that box isn’t checked in by tomorrow? I’m assuming that the admissions office probably received at least on copy and just hasn’t processed it yet, but as long as it has physically arrived by Nov 1st I’m good, right? Thank you!

  40. timothy says:

    Thanks! But I have another question. I ran into this problem earlier but forgot all about it until i was reviewing my application. For some reason, when I try to list more AP classes that i took other than the three originally given, I cannot. I click more classes but nothing seems to come out, allowing me to only put 3 AP classes.
    Also, I live on the west coast so there is a three hour time difference between here and Massachusetts. Does my application have to be turned in by 11:59 on the east coast or 11:59 on the west coast, which would be 2:59 AM the day after the due date.
    Hope for a reply soon!

  41. Worried!! says:

    My teacher forgot to sign his letter when he sent, should he send it again??? Thanks!

  42. Ananyo says:

    Hi Matt!

    I just had a couple of quick questions:

    1) I have participated in the annual local science fairs for the last 3 years and I intend to send MIT a letter of recommendation from my mentor as well as the abstract of my most recent project. Should the documents be submitted separately (i.e. under different ‘Supplemental’ Cover sheets) ?
    2) As an international student, what are my chances with a 2240 SAT score?

  43. peiyun says:

    Hey Matt!

    Thanks for the info (: I’m watching my seniors at school stream in and out of the guidance room with sheafs of paper and panda eyes, so it’s nice to know that at least some schools are trying hard to make the process as painless as possible.

    If I could just ask a question… I’m from Singapore and will enter college in 2013. I also took the SAT I last Saturday. Should I list MIT as one of the schools to receive my score report, even though I’m not applying in this cycle?

    Thanks! (((:

  44. ranabir says:

    will there be any problem if i take january testing date.please be elaborate

  45. Timothy says:

    I took the november SAT II Math and was told that I could send those scores with my MIT application. How would I do that?
    Hope for a reply soon!

  46. Jon says:

    Hi Matt,

    I have submitted all of my early action application information in mid October. However, one of the teacher evaluations has not yet been shown as processed. It was submitted via Naviance on Oct. 7 and documents submitted via Naviance at a later date (Oct. 18) has been processed. Should I be concern? Is there anything that I need to do? Thanks.


  47. Misha says:

    Hey Matt!

    I had to ask about my recommendations. I’m studying A Levels and all sciences. The thing is my O Level humanities teachers don’t know me that well either. I am very close to all four of my A Level science/math teachers though. Is it possible to send 2 Evaluation A forms instead? I could ask my O Level English teacher but she will just write a generic one as we aren’t that close and it’s been two years since I’ve studied from her anyway..


  48. Zara says:

    Hey Matt,

    I have taken a gap year and haven’t been in touch with my teachers for a year. Also I don’t currently have a counselor. Are recommendations required?

    P.S. Your November 1 link doesn’t work.