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MIT staff blogger Ben Jones

Long Overdue Q&A Post by Ben Jones

Sorry for the delay!

It’s been a long time since my last Q&A post – sorry for the delay! Some of these go back pretty far, but better late than never. :-)


If I would like to play for an athletic team, should I contact the coach before I apply to MIT or just (if i get in) show up for tryouts? And do athletics have anything to do with the undergrad admissions process?

It’s always a good idea to contact the coach for your sport if you are seriously considering playing in college. Athletics are one of many ways to demonstrate a strong passion or proficiency in something – playing a sport won’t get you into MIT on its own, but like anything else you may do well (research, play an instrument, community service, etc…) it can help your application.

For SATs, is the SAT I or II more important? Are SAT IIs after the required 2 considered? And does MIT (and other colleges) accept the new Internet based TOEFL?

In order: Both are important (and required). / Not as heavily, but in some cases yes. / Yes.

I am an international student in an area where interviews aren’t available. Would I be able to do the interview during Junior year summer when I visit MIT?

Yes, please see the third paragraph of Stu’s entry for details.

I have a question. 4 years of high school math are recommended for applying to MIT. I’m going to be a senior next year and I have chosen a Java class. Due to scheduling problems, I will not be able to take Calculus or another Math class. At our school, Java counts as Math credit, but I was wondering if the lack of “real” math will be a problem.

Calculus would be preferred over Java if you haven’t taken Calc yet, but this will not be a deal-breaker if the rest of your application is strong.

I am taking my second time of SATs in October, and my SAT IIs in November, which would qualify me for early decision. I read that I have to officially send the scores to MIT from the test, but on my first SAT I did not do this, because I did not know I needed to. On’s website, there is an option to send scores to colleges… is this still “official” in the sense you need it?

Yes, this is fine.

I’m from Romania, moved to the states in fifth grade. Last year my stepfather got a sabatical which we spent back there, where I went to school etc. Is MIT at all familiar with education systems in foreign countries – meaning, when I send in my app, will you see what my grades mean in the given the context?

Absolutely – no worries. We receive applications from many countries and many different school systems each year.

When it comes to transcripts, do you require one from each high school attended, or is it enough for my American high school to send one, given that it recognized my year abroad and gave me credits accordingly?

We’ll want to see the grades; if your American high school transcript includes the grades from your year abroad, that’s all you need. If not, please submit a transcript from the other school as well.

BTW, I don’t have space under the “List Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or GCSE courses taken or under way. (If you have taken the test, please list date and score.)” part to list all of mine. There are only 12 spaces! Ahhh! Should I fill the rest in under “additional information?”

Yes, that is fine.

Hey Ben, I have to take the SATs in October coming up, and I will have that score officially reported, but my prior SAT wasn’t officially sent anywhere. If I go onto collegeboard’s site there is a link “Send scores to schools.” Is this still a valid/official way to send scores, just in case I score lower on a section my next time around?

This is fine.

On the Mid Year Grade Report it says to return the form at the end of the second quarter if your school uses a quarter-based system. We have 4 marking periods divided into two semesters, however the 2nd one does not end until mid-to-end January, which would be after you will have reviewed my application (I intend to apply early action). Should I have it filled out at the end of the first marking period, or wait until the end of January as-is? Thanks again.

You are welcome to submit your first-marking-period grades to us for consideration in EA, but you’ll still need to submit the mid-year grade report at the end of January.

Also, a quick question about supplementary recommendations. Should we give the teacher an evaluation form, just like the other two recs? Should we label it “supplementary rec”?

You may provide your teacher with a copy of Eval A or Eval B to fill out, or simply have him/her submit a letter on your behalf. It does not need to be labeled “supplementary rec” – we’ll figure that out. :-)

Would Geography count as a humanities or a science if it covers both human geography and physical geography (along with environmental science)?

Not sure, but it won’t matter to us as long as we see it somewhere on your self-reported coursework page.

I wanna ask you about SAT test. The registration for SAT subject test is only in January 27th. I have registered for SAT reasoning test for December test, if I wanna apply for this term admission, is it okay that I take SAT subjects test in January?

Yes, this will be fine. Just make sure that you designate MIT as a school recipient, and note on your application that we should expect these scores.

We can submit Parts 1 and 2 completely online, correct? This means that they don’t have to be sent by mail, just submitted by November 1st?

That’s correct!

I was wondering, how much would a so-so interview hurt chances of admission in the long run? Bleghh just got back from that and I really don’t feel like we clicked. Oh well.

I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Chances are that the interviewer had a more favorable sense of the interview than you did. Rarely do I see interview reports that aren’t positive, or at minimum, neutral – and most of the negative ones accompany applications that are also generally negative throughout.

I’m retaking the SATs this saturday and I had pretty decent scores last time, I’m just trying to bump the math a bit because I feel I knew all the answers and just made some dumb mistakes. But, I really detest the writing portion. Would admissions care if I say, forgot to write the essay this time and wound up with a 300 on this section the 2nd time around, or is that just a really bad plan?

We will only consider your highest score in each section, regardless of the date on which you got it, and ignore the rest. Note, however, that other schools may feel differently – this is just the way MIT does things – so if sending scores to other schools at the same time, you may wish to check.

I just sent in my online application. I’m curious, though. Is there a way I could send in jpeg files to compliment the optional essay on my design?

My advice would be to send hard copies (printouts) in the mail. This will ensure that they make it into your file and that your readers will see them.

I was looking at my application status and saw that my Part II and Secondary School report arrived. However, it did not confirm that my Part I had been received. My school had submitted both parts my application together about a week and a half ago (by mail, in the same envelope). I might have edited a couple of fields online – though had not intended to actually submit the part electronically. Could that be intefering with my status?

A Part I that has been submitted via postal mail takes a little while to process, as the payment part must be processed manually. Give it a week or two; if the status hasn’t changed, give us a call.

36 responses to “Long Overdue Q&A Post”

  1. ron says:

    hey i miss the october test for the SAT because of the department here in 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 december i have my exam again for i couln’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.

  2. Shuja says:

    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?

  3. Shuja –
    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 mateirals. (Basically, don’t send it in, but tell them about the process).

  4. 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.

  5. J.J. Minkoff says:

    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?

  6. Kwan says:

    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? Thanks for your help.

  7. '10 says:

    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?

  8. Adam says:

    Yep, I think decisions will be up on Dec. 10th, but I can’t be sure.

    Therefore, I made a timer.
    Now you don’t even have to mark the days on your calendar! grin

    Oh, and I dislike geocities. Anyone know of a good hosting site?

    Thanks for answering our questions, Ben!

  9. Ying-Ying says:

    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?

  10. MIT hopeful says:

    Will I get into MIT?

    Circle one:
    Prolly Not

  11. Adam says:

    Sorry for hte double post
    Alright, a regular timer is no good for an MIT deadline. Therefore, I’ve made this binary timer. See just how many seconds left ’till you get your decision in BASE 2! Very useful, eh?
    Just don’t get hypnotized. The patterns the number makes as it decreases is too interesting. Be careful. grin

    Heh, enjoy..

  12. Arash says:

    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…

  13. Anonymous says:

    Ying-Ying, yes, they will tell you what’s missing and let you fax it in.

    Arash, no, they won’t put them online, so you might as well just ignore the F5 key. Either that or pluck it off and bribe the mail man with it to try to get the letter quicker, but I recommend just leaving it on the keyboard in its weak state.

  14. anonymous says:

    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?

  15. Ben says:

    Actually EA decisions will indeed be released online this year. I’ll answer the rest of these questions soon…

  16. Good to see your Blog Ben.
    Thought you were on holiday or something!

    Ankit Chandra
    Gaborone, Botswana

  17. Ed says:

    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?

  18. Thuita Maina says:

    Thanks Ben for your answers. I only hope you don’t take such a long break again. We need you at this time!

    Thuita Maina


  19. Gahh!!
    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?

  20. Ben,

    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?


  21. Reg says:

    Michael Roberts – I THINK they use your predicted grade, but I’m not too sure.
    Hey Ben, 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.

    Then my somewhat related question. 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?

    I kinda threw in a lot of questions… sorry about that .__.

  22. Jacqueline says:

    Hi Ben smile
    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? There wasn’t a “Whichever is best” option.
    Thanks alot

  23. Mike says:

    Hey Ben, thanks for the answers, but I’ve got more questions to keep you busy! 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! Thanks

  24. a1228w says:

    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?

  25. Brandy says:

    Hello Ben. Is it acceptable to substitute a humanities/social science/language teacher recommendation for a guidance counselor recommendation?

  26. Adam says:

    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…

  27. 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?

  28. srk says:

    hey…i’m not ablt 2 log on 2 mymit or find my online app…or find info abt my interviewer…please help

  29. Leo says:

    Awesome job Ben, just one question (I know you are already overloaded, but anyway Xp) If I graduate one or two years early and attending the local university (Univ of British Columbia), can I still apply as a freshman when I am in the normal age group? thank you so much

    Leo H.

  30. Rajko says:

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

  31. David says:

    some quick questions:
    1)how much are school grades considered for admission?
    2)the explanation of disciplinary action is supposed to be almost as long as the essay, can I use it for both?;)
    3)why is sec. 15 – affirmation of accuracy under the “Completely Optional heading” on the pdf?
    really, you can just answer the first question

  32. Anu says:

    What happens if I already know my interviewer? Do I need to try and schedule one with an EC nearby or just have the interview with the person I know?

  33. Anu says:

    A couple things:

    1) 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?

    2) 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.

  34. Anu says:

    whoops, sorry, I thought the first post hadn’t gone through.

  35. Anu says:

    whoops, sorry, I thought the first post hadn’t gone through.