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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

October Questions Omnibus 1 by Matt McGann '00

More Q, and more A.

It’s time for another Questions Omnibus! (for even more Q&A, check out Bryan‘s latest post)

Rushil wrote, “I have a question regarding the MIT application. I have made a research project on a space settlement on the moon(that was used by my school’s team( I was a leader of that!) that reached the finals of the International Space Settlement Design Competition) – ( obviously an infintesimal of Prof. Schrock’s research!) I have condensed it to a 8-page report? Where can I add it in the MIT application? Can I add it in Section 13 of the MIT Application ?(where they ask you to tell about sth you created!) Can I send it online?”

I do think this is a good topic for the “completely option” essay about something you’ve created. However, rather than sending in the 8-page report, write a new essay talking about how you got involved, how you accomplished what you did, what you learned, and how this has influenced the way you think about things.

Alvin wrote, “Hi Matt, I would like to enquire if an additional essay on my experiences at a local research lab would be useful for my application. I would like to send a poster that was the result of my project there, is that too trivial to be even considered at MIT? Would it also be beneficial for my research mentor to write me a recommendation in support of my application. honestly, i don’t know him too well since the project lasted only for a month or so, but it was a 9 to 5, monday to friday month so it was quite rigorous. Also, will a writing score of 600 hurt my chances? I’ve got 730 for critical reading and 780 for math for SAT I (new).”

I’ll take your questions in order… first, your original research sounds like a great topic for our “completely optional” essay on something you have created. You do not need to send in your research poster. Second, if your research mentor does not know you well, I would probably not send in that extra recommendation. Instead, I would put the relevant information in the essay described previously. Finally, remember that we will not be considering the new Writing section of the the SAT I this year, so it will not “hurt your chances.”

Nela wrote, “Hey Matt, I have a couple of questions come to think of it. One, I saw you guys said it’s okay to send pictures, is it okay to send pictures after the application has been sent? Because one thing I love to do is participate in the science fair and we don’t get to present it or anything until late January. Second, is it okay to send in sat scores after submitting the application… would it help if we improved as well? Thank you so much for answering all these questions, it makes this process a little less stressful. =)”

As a general rule, you may submit extra materials at any time, and we will make our best efforts to review them, but we cannot guarantee that they will be reviewed in full with your entire application. To answer your specific questions, yes, you may send in some pictures in January; be sure to include your name and date of birth, as well as some context for what is going on. With test scores, the last test scores we can consider for early action are the November scores; for regular action, we can consider the December scores, and, on a case by case basis, the January scores. Of course, improved scores can never hurt.

Sukrit wrote, “My main essay is 566 words long, and my two short ones each 136; I feel that the lengths are necessary in order to communicate my message as well as show my passion for MIT. How much need I shorten these essays?”

In a previous entry, I wrote: “Well, here’s what I can tell you. We’re not going to reject you because of the length of your essay. We do not have an auto-word-counter for the online application. Also, I am not going to count the words in your essay. I have never even estimated the length of an essay response.

“Really, quality is much more important than quantity. And some people, I know, do have more to say than what fits in 500 words. If that is you, I’d encourage you to show your essay to your favorite English teacher, tell him/her that your essay is currently longer than the recommended limit, and ask what advice s/he would give you. They may tell you to send in the longer essay, and if they do, I’d trust that. Or, if they recommend paring it down to restrict it to 500 words, I’d take that advice.”

On the same topic, Bryan wrote:
Although 500 words don’t seem like a lot, it’s what you do with those words. Remember, it is the only place in this whole process that you get to speak to us. It is the only time that you get to tell us your passions any why you a great fit and match for MIT.
It really is what you do with your platform.
The Gettysburg Address: 278 words.
The US Constitution Preamble: 52 words.

Cristen wrote, “I suppose this question could be applied to any application, but I feel most comfortable asking it here. What counts as a scholastic distinction? I don’t have any huge state and national awards. Are certificates of mastery in a subject lame? Are trophies (not 1st place) from outside programs impressive?”

You do not need to have any scholastic distinctions to be admitted to MIT, and a majority of students we admit each year do not have any major national awards. However, we provide this space to learn more about those students who have been awarded with some recognition, no matter how great or small, as these can be an asset for students in the admissions process. Don’t worry if your scholastic distinctions seem “lame.” I’m sure there are other things about you that make you awesome. And for this space, fill it out with the things you’ve achieved, even if they don’t seem so impressive to you.

Valerie wrote, “I was just wondering, since it was not specified on the application, do you prefer the recommendation letters to be mailed by the instructors, or have the applicants put the sealed letters with their application and mail all together? which way would make you guys’ job easier?”

It is okay to send the recommendations in either fashion; we have no preference. However, I find it is often easier for the teachers if you provide them with the recommendation form along with a pre-stamped envelope addressed to MIT. [Valerie, I hope my visit to your school was helpful!]

Rushil asked, “Since the topic of EPGY has been started, I want to ask whether MIT considers the University Level courses of EPGY equivalent to creditable college level courses asked in the MIT Application? i.e. can I get credit fo EPGY courses and will they figure in the Admission decision?”

Robb helped me out: “Rushil, in a blog entry…just a few entrys back something similar was asked, here is the quote. Mr. McGann wrote:
Dan wrote, "I'm a senior taking EPGY Multivariable Calculus this year. Will I have to take multivariable again in MIT if I get accepted?"
I'm a big fan of EPGY; I hope you're enjoying multivariable calculus. Assuming what you learn is equivalent to MIT's multivariable calculus, and you receive transfer credit or show your knowledge through an Advanced Standing Exam during your Orientation, then you won't need to take the class here, and will advance to the next level.

Thanks, Robb! I hope that helps, Rushil.

Lenore wrote, “I am unable to attend my meeting in Long Beach due to location issues (ie, it’s over 4000 miles away at the moment), but I have some questions for you. Does “General Elective Credit” count towards HASS, or something else? Do you happen to know why MIT doesn’t accept AP Chem credit?”

Jessie helped me out with this one, writing “…and to Lenore: No, General Elective credit doesn’t count as HASS credit, or anything specific for that matter. However, to receive an MIT degree, you have to earn a certain number of credits beyond the GIRs, even if fulfilling your departmental requirements won’t give you that many credits. To double major, there’s a different certain number of credits. General Elective credit counts toward this, ensuring that you won’t be forced to take classes for the sole purpose of needing extra credits to graduate.”

Shikhar asked, “I’d like to know whether there are any other summer programs at MIT other than RSI.”

We host three summer programs at MIT: the Research Science Institute (RSI), Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science (MITES), and the Women’s Technology Program. Each is a selective program for rising high school seniors. Application deadlines are usually in early February. Stay tuned for more information or see this old entry.

Jeff wrote, “I have taken the AMC 12 exam in 10th grade, but I do not remember my exact score. I do have an AMC Certificate of Achievement that is only given to those who scored 90 or above. How should I fill out the AMC/AIME section (Part 2, section 6) on my application?”

Jeff, you could either leave it blank or you could write “>=90.” Either way should be just fine. This is something that can sometimes help us but if it is not there, it will not be a big problem.
Victor wrote, “I’m confused if we need to send in our AP scores (if at all?) to you guys by a certain date (I’m applying early action).”

You need not provide us with the official copy at this time, but we do ask that you honestly report your scores on the Part II of the application. If you are admitted and you enroll at MIT, then you should send us an official AP score report to receive credit.

James wrote, “Thank you for your seminar last night. Is there any culinary course offered at MIT?”

To help me in responding, my erstwhile housemate Erin wrote, “Kitchen Chemistry is a 6-unit pass/fail seminar that I would recommend to everyone. (I think it’s run by ESG, but anyone can take it.) Basically, you get together once a week in a kitchen (usually in a dorm somewhere) and cook one dish while studying the science behind the dish. (For example, when you make meringues, you learn why using copper bowls is preferred.) When I took it, it happened to be on my floor, so every Monday I’d walk down to the kitchen and make something delicious while earning 6 units of credit. It’s not really a culinary course in the traditional sense, but it sure was fun.”

Jimmy wrote (re: this entry), “I’d like to hear about what you learned about Recommendations, like what a good one would be.”

I did not attend the conference session on writing recommendations (as I am not a guidance counselor), but I do promise to have more to say about recommendations in the next month.

Carla wrote, “Thanks a lot Matt!!! I’ll apply next year… but I have another questions… I have started filling out my application online, and I was wondering if what I have already answered will be useful for next year’s applications (the part about the extracurricular activities) or will it be completely different? Thanks again!!”

You’ll have to start a new application next year (this year’s will not be held over until next year), but I suspect that the application will not change substantially next year. As such, make a copy of all that you’ve written as it may come in handy later.

Anon wrote, “I am autistic, which is classified as a learning disability. Will this hinder or aid my application in any way? And where would I mention this?”

As you know, federal law ensures that your autism cannot hinder your application. However, it also does not aid your application in and of itself. We will be interested in how you’ve dealt with autism and how it has impacted your life. Essay choice 1/A, about a challenge you’ve faced, would be a great opportunity to discuss this. Also, it may make sense for this to be mentioned in your interview.

Mahsa wrote, “In my country SAT or ACT exams have not taken, What should i do? I i have honours ,Should I take the SAT exams?? thanks”

We require that all applicants take either the SAT, or the ACT, or the TOEFL, and also take SAT IIs. Please let us know if that poses a hardship for you in your country.

Leon wrote, “My question is: can I have more than two recommandations from the teachers? I believe that in order for the admission officer to know me better, I would like both of my math and physics teachers to write recommendation letters for me.(note: I would still have the other recommendation letter from a humanities teacher)” And Carla wrote, “Hi again Matt well I am asking my teachers for the recommendations now and I was wondering if I could send 2 recommendations from humanities teachers, besides the one from the science teacher, this is because I come from a Spanish speaking country, and the teacher I originally planned on asking for my recommendation was my language teacher, because she knows me out of the classroom, but then i thought it would be good if i sent a recommendation from an English teacher also…so can I send 3 recommendations? one from a science teacher, one from a English teacher and one from my language teacher? once again thanks for answering all our questions… it makes it all much easier.”

Generally, I find that more than two teacher recommendations doesn’t help in adding much new helpful information. However, if you feel that having a third teacher recommendation would help us to know you better and shed new light on your application, feel free to send that in. And Carla, you don’t need an English teacher just because you’re from a Spanish speaking country; your language teacher will be fine. However, use the above guidance to determine the “fate” of your third recommendation. Good luck!

Anon asked, “is resietering at MY MIT sufficient for an applicant to get the paper application form at his/her given address.if yes,could anyone tell me by how many days shall i receive those stuffs?”

If you register on MyMIT and are a high school senior, you should receive the application within two weeks. In the meantime, feel free to use the online PDF version for practice (or for real).

Kristin asked, “This is quite off topic, but regarding admissions… About how many people would you say apply to MIT mainly for the name? Thanks!”

Hmm… hard to say. I do think there are people who are primarily motivated to apply to MIT because of the prestige/fame, but I would say that this is not the majority. Most of the applications we receive are from students who are genuinely excited about MIT and the culture here. This, of course, make our job as Admissions Officers quite difficult!

Jonathan asked, “Ok, here’s another admission question. If we took some SAT II’s and already sent them to MIT, and then today took some more and have those scores sent there, what do we put on the application? do we leave the field blank, or do we put in the earlier (and proably lower) scores that we know already?”

Officially, we will use whichever scores make you look best, regardless of what you write on your application. So, then, Jonathan, what should you write on your application? I would say that if you feel your previous scores are competitive, write them in, and you you feel they are not as competitive, then write in the date of the forthcoming scores with the actual score blank.

Shikhar wrote, “in class 9 I gave an opening speech for Intel to support their concept of Technology Aided Learning. I was the main speaker and this was a regional seminar. My job here was to convince all the schools near and around the region to transfer to technology aided learning and Basically I was doing the job which should have been done by an Intel executive. That was a very prestigious thing for me as I was the only student out of thousands who they thought had the ability to clearly explain the benefits of technology aided learning. I want to mention this under my awards category but will my speech be called the keynote address (practically it would be called so…but theoretically I am not so sure..coz mostly its the executive of the company who gives the keynote) So please resolve my dilemma and tell me what to write on my app(coz writing just “speech” sounds kinda lame and does not describe the magnanimity).”

If you don’t feel “keynote address” or “speech” covers it, how about “featured speaker”? This is a good thing to expand upon if you decide to include a “resume” ofd sorts with your application.

Hannible asked, “I’m from Chinese mainland,HOW MANY UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS DO YOU HAVE FROM CHINESE MAINLAND,just the average number in recent years?????”

According to the Registrar, we currently have 10 students who are citizens of the People’s Republic of China, which is about 3% of our international population (we also have 289 graduate students from China). There is also a fairly sizable number of students who have immigrated to the US from China.

Mike W wrote, “MIT already has all my SAT scores and my October ACT score on file. I do have an April ACT score that has not been sent to MIT; however, it does not contribute much in addition to the scores MIT already has. Would it be OK just to leave it off the application, because I don’t want to pay ACT to have an official score of my April ACT sent to MIT (if it were free, then I would have ACT send it to MIT).”

Mike, I think this should be fine, no worries.

Shikhar wrote, “Oh no, Unfortunately there is no EC near my area and so my interview has been waived off. Matt will this pose any threat to my application. I mean I’d love to give an interview if MIT can arrange one for me because I dont want to lose out on any opportunity to demonstrate my passion for MIT.” And Rushil wrote, “My interview too had been waived off. (I assume Indian interview are veing vwaved due to some reason – Shikar , are you Indian?) I had contacted MIT Interviews be email nearly 3 weeks ago but still haven’t recived any respons. Is it impossible for applicants in India to take an interview?? Please help! I too am really interested in the interview!”

If your interview has been waived, it is not a detriment to your application. Unfortunately, we do not have interviewers everywhere, and in some areas have too many applicants and too few interviewers. I assure you that many other applicants are in the same situation that you are. All that you can do is be patient, email [email protected], and if it is possible they will help to arrange an interview.

Angie wrote, “how does MIT see nominations for things like Who’s who and being a Presidential Scholar?”

These are both nice honors, things to be proud of, especially a very selective honor like becoming a Presidential Scholar which is accompanied by some pretty amazing opportunities. As you know, though, even semifinalist selection for the Presidential Scholars are not announced until after MIT admissions decisions are made. As such, while you should be happy to be nominated for these things, neither will factor much into the MIT admissions decision.

Jay wrote, “I was just wondering if there is a minimum age for entrance to MIT. I’m 15 by the way.”

Check out this entry I wrote on the topic.

Ben wrote, “I realized that I forgot some details in the question i asked you last time. My mom already earned a degree in Elementary Education in 1980. She is currently working towards another degree in nursing at a local community college to become a RN. How do I put this in my application?”

Amended from last time: For occupation, write “Part-time nursing assistant and nursing [or RN] student;” for education level, choose “4 year college degree,” and for degree write “BA, elementary education” (or whatever is correct in your case).

Shikhar wrote (re: this entry), “can you tell me more about the other colleges that you were not expecting to lend financial aid to International students (the names). Please tell me whether the December sitting of the SAT exams reach the admissions office in time for Regular Decision. Oh and matt one more thing, In my high school we follow both the marking and grading system (I am in ICSE board). So in my transcript my school will most probably send you a custom A-4 sized gradesheet with year grades (grading is done annually) from 9th till mid year grades of class 12th (i.e. the exams held before class 12th external board exams or the “ISC”). However, my transcript also has the result of class 10th on it, but I would also like to send my Board exam result to MIT. So should I send only the pass certificate which is graded or also the marksheet (the grading system is there mainly for the purpose of facilitating foreign universities in easily understanding a students potential).”

Aha, one question at a time… first, I was not surprised that many colleges give financial aid to international students, but I was surprised at the amount given by some, most notably the top liberal arts colleges. Next, yes, the December SATs will always reach us in plenty of time for regular action. Finally, yes, sending along all of your grades and marks will help us, thank you.

I hope that helps!

Lisa wrote (re: my request for more good SoCal food), “For good Chinese food, my family loved Sam Woo Barbeque in Monterey Park… it’s in an asian mall with a giant 99 Ranch grocery market. Also in the mall is an elevator that takes you up to a really good dimsum restaurant, but it’s fancy (but not that expensive, just a fancy place). My mom also recommends Roland Heights as a good area for great restaurants. We haven’t lived there for six years though, so we have no idea if the places are gone ^^; I hope that this helps though.”
And Hill wrote, “You should try Old Town Mexican Cafe while you’re in San Diego. In Long Beach all of the food sucks. In Monterey Park, Happy Family has excellent Chinese. In the OC, you ought to try Steelheads in the UCI Market Place. In Downtown LA, you ought to try to the fast-food version of Il Fornaio. It’s near Via Rodeo.”
Raihan wrote, “I don’t know if you’re still in SoCal, but I’d recommend Krua Thai (in Van Nuys) for some excellent pad thai (had lunch there today :)) and El Taurino (L.A.) for some of the best tacos in the state.”

Thanks for all the recommendations! I did have Mexican food in Old Town San Diego (but at the wrong restaurant!), and nearly made it to Sam Woo’s but got held up. And then I got a stomach bug, and my trips to fun restaurants ended =( But I had a good trip to California, and look forward to my next trip there.

Fernando wrote, “Hi Matt, I live in Peru, Sout America. A few weeks ago I went to USA, especially to Boston to visit the MIT and know all about it because that is my dream and I want to make it real. I am finishing high school next year so I will be entering college in 2007 but I am preparing a lot since now. I t��s very important for me. I went to the info session and it was great but I wonder to know if all the information in there is the same for international students and what more I have to present because of that. Also I wish if you can give some information about Business Management that is my career.”

In our admissions process, international admissions (for students who are not US citizens or permanent residents) is very similar to domestic admissions (for students who are US citizens or permanent residents): we are need blind, we meet full financial need, we have a subjective and holistic admissions process that focuses on finding those students who are the best fit and match for MIT. There are perhaps two main differences. One is that international students all apply for the same deadline, January 1. The other is that we have a quota on the number of international students we may admit each year, approximately 110.

As for your interest in Management Science, here are some links to check out to learn more:

Shikhar asked, “Talking about Professor Ketterle..there was a link about the supercondensed matter on which he researched can you please give me the link to it if you have it.”

Here’s some good stuff:

Julia wrote, “I attended the Westwood-area Central Meeting, and you promissed to tell me more about the research in economics at MIT.”

Thanks for following up! Here are some good links to check out:

Also, you should check out Mitra’s blog, as she is a current Economics student doing research. It was good to meet you in Westwood!

Saad (a frequent blog commenter last year who is now a freshman at MIT) wrote, “Hi everyone, I am sorry for this off topic post but I think its more important to get the message across, On Saturday, October 9, a massive earthquake hit the northern and central areas of pakistan, the worst in the country’s history and the 4th most devastating in the year 2005, killing above 25,000 (twenty five thousand thats expected to rise even more) and affecting more than 43,000 people overall. The country is in a state of terrible disaster and trauma and we need a lot of help from the whole world, The Pakistani Students association at MIT, PAKSMIT, is collecting donations and manage any sort of ways to help and trying to organize relief dinners etc, I wish we can all unite at this time of worry, when we have been struck by Tsunamis, Katrina, and now this earthquake!”

My best wishes to everyone in the affected regions and everyone affected by this tragedy.

35 responses to “October Questions Omnibus 1”

  1. Yoonju says:

    Hey, Matt. Great Math Jam tonight!

    Here’s a question I thought was a bit too specific to ask at the Jam: I’m currently taking classes through EPGY, but they will not be listed on my high school transcript. Should I go ahead and list them on the Self-reported course work section?


  2. Clark Poland says:

    Hi. A couple of quick questions as that November 1st deadline rushes towards us:

    1. In the first question you recommend that the person write an essay instead of submitting the report itself. In my circumstance, I conducted research in physics at Washington University through a program that judges the papers of everyone in the project. My paper was chosen for the award and consequentially I was given six bound copies of my research paper with the intent that they were to be sent to colleges. Yet, in the context of the first question, should I submit the full 40 page paper, write an essay about the process and whatnot, or both?

    2. For the extracurricular activities, would it be prudent to lump together such things as jazz band, musicals (pit orchestra), and musical ensembles into one lump group labelled music, or to leave it as each individual item? I’m guessing the latter, but would appreciate confirmation.

    3. Would it be acceptable to list volunteer work under jobs provided I mark it as such, or should I list it solely under extracurriculars?

    4. Finally, I intend on submitting a small portfolio of photographs I’ve taken. Should I submit an additional essay/explanation with them?

    Thank you

  3. Mahsa says:


    I sent you a question about this ,”in my country SAT and ACT exams have not taken what should I do?”

    You answered me :”We require that all applicants take either the SAT, or the ACT, or the TOEFL, and also take SAT IIs. Please let us know if that poses a hardship for you in your country.”

    How to tell you this?from email?? in MyMIT or??



  4. Hi,

    I read about your class on the 12th of Oct at Artofproblemsolving/mathlinks. Unfortunately, I live in the UK (the class starts at 1 am) and I don’t have internet at home so I could’nt attend. I’m really interested in the relevance of IMO achievements for MIT admissions and the relaive importance of hard facts and soft skills for maths in general.

    By the way, why is everyone talking about the admission of the 2010 class. Do I have to apply 5 years before I enter? (Sorry for that, I’m sure this question is answered somewhere on this site).

    Thank you!

  5. Rushil Goel says:

    Thanks, Matt!!! Regarding the interview, the Education Council finally replied and I am eager to take my interview!!

    I too wouldn’t like to disturb you with an 8-page , highly technical report revealing NOTHING about me!! :-D

    I have another (set of) question(s)!. I am working on a Geometry project on an interesting problem(with great applications) and its equally interesting solution I have found! However, it is not complete, and I doubt it will be in time for the application submission to MIT! However, I have an interesting story behind how I got interested in this and what I have been doing regarding the problem. I was thinking of writing a breif synopsis of the problem and what all I have done and working on AND to write something about how I was motivated to solve this! Do you think that will be worth including in the Optional section? ( I hope you would rate it better than just an 8-page report!)

    Also, I live in India where resources like books, journals and even teachers willing to help a high schooler go beyond his syllabus are very hard to come by!!! Can you recommend some MIT Math Professor who will be willing to see my work and help/guide me in solving some problems I have come up working on the above project and other problems in Math??? I’d be grateful and excited if some MIT Prof. / grad student etc. would help me!!!!!


  6. Shikhar says:


    Class of 2010 means that we people will gradute college in 2010 (so therefore we are the class of 2010).

  7. “This is a good thing to expand upon if you decide to include a “resume” ofd sorts with your application.”

    Matt, what kind of a resume are you referring to in this case? I remembered that we don’t need to attach one if we filled up sections 7-10 properly.

  8. murasame says:

    Hello Matt!!!

    I’m an international applicant from India. I dropped

    a year to pursue my interests and I’m applying again this year to MIT. I have a few questions…

    1) I sat for the SAT II Writing Test in 2004.Now this test is no longer available. Will MIT accept the SAT II Writing test of 2004 as a valid third optional SAT II subject in addition to Physics and Math IIc, provided that I also sat for my SAT I last year which had no writing component? or should i take an emergency SAT II subject currently available?

    2)I’ve already had my grade XII final examinations (board examinations), so should I use my board exam results for my mid-year report or should I use my grade 12 mid-year report, (as my board results were much better).

    3)For the math/ science teacher evaluation can I get the evaluation done by my Computer Science teacher or does “science” specifically mean Physics/Chemistry/Biology? I would love to send a recommendation from my computer science teacher though because she knows how much importance i place on logic in programming and not on memory work…

    thanks for any help!

  9. Edward says:

    Hi. Thanks for providing such useful information for prosepective students.

    I am from Kenya and I was wondering if you’d help answer some of me questions.

    1.I intend to apply to MIT this year but I graduated from High school a year ago-I missed last year’s application deadline. Will this affect my chances of admission in any way?

    2. I took part in a secondary schools’ science fair and made it to the finals of that competiton. I want to send in my project report along with my application to MIT-under which section of the application should I include it?

    3. Is there a limit to the numbers of essays you can submit as part of the application to MIT?

    Thanks for the help.

  10. Edward says:

    Hi again.

    I’m sorry I also meant to ask whether interviews are available in my country(Kenya).

    thank you.

  11. Shikhar says:

    Thanks for the replies Matt I really appreciate it.

    This is a good thing to expand upon if you decide to include a “resume” ofd sorts with your application.”

    Matt, what kind of a resume are you referring to in this case? I remembered that we don’t need to attach one if we filled up sections 7-10 properly.

    From what I know for internationals there can be many competitions about which MIT might no be aware of and basically the resume explains what the competition was about. For eg.

    I dont think if I wrote

    “3rd in national computer Quiz at COFAS 2005” that MIT would understand it. I would obviously have to substantiate on the competition writing one or two lines about COFAS (which btw is a computer Fest,organised of the details for MIT)

    Correct me if I am wrong in this regard Matt.

  12. Shikhar says:


    Also regarding my speech..Although I do think it is one of the most prestigious thing I ever did I just cannot discuss it in my compulsory essay.I really want to discuss something else there. What do you say should I write my experience in another essay or actually just give a description in my resume.

  13. Robb Carr says:

    All sorts of information here. I hate to ask such a specific question on the blogs (and right after you answered all of the above!) however I guess I could see several people being affected by something similar so: MIT Recommends having four english courses, I skipped english II because there was a hybrid English III American History Course available and it seemed much more intresting. This leaves me with English I, II, and IV at the end of my junior year (For anyone who might read this that is not familiar, I am applying at the end of said year) is it neccesary to take a fourth english course? It really would not be much of an issue to take an additional english course second semester however I would much rather add another math or science course.


  14. Phil says:

    Hi Matt

    To better prepare myself for my future major in engineering, I conducted a research on China’s first Energy Efficient Building at Tsinghua University under the professor who’s in charge of the project. My intended major is eletrical engineering, yet I was unable to find any research opportunity for EE. I couldn’t fit my research summary in the appliation, but I’m wondering whether you think my research summary would help you guys making a decision.

    Hope to hear from you soon


  15. zoogies says:

    Hi Matt,

    A few questions, although I do realize everyone and their rubber duck is pelting them at you by the hundreds.

    First, I want someone to write a third interview, but that someone is neither a math/science or humanities teacher; not a teacher at all in the normal sense. What would I do in this case?

    Second, my interview scheduling is not quite working out. I contacted my EC just before october, I believe, but the first scheduled date was cancelled due to an emergency. I was hoping to schedule it Saturday, but my EC hasn’t gotten back to me all week. Just supposing it doesn’t happen, how does that affect me?

    Finally, I notice a lot of people are writing their second optional essay about research they’ve conducted in big university engineering labs, or such. This scares me a bit, because I’ve written mine about whistling. It was a paramount accomplishment for me roughly five years ago to learn to whistle and I’m still proud of having finally pulled it off after several years of angst, but I’m worried that it will seem to trivial to these recountings of great scientific research. Better to leave it blank?

  16. Zoogies,

    That’s such a cool story! How did you manage to learn to whistle? What prompted you to learn how to whistle? Guess what, I think that after all the stories about major research projects, your story would be a welcome change. But then, like what many of the adcom officers have said, you’ve gotta show who you really are – i.e. what motivates you, what gives you passion, what gives you energy – for that’s the only way to evaluate you as an individual. That is, after all, part of the job of the adcom.

  17. Sendie says:

    Hi Matt, I am a permanent resident but my parents don’t live or work here in the United States. Am I still eligible for financial aid? If so do I apply as domestic or international student?

  18. Sendie,

    Take a look at the 3rd picture in Matt’s entry for the answer to your question:

    Also, I remember that every MIT student is eligible for financial aid. It’s just a matter of whether Daniel’s team determines whether or not you need it. Here’s the link to the FinAid website that should help:


  19. errhode says:

    Hey Zoogies… back when I applied to MIT (6 years ago… man, when did I get so old?), my optional essay was actually a colored pencil drawing. I can’t say that this was the reason that they accepted me, but it clearly didn’t hurt. I’d say that if you show something that demonstrates who you are, no matter what that is, it’s probably better than leaving it blank and at the very least, it wouldn’t be worse.

  20. Dear Matt,

    Please accept Seth Cohen when baseball is over and he can complete the college process.

    Look at him taking AP physics as a sophomore!!

  21. Carla says:

    Once again THANKS!!!!! this is really helpful I swear I won

  22. tan says:

    Hi Matt, I wonder if I could send a journal which documents my daily research observations and conclusions instead of the research paper I have written? Firstly, the journal (something similar to a diary) is shorter than the research paper and secondly I feel that the admissions committee can get a feel of my passion after reading the journal. However, to get the whole complete picture, one has to finish reading the journal (it is about 6 pages long; and it’s reader-friendly). I am afraid that the admissions committee will not have enough time to finish reading it. What do you suggest then?

  23. Victor Li says:

    I know you can include pictures in your essays… but other than the first 500 word essay, you can’t upload a file. This means I can’t put pictures in for the other ones.

    I would like to submit pictures with my other essays… is it ok if I put in a web link in the essay to refer to the picture?

  24. raghavendra says:

    hi matt,

    I am an undergraduate applicant from india . i have a huge question to ask you.

    i took my SAT II recently(oct) and i think i will get an ‘ideal’ MIT score. however, my name as in the system is palleti.r.datta, whereas my name in the MIT online application is Raghavendra Datta palleti. (it’s actually a change in the order of the name, this is quite common in ‘indian english’,people tend to mix up first names with last names) however I am confused. considering th thousands of applications you guys deal with, is there a chance of losing my score, or will it be assigned to my name? this name mix up is killing me.

    PS: My My MIT username is RAGHAVENDRA, and my DOB is 13 july 1989, just in case you can help me with it.

  25. Ronty says:

    I am a student from India and have passed my 12th from CBSE board this year.

    I had an All India Rank of around 6000 in Manipal Medical Entrance Exam (MAHE UGET), in my First attempt, in which I guess around 100,000 students appeared. Many candidates who wrote that exam were ‘repeaters’, who had passed their 12th exam earlier than 2005. So, will my MAHE UGET rank be considered as a good one or just an average achievement?

    P.S.- Manipal was ranked 3rd in Medical College Rankings done by India Today Group in 2004.

  26. tan says:

    Oh I forgot about something…

    I feel that I could convey more about my personal character and passions in the optional essay. Which do you think is more important, the main essay (the one with choice A or B) or the optional essay?

    Finally, is it possible to submit part 2 of my application first without the SAT 2 scores? I may be unable to make it during Dec.


  27. Samira says:

    Hi Matt

    I want to ask a question :

    What is your program for International olympiad

    of informatics(IOI) or Iranian olympiad of informatics??

    If I’m an olympiad medalist ,should I take

    SAT exams,ACT or …??

    I’m from iran.



  28. Emi says:

    Hi! I have a question regarding SAT I and SAT II scores. How much do they count towards acceptance? Because I just got my SAT II scores back today, and my college councellor says that they’re okay, but I have a feeling that they might be a bit on the low side compared to the scores I’ve heard MIT students normally have so I’m a bit worried about that.

    Thank you.

  29. Sanjay says:

    Sir, I am a student from India.I have just got my SAT I Score. My scores are Maths-670,CR-560,Writing-570 (10 in essay).

    Will my bad SAT score affect my application a lot, even with a SAT II score of 750+ in Maths2C, Physics and Chem each? I got 89 in English in my 12th CBSE exams. Most probably I will write the ACT in December. Please Comment.

  30. Victor Li says:

    Is the deadline ever extended if the MIT servers are so clogged nobody can sign into their online application?

  31. amit says:

    please provide shortcut methods to get sample papers

  32. vikas says:

    sir plz send me pdf mathematics topics understanding for class 12th cbse board

  33. vikas says:

    sir plz send me pdf mathematics topics understanding for class 12th cbse board

  34. ankur says:

    sir plz can u tell me whether is there any hope for me in admission in manipal…my rank is 4200 in uget-2006 results