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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

Supplemental Materials by Matt McGann '00

Answering questions about extras beyond the formal application.

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about supplemental material. None of the below is required or even expected. In general, you should not send supplemental material unless the application did not sufficiently show who you are. I hope this is helpful and answers lots of questions…

Music. Advanced musicians who are interested in continuing their music activity at MIT in the music community are encouraged to submit a music supplement via email addressed to [email protected]. For performers, we request all of the following: 1) MP3 recording attachments of two pieces of contrasting styles, of about 10 minutes total duration. They may be solo or with accompaniment but not in an enemble; 2) a one-page Music Resume attached in pdf format; and 3) one letter of recommendation from a Music teacher attached in pdf format. In the body of the email, please be sure to include your name, date of birth, your instrument, and the composer(s) and title(s) of the recorded works submitted. You do not need to be a music major for this to be considered (most people who submit the supplement are not), and there is no audition process to take most music classes or to be a part of the music program. For more information, see here.

Art. Students who are interested in Architecture or MIT’s art community are welcome to submit a portfolio containing any art, photography, or architectural work for evaluation by our faculty. Simple, 8″ x 10″ hard copies are preferred. Submissions in CD format are permitted but not preferred. Please note that slides are not encouraged – they may be difficult to view and thus may put you at a disadvantage. Please include your full name, your date of birth, and the words “Undergraduate Application Materials” on the envelope. Send submissions to: Jan Wampler, Director Of Design – Undergraduate Program, MIT Department of Architecture, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Building 9-213, Cambridge, MA 02139-4307. You do not need to be an architecture, art, or media major for this to be considered (most people who submit the supplement are not), and there is no portfolio review to be an Architecture major, to take art classes or to be a part of the art program. For more information, see here.

Athletics. If you are an athlete and would like to participate in one of MIT’s 41 varsity sports teams, please be directly in touch with the coach of your sport, and/or fill out this form. Your talents will be evaluated by MIT’s coaches. Your athletic talents are something unique that you bring to this process and your talents can be considered with your other talents in your application. You do not need to be “recruited” to join an MIT sport.

Extra recommendations. If you feel an extra recommendation would show an important additional side of you not already covered, you may send in an additional letter of recommendation. This in general would not need to be on an MIT recommendation form from the application; a separate sheet of paper is most common. In general, third recommendations from a teachers do not provide much additional insight; the most helpful supplemental recommendations come from people who know you well outside the classroom. Some helpful extra recommendations I’ve seen have come from research mentors, youth group leaders, coaches, and bosses. If you decide a third recommendation is necessary, have your recommender send this via US Mail to MIT Admissions, and be sure your full name and date of birth are included.

Research papers. I think research papers are best talked about in the completely optional essay (“about something that you have created”) or in an extra recommendation from your research mentor. It is unlikely that if you submit a complete research paper that we will be able to have it properly evaluated during our process. We’ll be most interested in your research experience: how you got interested in the field, how you acquired your research opportunity, your results, what you learned, how this experience influences your future plans, etc.

Resumes / “brag sheets”. We will use your application Part II as the resume of record. Sometimes, an addendum that explains your activities/accomplishments can be useful, particularly if it is an usual pursuit or it requires further explanation than what you can fit in the formal application. However, long lists of activities and awards are most often not useful. These extra sheets are most useful in providing depth, not breadth.

Web sites. Last year, many students left me comments asking about how to submit work on the web. While we will make every effort to view any URL you ask us to, we can make no guarantee that we will be able to visit every web site. Certainly, you should include the URL in the Part 2 of your application; you should also tell us why we should visit the site and what we will find there.

Anything else. As #14 on the application part 2 says, we know that no admission application can meet the needs of every individual. If you think that additional information or material will give us a more thorough impressions of you, feel free to provide that information or material. You can do this through the online application or mail things in to MIT Admissions. Please include your full name and date of birth.

Most applications I read do not include any of these extra materials; they are neither required nor expected. In some cases, one or two of these extras can help you in providing us with greater insight into who you are. Also, please note that we do not “lower the bar” for musicians, artists, or athletes; while these are talents that some students bring to the admissions process, all students must be independently qualified to be admitted to MIT.

I hope this answers many of your questions!

45 responses to “Supplemental Materials”

  1. Jacob says:

    Hey, thanks for the informative post. I think a good stat to give would be how many of those admitted did submit extra materials.

  2. EV says:

    Should part 2, section 14 (supplements) contain some kind of appeal? “Select me because..”?

  3. Star says:

    I’m having a lot of trouble explaining my 5 main extracurricular activities in the 40 (?) words allotted to each – my some of my activities are a little but unusual. Would it be ok to leave the space blank, or just list awards received through each, and refer you to an additional sheet in which I will explain each activity in maybe 150ish words? Or is that too much? I’m also planning on completing both optional essays, and I don’t want to drive you guys crazy with too much to read!

  4. Snively says:


    I’d say no. They should want to select you because of the other parts of your application and how you come across in general. It’s not a debate, where you need voting issues at the end.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I’m sooo excited!

  6. Dear Anonymous,

    Me too!

    Anonymous applicant

  7. EV says:

    Thanks for your answer Snively, because my councilor was quite in for doing just that. I’d rather take advices from you in this case.

    What really is tough is choosing what to write about in “Something you’ve made” – I could pick the most dramatic (like almost blowing up the entire school using homemade rockets), some more creative (web design, photo- editing) or … well, the list goes on.

  8. EV says:

    By the way – I did not intend to blow up my school, even though it might appear as if I tried just that with my homemade rockets in the previous post. It was all a scientific project that unfortunately went totally out of control. I would still call the project a success.

    Good luck to all EA applicants! (I’m a RA international with terrible SATs).

  9. Star says:

    I’m another RA international with not-so-hot SATs. And I’m taking subjects for the first time this week… As for the creative essay, I know what you mean; I’m debating between web design/photo-editing and something else as well. I’m leaning towards the later just ‘cuz it’s more me, but it shows less science / tech stuff, which for some reason is kind of lacking in my application (ironic, because I’m so into oomputers…). But I think you can probably write a pretty creative and funny story about almost blowing up your school – that’s the essay I’d vote for.

  10. Hunter '11 says:


    I’m not a musician, artist, or athlete (haha). I had no extra recommendations or research or a website or bragsheet. When they say that these materials aren’t required, they MEAN it. I got in EA without all of these. I did fill in the last essay, though, but don’t stretch yourself finding something to write because it won’t come out well. Trust yourself and your application, and that you’ve done all you could do well.

  11. Farhad says:

    I’ve been self taught in music for about four years now… and the closest to a music teacher for me is my mom (who is like a million times above me). So, do I actually have to send the music teacher recommendation or can I just write down my situation and maybe method of studying?

  12. Anonymous says:

    you should definitely ask ur mom to write to write a letter of reco and make a music portfolio and send it for evaluation.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Farhad, I don’t think you even need a recommendation to go along with supplementary material. MIT only requires 2 recommendations (one math/science teacher, one humanities teacher) which is, in my opinion, more than enough. I think you should describe your situation in the additional information section; I’m not sure sending in a paper on your individual music learning method along with your CD or whatever would be the best way to go about this.

    One person’s advice though !

  14. Quentin says:

    After crawling through the admissions blogs nonstop for the past two weeks, I’ve found an entry about every single thing in the application… except AMC and AIME scores.

    What kind of effect do these scores have, anyway? Do a high percentage of applicants submit AMC/AIME scores?

  15. applicant says:

    please could i know that in the MIT application when we proceed to payment and after entering the credit card details and click on “submit application and payment” does only the part 1 of the application gets submitted?or does the entire application

  16. Thomas says:


    I think you should go with the subject thats more you. The excitement and passion that you will express when talking about something that really excites you will do way more for you than showing that you are down with the science and tech. I’m sure you understand technological things; but MIT values passions over understandings. Passions outlast and enlighten plan old understanding.

  17. DanC says:

    You mention web sites; i assume you mean ones that can be accessed by any computer with an internet connection. What about electronic portfolios? My class is the first at our school to to these – a sampling of our work, art projects, service, and goals from all four years of high school, all accessed through an HTML document which is not hosted the web. should this be emailed, sent on CD via post,…etc.?

  18. skier812 says:

    How will we know if our supplemental materials were received?

  19. madmatt says:

    @EV: No.

    @ Farhad: You can do as you’ve suggested.

    @ Star: Don’t leave those spaces blank. You should fill out the application as provided to the best of your ability, and add anything else you need.

    @ skier812: We do not track supplemental materials in the tracking system.

    @ Anonymous (re: 3.5 weeks): You may wish to fax in a copy at this time, unless you have mailed it from overseas, in which case I’d wait a little longer.

    @ Anonymous (re: Part 1 “Submit”): Clicking that button will only submit the Part 1, not the Part 2.

    @ Quentin: When submitted, we do consider AMC/AIME scores. As to what extent they positively impact the application, there’s no way to quantify it, though, like anything else, good stuff is good.

  20. enewts says:

    skier my advice is to send it return receit requested. That way you will get a little card in the mail saying they got it. Of course, as they said there is no gaurentee that it will be read or considered…hence optional.

    Good luck guys, 2 days left! Hope to see you all there next year!!!!

  21. Sarah says:


    Yeah, I’ve got the exact same question. I took the AMC a couple of times, but I never got an amazingly high score or anything(I was the highest scoring girl in my middle school, but I doubt that that’s relevant). Would it be beneficial to include it?

  22. Taylor says:

    Regarding AMC/AMIE scores, to me those seem really, really optional. Personally, I don’t even know what those are, and the app. itself seems to say ‘don’t stress about them’.

  23. chester says:

    To Quentin:
    Don’t worry about the AMC/AIME tests, most people haven’t even heard of them. I talked to Bryan Nance over the summer, and he said it was some type of national math test that isn’t even offered in all areas, or something like that. I don’t even know exactly what it is though.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Sir,it has been more than 3.5 weeks that I sent my Secondary school transcript but MIT has not yet recieved it.Should I wait for more time?

  25. Anonymous says:

    Sir,it has been more than 3.5 weeks that I sent my Secondary school transcript but MIT has not yet recieved it.Should I wait for more time?

  26. Quentin says:

    Oh, but what do you think is the extent to which good scores (AMC12:>130, AIME:10) have a positive effect on an application?

  27. vani says:

    I just mailed my school forms today… I sent in an extra letter, from my old school’s academic co-ordinator… I included my name and social security number, but forgot to put down my birthday… is that ok??? :o

  28. Celena says:

    Hey Mr. McGann!

    Remember me? We met a few weeks ago when you came to my school (St. Ignatius). I just wanted to stop by and say hi. I’m submitting my application tonight!

  29. Anonymous says:

    please could i know that in the MIT application when we proceed to payment and after entering the credit card details and click on “submit application and payment” does only the part 1 of the application gets submitted?or does the entire application

  30. John Seo says:

    If I understand the question immediately above, only part 1 of the application is submitted after entering credit card information and clicking on “submit application and payment,” but you should not just take my word on this: check out your dashboard and click on “online applicaiton & tracking” in the “MY MIT” section near the upper left hand corner. You will see that only your part 1 has been processed….unless you have already gone on to submit part 2, of course.

  31. anonymous says:

    If we put in something that may not be considered or helpful, such as an appeal for #14 or a research paper, would it negatively impact an application? I submitted my application before I saw this…

  32. Winston says:

    Hi Matt,

    I had my debate coach write a supplemental rec for me, but I do not think she put my birthdate on it. Will it still be okay? I am fairly certain she mentioned my school, and I am the only individual with my name from my school.


  33. Jess says:

    Quick question,
    My math class this year is Trig/Analytical Geo./Intro to Calculus
    Should I check the box on the application where it asks when I took calculus?

  34. Star says:

    Yeah, I’ll put something there, but is it expecting you to read too much if I submit both optional essays, as well as up to 150 words for each of the 5 ECs?

  35. Michele says:

    Question: I just sent in my application and I was feeling really good about it but then when I read over my PDF version again I realized I forgot to include leadership roles and honors achieved in the extracurriculars section. Now I’m stressing. What should I do?

    I don’t feel like this will be a deciding factor in my admission but I think it adds another dimension to my application. Do you think it would be a good idea to send an e-mail to admissions mentioning them or should I try not to worry about it?

  36. Nawal27 says:


    I was wondering if there was a deadline for submitting supplemental materials if I am applying EA. I wanted to submit the music supplement

  37. Pseudopadoz says:


    I erroneously entered misinformation on my application–this I discovered twenty minutes after I sent it off; where is my luck?–and was wondering: Is there any way to submit a correction? I believe that this misinformation could have a nasty impact on my application; sorting it out would be nice for me–but a route to do so would be nice, too.

    Should I send a letter to the admissions office explaining the mistake, or is there some more targeted way to do so?

  38. Christine says:

    Hi, Mr. McGann

    I plan to submit a music portfolio, but the maximum attachment size for Hotmail is 10MB and my mp3 files exceeded that. I was wondering if you could give me some suggestions on solving the problem.

    Thank you very much.

  39. A student says:

    Hi Mr. Mcgann,
    Just out of curiosity I want to know which one bears more imporance- Sat I or Sat II?
    Another question- if someone gets three 800’s in Sat II, what is his possibility of getting admitted (50%,70% or 90%)?
    One more – submitting two essays instead of one- isn’t it something stupid?
    Thank you.

  40. Anonymous says:

    I am an international applicant with a lot of questions.
    Should I list my A level courses in #8? or is it unnecessary as it appears on the school report?
    A confusion- olympiad prizes, science fair awards- are they scholastic distinctions or extracurricular achievements ? I mean, where to list them- #5 or #9?
    I wil take the toefl in Jan but will send part 2 of my application within a week.So should I use #14 to inform you my Ielts score?Why you don’t you officially accept Ielts remains a wonder to me.
    Thank you very much.Your blog is always informative.

  41. Anonymous says:

    Sorry for the typo in the second last line.

  42. archit says:

    useful… can a short research abstract be submitted?… which bollywood movie did you last catch, matt?

  43. confused says:

    Where is bollywood? Beside Hollywood? or somewhere near MIT?

  44. Indrasen says:

    I am an international applicant. I know that the teacher evaluation form has to be filled by a person who actually taught us, but the head of my school’s press club knows me and my capabilities much better than any humanities teacher who is currently teaching me. Can an exception be made in such a case?
    Also, do the evaluation forms have to be mailed to the MIT admissions office directly by the teacher/school?
    Pls reply soon. Thanks.

  45. Anthony says:

    I’m a prospective student to MIT. But my scores aren’t competitive. –580’s, 590’s on the SAT. Plus I have had a few B’s in high school. I know that is only one part of the application. But will the admissions committee automatically put my application in the deny pile when they look at these numbers? What do I have to show in the qualitative part to get in?