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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

Testing requirements FAQ by Matt McGann '00

We've been getting a lot of questions about our testing requirements; here are the answers.

[note: As of August 2006, this entry is out of date in regard to testing requirements. For the most up-to-date information, please view the MIT Admissions home page] All []s represents edits to this entry made on or after August 2006.

It seems many people have been calling lately asking questions about our testing requirements. For those of you applying this year and for whom English is your primary language, here is the official statement about what we require:

SAT I [] or the ACT [with Writing]. In addition, we require [two] SAT II Subject Tests: one in math (level 1 (Ic) or 2 (IIc)) [and] one in science (physics, chemistry, or biology e/m)[.]

Nevertheless, students, parents and counselors have been calling with questions. In an effort to answer these questions, here is a testing requirements FAQ. I hope it is helpful!

Q. Do you prefer the SAT or the ACT?

A. We honestly have no preference. If you submit both, we will use whichever scores that makes you look best.

Q. How will the new SAT writing section be considered?

A. The SAT writing section is [] required [but] will not be used for admissions formulas this year.


Q. I am an international student or a student whose primary language isn’t English. What are my testing options?

A. You have two options. You may do the SAT I or ACT and [2] SAT IIs as above, or you may choose the second option for non-native English speakers:

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and two SAT II Subject Tests, one in math (level 1 (Ic) or 2 (IIc)) and one in science (physics, chemistry, or biology e/m).

Q. I am an international student, do I have to take the TOEFL?

A. No, we do not require the TOEFL for international students. However, you must submit one of the following: SAT I, ACT, or TOEFL, in addition to the required SAT IIs.

Q. I am an international student. Should I take the TOEFL or the SAT?

A. You may take either or both. We will consider the TOEFL or SAT equally without preference. If you submit both, we will use the test that makes you look best.

Q. What score should I get on the TOEFL?

A. TOEFL is the one test for which we have minimum scores. They are: 577 (PBT), 233 (CBT) and 90 (iBT). You should aim to meet or exceed these target scores: 600 (PBT), 250 (CBT), 100 (iBT).

Q. By when must I take my exams?

A. If you are applying for Early Action, you must complete all of your tests by the November testing date (yes, these scores will reach us on time without rushing). If you are applying for Regular Action, complete your tests by the December testing date. We may accept January tests on a case-by-case basis.

I hope that covers most of your testing requirement-related questions. If you have more, please leave them in the comments and I’ll answer them in the next Omnibus.

29 responses to “Testing requirements FAQ”

  1. Ben says:

    Hi Matt-

    I was wondering, if I didn’t do extremely well on the math section of the SAT I, would having a very strong score on a Math SAT II make up for that?



  2. Liu Huan says:

    Q. What score should I get on the TOEFL?

    A. TOEFL is the one test for which we have minimum scores. They are: 577 (PBT), 233 (CBT) and 90 (iBT). You should aim to meet or exceed these target scores: 600 (PBT), 250 (CBT), 100 (iBT).

    What is ‘PBT’ ‘CBT’ ‘iBT’?

  3. Heyy Matt!!

    Hehehe awesome responses i loved the “we honestly” parts though the best ;P Anyways that was very informative..great Job! :D hope to meet you soon smile..

    Aziz from Kuwait

  4. Guli says:

    Hey Matt! I was wondering, are you able to mix and match old SAT and new SAT math scores? For example, if I scored higher on the math section of the old SAT but my verbal/reading section of the new SAT was higher, would you combine those “higher” scores? Or are you only allowed to take the best scores from either the old SAT only or the new SAT only?

  5. Kamran says:

    Hi Matt, prospective student here…

    I find myself in a very unique situation, I think. I know MIT needs 2 Letters of Recommendation (“Forms”), one from a humanities and one from a science.

    I am part of a very unique gifted and talented program at the Learning Alternatives and I am also taking some AP classes at the high school itself. The program is taught by one teacher (but we bring in other teachers from Learning Alt to teach us things like Leadership, English, Latin, and Bio) and I spend 7+ hours inside the classroom.

    I did take Accel Phys last year and AP Calc AB, and out of those two I think my physics teacher is a good choice for a recommendation.

    My question is, basically, can I have a recommendation from my program teacher? I don’t even look at him as my teacher… he’s my mentor and my friend. He just knows me so well, he knows my faults and he knows how I work. I think it would help me more to get his recommendation rather than, say, my English teacher (even though I know her very well too).

    Is the recommendation process set in stone, or can I use his recommendation AND a sciences recommendation too?

    You also require the Secondary School report form and a Mid-year report form and those are supposed to be from a guidance counselor or principal. Well, since I belong to both the Learning Alternatives and High school (they are seperate… yet the LA is a wing of the high school building), can I choose to use my LA principle instead of the high school principle?

    And, one of my last questions (I promise!), my guidance counselor hardly knows me (since I spend most of my time in my program and not in the HS), but the Gifted and Talented Coordinator is almost exactly like the guidance counselor only for the LA. He also knows me very well too and has a very close relationship to the program’s students. Could I use him instead of the HS guidance counselor?

    Alright, finally, something unrelated to my above questions… I am going to try very hard to get good scores on the SAT and ACT, but if it turns out that I, suppose, get a 670 English and 710 Math, does the fact that I am involved in a lot of things and other unique things about me (entrepreneur, guitar, Latin, passion for computers, websites, etc etc. I could go on for awhile but I’ll save that for the application) weigh in at all? (Read: Do I still have a chance at getting accepted?)

    Sorry for the *huge* post, but like I said… I find myself in a seemingly complex and unique situation.

    Thank you so much! It’s heartening to see that the faculty at MIT aren’t boring and care so much about what they do. I mean… who else answers blog questions about their admissions?

    I look forward to seeing the Info Session in Minneapolis!


  6. Hi Matt!

    I was going to ask you this at the Miami orientation, but I’ll just mention it on here anyway:

    I’m from Hungary, but have been living and going to school in the US for 6 years. I still don’t have a green card, so I still am considered an international student. All my coursework/test scores/etc. are American. Does this hinder me in any way? Is there anything extra I need to do on my application because I’m essentially an American student that’s being tossed into the international pile?


    Gabor Debreczeni

  7. Psychotron says:

    Hmm…this would be helpful to all prospective freshmen, however its easier to flip a coin an watch it land on its edge than to overcome such a bias admissions process. Hoho, I joke. But really folks, it ain’t easy so study hard.

  8. Off topic but still:

    Dear Mr. McGann

    My Physics teacher has just left for a teaching position in Uganda, and his repalcement has never taught at my school before and will only be here until Christmas. I would like to sign the waiver to see what my teacher wrote found on the top of the form, but that would be impossible, as I intend to ask my ex-physics teacher in Uganda to write my recomendation letter.

    What advice could you give to an international student in a bit of a squeeze.

    Any reply would be greatly appreciated,

    Michael B. B.

  9. To: the Venerable Mr. McGann:

    I was just wondering if I should send my APs this year; I will be a senior by this September. I will be taking more APs in my senior year – should I send them again then?

    Anyhow, bout that 3 SAT II and SAT w/ Writing component deal for us ’10s, seems a bit unfair to me, but hey, I’m not one to complain.

    Oh, I was wondering statistically, what percentage of MIT undergraduate students list undecided as their major coming in?

    I might have read about this somewhere on the website, but have since forgotten.

    By the way, MIT admissions = tough stuff.

    Hope this reaches you, and is deemed worthy of a reply

    –Laura Yue

  10. Saket Jain says:

    Sir, as it is very difficult to get into MIT, what kind of extra cullicular activities are expected from an international student? What kind of extra cource work we have to do considering for admission, myself being an international student?

  11. Ajymurat says:

    verbal 500 or TOEFL 600. which one seems better?

    if we take 1800 can we still have chance to enter MIT?

  12. Ajymurat says:

    i am an international student from Kyrgyzstan.

    for intls SAT 1 isn’t so important isn’t it?

    i am going to take chemistry , math2 and toefl.

    are this enough for test requirements?

  13. Jeremy says:

    Just wondering, why can’t we use our writing score on the SAT as the SAT II Writing score?

  14. Isabel Chang says:

    Hi, Matt! This is Isabel from Seoul, South Korea, living on a U.S. military installation. Do you remember me from RSI 2005 this summer? If not, that’s okay, because I’m sure you meet hundreds of new faces every week. Well, I was browsing through MyMit and came upon this page. It helped clear many questions of my own. However, I was curious myself about mixing the highest subscores for my ACT score on my application. Is that possible? In addition, how much emphasis is placed on SAT II Subject Test scores when evaluating an applicant? Thank you in advance!

    – Isabel (S. Korea)

  15. Mahsa says:

    Dear Matt

    I am an international student from iran.

    In my country SAT 2 have not taken.

    What should I do?

    Best regards


  16. Mike D. says:

    Hey Matt!!

    Why are the essays on the app the same this year? Do you not change them every year?

  17. siddharth says:

    HI MATT !





  18. Will says:


    I am currently a rising sophomore in high school, and have taken the SAT I four times so far (my best two scores recieved during freshman year). My question is, will my scores from freshman year still be elgible for my application in the ’08 – ’09 school year? [I would like to keep them, as i have both a 800 math and CR (one from each test).]


  19. Farrukh says:


    About Online Application Part 2, Section 3.

    Can i fill them with my UCLES, GCE Olevel and Alevel courses?

    Please Help!


  20. pls sir my ssce o level result is neco[national examination council] in nigeria i hope it is valid

  21. Subhodeep says:


    I have taken both SAT Reasoning and Subject Tests, and according to College Board, the scores have been sent to MIT (#3514). However, in my application tracking section, it says that the scores have not yet been received. Is this due to a delay in updating, or would I be better of sending my scores again?

    Thank you


  22. John M. says:


    I’m living in the middle Europe. I have honourable mention in international physics olympiad, and I want to try to enter MIT. I want to ask, what steps do I have to make and what exams do I have to pass then? I do not have much information, and I just whant to ask, how could I make the first step.

    Thank’s for your answer.

  23. Dear sir/ma,

    Pls i have check my result,but i could”t find it,pls i you to help me with the web site i can find my neco result april 2005 pls sir/ma help me.

  24. Rory says:

    is there any way that you can get into mit before graduating high school

  25. Awais says:

    Matt i wanted to ask something about the mit policy for accepting the sat scores from january tests. i received my october sat1 scores a long time after the date promised by the collegeboard. i wanted to retry but all deadlines for the december exams were over. i am thus giving it in january. Are there any chances that my scores will be accepted?

  26. Rich says:

    Do you mix and match ACT scores, as you do for SAT I scores, taking the best subject scores from separate sittings to arrive at a recalcualted composite?

  27. Anton says:

    Is there a max number of “B”s that will cause the applicant to automatically be rejected?

    1 semester?



    Thank you a million times over…

  28. nikita says:


    i have given two new sat1 tests. i wanted to know whether i can send in my best scores of different sections among the two tests i have given.For eg. can i send in my math score from my first sat1 and the critical reading score from my second sat1 i

  29. nikita says:


    i have given two new sat1 tests. i wanted to know whether i can send in my best scores of different sections among the two tests i have given.For eg. can i send in my math score from my first sat1 and the critical reading score from my second sat1