How to Get Into MIT: Expert Tips and Strategies

30/11/202341 minute read
How to Get Into MIT: Expert Tips and Strategies

Getting into a top school like MIT is not easy. But, with the right insights and the right planning and preparation, you can definitely boost your chances for success.

We've helped over 6,000 students get into top colleges, and in this post we’ll put the spotlight on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or MIT.  You’ll discover how competitive MIT is, explore what MIT is looking for in students, and get valuable insights and tips for how to increase your chances for being a successful MIT applicant.

How Hard Is It to Get Into MIT?

For the MIT class of 2027, almost 27,000 students applied and about 1,260 were accepted, meaning that even among other top schools, the admissions process at MIT is very competitive.

Put another way, applicants have a > 5% chance of admissions to MIT, so only 1 in every 20 applicants gets admitted to MIT!

This is why YOU need to understand what’s needed to be a highly competitive applicant…

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What’s Required to Get Into MIT?

So, how do you stand out when you apply to a school that can only admit about 5% of applicants each year?

  • Strong Academic Credentials: You’ll need to have a strong GPA, excellent SAT/ACT scores, a high school transcript boasting a range of rigorous college prep classes across a breadth of subjects.
  • GPA Expectations: MIT doesn’t report GPA stats for admitted applicants, but based on the experiences of Crimson students who have enrolled at MIT, the high school GPA to aim for is 3.9–4.0.
  • Impressive extracurriculars: You’ll need to demonstrate a range of personal qualities that are important to MIT — qualities we’ll examine more closely below… Carefully selected extracurriculars can help applicants achieve a well-rounded profile and will spotlight important experiential and academic learning experiences. Popular extracurriculars include athletics, clubs, projects, pre-college programs, internships, or work experience.
  • A Stand-out Application Package: It’s important that your personal essays highlight the personal qualities that MIT is looking for and that you have stellar Letters of Recommendation that also fill any important gaps in terms of what admissions officers need to know about you, your personal qualities, your academic promise, and your accomplishments

Need to review some basics about college applications? Check out our brief overview: How to Apply for College…

A Day in the Life: MIT Student

What to Know Before Applying to MIT

Many students aspiring to attend a top university will want to know if their GPA, transcripts, and test scores are good enough. But, knowing the ethos of your top-choice university and understanding what kinds of students make a good fit is essential. Armed with these insights you’ll be better positioned to understand what qualities to develop and spotlight as an aspiring MIT student.

1. What Kinds of Students MIT Is Looking For?

World-famous schools are typically proud to stand out for some unique mission and set of values or ideals.

In other words, just like famous people, famous schools also have personalities — that shape instruction, programs, and campus life. The school ethos also influences the kinds of students the school wants to recruit and admit.

Here is what MIT says about its mission, the qualities it looks for in applicants, and the school's core values:

MIT’s Mission

“The mission of MIT is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century.”

Is it really true that being “a good fit” matters a lot for admissions, even if you have really good grades and test scores?...

Well, here’s what MIT has to say:

“Ask any admissions officer at MIT, and they will tell you that while grades and scores are important, it’s really the match between applicant and the Institute that drives our selection process.”

8 Qualities MIT Looks for in Students Who Apply

  1. Alignment with MIT's mission
  2. Collaborative and cooperative spirit
  3. Initiative
  4. Risk-taking
  5. Hands-on creativity
  6. Intensity, curiosity, and excitement
  7. The character of the MIT community
  8. The ability to prioritize balance

MIT Core Values

  • Education
  • Research & Scholarship
  • Service

“We seek to develop in each member of the MIT community the ability and passion to work wisely, creatively, and effectively for the betterment of humankind.”

- MIT

Use These Insights to Amplify your Applicant Profile for MIT
How will you develop and showcase qualities such as initiative, risk-taking, a collaborative spirit, creativity, and curiosity?
How will your personal essay and your participation in extracurriculars resonate with the values of MIT, the campus culture they are trying to foster, and the impact they want to make on the world?

2. Key MIT Admissions Practices and Policies

In this section we highlight some specific factors and policies guiding early and regular admissions, application processes, and the weight of different admissions considerations at MIT.

A table with two columns and 6 rows showing key MIT undergraduate application requirements

MIT Application Procedures

MIT has its own application forms and essay prompts. You can access these online from mid-August through January 1.  Get more information about online applications at MIT.

  • The application fee is $75 (fee waivers are available upon request).
  • The application deadline for Early Action is November 1, and January 1 for Regular Action.
  • Early Action decisions are non-binding, and are announced in mid-December. If your application decision is deferred, then your application will be reconsidered without any disadvantages during the regular application cycle, in March.
  • MIT’s policy says early applicants (Nov. 1 deadline) are considered the same as regular applicants (Jan. 1 deadline), but early applicants, statistically, enjoy slightly better odds for getting admitted.
MIT —ACCEPTANCE RATES FOR EARLY & REGULAR ADMISSION
OverallEarly Round ApplicantsCrimson Education Students
~4.7%~5.7%~21%

MIT’s Holistic Admissions Policy

If your dream is to get into a highly selective school like MIT, you’ll want to know all the important facts about the school’s internal admissions guidelines and practices.

MIT uses a holistic approach to admissions — this means looking at your academics broadly while also considering other personal qualities.

Standardized tests are required for anyone applying as a first-year student to MIT. However, they are not the only factor, or even the most important factor. When we receive your application, we review all of your academic information—grades, scores, classes, etc. —to ensure that you are prepared for MIT.

What factors does MIT consider in addition to your grades?…

For its holistic approach, MIT takes into account many academic and non-academic factors and application components.

**A table displaying academic and nonacademic factors considered for admissions at MIT.Source: National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

Because it’s so important to know what is considered for admissions, Crimson Advisors also look beyond the most well-known factors, including insights into how much importance admissions officers give to each different factor.

Holistic Admissions for MIT — Additional Factors

Here’s a more complete look at all the factors MIT says it considers and how MIT ranks them in terms of importance:

Table showing race and ethnicity data for students and staff at MIT. Source: MIT, Common Data Set 2022-23 (Class of 2027)

“Be who you are, not who you think we want you to be!”

- Kim Lesly Hunter, MIT Admissions Officer

Check out this excerpt from our vast resource library: what MIT admissions officer Kim Lesly Hunter told us about holistic admissions at MIT!

MIT Admissions Workshop: Who Gets In? Behind the Scenes at MIT Admissions

“What MIT is Looking For in Applicants” (watch from 39:00 minute mark to 42:00 minute mark)

MIT Admissions — Race, Ethnicity, & Religious Affiliation

At Crimson we’d rarely suggest anyone focus on race or ethnic status when it comes to calculating your chances of getting into a top-choice school.

That said, top schools often want to foster a diverse learning environment on campus.

As you can see, for the MIT class of 2027, religious affiliation was not considered in admissions decisions, but race and ethnicity were considered for admissions.

And, while it’s hard to know what the future holds, it’s likely that race and ethnicity will have less importance for future applicants because of important new court rulings.

In terms of campus diversity at MIT, faculty are mostly White (58%), but the students are more diverse. About 75% of students are Non-white.

Hn L Eblb 1 S Yet R 57 Yj KME 06 Vf AB Wp MDP Iz FA Igc I 4 Vsd Qi Wrdmczmez II Pw 2 A Ghc Qn ZO Ri A Rf 1 K GKX 6 U Y Vd Af 7 Rfg 4 Cem 8 Bzd Pa D Iwr U Q S Fv K Du BK Nz V 9 Y PI 7 T Ac Yth L Wxy 4 G D 9 J H Bj U Gaz 7 Iat 8
Source: College Score Board, US Department of Education (retrieved August 2023)

MIT Early Action Applications

Although MIT tells students that the early application round doesn’t give you any admissions advantage, acceptance rates trend a bit higher for early applicants.

Application deadlines:

  • November 1st for Early Applications
  • January 1st for for Regular Applications 

MIT Early Action isn’t single-choice, binding, or anything like that. If you choose to apply to MIT during Early Action, MIT does not place any limits on where else you may apply, and we do not require you to attend if admitted...

If you apply to another school during Early Action and that school does have a restriction, MIT requires that you follow those restrictions. So for example, if you apply to another school that is ‘single choice’ — meaning that you can only apply there during the early period — you may not simultaneously apply to MIT. And, if you’re admitted somewhere ‘binding,’ then even if we admit you, you must go there instead. So choose wisely!...

How to Increase Your Chances for Getting Into MIT

4 critical strategies for a more successful college journey

  • Apply Early
  • Prepare Diligently for the SAT/ACT Test
  • Choose and Leverage the Right Extracurriculars to Build a Strong Applicant Profile that Resonates with MIT’s Ethos
  • Start Early and Create an Action Plan with Clear Goals
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1. Be An Early Round Applicant

There are limited strings attached for applicants who submit their application in the early application cycle at MIT.

This means there’s not much to lose by applying early, and — in some years at least — the odds of admissions, statistically, slightly favor those who apply early.

2. Prepare Diligently for Standardized Tests

One reason starting early can be so important, is the time it can take to prepare adequately for the SAT/ACT test. Since reporting SAT or ACT scores is required for your MIT application, you’ll want to prepare thoroughly and consider backup resources you may need for succeeding.

  • Review registration and testing windows or dates with your college counselor.
  • Take a diagnostic practice test early in your test prep process.
  • Get extra help from test prep booklets or online resources.
  • Get individualized support from qualified tutors who help applicants aspiring to Ivy League universities and other top-tier institutions.

3. Choose the Right Extracurriculars to Build a Stronger Applicant Profile that Resonates with MIT’s Ethos

At top schools with so many academically qualified applicants, choosing the right extracurriculars will help you stand out. If you’re still in the early stages of your college journey, Crimson Education Advisors can provide personalized guidance and help you chart a path to MIT.

Once you know what kinds of extracurriculars will match your interests and resonate with MIT’s ethos, our Advisors can help you find high quality enrichment programs, or you can check out the summer programming search tools at SummerApply!

From developing professional and academic skills, to spotlighting your personal growth story beyond test scores and GPA, the right extracurriculars should help you boost your chances as an MIT applicant.

4. Start Early, Set Goals, and Make a Plan

Standing out as an MIT applicant is doable and achievable, but with a long runway you’ll likely have better chances for success.

Start Early!

Be sure to start your college journey early, when you begin high school, or even earlier, in middle school.

You’ll need a long time runway in order to:

  • grow your knowledge and skills
  • work toward, achieve, and demonstrate the highest levels of academic accomplishment
  • find and engage in extracurricular opportunities during the school year and/or school breaks in order to build and demonstrate a range of motivations, skills, and commitments that make you a strong fit for academic and community life at MIT
What if I'm already approaching the end of high school...?
For insights into how you’ll stack up against other MIT applicants, try using the Crimson Education US College Admissions Calculator. For more nuanced feedback, talk to a Crimson Advisor.

Set Goals!

Crucial to making an effective roadmap for your college journey is knowing the destination. Setting goals is the first step. Having clear goals will set you up for the next step too — creating an action plan!

Consider the valuable insights we’ve shared as you set specific goals for your journey:

→ set high goals for SAT/ACT testing & for your GPA

→ pursue extracurriculars that develop and demonstrate the personal qualities MIT cares most about

→ plan ahead in order to be able to submit strong admissions essays and to have time to confer with teachers and counselors about letters of recommendation

When Should I Start Working On My College Applications?

Create an Action Plan!

Your goals and action plan go hand in hand.

With specific and targeted goals, you’ll see how easy it is to make action plans that motivate you on your college journey and dramatically improve your chances for success.

We’ve provided an action plan outline below to help you. But going it alone can feel overwhelming.

We encourage you to reach out to helpful and trusted adults for input and guidance: parents and guardians, academic counselors, and supportive peers… For a more comprehensive approach, our experienced Advisors can help you each step of the way and work with you to create an individualized action plan tailored to your target schools!

Helpful Resources

Crimson Education US College Planner — Unlock Crimson resources and advice, and get easy-to-use tools to track important deadlines. Whether in writing or using digital tools, you’ll want to track your progress!

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Your Turn! — Your Goals and Action Plan for Getting Into MIT

The tables below have real data for MIT that will guide you in setting goals for your roadmap to MIT! 

After setting a personalized goal for each factor, you’ll list some real action steps for meeting that goal…

GOAL 1: STANDARDIZED TESTS — SAT/ACT SCORES
Admissions DataCrimson Advisors Recommend...Your Goal
SAT Range1480 – 1580 EBRW 730 MATH 750Aim for a SAT score of 1500 and above?
ACT Range33 – 36 English 35 Math 32Aim for a ACT score of 34 and above?

GOAL 1 ACTION STEPS:

To achieve this goal I will

Helpful Resources

SAT/ACT Practice Tests — quickly find which skills to review and get additional test practice

SAT/ACT Exams Tutoring — tap into a our network of exceptionally qualified tutors

US College Admissions Calculator — explore how your SAT/ACT scores correlate to prospective target schools

GOAL 2: GPA
Admissions DataCrimson Advisors Recommend...Your Goal
4.2% average (73% of students had a GPA of at least 4.0)* *If you’re studying the IB, this translates to scoring mostly 7s and achieving a minimum score of at least 424.0 and above?

GOAL 2 ACTION STEPS:

To achieve this goal I will

Helpful Resources

GPA Calculator — quickly calculate your unweighted and/or weighted GPA!

Online Tutoring Support — reach out for support early and boost your scores in AP or IB subjects!

RISE Program — an online academy perfect for middle schoolers who want to jumpstart a successful college journey!

GOAL 3: COURSE RIGOR (COLLEGE PREP COURSES)
MIT Recommends:Crimson Advisors Recommend...Your Goal
Math, through calculus One year or more of physics One year or more of chemistry One year or more of biology Four years of English Two years of a foreign language Two years of history and/or social sciencesSatisfy the recommended college prep course program, taking at least 2 or more AP/IB/Honors Courses, or offerings with similar rigor?

GOAL 3 ACTION STEPS:

To achieve this goal I will

Helpful Resources

Online Tutoring Support — reach out for support early and boost your scores in AP or IB subjects!

Advisor Support — personalized advising every important step in your college journey

GOAL 4: APPLICATION TIMELINE
Admissions DataCrimson Advisors Recommend...Your Goal
Class of 2026 acceptance rate for Regular Applications: 2.3% Class of 2026 acceptance rate for Early Applications: 7.9%Applying for the early application cycle is strongly recommended?

GOAL 4 ACTION STEPS:

To achieve this goal I will

Helpful Resources

Inquire about the Crimson App — technology designed to help you plan and track your college journey from start to end as you unlock a wealth of other useful resources too!

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GOAL 6: EXTRACURRICULARS, ADMISSIONS ESSAYS, LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION

Remember that holistic admissions requires setting goals for more than just well-defined academic achievements. In fact, character and personal qualities and the application components that demonstrate these factors are also important and need to be in your action plan.

Extracurriculars, Essay Responses, Letters of Recommendation
Considered "Very Important" for AdmissionsConsidered "Important" for Admissions
Applicant's Personal QualitiesExtracurriculars Personal Essays Letters of Recommendation

Developing the right personal qualities to be a good fit for MIT and demonstrating those qualities across your extracurriculars, personal essays, and letters of recommendation, is key.

We’ve outlined lots of strategies below to help you, but going it alone is not going to be realistic for most students. It’s a lot to juggle and you’ll need an experienced Advisor and the right mentors to help you put it all together, access support, and stay on track…

We encourage you to learn what you can from the tips below, but once you’ve decided you’re serious about making MIT a target school, please consider getting additional support from a Crimson Advisor.

Personal Qualities

Pursue academic activities and extracurriculars that will help you develop and demonstrate the personal qualities that MIT is looking for in students:

  • Academic Enrichment
  • Leadership
  • Time-management
  • Initiative-taking & Risk-taking
  • Collaboration
  • School & Community Service
  • Collaborative and cooperative spirit
  • Initiative and risk-taking
  • Curiosity
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Extracurriculars

When you set goals for your extracurriculars, keep in mind the personal qualities and life experiences you want to cultivate to be a good fit for MIT, as well as your own interests and passions.

Then you can look at different kinds of extracurricular activities to research those that will help you achieve your goals…

Kinds of Extracurricular Activities to Consider
Clubs Pre-college academic learning programs Internships Passion Projects Research or Problem-Solving Initiatives, such as STEM-related projects or Social Entrepreneurship…

Helpful Resources

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Submitting Effective Personal Essays

Look over all the essay prompts before responding and plan how to respond to each prompt. Avoid repeating similar information in your responses. Use the essays to highlight

Submit Authentic and Memorable Personal Essays
Show why you’re a good fit for MIT, based on the school mission, vision, and culture Give evidence of how your personal qualities have developed into deeper commitments and values that will allow you to make positive contributions to campus life Showcase the personal qualities and unique features of your character that are the most memorable, most significant, and most authentic

“Rather than asking you to write one long essay, the MIT application consists of several short response questions and essays designed to help us get to know you. Remember that this is not a writing test. Be honest, be open, be authentic—this is your opportunity to connect with us. You should certainly be thoughtful about your essays, but if you’re thinking too much—spending a lot of time stressing or strategizing about what makes you “look best,” as opposed to the answers that are honest and easy—you’re doing it wrong.”

- MIT, "Admissions"

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The MIT Essay Prompts:

MIT does not use the Common App or Common App Essay Prompts.

MIT uses its own essay prompts and they can be found in the myMIT online application portal.

What to know about the personal essay when applying to MIT:

  • Before applying, check the essay guidelines on the MIT website
  • Based on current guidance, MIT says essay responses should provide candid and authentic information about your personality, personal qualities, your background, your academic interests and academic commitments and show who you are, not show who you think they want you to be
  • When brainstorming and writing your MIT essays, keep in mind what you’ve learned about the personal qualities MIT is looking for in the selection process

Helpful Resources

How to Answer MIT’s 2023/24 Application Essays: Tips & Insights

Ebook: How to Write the Perfect Personal Essay 2023 — US University Admissions

College Essay Format — A Definitive Guide

Supercharge Your Personal Essay — Get feedback with machine learning tools designed for college essays

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Letters of Recommendation

Of course someone else will be writing your MIT letters of recommendation… But, this doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t set goals so you can notify the best prospective authors ahead of time, align with MIT guidelines, and get the best letters possible!

Letters of Recommendation — MIT Guidelines
One letter from a math or science teacher One letter from a teacher in humanities, social science, or foreign language One optional letter

Planning for Your MIT Letters of Recommendation

  • Pick teachers who can speak about evidence of personal qualities beyond your grades in class.
  • Pick teachers who can write about personal qualities that may not be highlighted in other application materials or which may address a specific weakness in your application.
  • Be sure to consider if a specific teacher is in a position to help admissions officers understand something about you that adds an important understanding or perspective to your applicant profile.
  • Should you include a supplemental (3rd) letter?... Consider a supplemental letter only if there are still any gaps in terms of what you want admissions officers to know about you. If a supplemental letter won’t really add anything to your profile, then probably best not to include one.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask teachers to get the letters you need!
  • It’s generally okay to inform the letter writer about some things you think would be helpful to highlight in the letter — they should understand the letter plays an important role in your admissions journey! But, be sure to communicate your suggestions respectfully and deferentially, not as demands, conditions, or expectations!
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An MIT Admissions Success Story

Want more tips and insights for getting into MIT?

Find out how Crimson Advisors and other team members in the Crimson Education network helped get Bobby into MIT.

Bobby A

Meet some of our team and find out for yourself why Crimson students are up to 7x more likely to get into their dream college.

Make Sure MIT is Right for You

In this post we’ve been focusing on how to get into MIT.

Obviously, an important first step is making sure MIT is right for you…

  • Is this school a good fit for me?
  • Is MIT worth it?
  • What important facts about the school — its size, rankings, costs, financial support offerings, mission, and campus culture — should I be considering?
MIT SCHOOL PROFILE & SCHOOL RANK
City & StateCambridge, MA
Public/PrivatePrivate
Student Population31,345
Undergraduate Population9,579
Need-Blind Admissions & Financial Aid?Yes
Average Grant Aid vs. Total Annual Cost$59,840 vs. $78,028
Average Alumni Salary$169,500
RankingsUS News & World Report 3rd; Forbes 9th

Why MIT Stands Out…

Location:

MIT is easy get to thanks to nearby Logan Airport and ample bus, subway, and shuttle connections around the Boston area. The campus neighbors the Charles River and the lively innovation district of Kendall Square.

Accolades:

MIT boasts an amazing and unusual 5:1 Faculty-to-student ratio that delivers top-flight instruction with intimate classes and personalized learning experiences; abundant research centers and lab facilities offer students uncompromising opportunities to do hands-on learning on the cutting edge of technology innovation

School Culture:

The school climate is renowned for being spirited, curiosity-driven, collaborative, innovative, vibrant, entrepreneurial, and risk-taking; majority of students reside on campus in residence halls with distinct personalities and traditions.

Want more MIT School Profile Information? Check out:

MIT — Campus Life

Visit MIT

Crimson Education — About MIT

US Department of Education College Scoreboard — MIT

NCES College Navigator — MIT

Pro Publica College Financing & Debt Statistics — MIT

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Final Thoughts

You were wondering how to get into MIT… Well now you’ve gots lots of great insights about MIT admissions and some insider tips on how to really position yourself for a more successful college journey.

So let's recap quickly...


A. Make Your MIT Dream Come True!

  • Plan ahead
  • Identify your key passions, goals, interests, and anticipated major
  • Set goals for all important MIT application components:
    • Academic scores and rank
    • SAT/ACT test scores
    • College prep courses & weighted academic courses
    • Carefully selected extracurriculars

B. Take advantage of independent Crimson Education resources — Find out what works when it comes to getting into top universities!

C. Talk with a Crimson Advisor — for free!

Schedule a 15-minute free consultation and let's explore your next steps together...

Can a Trained Admissions Advisor Help?

Following the guidelines and insights in this blog post should improve your odds for getting into MIT.

To have the best chance of success for MIT, it’s obvious that you want to make sure every component of your application package presents you as a strong and well-rounded candidate — test scores, GPA, academic accomplishments and passions, personal essays, extracurricular activities…

With all this to consider, you’re simply more likely to succeed with the help of a trained Advisor. Crimson’s network has many admissions advisors with experience boosting admissions rates for students applying to universities like MIT, Harvard, Yale, and more.

Students taking advantage of the Crimson Advisors network experience about a 21% acceptance rate at MIT, compared to the under 5% acceptance rate for all MIT applicants.

Many of our Advisors are FAOs — Former Admissions Officers from Ivy League schools or other elite universities — and use their insights to help in every way possible:

  • To ensure you have an individualized, overarching strategy that’s a good fit for your top-choice schools...
  • To provide one-on-one advising tailored to your unique profile and unique set of strengths and academic goals…
  • To guide you to the extracurricular offerings and resources aligned with your college admissions goals…
  • To help yo navigate getting the best Letters of Recommendation possible…
  • To assist you in unlocking and making the most of Crimson’s unique advisor and tutoring networks and digital tools and resources…

Listen to some of our Advisors explain how advising can help you get into MIT: What Makes Crimson Different.

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Crimson students are 7x more likely to gain acceptance to their dream college!

Remember, you don't have to navigate this journey alone. Crimson provides a comprehensive suite of services, from academic mentoring and test prep to essay assistance, extracurricular guidance, and career mentoring, ensuring a holistic approach to your college preparation journey.