How Hard Is It to Get Into MIT?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

MIT's old, white building with trees on each side and fallen leaves on the lawn.

How Hard Is It to Get Into MIT?

If you are a dedicated and passionate high school student, you are probably already strongly looking forward to applying to – and getting into – some of the most competitive and prestigious universities in the United States.  Especially if you are a student interested in a STEM subject, chances are good that you have already asked yourself, “How hard is it to get into MIT?”

MIT – or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology  as it is officially known – is without a doubt one of the very best schools in the world when it comes to rigor of curriculum, access to cutting edge technology and expertise of its faculty.

It has also been home to some of the most intelligent and influential men and women of their generations. Those are just some of the reasons why tens of thousands of students are looking for ways to get into MIT each and every application cycle.

So, whether you are just starting to mull over the different options when it comes to universities and colleges that you may want to attend, or even if you have already made up your mind and pegged MIT as your number one choice on your list, it absolutely makes sense for you to get a good idea of how difficult is it to get into MIT.

That’s where AdmissionSight comes in. As one of the world’s leading university admissions experts, we know exactly what it takes for top students to get into the top schools. While you may think that all it takes is great grades and great standardized test scores, there is actually a whole lot more to the equation!

We’ll go over all that and more as we break down how students can improve their chances of beating the odds of getting into MIT.

Let’s get started!

MIT’s admission requirements

Back in the day, schools would regularly have a list of required courses that students would have to have on their high school curricula to be considered for a spot at the school. As the university admissions process is always changing, this is one of the things that the vast majority of schools have gotten rid of in recent years.

The same can be said for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the school no longer has a list of admissions requirements.

Still, just like any top school, MIT does absolutely have a list of courses that they prefer students take before they apply to the school.

The reason why these preferences are not flat-out requirements is because MIT acknowledges that students are at the mercy of their own high schools in some ways. For some students, it is simply impossible to take more advanced courses. MIT does not hold this fact against those kinds of students.

However, if your school does offer the following courses, you would be very wise to take all of them and more if you are strongly interested in applying to MIT when the time comes.

  • One year of high school physics
  • One year of high school chemistry
  • One year of high school biology
  • Math, through calculus
  • Two years of a foreign language
  • Four years of English
  • Two years of history and/or social sciences

Beyond taking these courses, high school students who are interested in getting into MIT should absolutely know that they will be expected to strive for as rigorous a course load as possible during their high school years.

Of course, their ability to take certain advanced courses will depend heavily on their interests and skills, but overall, students should be looking to take as many honors, AP and IB courses as possible.

How MIT compares to the Ivy Leagues

Though many people consider MIT to be one of – if not – the best schools in the United States, it is not officially part of the Ivy League. The Ivy League includes eight schools in the Northeast. Those schools include:

But just because MIT is not officially in the Ivy Leagues does not mean that getting into MIT is easier in any way. In fact, the answer to the question, “How hard is it to get into MIT,” is arguably. “Quite a lot harder than the Ivies!”

Let’s break it down.

So, when it comes to the acceptance rate at MIT, the rate is a bit more forgiving than some of the schools in the Ivy League. In fact, the acceptance rate at MIT for the graduating class of 2025 – so students that applied to the school in 2021 – was a reasonable 6.58 percent.

If you are wondering how that stacks up compared to the eight Ivy League courses, here are the acceptance rates for the Ivies for the 2021 application cycle:

So, as you can see, the MIT acceptance rate from this most recent application cycle stacks up favorably to the acceptance rates for the school in the Ivy League. So, how can we confidently say that MIT is harder to get into than most – if not all – of the Ivy League schools.

The simple answer are the average application statistics regarding the students that get into MIT. When it comes to the average GPAs and standardized test scores of students that get into MIT, those numbers are amongst the highest across all schools in the United States.

In regard to the average GPA for students that get into MIT, the number is pretty astounding. It’s a 4.17 GPA. That is higher than all the average GPAs of the students that get into the Ivy League schools.

For those wondering, here are the average GPAs for students applying to each of the eight Ivy League schools. As you can see, MIT ranks higher than all eight schools!

Table with information about different universities.Moreover, what that 4.17 GPA tells us is that the students who get into MIT are taking many courses that are on a weighted GPA scale. In other words, it means that the students that are getting into MIT are taking a lot of honors, AP or IB courses. Not only that, but they are also doing quite well in those courses!

Any student that is interested in getting into MIT needs to make a point of taking as many advanced courses as possible throughout their high school years. They should enroll in a few each semester if they are confident that they can handle the challenges of taking such an advanced course load.

Remember, MIT is only interested in accepting the most advanced students that apply each year. One of the primary reasons why is because the school has one of the most demanding and rigorous curricula at the undergraduate level. Before accepting a student, admissions officers need to feel confident that the student in question will be able to not only manage, but also excel when they get to the school.

A student who takes a difficult curriculum in high school will help themselves greatly by proving that they not only want to take the hardest courses but can also earn great grades within those courses.

Beyond the average GPA for students that get into MIT, the other reason why the school can be easily considered harder to get into than any of the Ivy League schools is because of the average standardized test scores that have been needed to get into MIT.

Of course, the two standardized tests that are taken in the United States are the SAT and ACT. Both tests are accepted at MIT (and the Ivy Leagues) and there is no preference amongst which test students take.

When it comes to the students that get into MIT, the average SAT and ACT scores are incredibly high. Just like the GPA, the average scores are amongst the highest of any school in the United States.

For the ACT, the average score is an incredibly high 35 out of the perfect score of 36. In fact, the 25th percentile score for the school is a 35 and the 75th percentile score is a 36.

For the SAT, the average score is a similarly high 1535 out of the perfect score of 1600. The 25th percentile score for students that get into MIT is a 1500 and the 75th percentile score is a 1570.

See what we’re getting at? These scores are practically perfect, and you can bet anything that many of the students who apply do apply with perfect SAT or ACT scores.

If you are wondering what the average scores are for the Ivy League schools, take a look below:

Table with information about different schools.

As you can see, just like the GPA, the average standardized test scores at MIT are as high or higher than the averages at all of the Ivy League schools.

So, how can we confidently say that MIT is harder to get into than the Ivy Leagues even though the acceptance rate sits at just about the middle of the pack? Well, the answer is clear. The average GPA and standardized test scores to get into MIT make sure that only the very best students are applying, even a more competitive group than those applying to Ivy League schools.

A quick note on standardized tests

As we are most focused on breaking down everything that students need to know about applying to MIT, AdmissionSight knows that it is important that students have the whole story of the situation as it currently sits.

As you well know, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted basically every aspect of our lives. And that fact applies to the university application process in many ways. One such way is the new rule regarding standardized test requirements for countless schools.

At MIT – and many other schools around the United States – the SAT and ACT have been made optional for students applying.

Here are the new rules related to the standardized tests according to MIT’s official website:

Updated requirements

  • We will not require the SAT or the ACT from first-year applicants applying in fall 2021, or transfer applicants applying in either fall 2021 or spring 2022
  • Students who have already taken the SAT/ACT, or who can find a forthcoming opportunity to do so safely are encouraged to submit their scores with the understanding that they help us more accurately evaluate their preparedness for MIT.⁠
  • Students who have not already taken the SAT/ACT, and cannot find a forthcoming opportunity to do so safely are discouraged from taking the test, in order to protect their personal health, as well as the health of their family and community. We will not make any negative presumptions regarding academic preparation based solely on the absence of SAT/ACT scores, but will instead make the best, most informed decision we can by rigorously assessing other academic aspects of their application (such as grades, coursework, and other examinations).

So, if students are able to take the SAT or ACT safely, they would be wise to do so. That is especially true if they are confident that their score will work towards helping their case of getting into MIT or any top school.

Still, as the school itself clarifies, if a student is unable to do so safely, they should take full advantage of the optional policy, not take the test and remain safe.

How to improve your chances of getting into MIT

So now that you know the answer to the question “How hard is it to get into MIT?” from a standpoint of GPA and standardized test scores, you are probably curious to learn about the ways that you can improve your chances of getting into MIT.

When it comes to how to get into MIT, there are a lot of tips that students can take advantage of.

Take part in academic competitions

One great way for students to improve their chances of getting into a top school like the Massachusetts Institute of technology is to get involved in academic competitions.

Academic competitions such as the USA Math Olympiad or Science Olympiad it’s a great way for students who are passionate about STEM topics to prove their ability and interest. Don’t worry, if you are a student who is more interested in humanities related topics, there are similar academic competitions that you can take part in.

A microphone on stage situated in front of a crowd.

Get involved in extracurricular activities

One important aspect of getting into top schools it’s making sure that you get involved in extracurriculars during your high school years in the right way. These days, it is highly recommended that students get heavily involved in three to five extracurricular activities during their four years in high school.

Heavily involved means that students spend multiple school years involved in the same groups, clubs or teams and ideally earned roles of impact and leadership over the course of that time.

To clarify, students are not encouraged to get involved in five or more extracurricular activities at a surface level as this does nothing to enlighten admissions officers about that students’ specific passions and goals inside and out of the classroom.

Obtain strong letters of recommendation

Letters of recommendation are important at every school, but there is one hint that MIT considers this aspect of the application even more so than other schools. The hint is that MIT asks that students end in two individual letters, with one coming from a teacher that teaches either science or math and another comes from a teacher that teaches a humanities subject.

A man on desk writing a letter.

To make sure that you get the best letters of recommendation possible, make sure that you give the teachers that you want to write your letters ample heads up. We advised that students speak with the two teachers either at the end of their junior year of high school or, at the very latest, at the very beginning of their senior year.

Craft impressive personal essays

The final tip to improve a student’s chances of getting into MIT is that they should write fantastic personal essays. The personal essay section of the college application process has gained major importance in recent years.

A person writing on his or her notebook.

That is especially true now that so many schools have switched over to a standardized test optional policy. Students who want to write the best as possible should make sure to give themselves enough time to come up with powerful and personal topic that not only answer the questions provided by the school, but also give any admissions officer reading the essays a great idea of who the student is both as an academic mind and as the person outside of school.

Furthermore, students should make sure that they give themselves enough time to effectively edit and improve the essays that they are writing for each school that they are applying to.

We’ll teach you how to get into MIT

At AdmissionSight, we make it our number one priority to help the students that we work with get into the schools of their dreams. If you are interested in how we can improve your chances of getting into MIT and help you answer the question of, “How hard is it to get into MIT?” contact us today for a free consultation!



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