How to Get Into MIT: Data & Admissions Strategies
Most of the 33,000+ annual applicants to MIT would qualify as “geniuses” when measured by sheer IQ and traditional academic achievement. Yet, only 4% of this highly-capable applicant pool gets in each year. Back in the early 1990s, the applicant pool was only one-fifth as large and 30% or more were let through the gates each cycle. In 1992, for example, the average test score of an MIT freshman was 1,389; today it is roughly 1540. Grades, however, were similar, as 40% of the Class of 1996 finished first in their class and 97th were in the top decile. So, what can we learn from this little journey back to the last millennium? Essentially, MIT has always accepted only brilliant and highly-accomplished teens, but today it rejects the vast majority of students fitting that description.
Every successful MIT applicant possesses a sparkling transcript, perfect or near-perfect standardized test scores, and prodigious talents that extend outside of the classroom. Unfortunately, these attributes are necessary but often not sufficient, as MIT rejects valedictorians every single day of the admissions cycle.
The intent of this article is to give those considering applying to MIT a thorough understanding of the following topics:
- MIT’s Class of 2026 EA acceptance rate
- MIT’s Class of 2026 acceptance rate
- SAT, GPA, and class rank of accepted MIT applicants
- Admissions trends from the Class of 2026
- How MIT rates applicants
- A look at the demographics of MIT undergraduates
- MIT’s yield rate
- Tips for applying
- MIT essay prompts
- How to assess whether applying to MIT is worth the $75 application fee
Let’s begin with an examination of the most recent admissions data.
MIT: Early Action Acceptance Rate – Class of 2026
A total of 14,781 students applied early action for a place in the MIT Class of 2026. This represents a 59% increase from just two years ago. In the 2021-22 cycle, 697 of those applicants were offered admission, equating to a 4.7% acceptance rate. The school deferred 9,489 applicants to the regular round and outright rejected 3,959 individuals.
MIT Acceptance Rate – Class of 2026
There were 33,796 applications submitted for a place in the 2020-21 freshman class; just 1,337 were accepted. This acceptance rate of 3.96% was slightly lower than the 4.03% clip for the Class of 2025.
MIT Admissions – SAT, GPA, and Class Rank
Students admitted into the Class of 2025 possessed mid-50% scores of 780-800 on the SAT Math and 730-780 on the SAT ERW. The range of ACT Composite scores was 34-36. In a typical year, 95% or more students or more enrolled students placed in the top 10% of their high school class. While they do not release information on average GPA, it is fair to say that most admitted students have an unweighted 4.0 (or very close to it) earned within a full roster of AP/IB courses.
Admissions Trends & Notes
- MIT announced that it will not be optional moving forward with applicants to the Class of 2027.
- The total number of applicants increased by 2% for the Class of 2026.
- The acceptance rate for those earning a 750 or above on the Math section of the SAT was 10% compared to just 1% for those scoring a 700-740.
- The most represented state in the Class of 2025 was California
- Of the 680 students on the Class of 2025 waitlist, 25 were ultimately accepted.
How MIT Rates Applicants
Straight from the mouth of an MIT admissions officer—there is no formula for getting into MIT. The admissions staff truly feels that they could build two or three “perfect” classes out of their annual applicant pool. Since that is an impossibility, many “perfect-fit” applicants will be rejected in the end.
According to the admissions committee, character/personal qualities are rated as “very important” while eight other components register as “important”. Those factors are: rigor of coursework, GPA, standardized test scores, essays, recommendations, the interview, extracurricular activities, and talent/ability. Let’s take a deeper dive into those last two, as they play an enormous role in gaining entrance into this esteemed university…
Who is MIT looking for?
Being a so-called Renaissance man (or woman) was impressive in the 16th century. A genius might be the very best person in their town at painting, writing, conducting scientific experiments, jousting, and playing the lute. However, in a technologically modern and globalized world, you don’t need to rely on the neighborhood genius when you have a hankering for some lovely lute music—you can listen to the very best lutenists in the world on Spotify whenever you like.
What does this have to do with MIT admissions? Simple: MIT (as with schools like Stanford or Harvard) is looking for young people who are among the best, or, have the potential to be among the very best at something in the world. Just look at the lists of notable MIT alumni and you’ll get a sense of what the University is looking for: the next generation tech geniuses whose inventions will literally change the world in which we live, as well as astronauts, Nobel Prize winners, Chairs of the Federal Reserve, and world leaders.
For advice about how to stand out on the curricular front check out our previous blog entitled How Many Extracurricular Activities Do I Need for College?
Who Actually Gets Into MIT?
Let’s look at the demographics of the Class of 2025.
Geographically, the Class of 2025 was comprised of:
- International Students: 13%
- Mid-Atlantic States: 20%
- Southern States: 16%
- Western States: 18%
- Southwest and Mountain: 14%
- Midwestern States: 9%
- New England: 9%
Competition is stiffest amongst those hailing from states with endless streams of qualified applicants (the entire Northeast, the West Coast). If you hail from the Deep South or a less-populated state like Wyoming or North Dakota, your location is more likely to provide a boost to your admissions chances.
Looking at ethnic identity, the breakdown of the 2021-22 freshmen cohort was as follows:
- White: 37%
- Asian: 41%
- Hispanic: 14%
- African American: 13%
- American Indian: 2%
An examination of what type of high schools members of Class of 2025 attended shows the following:
- Public: 67%
- Independent: 12%
- Religious: 7%
- Foreign: 12%
- Home School: 0%
The gender split for the Class of 2025 was fairly even:
- Male: 50%
- Female: 47%
- Other gender identity: 3%
Most People Who Get Accepted Choose to Attend
MIT’s yield rate—the number of accepted students who elect to enroll, divided by the total number of students who are admitted is 77%. This number is absurdly high and helps to explain why the acceptance rate is so very low. For comparison, elite schools such as Johns Hopkins, Carnegie Mellon, Vanderbilt, Rice, Emory, and Georgetown all have yield rates at or under 50%.
Tips for Applying to MIT
If you plan on joining the 33,000+ MIT hopefuls for the next admissions cycle, you should know the following:
- MIT uses its own separate application so plan on devoting a good deal of time to this one (Sorry, Common App fans).
- Additionally, the school does not consider “demonstrated interest” so you will not be judged on whether or not you made a campus visit, contacted an admissions officer, etc.
- MIT requires all U.S. applicants to self-report their coursework. In doing so, make sure to avoid abbreviations and only enter the final grade that appears on your official transcript as the “grade received”.
- Also make sure to dedicate sufficient time and effort to the supplemental essay and short answers required by MIT. In the 2021-21k2 cycle, they are as follows:
For the 2021–2022 application, we’re asking these short answer essay questions:
- Describe the world you come from; for example, your family, clubs, school, community, city, or town. How has that world shaped your dreams and aspirations? (250 words or fewer)
- Pick what field of study at MIT appeals to you the most right now, and tell us more about why this field of study appeals to you. (100 words or fewer)
- We know you lead a busy life, full of activities, many of which are required of you. Tell us about something you do simply for the pleasure of it. (200–250 words)
- At MIT, we bring people together to better the lives of others. MIT students work to improve their communities in different ways, from tackling the world’s biggest challenges to being a good friend. Describe one way in which you have contributed to your community, whether in your family, the classroom, your neighborhood, etc. (200–250 words)
- Tell us about a significant challenge you’ve faced or something that didn’t go according to plan that you feel comfortable sharing. How did you manage the situation? (200-250 words)
For detailed advice on how to address each prompt, visit our blog: MIT Essay Prompts and Tips.
Should I Apply to MIT?
If you are academically qualified, there is no harm in filling out a MIT application, but—as with all uber-elite colleges in 2022—even the best and brightest applicants need to have a rock-solid backup plan. All college-bound teens need to make sure that they formulate an appropriate college list, containing a complement of “target” and “safety” schools. You’ll definitely want to do this in conjunction with an admissions professional (including your own high school counselor).
A licensed counselor and published researcher, Andrew’s experience in the field of college admissions and transition spans more than one decade. He has previously served as a high school counselor, consultant and author for Kaplan Test Prep, and advisor to U.S. Congress, reporting on issues related to college admissions and financial aid.