How to Get into MIT from India after 12th

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (aka MIT), is known all around the world for its outstanding teaching, training, and research. Established in 1861, MIT has produced 98 Nobel laureates and has played a key role in the development of modern STEM education and research. Despite not being an Ivy League, MIT is one of the extremely competitive schools to get into. In this post, we will see try to discuss the strategies and tips on how to get into MIT from India for undergraduate education.

How Hard is it to Get into MIT?

For the Class of 2025 (Fall 2021 admission cycle), MIT’s acceptance rate was 4.1% (source: MIT Admissions Office). This year, the early action admit rate (Class of 2026) for MIT was 5%.

Admission at MIT for International Students

When it comes to international applicants, the acceptance rate for the Class of 2025 was 1.34% (123 admits out of 9,165 applications).

The student body composition as of December 31, 2017, was 4,493 students in undergraduate courses (including 470 international students, or 10.46%), and 6,797 students in graduate courses (2,868 international students, or 42.2%).

Of the total students of 12,950, international students comprised 3,941, or 30.43%.

  • 947 Chinese Students (24.03%)
  • 368 Indian Students (9.34%)
  • 277 Canadian Students (7.03%)
  • 226 South Korean Students (5.73%)
  • 123 French Students (3.12%)

As of the academic year 2021 – 2022, there were 3,718 international students enrolled in degree programs at MIT.

  • 472 undergraduates (10.19%)
  • 2,945 graduate students (41.13%)

So, as you can see, as an applicant from India, getting into MIT after 12th is going to be very hard.

What Does it Take to Get into MIT?

Stellar Academics

  • First and foremost, you will need excellent grades in your high school (Grade 9 – 11; and also predicted Year 12 grades).
  • Your class rank is also equally important. As per the MIT admissions data, 97% of its admitted students graduated in the top 10% of their classes and 100% were in the top 25%.
  • You should aim to achieve a weighted GPA of at least 4.13 or higher to improve your odds.

Required Courses

MIT recommends that all international students study:

  • Four years of English
  • Mathematics, at least to the level of calculus
  • Two or more years of history/social studies
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics

High Test Scores

  • Although colleges are becoming test-optional, we advise Indian applicants to apply with SAT/ACT scores.
  • If you are taking SAT try to score 1550+
  • For ACT, try to get 34+
  • We also encourage you to appear for two SAT Subject Tests
  • From India, you will also need to appear for any one of the following English Language Proficiency Tests:
    • TOEFL:  Minimum: 90 | Recommended: 100
    • IELTS Academic:  Minimum: 7 | Recommended: 7.5
    • Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic: Minimum: 65 | Recommended: 70
    • Cambridge English Qualifications (C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency): Minimum: 185 | Recommended: 190
    • Duolingo English Test (DET): Minimum: 120 |  Recommended: 125

MIT’s Stand on SAT/ACT Scores:

Despite the limitations of these exams, our research shows that considering the performance on the SAT/ACT substantially improves our ability to predict subsequent student success at MIT.

When we have SAT/ACT scores for a student, we can more confidently assess their preparation; when we don’t, we have to look (even) harder at other factors…..

MIT Admissions Office

Rigorous Coursework (Optional)

If your school offers AP or IB courses, you should take them. Taking these courses helps to show MIT that you are willing to challenge yourself by taking difficult classes. MIT does not require you to take courses beyond what is offered at your high school.

Please be advised that MIT generally does not accept credit from these tests. The school wants all of its incoming freshmen to start at MIT on equal footing.

Spike in Extracurriculars

To get into MIT, you need amazing credentials not just academically, but also overall. You need to showcase extracurricular activities that allow you to demonstrate your commitment and leadership abilities.

  • If you are a national Olympiad winner then you can make a cut because they care a lot about these things.
  • You could also make the cut if you are an athlete (state or national winner)
  • If you have joined a club, try to secure leadership position in that
  • If you are passionate about your local community, demonstrate a meanngful impact over a consistent period of time

Advice on Extracurriculars

  • You don’t need to participate in as many different activities as possible to demonstrate that you’re are well-rounded. MIT is not searching to find well-rounded students.
  • Instead, MIT is looking for students who show high levels of intelligence combined with singular talent in the areas of their interest.
  • You should focus on being the best student and person that you can be and on gaining a better understanding of who you are and what you enjoy.
  • Get involved in social work and volunterring, only if you are genuinely passionate about it.
  • Read more on how to plan your extracurriculars in high school.

Compelling Personal Statement / Essays

The majority of high school students applying to MIT are likely to have similar grades and test scores. There are only 4 things that differentiate most candidates – resume, essays, recommendations, and interview.

You cannot generally control the recommendations (except for selecting the right people to write them). It is difficult to prepare for the interview. Therefore you are really left to focus on the resume and the essays.

MIT Essays

For the 2021–2022 application, MIT asked the following 5 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)

MIT Essay Tips

  • MIT does not ask students to write a single long essay. Instead, the school asks applicants to complete multiple short-answer essays.
  • Write about something that inspires you, and use the opportunity to show the school that you are a thoughtful person who the admissions office should want on MIT’s campus.
  • Through your essays, the admissions officers will want to learn more about who you are and what makes you tick. Your essay should tell the unique story of you, your background, and how you became the person you are today.

There might be essay prompts. For example, the pleasure question. Remember, MIT wants to know something about you that they can’t already find elsewhere in your application, something outside of your academic and extracurricular responsibilities. Essentially, MIT is asking you: “What do you do in your free time?”

Personalized Recommendation Letters

You are required to submit two teacher evaluations, one from math or science and the other from the humanities or language domain. You should choose teachers who know you well as both a student and a person.

Refrain from asking someone who does not truly know who you are to recommend you to MIT. For example, it may be better to ask your calculus teacher to write a letter of recommendation to MIT for you than to ask your local congressional representative to do so.

Additionally, a report from your school counselor is necessary too. Ask the teachers with whom you’ve had the best relationship because they are the ones that have watched you grow and can provide a proper recommendation.

Application Process and Financial Aid

When to Apply?

The early action deadline is the 1st of November, and it is the 5th of January for the regular admissions. So, basically, you need to apply when you are in the first half of your Class 12.

How to Apply?

The application for MIT must be completed and submitted through MIT’s website. You can register and start the process here. The application is designed to be completed online. You can scan in supplemental materials.

Supplemental Documents:

  • Application Form (for Personal Information)
  • Transcript
  • Resume
  • Essays
  • Activity Sheet (within the Application Form)
  • Self-reported Coursework Form
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Test Scores
  • Portfolio (Required for Selective Courses)

What Does MIT Look for in Applicants?

While grades and scores are important, it’s really the match between the applicant and the Institute that drives our selection process.

  • Alignment with the school’s mission
  • Spirit of cooperation and collaboration
  • Taking initiative
  • Willingness to take risks
  • Being hands-on with creative thinking
  • Being passionate, curious, and excited about what you pursue
  • Ability to enhance the character of the community at MIT
  • Ability to make balance a priority

What can You do in High School to increase Admission Chances at MIT?

Some of the actionable steps that you can take in high school to increase your chances of gaining admission to MIT include the following:

  • Work hard to get top grades.
  • Take advanced placement courses to increase your GPA if your school uses weighted GPAs.
  • Complete at least the courses MIT recommends, but be willing to go beyond the list.
  • Be kind to others and participate in public service projects.
  • Take advanced courses even if your school doesn’t weight GPAs.
  • Choose extracurricular activities wisely while focusing on quality instead of quantity.
  • Participate in enrichment activities, projects, and research opportunities.
  • Study for the SAT or ACT regularly and take practice tests with a focus on improving your score.
  • Consider getting help from a tutor in subjects that are difficult for you.
  • Start the application process early.
  • Conaider working with a professional college admission counselor for application guidance and/or review.
  • Write an essay for MIT that is focused on MIT rather than a generic essay that you use for all applications.
  • Remember to schedule time for yourself to do the things that you love.
  • Above all, be yourself.

You should really read these to Get into MIT (Highly Recommended)

There have been over 6,400 blog entries posted to since the site began in 2004. That’s easily several books worth of tips and tricks, hints and hacks, mea culpas and hakuna matatas.

They’re all worth reading—especially the Best of the Blogs—but there are a few you really need to read. These are the blog entries that cut deep into our admissions process.

Not only what we’re looking for, but what we want from you, and how much we care about the work that we do. These blogs will help you “get” what the MIT admissions process is all about.

They include, in no particular order:

Scholarships to Study at MIT?

MIT is one of those few US institutions that follows the ‘need-blind admissions process‘.

This essentially means that when your application is being considered at MIT, you do not have any unfair disadvantage by virtue of requiring financial aid and the only criterion for receiving financial aid is your family’s need in meeting the cost of education.

At MIT, we make all our undergraduate admissions decision without regard to family financial circumstances. We award all our aid based on financial need. MIT does not award aid based on academic merit or athletic achievement. We meet the fully determined need of each student.

– MIT’s Financial Aid website

How Ayush Sharma Got into MIT after 12th from India

In 2015 (Class of 2019), Ayush was among the only 4 Indian students who got into MIT. Others were Dhruvika Sahni Arindam Bhattacharya and Jeet Mohapatra.

Here is a snippet of the MIT admit story shared by Ayush on LinkedIn.

I was born into a lower-middle-class family in Kanpur, India. Neither of my parents went to college. I didn’t have an intellectual culture at home. But I was exceptionally curious from the start.

He shared how he fell in love with Physics at the age of 10. He further shared how he spent his summers and his inspirations.

Ayush worked relentlessly on polynomial summation formulas and discovered a few of his own. 

In his 11th Grade, his mentor encouraged me to apply to a prestigious Yale Science summer program. He got selected for the highly prestigious and competitive summer program.

He spent the next 3 weeks at Yale’s campus – learning all about the US college system.

According to Ayush, the MIT admissions office saw a first-generation student who went through numerous hurdles and was genuinely obsessed with Physics and achieving something more than what society had told him.

  • Ayush’s Secret Sauce – Math research, Yale’s summer program, top SAT/school grades, and a compelling story that tied it all together.
  • Ayush further adds
    • The main takeaway here is that there is no formula. But being genuinely obsessed with something important might go a long way.
    • Just as important is finding 2-3 wise mentors who believe in your potential. With that, aim high and be ambitious.

References: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

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