Essay Scoop: MIT Essays

city skyline during night time

Massachusetts Institute of Technology is one of the world’s leading research and teaching universities, a university that many applicants aspire to get into. It well-known for its programs in science, technology and ranks as one of the top ten universities in the world.

Competition is fierce to get into MIT and so it’s important to know how to best present yourself in your application. The short answer question offers applicants the opportunity to describe themselves beyond their test score and GPA: describe their interests, passions and what makes them tick.  Here we give you some helpful hints on how to answer these questions.


Although you may not yet know what you want to major in, which department or program at MIT appeals to you and why? (100 words)

Similar to Brown University’s major selection prompt, your academic pursuit comes with personal motivations. What factors contribute to your interest in a field of study and why are they significant?


What attribute of your personality are you most proud of, and how has it impacted your life so far? This could be your creativity, effective leadership, sense of humor, integrity, or anything else you’d like to tell us about. (250 words)

This is virtually the same as the University of California prompt. Introspection and reflection should guide your discussion through the use of “I statements.” The real question here is how you reflect on your personality. The strongest essays are introspective and shed light on you as an individual versus the other thousands of candidates.


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)

Again, this is virtually the same as the University of California prompt. Focus on moments that have had a lasting impact on your life. This can range from shaping your worldview to the way your life is structured. Isolate the effects and connect them to specific scenarios that come to mind. Tie these into your vision for the future. Your thoughts on the future matter less than how you describe them and why they tie to your prior experiences or thoughts.


Tell us about the most significant challenge you’ve faced or something important that didn’t go according to plan. How did you manage the situation? (250 words)

This is very similar to the Common App prompt on failure except that the focus shifts from what you learned to how you engaged in-process. You can discuss a specific instance or set of similar instances or address a large obstacle and how you’ve worked through it. Why is the topic important to you? Choose a negative situation that turned positive. Even small events or moments are okay as long as you describe how you managed the situation and what it taught you.


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. (100 words)

Focus on an activity, hobby, or anything that brings you enjoyment that hasn’t been stated in other responses. What about it interests you? Extend beyond the activity itself and target your personal connection.

Questions? Let us know!