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Institute admits Class of 1993


By Irene C. Kuo

The mean science and math standardized test scores of students admitted to the Class of 1993 were higher than those of students admitted last year, according to Director of Admissions Michael C. Behnke.

The average score on the SAT math section increased from 727 to 741, the science achievement test mean jumped from 681 to 697, and the math achievement test mean increased from 739 to 753.

The number of students admitted to the Class of 1993 with SAT math scores between 750 and 800 jumped from 748 to 972, an increase of 224 students. Such students comprised 51 percent of the accepted pool this year, compared to 42 percent last year.

These statistics arrive four months after MIT Physics Professor Anthony P. French released a study showing that the fraction of admitted students with math scores in this range fell from 65 percent in 1968 to 38 percent in 1987.

Behnke attributed the latest increases to a redesigned intellectual rating system in the admissions process. "We tried especially hard this year to identify those students with unusual promise in math and science," he stated in a memorandum to groups including the Committee on Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid and the Committee on the Undergraduate Program. "Non-quantitative things related to academic success," such as research, college level courses, math teams, and science fairs, were highlighted more than they were in admitting the past three classes, he explained.

The recent CUAFA report that found concern about freshman performance in core mathematics and physics subjects over the past ten years had the "majority of the effect" on this shifted emphasis, Behnke said. "I heard that there was concern for getting the top potential in math and science when I was first hired four years ago, but the CUAFA report certainly lent urgency to what we were doing," he said. The rating system used to admit the past three classes had tried to attract such students, but was "not having as much effect" as had been hoped, he explained.

More faculty members read applications this year than in recent years, Behnke added. Eight faculty members, all from science and engineering departments, participated in the decision making process.

The SAT-verbal mean of admitted students rose from 636 to 640, and the average on the English/foreign languages/history achievement tests was 644, up from last year's 636.

Larger class expected to enroll

Applications to MIT dropped 10 percent from last year, but the quality of the applicant pool increased, according to Behnke. He said that applications to all Ivy League schools except Princeton were down by 5 to 18 percent, with Dartmouth posting the largest decrease. In response to deficit pressures to yield a larger class, however, the fraction of students accepted by MIT increased from 25 percent to 28 percent. Behnke expected roughly 1050 freshmen to enroll this fall, up from the 1000 students in each of the previous three classes.

"Actually, class sizes of 1000 were low for MIT history," he explained. "In some years, they had been close to 1100."

Thirteen percent of the students accepted belong to underrepresented minority groups. This figure was down from last year's 16 percent, but still represented the second highest percentage in MIT's history.

Thirty-five percent of the admitted students are female, the same as last year's fraction. The fraction of international students remained at six percent. The number of Asian-Americans accepted, however, increased from 353 to 451.

Eighty-nine percent of the students accepted this year were in the top 5 percent of their high school class; last year's figure was 88 percent. The fraction that were school valedictorians remained at 39 percent.

Twenty percent of the students admitted to the Class of 1993 said that their "first choice [academic] interest" lay in electrical engineering or computer science, according to Behnke.