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2090 Admitted to Class of 1996

By Eva Moy
Associate News Editor

The statistical profile of the newly admitted class of 1996 is similar to that of previous years, with academic scores and racial and gender distributions falling within normal fluctuations, according to Associate Director of Admissions Elizabeth S. Johnson.

More students were admitted this year -- 2090 of 6671 applicants, compared to 2009 last year. This larger figure was made possible because of an apparent rise in housing vacancies, which leaves more room for freshmen. Another 579 applicants are on the wait list. Between one and 130 students have been admitted from the wait list in the past five years.

Forty percent of the admitted students with high school class rankings are first in their class. Ninety percent are ranked within the top five percent of their class, and 97 percent are within the top 10 percent. Seventy-seven percent of the applicant pool had class rankings.

The average Scholastic Aptitude Test math score of admitted students is 742 out of 800, and 54 percent scored above 750. The average SAT verbal score is 641 out of 800. These averages are based on 2050 admitees' scores. Scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) are not included, although they are considered in the admissions process.

For admitees who took the American College Test, the average for the math components is 33 out of 36; the average for the verbal components is 30 out of 36.

The average score for the Math Level I and Math Level II Achievement tests is 755 out of 800. The average score for the science Achievement tests, including Biology, Chemistry, and Physics, is 696. The average score for humanities Achievement tests, including English, American History, and European History, is 647.

Johnson said these are "minor fluctuations" from recent years' test averages. "They don't change enough for us to worry about them," she added.

Fewer minorities admitted

The percentage of underrepresented minorities in the admitted class fell to 13 percent, down from 15 percent last year. The Institute admitted 125 African Americans (6 percent), 20 Native Americans (1 percent), 86 Mexican Americans (4 percent), and 35 Puerto Ricans (2 percent).

In addition, 566 Asian Americans (27 percent) and 37 students of Hispanic origin (2 percent) were admitted.

Also among the admitees are 128 international students.

"We've always tried to admit as many underrepresented minorities as we can," Johnson said. She added that the number "varies somewhat based on the applicant pool."

If an underrepresented minority is initially rejected, other members of the admissions staff review the application to make sure that these people "won't fall through the cracks," Johnson said. It is a "much more considerate process," she added.

"Minority numbers are slightly lower," said Joanne L. Cummings, an associate director of admissions. "The minority pool was not as strong this year."

More women in class

The newly admitted class includes 789 females (38 percent), which is the highest percentage within the past five years. The percentage has fluctuated between 35 and 38 percent in recent years.

There is no affirmative action program for women, but MIT encourages admitted women to attend MIT by holding events like the Campus Preview weekend for women and minorities and a special telethon. Although a smaller proportion of admitted women than men choose to attend, data show that women do as well at MIT as men, Johnson said.

The admissions process

Applications for freshman admission are read by the professional admissions staff and by outside readers such as faculty members and administrators.

All applicants are assigned both a numerical and a non-numerical index. These range from one to five, with five being the highest rating.

The numerical index is a computer-generated academic rating, a weighted average of applicants' academic records as compared to applicant pools from the three previous years. The non-numerical index is a combination of the applicant's academic style, personal style, and personal accomplishments, as compared to other students in the current applicant pool. But this is subject to a "variability in reader ratings," Johnson said.

Applicants with a 5-5 index are usually admitted, and applicants with a 1-1 index usually are not. For the middle-range scores, applicants are compared against others with the same scores; there is a target percentage of acceptances from each index pair.