Frequently Asked Questions

Standardized Testing
Extracurricular/Supplemental Info
Letters of Recommendation and Essays 

Standardized Testing

Which standardized tests do you require?

All applicants, both native and non-native English speakers alike, are required to submit either the SAT with Writing or ACT with Writing. If you live in a country where the SAT and ACT are not offered, please contact apply@olin.edu to let us know.

I already took the old version of the SAT prior to March 2016. Will you accept my scores from that test, or will I have to take the new version?

If you are applying for entry to Olin in fall 2017 and you already took the old version of the SAT, we will accept those scores. There is no need to re-test and submit the new version if you do not wish to do so.

I scored better in Math when I took the SAT in June than when I just took it this fall. Do you take the best score from each section regardless of test date?

Yes, we do. We take your best score in each section and disregard the others. However, please note that if you took the old version of the SAT prior to March 2016 and the new version of the SAT after that, we cannot take the highest score from each section because they are different tests. We will concord your old version scores to the new version, and then look at the highest scores in each section.

Do you require scores from the SAT II Subject Tests?

No. The SAT Subject Tests are optional in the Olin admission process. If you have already taken or plan to take SAT Subject Tests and would like to submit your scores, you may self-report them on your Common Application or send an official score report. These can provide further context for your application, but they are not required.

Will you accept my test scores if they’re on my official transcript?

Yes! If your test scores are included on your official high school transcript submitted by your school counselor, you do not need to send the scores from the testing agency.

Do I need to request an official AP or IB Score Report?

We do not require AP or IB scores for admission and therefore don’t need official scores. You may certainly choose to report these scores since they do provide us with a bit more context to your application, but they are not required. AP or IB scores may be self-reported on the Common Application or sent to us from the testing agency.

Does Olin accept AP or IB credit?

No. (It’s another reason we don’t expect you to send us an official AP or IB Score Report.)

Should I request rush delivery of my SAT or ACT Score Report?

No. If you take the test in advance of the application deadline and request the scores to be sent to Olin when you take the test, we should receive your test scores in plenty of time to make our decision, so there’s no need to pay for expedited delivery. Please note that the latest test date for which scores can be considered is the December prior to our application deadline on January 1. Scores from standardized tests taken in January, after the application deadline, will not arrive in time to be considered with your application.

I am an international applicant. Do I need to submit TOEFL scores?

No. The TOEFL is not required as part of the application process, although those scores can be helpful when reviewing applications of non-native speakers. We do not have minimum score requirements, but many of our strong applicants score above 260 on the computer-based test, above 600 on the paper-based test and above 100 on the internet-based test.

Extracurricular/Supplemental Info

What are some of the types of activities that most students include in their applications?
Some of the most popular activities include school clubs, sports, music, summer programs, youth groups, community service and hobbies or passions. You can include anything you deem relevant on the activities list if you think it will let us get to know you better. Keep this in mind: What makes you stand out?

I participated in WXYZ in seventh through ninth grades. How should I put this on my Extracurricular Activities list?
First of all, please let us know what all those acronyms mean! But otherwise, you may arrange your activities chronologically, by activity type or any way that makes sense to you. Also, please limit the activities you list to those in which you participated in high school. If you played piano for grades 2-12, go ahead and include it! However, if you played soccer in grades 6-8, leave it off.

I wasn’t able to participate in a lot of sports or music groups because I spend most of my time working after school. Does that go on my Extracurricular Activities list?
Absolutely! Part- or full-time work and volunteering should be included, as well as working on a family farm or caring for siblings. We want to hear the details about your jobs, including when (the months and years) you worked.

I won an Olympic Gold Medal/Nobel Prize/Pulitzer/Academy Award. Is that something I should put in my application?
Yes! Please include any regional, state or national awards or commendations you have received, along with the date of your award in the Academic Honors section of the Common Application. Published or acclaimed works are also important to mention.

I do a lot of extracurricular activities. There is no way they will fit within the Common Application form. May I use the Additional Information field to submit a résumé?  
Yes, but please keep in mind that while we appreciate your enthusiasm, we don’t have time to read an additional five to seven pages for each applicant. Please try and keep any content you place in the Additional Information field to one to two pages. If it is a résumé, please limit it to 1,000 words. Keep in mind that we’ll see a transcript from your high school with your classes and grades, so you do not have to include this.

The Extracurricular Activities list doesn’t really show what I like to do. May I send in supplemental materials instead?
Yes. We want to learn as much about you as possible from your application, so please submit whatever you feel will help us do that. Please realize, however, that we cannot promise that everything will get reviewed, and we cannot return items to you. Also, keep the size of your contributions to a minimum. While we all enjoy modern art, an 8-foot steel representation of Franklin W. Olin may not be the best way to showcase your talent.

Letters of Recommendation and Essays

May I send additional recommendations? 
Yes, most definitely! But don’t go overboard; we don’t need letters from every teacher you’ve ever had or the principal of your school. It’s about the quality of the letters and how well the people know you, not the recommenders’ titles.

If you’d like to submit an additional recommendation, it should add dimension to your application. And since it’s supplemental, it doesn’t have to be academic. So ask your boss or Scout Master; consider your band director or coach—any adult mentor in your life. Remember, an extra letter of recommendation is just that: icing on the cake! We do not require it and you won’t be at a disadvantage if you don’t submit an additional recommendation.

Do you prefer a science or math teacher for the second teacher recommendation?
We encourage you to consider asking a non-math/science teacher for the second letter of recommendation. If both of your letters come from math and science teachers, we might get a rather one-dimensional view of you. Think about asking your English or history teacher, even if you didn’t make your best grades in those classes, since those teachers can provide us with a different perspective. But if you’d like both of your letters to come from math and science teachers, that is perfectly fine—don’t worry about it.

How strict are the 500 and 300 word limits on the essays? 
In the past, we have not been too strict about the essay length but we do expect you to abide by these guidelines as closely as possible. If you go over by a few words, it’s not an issue. However, we ask that you adhere to the word counts as closely as possible.