What academic qualifications are necessary for admission?
The Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy offers a uniquely challenging and advanced education for Illinois students talented in mathematics and science. Admission to IMSA is determined by a competitive process in which all applicants are required to submit a specific set of materials (listed below). Although the process is highly competitive, there are no minimum scores required to apply. Those students who present the strongest combination of academic achievement, passion for STEM, and the ability to thrive in a residential school are invited to attend.
In order to determine this, IMSA utilizes a holistic selection process that incorporates classroom performance, participation in extracurricular activities, and leadership history with more traditional indicators of talent such as test scores and grades. For this reason, students with the highest test scores may not necessarily emerge as the strongest applicants. Geographic and demographic variables are also considered to promote a diverse student population and enhance the learning of all students. You can find more information about our Admissions Process in our official Admissions Policy.
In order to be eligible, applicants must:
- Be an Illinois resident:** Illinois primary residency must be established by the first day of semester 2 or the first day of trimester 2 of the year of application.
- Must be enrolled in or have completed the equivalent of Algebra 1 and a high school equivalent science course: Applicants in eighth grade must submit documentation of having completed at least 50% of the academic program comparable to ninth-grade-level work in mathematics and science at the time of application. Online algebra and science courses can be used to meet the algebra and science requirements. Proof of a minimum of one year of algebra and one year of high school-level science will need to be submitted once grades are available. Here is a list of popular program choices among our applicants.
- Not be enrolled beyond the 9th grade: Current tenth through twelfth-grade students are not eligible for admission.
- Have a completed application file: Including an online application form, official grade reports, teacher evaluations, counselor form, and official SAT scores.
For the 2024-2025 academic school year, IMSA is accepting a small number of tuition-paying students from outside Illinois. For more information, please visit the Out of State Applicants page.
How to Apply
All eligible applicants must submit a completed online application to be considered for admission. Students who have completed the academic equivalent of nine years of education, excluding preschool and kindergarten; and are not enrolled beyond the ninth grade may apply. Students who are admitted after their 8th-grade year would start IMSA as 10th graders as IMSA does not have a 9th-grade class. There is no fee to apply.
Applicants must create a profile to begin the application process, using the students’ personal email addresses, for example, email@example.com. Parent email addresses or school email addresses should not be used. Please make sure to remember your username and password, as those will be needed every time you log in to edit, submit, or view your application. The following components must be submitted via the online application by the due date in order to be eligible for consideration:
- Demographic and School Information
- Two Essays
- List of STEM Activities and Achievements
- Math Teacher Evaluation Form
- Science Teacher Evaluation Form
- English Teacher Evaluation Form
- School Counselor Form
- The last 2.5 years of Official Grade Reports
- Official SAT Test Scores and/or Official ACT Test Scores
There is also an opportunity to provide two optional pieces of information. The “Optional Evaluation” can be submitted by a teacher or adult who can speak to a student’s ability to succeed at IMSA, as well as their interest/ability in the areas of STEM. The “Optional Statement” can be utilized to provide additional clarity on any part of the application or include information that you feel would be important for you or your child’s success at IMSA.
Students enrolled in homeschool programs will need to provide additional documentation explaining the curriculum, evaluation process, and texts used. Evaluations must be completed by non-family members who know the student’s work well. You can find more information about our homeschool student expectations in our official Admissions Policy.
The SAT test is administered nationally by College Board. To register, visit their website. Students should take the standard SAT, Math, and Evidenced-Based Reading & Writing sections without an essay. When registering, please use IMSA’s SAT school code #3027 to ensure that we receive a copy of your test results. Applicants can take the test multiple times. Rather than only looking at an applicant’s scores from one particular date, IMSA will take your highest Math score and highest Evidence-Based Reading and Writing score to form the highest possible composite score, also known as a “Superscore.”
For details on the Virtual SAT Official Practice Test with Northwestern’s CTD, go to the testing requirements on our application steps page.
The ACT test is administered through ACT.org. Students should take the standard ACT without writing. When registering, mark IMSA as your current school to ensure that we receive a copy of your test results.