I think the issue of AMC/AIME had been beaten over and over again on the MIT forums (not that I'm complaining - it's just interesting that every time I return to CC after going on a hiatus, I'll see something about the AMC/AIME).
Basically, I agree with everything that mollieb said. Sending in a 95 would not diminish your chances will be seen as "weak." In the worse case, it just wouldn't add anything extra to your application. Although I wouldn't say that a 95 would raise your chances (I don't personally think it's valid to compare the AMC with SAT Math - they test very different skills. A 800 on the SAT I means you're good at not making careless mistakes. A 100 on the AMC means you know how to think critically in math. Also, there's the added fact that not every school administers the AMC, so you can only use it as an indicator in the schools that offer them (usually more "competitive" schools)), MIT Admissions is not the type to look down on AMC scores.
My point? Just send it in and don't think too much about it. Alternatively, I don't think it'll make that big of a difference if you don't send it in (although your case may be different, especially if you came from a disadvantaged background/school - then that kind of performance on the AMC may mean something).
Getting over 100 on the AMC12 is respectable for any school, even Caltech, although they won't consider you a math team star unless you make USAMO. (Still, even that's no guarantee.)
I would still report a score ~90-100 range; that is honorable mention. Below that, I doubt it will actually help your application. Obviously, from what admittees have written on this forum, they don't rule you out if you bomb it. Also, my feeling is that if they ask for it, you should provide it. For ivies, which don't ask for AMC/AIME scores, I wouldn't report a sub-90 score unless you come from an underpriveleged background of some sort.
I don't think just showing up to take the test "shows interest in math." Maybe if you participate in the USAMTS, where you have to solve problems that presumably take a fair amount of time and then mail solutions in. Participation in that might actually show interest. In general, just being on your school's math team doesn't cut it.
If you want to make that part of your app solid (but not spectacular,) I would shoot for qualifying for the AIME. If you make USAMO, the adcomm committees will take a long look at your app I'm sure.
I would still report a score ~90-100 range; that is honorable mention. Below that, I doubt it will actually help your application.
I don't disagree with this, but I don't think reporting a sub-90 score will hurt, either. And since we don't really know exactly how MIT treats the scores, and since the majority of applicants don't take the tests, I think the safest course of action is to report a score no matter what.
I mean, some large number of people just do math team without being national-level stars and get into MIT every year. It's true that just doing math team won't make you a standout must-admit in MIT's pool, but there are very few of those students in the applicant/admit pools anyway. For the average admit, just being on the math team and taking the AMC is just fine.
Yeah, I guess if they ask for it you should report it. I think roughly 8,000 people get over 100 on the AMC. 1500 people get into MIT every year. There are other ways to get into MIT, but to have mathematical talent help you at all to get in I'd think people would be wise to shoot for above 100 or at least 90. I know you are trying not to scare people away from applying, and I agree that not doing well doesn't seriously hurt you. But I'd guess below ~90 it's not going to help much either.
I do think if you are on a math team and win some regional awards, something that shows you have some proficiency, then that could help your case.
I know you are trying not to scare people away from applying...
I think most times I am just trying to speak to the average kid in the applicant pool -- the kid from the mediocre public high school who's clueless about the top school admissions game.
This is perhaps not the most efficient stance on CC, where most posters are above-average applicants (at least in terms of the college information they've gleaned), and the posting pool is enriched for students from top public and private high schools.