Postgrad MIT dreams: What [else] should I do to make this a reality?

I started my undergraduate studies at Old Dominion University where they offer a dual degree program. I started doing mechanical engineering and applied mathematics, but I switched after my first year when I realized I wasn’t passionate about the course content. In two years, I will have both my BS in biochemistry and applied mathematics. I’m beginning a research project and working on two startups even though I still have two years to go in my studies, and I’ve gotten a 107 and 105 respectfully on my current organic chemistry exams, and will hopefully begin research in the computational lab following this semester. Aside from my current physics grade, I have all A’s now that I’ve changed my major. I realize how passionate I am about biochemistry and I realize now that I’m interested in going for a doctorate (as all that fascinates me usually is research), particularly biological engineering or genetic engineering. Apologies for the text wall, but I’m trying to make my next few years at my university count!

What extras would MIT appreciate in the application process?
Is there some “X factor” I may be missing (and if so, how do I get it in the next two years)?
Would my “less than A” grades earlier on matter even though I changed my major?
And even though it’s two years ago, should I re-take my SAT to up my score from a 1370?

Any and all advice is appreciated. I didn’t work my hardest before applying to undergraduate universities and now that I’ve seen the scope of what I could do with biochemistry, I want to make sure that I actually do the best I can instead of just letting life pass me by like in highschool. Thanks again for reading my textwall, any and all help is appreciated!

Why are you so focused on MIT? By the time you finish your current degree program, the research team you want to study with could very well be on the other side of the planet. Your own professors and the PI you work with while doing research will have good ideas for you about continuing your studies. You will get other ideas from the technical and scientific papers you read while working on your various projects.

The SAT is for undergraduate admissions. For grad admissions in the sciences you will probably be required to take the GRE general exam and a GRE subject test.

Because their program is exactly what I was looking for and is my highest goal. If I fall and fail, I’ll land among (probably) other great universities as well. MIT is the pipe dream and I’m trying to set myself up as best I can! I don’t expect it, nor do I think it will come easily, but I believe that if I work my hardest toward my most difficult goal that I’ll come out much better than if I hadn’t had a clear idea in mind.

Their program in what?

It’s good to have goals, but generally speaking, you shouldn’t get super fixated on one particular program. If their program is exactly what you are looking for, that’s awesome! But you should spend some time and energy finding other programs that are also pretty close to what you are looking for, so you can cast a wide net.

As was already stated, your SAT ceased to matter the minute you started attending college. The GRE is what’s important for graduate admissions. Do not retake your SAT.

For PhD programs, research experience and fit are the most important things, so I would focus on that. You said you are beginning a research project; are you doing it under the supervision of a PhD-holding professor in your field? That’s the kind of research experience that you want to get. Independent studies without collaborating with a professor will raise some eyebrows with graduate departments.

I think you should continue to work on the startup work, but you may want to consider just doing one and focusing the additional time on research experience.

The “X factor” is really a combination of things. It’s your research experience and your understanding of it; your ability to think about the field you’re trying to join; the way in which you write about your research interests and projects; what your professors say about you in recommendations. When we were selecting candidates, what we were always impressed by was candidates who could not only tell us what they were interested in but WHY they were interested in it and how it fit into our field as a whole. They realized that science was a conversation between scientists, and they were eager to jump into that. They looked at the margins and intersections, rather than just retreading ground that’s been tread. They wrote cogently, and well.