RSI 2020

@GoBears2023 what do you think of my chances for RSI?

Hey everyone,

I’m applying to RSI this year as well and of course I want to make my application as strong as possible.

However, this past May, I took the only AP exam offered at my school for underclassmen (AP Chem) and got a 3. Obviously this is not even close to what I was expecting and am highly disappointed in this score.

Is it better that I leave this test score off of my application because of how low it is or will not adding any AP scores hurt my chances even more? Thanks.

I would not put it on it! AP classes are not required, and if you put the score that would probably hurt your chances

It would appear on your transcript, right? If so, they would know it’s an AP class.

BTW, application for 2020 RSI is now open!

I have a question about one of my references. I’m working on a research project at a university right now, and almost all of my work has been done with a graduate student, not the principle investigator. Would I just ask the grad student for a recommendation, or should it be from the PI (the technical “supervisor”) even though I have barely spoken with him?

The student would be better. He knows you, and would, therefore, be able to provide a stronger rec. that would be able to speak to the person you are.

  1. is RSI limited to senior/junior? Do they consider freshmen/sophomore?
  2. straight A/5, with a handful of junior/senior level classes (Bio AP, BC, Chem AP). SAT (1510) took in 7th grade.
  3. for students with limited/none research experience, how could one build a compelling application? ideas?

Only for juniors, for the application, talk about your love for STEM.

Hi! I’m a junior studying in Bosnia and Herzegovina (I’m an American Citizen lol) I haven’t really had the best STEM opportunities, really going to “not-so-great” schools for most of my MS & HS years, so my STEM background is largely self-started. Do you think this will eliminate me from the running if i do try to apply? Thanks!

Can I get a chance me for RSI and a few other programs I’m applying to (SSP, HSHSP, Simons, BU Rise), and any other programs I could try to apply to?


ACT: 36
SAT II: 800 Math II
PSAT: Expected 1480-1500


Research intern at local university working on carbon nanotube technology as well as data analysis through Sonification. Wrote a white paper.

Research intern at different local university working on study of neuronal avalanches in epileptic patients through methods of criticality and statistical entropy. Publishing a white paper and submitting a proposal to the NSF for a grant.

Science communications intern at an MIT Press Journal, reviewing papers requesting to be published in a peer-reviewed academic journal. Published an article/section in the journal also.

Regional founder and chapter president of a nonprofit organization that teaches students in another 3rd-world country phonics and grammar.

Student teacher of physics and mathematics to underprivileged students in the regional area.

Volunteer for a rainwater organization providing water filtration systems to students in another 3rd-world country.

Principal trombone player in school’s varsity marching band and Wind Symphony.

2 time club Bethesda cup soccer national champion and player.

Coding Languages:

(All Intermediate)


National Scholastic Writing Regional Competitor
AIME Qualifier
UIL State Soloist 1st Division Rating
All-Region Symphonic Band Member
Presidential Volunteer Gold Award


Math Teacher and both Research Professors

I unfortunately don’t have any science fair competitions or major awards like olympiads, but hopefully other things make up for it.

@descrex What state are you from?

You have amazing credentials by the way!

Texas unfortunately, one the hardest :frowning:

Is it too early to have my counselor send my transcripts in? Or should I wait until the end of the semester? I don’t think any of my grades will change between now and then.

If I live in Chicago, IL (large/competitive) but attend high school away in DE (small/fairly competitive), which state would the program treat me as from?

So do they actually expect us to fill 5000 characters on these essays? How close are all y’all, everything I found online is much shorter than 5000 (but from previous years so different format).

This is not entirely true. While Oly campers and ISEF winners are among many at RSI, I would say that there is still a good amount of people who have never gone to camp or ISEF. I was in RSI 2019, and I never went to ISEF, nor did I even touch an olympiad before. While I don’t know exactly what got me in, I think it was a combination of doing what I loved and being very passionate and aspirational about it. If you have a passion or some dream in a field of science, make sure that comes across in your essays. Don’t be discouraged by not having ISEF/MOP. RSI admissions works a lot like college admissions: They see you holistically

Are you allumni?

@Tenn_Food and @salexma have it right on the money.

Here is a quote from a handbook RSI prepares for the Research Mentors describing the characteristics of the students selected by RSI:

“Typically, the successful candidate has standardized test scores that place her or him in the top 1% of each country’s population. The students chosen for the Institute have demonstrated two additional qualities: they have already acquired a deep interest in a scientific field of inquiry, and they have found opportunities to acquire some form of field experience. The amount and quality of this experience will vary with the background and home location of the student, but you can expect that your intern will be eager to do
and learn as much as he or she can under your guidance. Our students are long on ability and optimism, but short on experience. Most of them have taken a large number of college-level courses, and you can expect that they know as much about your field as a good college undergraduate. However, they may not have had the time or opportunity to learn specific laboratory techniques, and have not developed an intuition for what sorts of approaches to a problem might prove fruitful. They will therefore have to practice at specific experimental tasks, and may have a brute force approach to problem solving. To take advantage of their enthusiasm, as well as to enrich their background, you want to assign readings for them, including chapters from texts, selections from conference proceedings, or other materials that might be found in the MIT library or on the web.”

To summarize: very, very bright (top 1%), enthusiastic and passionate about science, and have gone beyond well beyond ordinary high school class work to engage in scientific pursuits.

RSI isn’t looking for students who were ISEF winners, they are looking to make ISEF winners out of their students.