The Uninteresting Chronicles of a High School Student

January 24, 2010

RSI Anticipation Index

Blog? Dead? Nah. Apologies for the intermission, I just have not found any spare time to post on this blog in the last few days. Well, for the RSI applicants now panicking about whether or not you’ll be accepted, here’s a quick formula for your RSI application acceptance index. I haphazardly drafted it one day on College Confidential but decided that it is of sufficient value to be revised into a serious formula to give a rough measure of how likely you will be accepted. A low index is not necessarily an indicator of failure: this is, after all, for fun, and should not be taken as an absolute measure of your likelihood of acceptance :).

(The commercial nature of and its failure to provide me with FTP access means I can’t post an applet that’ll do the calculations for you. But hey, if you applied to RSI, you probably would not mind a bunch of arithmetic calculations :P.)

Original post here.


Start at 50.

Take Dec-01 2010. Check your application’s date of submission. Subtract 0.2 for every day of difference if submitted later, or add 0.2 for every day earlier. Subtract 5 more points if sent a week before the deadline.

Subtract 15 if living on the East Coast or in a state with above-average student performance.

Subtract 2 if not a US citizen. Subtract a further 8 if nationality is East Asian.

Add 15 if URM.

Add 25 if female. Swear silently if male.

Add 3 for each AP/IB course taken, except Calculus and Computer Science (add nothing in those cases, unless Computer Science AB was taken, in which case add 1).

Subtract 1 for each mention of non-AP courses completed on or prior to 2007.

Add points for each 200+ university course taken (CHM 304, MAT 217, COS 226, etc.); exact amount of points added is the leading digit times 2 plus one-tenth the numerical designation mod 100. (For example, COS 226 would be worth 2 * 2 + 26 / 10 = 4 + 2.6 = 6.6)

Subtract 1 for each “Other” field with non-AP/IB courses irrelevant to engineering/math.

Add 0, 2, 2.5 points (beginning, intermediate, advanced) in each programming skill level chosen.

Add 5 bonus points for mentioning Python, but subtract 5 for mentioning BASIC regardless of skill level.

Add 1/2 extra points each if intermediate/advanced in the following: Java, C++, Mathematica, MATLAB, SQL, XML, PHP, Delphi, and Ruby. Disregard Assembly/TOY, HTML and Flash.

Add 5 bonus points for advanced LaTeX use, or add 2 for intermediate LaTeX use. Double the bonus received in this section if you used LaTeX in your short responses.

Add WIN for mentioning StarCraft in any way in your application.

Subtract 2 points for every 10 points lost on the PSAT/SAT II tests (disregard language/history/English tests).

Subtract 5 points for each use of a test score from 2007 or prior.

Subtract 8 if research field choices were copied from this.

Subtract 5 for each failure to meet “PSAT math scores should be at least 75, and combined math, verbal, and writing PSAT scores should be at least 220.ACT minimum math scores should be 33 and reading, 34.”

Add 5 for pointing out the grammatical mistake on the teacher’s recommendation form.

Subtract 15 if at least one of your answers to question 3 was one of the six remaining Clay Math Institute Millennium Prize Problems. Disregard if you included proof/disproof as supplement.

Add 10 for each research internship with a reputable organization. Subtract 5 for each deliberate mention of petri dish washing internships or paper shredding internships.

Subtract 3 for mentioning programs that depend on ability to pay and not merit.

Add 5 for being a Inter STS semifinalist. Add 15 for being a STS finalist.

Add 8 if undertaking of personal research is demonstrated. Add 12 more if said research has been published or reviewed.
Add 8 for every piece of creative “supplement” sent with the application that demonstrates personal talent.

Add 17.5 for each non-frivolous patent held (Meaning not including any of these or similar)
Add 1/2/4 for every bronze/silver/gold medal (or equivalent honor) received in reputable competitions (USAMTS, HMMT, PUMaC, etc., and not just math ones.)
Subtract 5 for each long-range goal that alludes to money, power, or cars.

Subtract 4 more for each long-range goal not involving science.

Subtract 3 for every other piece of “padding” content.

Subtract 2 for deliberate inclusions of school-wide extracurriculars or exclusively in-school recognitions.

Subtract 3 for mentioning non-national MATHCOUNTS trophies.

Subtract 5 if you asked a teacher who did not know you well beyond the course to write your recommendation. (Subtract 15 if both teachers fall under this.)
Subtract 10 if question 6 was not answered in a straightforward manner.

Subtract 25 if you flagrantly mention that you are applying to TASP.

Subtract 10 if answer to question 7 fails to use any of the languages mentioned.

Subtract 2 if postcard was not enclosed.

Add 10 for each USA_O contest attended, minus ones open to public registration.

Add 15 for each I_O contest training camp or contest attended.

Add 25 for each I_O medal, +25 more if gold.

Add 5 for mentioning Project Euler. Add 0.1 for each problem completed.

That’s it. Post your indices!



  1. 64.3
    81.8 if I get credit for my provisional patent (I’m unlikely to end up with an actual patent, as the $20,000 needed for funding one has not been forthcoming).
    I’m not sure if talking about piano counts as a creative supplement, but I suppose that would be another eight.

    Do we get points for not using a ridiculously small font/baby margins?

    (also, this entire thing is absolutely amazing)

    Comment by Tea — January 25, 2010 @ 4:06 pm

  2. and, if I may ask, what is your index, oh excellent excel?

    Comment by Tea — January 25, 2010 @ 4:56 pm

    • 65.1, after getting penalized for a huge ton of mistakes (on which I based some of the point subtractions in the post). I would have 110 or so if I revised my application.

      EDIT> Hmm, I assumed that everyone sent in their application with 12-point Times New Roman font using single-spacing, 1 inch margins, and block paragraphs. Anyone doing otherwise ought to be penalized massively, though I do believe taking points off for using Helvetica would be unfair…

      Comment by Excel Excel — January 25, 2010 @ 4:58 pm

      • I disagree about Helvetica. I used Lucida Bright, size 10 with 1.5 spacing, and it just looks larger and a bit happier than that Times New Roman did. Times just gets so crammed when you do big block paragraphs, it’s hard to read. And Helvetica is so much bigger- I go from the 3 pages of Times New Roman 12 or Lucida 10 to 3.5 pages in Helvetica, and when you shrink that down to make it fit, it looks just as icky and blocky.

        Comment by Tea — January 25, 2010 @ 6:40 pm

  3. intel sts semifinalist? that competition is for seniors…

    did you flagrantly mention applying to tasp? lol. i would expect extra points for humor.

    Comment by anna — January 30, 2010 @ 5:51 pm

  4. I [heart] helvetica.


    Comment by A. — February 7, 2010 @ 2:15 pm

    • Around 130, what are my chances to RSI? :D

      Comment by Dan — October 29, 2012 @ 3:54 am

  5. What about Intel ISEF awards? Can we get points for that?

    Comment by S — January 5, 2013 @ 12:34 am

    • Yup. ISEF awards are -50. (yes that’s a negative sign)

      Comment by dfsfsdf — January 6, 2013 @ 8:18 pm

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