Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Application and Eligibility

We have made the following updates for the 2023-24 application process to accommodate all students:

  • All applicants will be required to submit the SAT and/or ACT scores as part of their application file.
  • Any scores submitted after the application deadline (March 1st) will not be considered. If a file does not have SAT/ACT scores, it will be considered ineligible for admission.
  • When registering, for the SAT please use IMSA’s SAT school code #3027 to ensure that we receive a copy of your test scores.
  • When registering for the ACT, select Illinois Math & Science Academy as your school, to ensure we receive a copy of your scores.
  • Applicants can take the test multiple times. If a student takes the test multiple times, their highest Reading and Writing scores will be combined with their highest Math score for one superscore.
  • As always, IMSA will continue to uphold our holistic admissions review process of all submitted applications by considering all aspects of the application file (grade history, teacher evaluations, essays, activities and awards) regardless of the presence of SAT/ACT scores.

*If you have any questions about submitting your scores, please contact Admissions at or (630) 907-5028

Students can apply during the fall of their 8th and/or 9th grade years.

Eighth grade applicants can fulfill the high school science requirement through any accredited institution. In the past families have used online institutions or community colleges. Any class taught at a high school level is acceptable, but we recommend taking a chemistry, biology, or physics class in order to best prepare students for the curriculum here. If you have any questions about whether or not a course meets the eligibility requirements, feel free to send a course description to 9th grade applicants will meet this requirement through their regular high school curriculum.

Because we are a residential school, the number of students we can accept each year is limited by the number of student rooms we have open. Typically we have about 230-250 spots depending on the size of the class who just graduated. While the acceptance rate is competitive, every submitted and eligible application is reviewed during our admissions process. Acceptance is based on both qualitative and quantitative aspects within that application. For a more detailed explanation of the attributes of a successful IMSA student, we recommend watching this informational video.

All accepted and waitpool students and at least one parent/guardian are required to participate in Summer Orientation. Details regarding Summer Orientation, including dates and the Orientation program format, will be shared with acceptance and waitpool letters. IMSA will continue to follow the health and safety guidelines provided by CDC and IDPH to make informed decisions regarding Academy programming.

If you encounter any issues or have questions about the application itself, we recommend you reference our Application Troubleshooting page or contacting

You can also view our virtual Application Tips Part 1 and Part 2 to walkthrough the process with an Admissions Counselor

Student Life at IMSA

IMSA is a unique learning environment where opportunities for education and collaboration exist well beyond the classroom. Whether it’s helping to develop and facilitate leadership education curriculum or collaborating with Student Council to start new campus initiatives around sustainability, our students are constantly learning from hands-on opportunities that make the residential aspect of IMSA essential. Our Residence Life staff also work to prepare students for the “real-world” by teaching them conflict resolution skills, time-management, how to budget their money, and how to live independently in a diverse population of people. Alumni have stated that these skills have prepared them for success beyond IMSA just as much as the rigorous academic preparation that they received in the classroom. View Residential Curriculum

While living at IMSA, your child will have a number of adults checking in with them on a regular basis. Our campus is composed of seven residential halls. Each hall has four wings with 18-24 students living in the wing. Each wing is supervised by a professional staff member called a Resident Counselor (RC) who lives in the wing with the students. Our RCs are adults with at least a Bachelor’s Degree who are trained in Residence Life and background checked by the State of Illinois. Our Resident Counselors help students adjust to life at IMSA, check in with them about their grades, make sure they are managing their time, and facilitate our Residence Life Curriculum. They also work closely with teachers and parents to make sure students have the tools they need to be successful at IMSA. In addition to the RCs, we also have a number of Administrators on Call in the evenings who are trained to respond to any emergency from student injuries to inclement weather. IMSA also employs security officers who are here 24/7. They monitor the cameras around campus, conduct rounds of the Main Building and Residence Halls, and monitor the exterior perimeter of campus. Luckily, our most frequent trespassers are usually just the resident family of skunks!

IMSA is a public school so all room and board including meal plans are covered by the State of Illinois. There are some student fees that families are responsible for, but they are on a sliding scale based on family size and income. Students are provided with 3 meals a day (two meals on the weekend-Brunch and Dinner) in our cafeteria at no additional cost to families. Some students like to go out to eat or order delivery food so they might need some spending money, but the amount and frequency is up to each student and their family.

Because student safety is our top priority, we do not allow students to keep cars on campus. Students are allowed to walk to local businesses within a mile of campus with permission from a staff member, and our Resident Counselors frequently take trips to allow students to get off campus and have fun.

At IMSA, all of our students live with roommates. We do not have any single rooms. Incoming sophomores can request a specific roommate if they know someone else attending IMSA. Otherwise, roommates are matched based on survey responses and shared interests. Students complete a roommate survey once they are accepted.

Parents or guardians are able to pick students up whenever they do not have any other required commitments, like classes or mandatory meetings, like the weekends. We do ask that when you pick up your child, you check them out with the adult on duty (in the Attendance Office during the academic day and the RC Office during evenings and weekends) and bring a photo ID. Students do have evening events and commitments on weeknights, so we do ask that you limit evening sign-outs during the week.

Definitely! A number of our students come from all over the State of Illinois, so it is not realistic for them to go home every weekend, so campus is still active on the weekends. You can usually find students participating in a wide range of activities, such as hosting video game tournaments, completing community service projects, taking trips to the mall, or going to see a movie. Our Residence Life Staff works over the weekend to make sure that there are fun activities and trips available to students and time to rest and relax.

IMSA is a participating member of the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) for sports. View a full list of the athletic teams we offer here.

IMSA also offers a wide range of clubs and co-curricular activities from our State Champion Chess team to K-Pop Club. There is truly an opportunity for every student to get involved in something they’re interested in. Students are also able to charter new clubs if the club they want is not currently offered. View a full list of clubs and organizations here.

In order to make IMSA feel like home for everyone, we have adopted a Diversity Plan for students and staff at the Academy. It is important that community members be effective at interacting across cultures, which is essential to IMSA’s vision of “igniting and nurturing creative, ethical scientific minds that advance the human condition”. IMSA’s diverse cultural groups also include political orientations, statewide regional cultures. Students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to exchange ideas freely, engage in critical thinking and reexamine their personal perspectives. While a student is at IMSA, they can expect to engage in educational opportunities and discussions regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion. Students who have a passion for equity work have the opportunity to become Peer Multicultural Educators, where they work with our Director of Equity and Inclusion to create, facilitate, and implement educational opportunities surrounding diversity and inclusion for their peers.

Yes, we establish learning and health plans to make accommodations for students.

Academics at IMSA

IMSA has a wide array of personalized learning experiences for students. Through our Student Inquiry and Research (SIR) department, students in good academic standing can conduct advanced-level research on topics of their choosing with the mentorship of a professional in that field. Students can also learn about entrepreneurship, business, marketing, web design, and gain real-world professional skills through our internship program. Run through our Center for Innovation and Inquiry (IN2), this program helps match students with working professionals and start-ups in their field of interest. Research and internships typically occur on Wednesdays which are reserved for Inquiry Days, frequently referred to as “I Days.” On these days, students conducting research off-campus are transported to their research location and spend the entire day researching and gaining hands-on skills while making personal connections with professionals in their field of study.

All of our classes at IMSA are taught at advanced levels, and many of our students go on to take AP Exams to gain college credit. Oftentimes, “AP” or Advanced Placement class curriculums are focused on teaching material simply to pass the AP Exams. This teaching philosophy directly conflicts with IMSA’s hands-on, problem-based learning approach. Students in IMSA’s classes will be pushed beyond the memorization of facts and will be asked to apply the knowledge that they are learning in classroom activities. With that being said, our students will be well prepared to take Advanced Placement exams and earn college credit even though our classes are not labeled “AP” classes. To see how many students took AP’s last year, reference our School Profile.

IMSA offers a comprehensive curriculum to prepare students for any future academic endeavors. While at IMSA, students are required to take classes in literature, history, fine arts, wellness and world language. All of these classes are also taught at advanced or even college level. While we do require students to take more math and science credits that your "typical" high school, students will receive a well-rounded education taught by our nationally ranked faculty. You can view a full course catalog here.

While we don’t allow students to have personal cars on campus, students can elect to take Driver’s Ed while living on campus. This is facilitated through the Principal’s Office, and Driver’s Ed teachers will come to campus for driving lessons.

Upon acceptance to IMSA, each student is assigned a College and Academic Counselor (CAC) who will work with them throughout their three years at IMSA. Their CAC will help them select classes, support them academically, and when the time comes, help them apply to college. View our College Matriculation page to see where IMSA students go after graduating!

IMSA does not use 504/IEP plans. Incoming students may submit their 504/IEP plans, but a doctor’s diagnosis dated within the past three years is used to start the Education Plan process. The Academy creates Education Plans with the family to support students who have an identified need for additional academic assistance. Contact the Academic Support Specialist Linda Hefferin at for more information on how students qualify for an Education Plan. Or visit our Academic Support Services page.