The first thing you will need is calculus, a required course for anyone wishing to attend Cal Tech. Research doesn't hurt, about half of all prospective applicants submit original research. Applications are read by admissions and by a member of the faculty. Admissions also looks to see where STEM is appearing in a student's life, does it permeate a student's thinking? Cal Tech is for students who are not afraid to fail, the academics are described as extremely rigorous. In a recent webinar a Cal Tech admissions representative said that the Cal Tech approach is designed to break a student down and then build them back up again. What that really means, I have no idea, but quite frankly, it doesn't sound healthy. Collaboration is key to succeeding, no one can do all that is expected on their own. Cal Tech is a neurodiverse campus. It has a 3% acceptance rate.