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Sample Medical School Secondary Essay

Medical School Secondary Applications

Nearly all medical schools have individual applications, called secondary applications, which supplement the centralized AMCAS, AACOMAS or TMDSAS application. Generally secondary applications have additional essay questions and request a secondary application fee.

Medical schools differ in their procedures for providing secondary applications to applicants. Most medical schools will automatically provide a secondary application to all applicants whereas other medical schools prescreen the processed centralized applications and only invite the top candidates to submit a secondary application. For Texas residents, the Texas medical schools make their secondary applications available through the TMDSAS web site, and they should be completed as soon as you submit your TMDSAS application.

The process for receiving secondary applications also varies from school to school. Some medical schools will email you and give you access to their secondary applications, while others are posted on the schools’ web sites to be downloaded when you are ready. You should visit each school’s admissions office web site to see if the secondary is posted there. If the secondary application is available, read the instructions carefully because some medical schools do not want you to submit the secondary application until after they contact you. If it has been 3-4 weeks since the verification of your AMCAS or AACOMAS application, and you have not received a secondary application from a particular medical school, you can then contact the school to ask about the availability of their secondary application.

Miscellaneous advice on completing secondary applications

  • Some secondary applications ask for your SAT or ACT scores. You will not need an official score report form at this time - just the scores. If you cannot remember them, you should be able to access them through Bionic.
  • Some secondary applications will ask you to convert your Bryn Mawr credits to semester hours and to calculate GPAs for the core premedical requirements (general chemistry, organic chemistry, biology, and physics). Remember that 1 unit of credit at Bryn Mawr is equal to 4 semester hours.
  • There are sometimes “optional” essays on the secondary appilcation. Read each question carefully. If the tone seems to be discouraging you from answering the optional essays unless you have new or unique information to add to your overall application file, then do not write an essay unless you have such new information. In all other cases, medical schools may believe that not answering an optional question is a missed opportunity to share more information with the admissions committee.

Suggestions on how to respond to essay questions such as "is there anything else you want to share with the admissions committee?"

  • You should write an original essay and not simply recycle your personal statement in this space. The admissions committee has both the centralized application and the secondary application; they will know right away if you simply cut and paste the centralized application essay onto the secondary application. Whenever possible, you should try to personalize your application and add new information and perspectives.
  • Two categories that are always worth writing about: your job and volunteer activities this year, and why you are applying to that school. If those questions have already been asked, then write on another topic. For ideas, look over the drafts of your personal statement and autobiography for things that you could write about. Think about particular situations that have impacted you over the years that have helped shape who you are today. You should also review the selection of sample medical school secondary application questions in the Bryn Mawr Medical School Application Handbook. These questions might inspire ideas for new essay topics.

Suggestions on how to respond to essay questions asking, "Why are you applying to our medical school?"

  • Take the time to look at the medical school's web site carefully. Review the curriculum and educational programs, advising system, institutional affiliations, teaching hospitals, patient populations being served, elective rotation sites, and research opportunities. Also examine the opportunities for medical student involvement in community service and research programs.
  • Reflect upon what you find unique and appealing about each school and explain why those features attract you to that medical school. In the essay do not restate the medical school's web site; ground your response in your personal experiences and goals and how well they fit with these unique features of the medical school.

It is a good idea to complete and submit secondary applications as soon as you can after your centralized application is submitted. While your goal should be to have your AMCAS/AACOMAS/TMDSAS application, MCAT scores, secondary applications and letters of recommendation submitted to the medical schools as soon as realistically possible, you should make sure to submit all materials by the end of August. Many medical schools begin to review completed applications in mid-summer.  Remember it is your responsibility through this entire process to make sure your files are complete at the medical schools and that everything is received in a timely fashion. The application process will take place over several months, and so careful planning from the outset is important.

If you’re applying to medical school this cycle, you’ve been through the whole ordeal — years of college, volunteering at hospitals or research labs, hardcore study sessions for the MCAT, asking professors and professionals for letters of recommendation, and filling out the AMCAS and writing your personal statements.

You’ve made it far, so take a breath. You certainly deserve it. But don’t rest too long because medical school secondary applications are your next big step.

Secondaries are a big surprise – tons of work, and all at once, suddenly.

You might think that secondary application essays are small-fry compared to other obstacles you’ve completed to get to where you are now, but understand that your secondary applications are what will land you an interview with medical schools. Prepare yourself for one of the last crucial steps by learning more about the secondary application essays.

Sample medical school secondary essay prompts are the best way to see what you’ll be facing and how to tackle each prompt. You can get sample secondary essay prompts — read more for my solution to the problem.

With sample secondaries in front of you, look for:

  • Prompts — Sample secondary application essays show you the kind of topics you’ll be facing.
  • Voice — Finding the right voice can be a challenge, so you can use samples for guidance.
  • Structure —  Finding persuasive ideas is one challenge, and deciding how to structure your ideas is another challenge. Use the structure of sample secondary application essays as a skeletal guide for you own essays.

Read sample medical school secondaries for ideas that are harder to pick up on, such as: 

  • Thematic Development — Successful medical school secondary applications will reinforce the core themes from the original application. All good sample secondary application essays need to build upon the themes you presented in the primary application.
  • Answers to the toughest prompts, like the “Why this school?” prompt — Medical schools also wants to know why you’re personal interests or qualifications are right for their program. Doing this can be tricky, but sample secondary application essays can help you see how other students came up with a convincing response.

If you find something else that’s a big challenge, write about it in the comments beneath the article and I’ll help you out.

Take a look at our guide on how to write the secondary application to see a big list of all the common secondary prompts, as well as training videos walking your through all the techniques you need to know to write compelling secondaries.

Filed Under: Medical School Admissions, Medical School Secondary Application, Posts - Secondary Application

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