5 Secondary Essay Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them


5 Secondary Essay Mistakes

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Sometimes the number of secondary applications you receive can be overwhelming, but it’s important to take them seriously and avoid taking short cuts or making mistakes because you are hastily trying to submit them. 


Since secondary essays are such an important part of the application process, in this blog post we want to talk about 5 of the most common mistakes students make so you can avoid them.


Here are 5 secondary essay common mistakes…


1. Waiting for the request to start writing. If you’ve submitted your primary application and are waiting to get a request for your secondary essays before you start working on them, well, you’re already behind. You don’t have time to wait and oftentimes schools will gauge your response time to determine how serious you take their program. Remember, medical school is rolling admissions, meaning as soon as applications open up the clock is ticking. The earlier you turn in your primary application and the sooner you send your secondary essays, the sooner your application is complete– meaning you have a better chance of getting an interview spot while there are still plenty available.


2. Not answering the question directly. It’s great if you have a heroic story about the one time you saved a patient’s life, but no matter how beautiful your narrative is, if you don’t answer the question the school was looking for, they’ll move on to the next applicant. Most of the time the questions are asking something specific, so make sure you’re answering that question directly. You may ask for feedback from someone who can read over your response(s) to be sure you’re answering the question like you should. Our team can help review and edit these for you!


3. Repeating experiences. Most secondary essays have multiple questions so be sure you’re strategic in your responses. Make sure you cover different topics like community service, leadership and clinical experience, but don’t write about the same experience or activity over and over. 


4. Copy and pasting too quickly. Be careful if you’re copying and pasting without reading and editing every word. You don’t want to be the applicant to NYU who says they would love to attend Columbia. Have someone (or us!) edit and look over your responses, or work on them and go back and check your work the next day when your mind and eyes are fresh.


5. Talking about high school. Unless the essay asks you to include information from your younger years, don’t focus on your early life too much. Most of the time it’s best to focus on your experiences from college and onward. There are always exceptions– but usually high school is not the time of your life where you are defining your destiny and making life altering decisions. Focusing too much on high school may make the reviewers question your maturity. 


These mistakes can have negative effects on your application, but they’re easy to avoid! Understanding the simple strategies above can decrease your chances of making these common mistakes and increase your chances of getting an interview invitation.


Ready to start preparing or writing your secondary essays? Check out the 3 most common secondary essay questions so you can begin today!


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