How to prepare for your Medical School Secondary Application


Med School Secondary Application

Secondary Applications are happening NOW! Here’s how to prepare…

With AMCAS application open, it’s time to start thinking about your secondary applications. Your secondary applications will start arriving fast and furious–and they’re just as important as your primary applications! 

It is important to submit your secondary applications quickly so that you can secure your best chance at getting an interview. We recommend doing this between 7-14 days from the time you receive them.(Your secondary applications will typically arrive within two to four weeks after submitting your primary application). It’s important to begin thinking about and preparing your answers now to some of the most common medical school secondary application questions. 

In this blog post we are going to discuss 6 of the most common medical school secondary questions, with tips for how to best answer them to impress your admission committees…

  1. Describe yourself. This is a broad question, but programs aren’t looking for broad answers. They ask this to learn about your personality and how you view yourself, as well as what your skills, passions and life experiences have been like. Don’t repeat your primary application and remember they are already a little familiar with you. Show who you are, don’t just tell. Share experiences that demonstrate your skills, personality, strengths, etc.
  2. Why do you want to come to our program? Or, why did you choose our school? Before you can answer this, you need to do your research on each program. Reinforce aspects of the program/school that they offer that you are excited about and that fit what you are looking for. Consider reaching out to current students and dig a little deeper than just the school’s website to learn about them. Make sure they understand how enthusiastic and serious you are about being accepted to their program.
  3. Describe a significant challenge. Some schools may ask for a “failure” rather than a challenge or problem, so if you want to save some time, consider writing one essay about this. A “failure” can be something like a missed opportunity or oversight, so it’s not something that’s necessarily negative. If you choose to write about a challenge, remember that there are certain things you should not admit such as psychiatric conditions, or something that could raise a red flag. Instead, think of a conflict you’ve had, a time you’ve helped a family member or friend through a serious issue, or a situation that tested you. 
  4. How will you help us fulfill the mission of our school? Here’s your chance to explain why you are a great fit and to portrait how you have a deep understanding of the school’s mission statements and values. Don’t repeat the mission statement. Dig dep and describe how your values align with theirs and how you will contribute to the program. Maybe describe an experience from your past that shows how you have lived the mission statement and values of the school. 
  5. Is there anything else you’d like us to know? This is an opportunity for you to explain any problems with your application such as a poor grade or test score, withdrawal, gap year, etc. If you have a major weakness in your application that hasn’t been addressed in your personal statement, then it’s probably best to leave this blank unless they have not already asked about personal hardships somewhere else. This prompt could be an opportunity to cover that topic. 
  6. How will you contribute to our school’s diversity? Medical schools believe they are enriched by accepting students who come from a variety of backgrounds, culture, identity, beliefs and values. This essay is an opportunity for an applicant to explain how their upbringing and unique family experiences will add to the program. Diversity comes in many forms, not just the color of your skin, where you’re from or your religious background. It could be from other things like a non-traditional background (being raised by a single parent, living with a sibling with a disability), experiencing a health problem yourself, overcoming a challenging economic status or low-income childhood, etc. Everyone can contribute something diverse to the campus. Think of ways you are different and explain them.

How to complete your secondary applications

It’s important to start thinking about these questions, writing essay drafts and creating a strategy for how you will complete your secondaries. We don’t recommend tackling them one by one as they come in. Here are a few ways you could tackle them…

Top choice first: Complete your top choice schools first and submit them so you have the best chance at getting offered an interview. Interviews are only made while spots are available!

Most competitive first: Complete the most competitive schools’ first because again, because of rolling admissions, you want to increase your interview chances.

Lower ranked first: Some students want to submit a couple lower ranked programs first as practice. Once you find your groove, switch quickly to your higher priority schools!

For more information, check out our blog post on how to answer the three most common secondary application questions

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