Medical School Secondary Essays

Although there are still a few more weeks until you will be able to submit your initial AMCAS application, it is not too early to begin thinking about your medical school secondary essays. The majority of medical schools require applicants to write 1-5 essays on varying topics. Some schools offer secondary applications to every initial applicant. Others implement a preliminary screening process and only give selected students the opportunity to submit a secondary application. Regardless of the method used, receiving the opportunity to write a medical school secondary essay should be regarded as an honor and taken seriously because it means that you are one step closer to reaching your goal of a career in medicine.


With the average medical school applicant applying to 14 schools, it can be easy to become overwhelmed by the volume of secondary medical school essays that are required. Although it may be tempting to put minimal effort into these essays, this is unwise. The secondary essays allow the admissions committee at a particular school to assess if a candidate is well-suited for that program. The quality of a medical school is largely based upon the success of their students in securing their preferred residency program. Students who match well in residency are those who perform well in medical school. For this reason, admissions committees want to enroll students who have the highest probably of doing well at that particular school. Therefore, when writing your medical school secondary essays, the goal should be to demonstrate how you would integrate well with the school’s program and culture.

The good news is that most schools tend to ask variations of the same questions. If you prepare essays for these questions in advance, you will be able to submit essentially the same essay for multiple schools. Below are some of the most common prompts for secondary medical school essays. Begin pre-writing your answers now, and you will only need to change minor details when you receive your secondary application packet.

Common Secondary Essay Questions:

– What do you see as the most likely practice scenario for your future medical career? Why do you feel you are particularly suited for this practice scenario? What knowledge, skills and attitudes have you developed that have prepared you for this career path?

-Why do you want to enroll in _______ School of Medicine?

– Describe a significant personal challenge you have faced, one which you feel has helped to shape you as a person.

– Where do you see yourself in your medical career fifteen to twenty years from now?

– Describe the personal characteristics you possess and the life experiences you have had that would contribute to your success at becoming an outstanding physician.

-Indicate how you would add diversity to our medical school class.