The Importance of Secondary Application Essays


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Secondary Application Essays

Medical school application season is well underway. This is the time of year when medical school hopefuls have begun receiving secondary application essays. Secondary applications for medical school are created by individual schools which is different than the initial application. For this reason, each secondary application is different. Due to the volume of schools the average premed applies to, most people receive many secondary applications. It is common for students to feel overwhelmed by this deluge of mail. As a result, some applicants may put minimal effort into some secondary application essays. This is very unwise. Secondary application essays are crucial to the medical school admissions process.


The Admissions Process

It is crucial for medical school applicants to understand the admissions process. You will have a better idea of how to be accepted to medical school if you understand how medical schools choose students. First, students submit the primary application, usually through AMCAS. Medical schools receive primary applications and determine which students do not meet their basic admissions criteria.  Medical schools discard those applications. Schools offer secondary application essays to the remaining applicants.


Medical schools vary in the way they do their initial selection. Some schools offer a secondary application to all their applicants. In other cases, there are strict criteria of grades and MCAT scores that must be fulfilled. Schools use primary and secondary applications to determine who they will interview. The medical school school interview is the last major obstacle in the admissions process. Your chances of admission to a school rise to approximately 50% if you are offered an interview.  Admissions officers decide whether to offer an applicant admission after they have completed their interview.


The Application Goal

Your goal during the application process should be to secure as many interviews as possible. This is because your chances of admission sharply increase if you have made it to the interview step. Furthermore, once you have reached the interview, you will be an equal position with your competition. This is because your interview performance will largely determine whether you gain acceptance to medical school. Although having top scores and grades will certainly work in your favor, these factors are much less important once you reach the interview stage. When a medical school decides to offer you an interview, they are saying that they believe that you have the potential to attend their school. Therefore, it should be your goal during the application process to make it to the interview stage.


Why Secondary Application Essays are Important

As we have discussed, the main goal during the initial application phase is to secure interviews from as many medical schools as possible. This strategy will give you the best chance of gaining admission to medical school. In order to be invited for an interview, you must prove to the medical school admissions committee that you belong in medical school. Therefore, you want to prove to the admissions committee that you are a talented student who has the interpersonal skills to make an excellent physician. Your primary application gives medical schools a very through view of your academic abilities. However, it is a bit more difficult for them to determine an applicant’s personal character.


Medical schools learn about an applicant’s personal character from their personal statement, letters of recommendation, and secondary essays. During the secondary application essays, medical schools are able to ask applicants specific questions. For this reason, most schools ask questions that help them learn about specific habits, values, and characteristics that they find important. Therefore, it is very important for applicants to put forth maximum effort into writing their secondary application essays.


Tips for Secondary Application Essays

It is important for students to understand and respond appropriately to the schools’ questions. Make sure you answer the question completely and thoroughly. Although it may be tempting to write about something tangentially related to the question, resist this urge. The school asks the questions that they do for a reason. They want to know your answer to that specific question and nothing else. You should take your time and write thoughtfully and carefully. Although it is a good idea to return your secondary application essays promptly, it is better to take a few extra days to write strong essays than turning in something sub-par.


It is also very worthwhile to have your work reviewed by a professional editor. They will be able to make sure that your work is strong and ready to secure your interview position. Although writing secondary application essays may seem daunting, the hard work will be worthwhile when you have multiple offers for interviews.



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