If you’re applying to dental school right now, you may be one of the many pre-dental students tasked with writing secondary essays (secondaries) for a supplemental application. Dental schools vary in how they administer the supplemental application (if they do at all). A little over half of all dental schools require students to complete supplemental applications, so you may not be completing secondaries for all of the schools where you apply. Additionally, supplemental applications may be provided immediately to students for completion alongside their primary application. One example is Texas A&M College of Dentistry, which requires applicants to submit both primary and supplemental applications to complete the initial application process. 

Other dental schools, like the University of Florida College of Dentistry and Loma Linda University School of Dentistry, accept primary applications and follow up by sending supplemental applications to candidates that show promise. The Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine School of Dental Medicine also sends qualified applicants a supplemental application but notes that the application is “very brief” and encourages applicants to complete it as soon as possible. Dental schools ask for supplemental essays to get to know you a bit beyond your personal statement and other application materials. Most secondary essay prompts are only available to students on an invite basis, but University of California San Fransisco School of Dentistry and Penn Dental Medicine secondary questions are available for viewing online. These samples illustrate the varied but predictable approach dental schools could take regarding secondaries.   

Each Penn supplemental question has a word limit of 1000 words. These are the questions asked: 

1) Please list any additional predental experience not included in your AADSAS application. This experience can include but is not limited to observation in a private practice, dental clinic, or hospital setting; dental assisting; dental laboratory work; dental research, etc. Please include time allotted to each activity, dates of attendance, location, and description of your experience. If you do not have any predental experience, please indicate what you plan to do in order to explore dentistry as a career prior to matriculation. Do not include, expand, or repeat information submitted on your AADSAS application in the Dentistry/Shadowing experience section. You may leave this question unanswered if applicable. 

2) What ethical dilemma(s) have you encountered during your education? Please describe. 

3) How will you judge if you are a successful dentist? Please describe. 

4) What qualities of Penn Dental Medicine do you feel will help you achieve your professional goals and how? Please describe. 

The UCSF supplementary questions are below:  

What is important to you in selecting a dental school? How will you make your decision about which school to attend? (1,500-character limit) 

Why do you want to join the UCSF community? Please state briefly how you will contribute to the UCSF School of Dentistry. (1,500-character limit) 

Please use this space to tell us anything additional that you believe is relevant to your application for admission. (OPTIONAL and 5,000-character limit) 

UCSF’s secondary questions require much briefer responses, but the similarities between the two applications are uncanny. You can expect to see many of the same questions when you complete your dental school secondaries. These questions include variations on “why are you choosing this school/what can you bring to our school?” “Why should we pick you for our school?” “What has your experience taught you?” and “Tell us how you have overcome a difficulty (many times linked to ethics).”  

Just because the questions might be predictable does not mean that responses are easy to generate. At Code Blue Essays, we are ready to help with any of your secondary essay review needs! Our essay review packages include review and editing done by a licensed physician, assistance with content and word flow, and grammatical review. Reach out with any questions you might have about our services. Let us get started helping you reach your dental school goals!