Tips For Preparing Your Secondary Applications For Medical Schools

The secondary applications for medical school is a chance to expand on your personal story and convince the admission committee that you can contribute to their school. Here are tips for preparing your secondary applications.

Don’t Overthink

Secondary application essays will range from asking you specific questions about your background to more open-ended questions that require deep thought. When encountering the latter type of questions, don’t overthink! Most essays have a 300 to 800 word limit, so you don’t have the space nor the time to do anything but to answer the question as honestly and succinctly as you can. If you are having trouble getting started, start writing the first thing that pops in your head and go from there. You can’t edit a blank page.

Show, Don’t Tell

Instead of saying in your essay, “Working in Dr. Kan’s lab persuaded me to go into medicine” show how spending your Saturday mornings performing Gram stains and doing PCRs is why you want to be a physician-scientist. Showing your commitment and desire to be in medicine through your essays will make for a more engaging essay and help the admission officer remember you.

Share Your Personal Story

Why should a medical school pick you over the thousands of equally qualified students that apply each year? How will you contribute to the student body? Sharing your unique story and adding details beyond what you wrote in your personal statement will help the admission committee know you beyond stats and determine if you are a good fit in their program.


With the average applicant applying to close to 15 schools, you don't have a lot of time to complete each secondary application. Take a cursory look at all the secondary applications you receive and take note of schools with similar essay questions. Start with the schools you are most excited to get into and work from there.

Research Each School

Each medical school has their own unique mission statement and criteria for what they look for in students. Some schools focus on lab research while others focus on promoting diversity. Tailor your essay responses for each school so that they highlight the strengths the school is looking for. This will show that you are a good fit in their school and that you have done your research.

Take a Break

Completing secondary applications can be overwhelming, especially when you have a full time job or you are in school. It might be tempting to burn the midnight oil to get everything done in time but that can lead to burnout. Instead, take time everyday to do something relaxing and fun that will take the stress away. If that means just taking a nap then do that!

Get a Second Opinion

Unlike your personal statement, which you can work on months before the application deadline for medical school, you only have a couple of weeks when you first receive the secondary application to submit it. For your high-priority schools, it is always good to have a trusted friend or a medical student review some of your essays. Ask your reviewers if they get a better sense of your purpose for going to medical school after reading your essays and if they spot any grammatical or spelling errors.

Be Careful When Recycling Essays

Medical schools will sometimes have similar essay questions on their secondary applications, which will allow you to use the same essay response. This will save much needed time; however, you must still be sure to personalize each essay so that it fits with the core values of the particular medical school. Be careful that you don't include the name of the medical school with another school's application!


For more tips on how to best prepare your secondary applications, join us on Wednesday, October 25th at 5PM PT for a webinar hosted by a third-year Albert Einstein College of Medicine medical student.

Please Register HERE:

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