Top 5 Most Common Secondary Questions For Medical Schools

By Brandie Erickson July 19, 2023 Medical School Admissions Consulting Press

Students applying to medical school have already spent weeks or months preparing their primary application, consisting of writing their personal statement, compiling their activity list, asking for letters of recommendation and more.

Once their primary application has been verified and sent to the medical schools, they face the next unique challenge: tackling their secondary essays. These essays provide a further opportunity for applicants to showcase their personal attributes, qualifications and experiences that would make them great physicians. Taking the time to write compelling secondary essays can help competitive applicants differentiate themselves from the thousands of other equally competitive applicants.


How To Write More Effective Secondary Essays

The University of California, Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine received more than 13,000 applications for just 173 spots, with an acceptance rate of 1.3%. Many qualified applicants were rejected because there simply wasn’t enough space. When the edge between acceptance and rejection is so thin, students should take extra care in every aspect of their applications, including their secondary applications. Here are three tips for writing more effective secondary essays.

1. Research The School

When making your medical school list, you likely researched the schools on the list to ensure they were a good fit for your learning style and future career goals. To write more effective secondary applications, you should research the schools and their distinct mission, values and curriculum. By thoroughly checking out the med school’s mission statement, website and offerings, you can better understand the school’s focus area. Use your essays to demonstrate how you align with their values and goals.

2. Use Specific (And Recent) Examples

Often, the prompts will ask you about your leadership experiences or a challenge you had to overcome. Show rather than tell what your experiences are so they can see real-world examples of your attributes. As you come up with stories from your extracurricular activities and volunteering, you might be tempted to draw on an experience from high school or even younger. However, you might be doing yourself a disservice by doing so.

Think of it from the admissions committee experience. If you were to write about a significant challenge you overcame in elementary school, that is signaling to them that you haven’t faced any challenges since then. The road to becoming a physician isn’t always smooth, so you want to prove to the admissions committee that you can overcome challenges.

3. Prewrite The Common Secondary Essays

When you start receiving your secondary applications, the general rule is that you should send them back within two weeks. As the average applicant is sending in 18 applications, with some sending in much more than that, it can be a lot of essays thrown your way at once. Because there is such a short turnaround time, you should begin to prewrite the common supplemental essays so you can reuse stories and essays across multiple schools. By starting early, you can present a more cohesive narrative to the admissions committee.

Read more about the Top Secondary Essays for Medical School in our Forbes article here. And schedule your free consultation to see how we can help you with these steps and more.