After you submit your general primary medical school application, interested schools will send you a secondary application. Here we will discuss these secondary applications.
Some schools automatically send secondary applications while others only send them to applicants they pre-screened and have further interest. The purpose is to extract more information from you and will allow you to stand out even more! You must submit every secondary application you receive. Do not allow fear or insecurity to stop you from returning your secondary to schools you think are “out of your league.”
Every piece of your application is important, and the secondary is no exception. It is unclear if secondaries hold more weight than the primary application. However, be aware that an admissions officer who may not be impressed by your personal statement or primary application can decide to give you an interview because they really liked your secondary essay responses. Therefore, do your best to take advantage of every opportunity you get to showcase yourself.
The sooner you return your secondary application, the better. It can go a long way in showing just how interested you are in attending a school. Generally, it is best to turn in the secondary one to two weeks after you have received it. If a school gives you a deadline, do your best to submit at least 3-4 days before this deadline.
If you have several applications, you need to balance your time and figure out your priorities. Submitting the secondaries sooner is good, but you do not want to sacrifice quality for the sake of turning in your application quickly.
We recommend that you focus more on the schools you would really like to attend. Also, consider pre-writing essays to keep yourself from being overwhelmed by the secondary application process. The question prompts for the past year, and sometimes even the current year, can usually be found on the internet. This allows you to space out your writing and maintain a consistent level of preparation so that you do not end up feeling pressed for time when you get several secondaries at once. You can also reuse essays from other secondary applications. If you do this, make sure you tailor each essay for the institution you’re applying to.
Finally, schools often offer an optional section. This may be the area where you can address deficiencies in your application or highlight good things. You do not HAVE to fill this section out. However, we recommend that you consider doing so if you have a glaring problem like a very low MCAT score or a failing grade. If you decide to address something, we recommend that you mention what the deficiency is, then spend the remainder of the section explaining what you learned from the experience and what you did or are actively doing to address it.
Secondary applications are complicated, but we hope this article will help with navigating this part of the journey. Check out our helpful tips article as well for more information.