5 Tips for Writing Your Medical School Secondary Essays

The following piece was written by Linda Abraham. Linda has been featured in our Admissions Expert series and is the President and Founder of Accepted.com

Your AMCAS applications are done, but the app writing party is far from over. Pretty soon, you hope to be swamped with secondary essays and the writing will need to be picked up again. Each med school will ask you for different information – some will just want a check; some will want short answers; some will want essays. And some will want a combo.

The following 5 tips will help you get through all of them:

1. Timing is everything.
You should complete each secondary application within two weeks of receiving it. That being said, please do not rush! Two weeks should be enough time to write persuasive, well-written essays.

Prioritize to hit important deadlines.
If you have too many secondaries and too little time, then you should prioritize by first completing the secondary applications from your top choice med programs – that is, those schools that you are most interested in attending and/or those that will most likely offer you an interview invite. Why bother spending precious time on a school that you don’t care much about if it’ll detract from time spent on one of your top choices? Next, prioritize by the closest deadlines.

3. Research each school. 
Since you will be writing different essays for each secondary application, you’ll need to make sure that each of your essays speaks directly to the approach of each individual med school. You’ll have an easier time catering each application to each school by knowing as much as possible about the program. Review the school’s website and familiarize yourself with the curriculum and mission statement. Then try to incorporate some of that school-specific info into your essays. Why is this so important? The admissions readers are looking to admit students whom the school can help succeed in achieving their goals. They also want applicants who have the skills and motivation to contribute to their program. Write essays to illustrate that match, and you’ll do a better job of persuading the admissions readers that you’re exactly what they’re looking for.

4. State motivations in state school essays. 
When explaining why you want to attend a particular state school, try and stress reasons that focus on mission, teaching style, goals, etc., rather than just on the school’s proximity to home and its cost (though those are also valid reasons). Remember, you want to show why you’re a good match – you’re up against lots of applicants who also want to attend a school close to home with in-state tuition.

5. Share new information about yourself. 
Your secondary application is an extension of your personal statement – even more space for you to introduce your spectacular qualities, talents, and interests to the admissions reader. If you have important information that you couldn’t incorporate into your AMCAS application, try and find a way to work it into your secondaries. And don’t just repeat what’s in the AMCAS. You can update, you can go deeper, and you can add to the AMCAS, but don’t paraphrase it.

And now…let the secondary application writing party begin!

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