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D.O. Secondary Applications

General Information

You will receive your secondary applications after AACOMAS completes verification and releases your primary application to medical schools.

The majority of schools will send you a secondary application if you have an average or above GPA and MCAT score. Some schools screen applicants before sending out secondaries, and thus usually take longer to send out secondaries.

Secondaries are typically made up of personal questions made to assess your commitment to and interest in medicine, much like the personal statement but shorter.

You should submit your secondaries as soon as possible after receiving them (without sacrificing quality). A good goal is to aim to submit each secondary application about 2 weeks after receiving it. 

Writing Prompts

It can be helpful to start thinking about your answers to secondary application questions before you actually receive them. Below is a link to a database of all medical schools' secondary application questions.

Common Questions

Fit: "Why did you choose to apply to this school?"

Refrain from writing about how great their medical school is or where it's located. You aren't writing a research paper on their medical school, you're writing another essay about YOU. Even though it asks "why our school," you'll stand out most by focusing on yourself.

Look through the programs and resources offered by the school, then consider:

  • how your experiences fit with their offerings

  • what you could contribute

  • how you would uniquely benefit from their program

Use an example or anecdote to show your healthcare values/accomplishments/goals. Then you can connect those to the school's mission and opportunities. Integrate your qualities, experiences and aspirations into your response.

It can also be helpful to talk with current students or recent alumni of the school to figure out what made them successful and what makes them think you could be successful there, too.

Diversity: "What do you bring to this school?"

Though many people think of diversity essays as being for those with unique ethnocultural or socioeconomic experiences, diversity can refer to anything that makes you unique or interesting, such as:

  • qualities

  • experiences

  • commitment to service

  • visions and goals

  • extracurricular activities

  • health disparities

  • demonstration of multicultural competence during patient interactions

  • navigating your own bicultural identity

An ​interesting way to approach this is to pretend you're in a conversation with your future medical school classmates about the state of healthcare in the United States. What unique experiences or point of view do you contribute to that conversation?

DO Specific: "Why osteopathic medicine?"

The foundation of your answers should be built around your interests, goals and experiences with osteopathic and allopathic medicine. However, it's helpful to brush up your osteopathic medicine principles and history so you can make sure to link your experiences back to osteopathic medicine.


A quick refresher on osteopathic values:

  • holistic care: treating the whole person beyond their physical ailments, accounting for mental, emotional, and spiritual health as well

  • prevention: helps eliminate the need for invasive procedures down the line

  • body's self-healing capabilities

  • nutrition and lifestyle advice: incorporate education into their practices as a way to empower patients with tools for the future

  • OMM/OMT: manipulation and touch are used to diagnose and correct chronic health problems

Resources to Use

  • Offers in-person or online writing help

  • Helpful for establishing flow, tone, and theme of your personal essay (as well as another set of eyes on grammar and spelling)

  • Helpful when trying to narrow down your ideas/speech to meet the character limit

  • Hosts a Personal Statement Workshop in the spring semester

  • Has specific pre-med and science career advisors familiar with what medical schools are looking for in applicants

  • Helpful for narrowing down ideas and figuring out what makes you unique

  • In-person meetings or email, depending on advisor preferences

  • Pre-med and major advisors both have unique perspectives on the medical school admissions process

  • Helpful for deciding what to put in your personal essay

Personal Experiences/Advice

Jasmeet 2023.jpg



D.O. 2023

The primary application is one general application that gets sent to all your selected schools, and then each school can elect whether or not to extend you a secondary application. The secondary usually includes a few writing prompts with a word/character limit for responses. My advice for secondary applications is to stay organized. I kept all my secondary applications in one folder with separate documents for each school. I titled each document with the name of the school and the due date for that application since they all vary. Try to turn these in as early as possible!

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