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MD: Secondary applications

General Information

You will receive your secondary applications after AMCAS 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?

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


Carver COM

M.D. 2022

Secondary applications can be stressful because you get so many at once. General rule is to have them submitted less than two weeks after you initially received the application. But even sooner would be better! Keep copies of your essays for each secondary because some schools have similar essay prompts. Try and be as efficient as you can in completing these applications, that’s really the main thing for secondaries! As far as content and proof reading goes, same advice I have for your personal statement applies to secondary application essays as well. Make sure to have at least a couple different people review your application materials for content and for grammar. Be sure to have at least two people read your application: one person you don’t know and one person who knows you very well so that you can get a good idea of how your application reads and make edits as necessary.

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ToddDylan 2023.jpg

I remember submitting an essay about "why combined program" and a detailed description of every research project I participated in as well as my CV.


Carver COM

M.D./Ph.D., 2023

Kayla 2023.jpeg

Secondaries ask very similar questions across most schools. Almost all asked why you want to go to whatever school and why you would be a good fit at that school - do your research on that school! 


Carver COM

M.D., 2023


Secondary applications are generally more school-specific and can range from a few short essays to several longer essays. Make sure that you are prepared to discuss your interest in the school and why you feel that you would be a great fit.  


Carver COM

M.D., 2024

These were essentially an extension for the primary application.  Keep in mind they most likely want to hear about why you chose to apply to that particular school but they also want you to tie in aspects of your primary application and expansion on some of the things you talked about.  The secondaries aren't too bad, just make sure you answer the questions they prompt completely.

Hassan 2025.jpg


Carver COM

M.D./Ph.D., 2025

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