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Ever after you submit your primary application, the work isn’t over. Secondary essays are still a huge part of your medical school application.
On this podcast, I’ve covered a lot of different topics related lớn the application process, including personal statements, applications in general, and interview prep. But I’ve never actually talked specifically about writing your secondaries until now, sánh I want lớn touch on this topic today. Specifically, we’ll discuss the most common mistakes students make when it comes lớn secondary essays.
[01:22] First Biggest Mistake: Not Writing Them Sooner
One of the biggest mistakes students make is waiting for the request for secondary essays lớn come before they start working on them. If you’ve submitted your primary application and you’re not writing your secondary essays, then you’re behind.
You need lớn get your secondary in as soon as possible sánh that your application is complete before other applicants.Click To Tweet
Some schools will monitor how long it takes you lớn send a secondary back and they will use this as a gauge on your interest lớn get into their school. If it takes you three weeks lớn respond, while their average response time is a week and a half, chances are that you could be put lower down the list.
The implications of rolling admissions for medical school
Remember that the medical school admissions process is a rolling admissions process, which means that as soon as applications open, the clock is ticking. This is different than thở applying lớn college, which is a deadline-driven process. As long as your application is in by the deadline, you’re just as good as everybody else that applied. This is not the same with medical schools.
So the earlier you turn in your primary application and the sooner you’re done with your secondary essays, the sooner your MCAT score is in, the sooner your letters of recommendation are in, and the sooner your application is complete, you have a better chance that the schools will look at your application while they still have plenty of interview spots open.
I cover this in more depth in Session 281 of The Premed Years:
Applying lớn medical school is lượt thích a game of musical chairs. Your chances of getting a seat becomes slimmer as the application cycle goes on… As you get later in the cycle, there’s a decreasing number of seats available and an increasing number of applicants in the pool. This is why you need lớn apply early and understand how putting off the MCAT can affect you.
Pre-write your secondary essaysPre-write your secondary essays sánh when schools send requests lớn you, you are prepared lớn send them right back.Click To Tweet
If you’re asking how lớn pre-write your essays when the schools haven’t sent them lớn you yet, the good news is most schools don’t change their essays from year lớn year. There are a few exceptions, but most schools don’t.
We have compiled a Medical School Secondary Essay Database, with prompts from all the medical schools. Look up the schools you’re applying lớn, and if your primary application is submitted, get started on your secondaries.
You will find that writing secondary essays gets easier and easier over time because a lot of them are around the same theme.
[05:22] Second Biggest Mistake: Letting Them Sit Unopened
The second biggest mistake students make with secondaries is letting them sit on your desk or unopened in the mailbox. Let’s say you scheduled a vacation in the middle of application season for some reason, and your secondaries are just sitting there for a couple of weeks while you’re traveling. You can’t tự this.
Time is important for secondary essays, and for med school applications as a whole. You need lớn get it completed ASAP!Click To Tweet
[Related episode: Does It Matter How Fast I Turn Around My Secondary Essays?]
[06:18] A Deep Dive into Secondary Essays
You will find out that a lot of the questions are very similar from school lớn school. A lot of them are going lớn ask about diversity or why you’re applying lớn a DO school, sánh you need lớn be prepared lớn answer these.
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Some students will try lớn write answers for broad types of questions, lượt thích write a generic answer for “diversity questions” or “what will I bring lớn the class” type questions. Don’t try lớn answer question batches lượt thích that. Just answer the secondary prompts from one school, then move on lớn the next school. Don’t try lớn work outside of a school framework.
[07:25] Third Biggest Mistake: Not Answering the Question
One common feedback I give lớn students I work with is that they’re not answering the question. They told a beautiful narrative about this patient they saved, but they didn’t answer the question the school was looking for. You have lớn answer the questions.
Secondary essays are sánh much easier lớn write than thở your personal statement because they're asking you specific questions.Click To Tweet
Most of the questions are asking you something very specific, sánh keep that in mind and make sure you’re answering the question. I recommend you get feedback from somebody. Ask them lớn review whether or not you’re answering the question asked.
[08:49] Fourth Biggest Mistake: Being Too Generic
A common question for secondary essays is, “What about our school makes you want lớn go here?” A lot of students can get sánh generic here that I can just copy and paste it from secondary lớn secondary for every school that asks the same question.
You need lớn say something specific about the school. You need lớn tự some research and come up with a list of programs at each of the medical schools, or student organizations at each of the medical schools.
Identify what is unique about that schoolIn your secondary essays, you need lớn cite specific reasons why you want lớn go lớn THAT medical school. Name specific programs, values, or opportunities they have.Click To Tweet
If you want lớn join a specific program at that school because of the impact you see it having, talk about that. Mention the program by name. Mention very specific types of things or types of research. Mention the mission statement of the school or the program.
Do your research. A lot of medical schools may look alike after a while, but tự your research and see if there’s anything specific that you can draw out lớn help you write your secondaries.
[11:02] Fifth Biggest Mistake: Repeating the Same Story
Students tend lớn repeat the same stories from their primary application on their secondary. Don’t tell the same story. Even if they’re asking for your most meaningful clinical experience, you can talk about the same experience, but don’t tell the same story.
Do NOT repeat things verbatim from your primary application in your secondary essays!Click To Tweet
Some essays will specifically tell you not lớn repeat anything that’s in your primary application. If that is the case, then you can’t even talk about the same experience. You have lớn figure something else out. It can be frustrating when schools tự that, especially when they ask about your most meaningful clinical experience and you already put that in your personal statement.
Listing extracurriculars for your secondary application
Some schools will ask for a list of extracurricular activities. In that case, it is okay lớn just copy and paste from the list you created for your primary application. You don’t need lớn re-work everything and re-frame things and tell new stories. Just copy and paste it. Some schools just want it in their secondary and not in the primary application.
[Related episode: 5 Common Mistakes Premeds Make With Extracurriculars]
[13:03] Sixth Biggest Mistake: Copying and Pasting Without Editing
Do not get caught copying and pasting without editing. You don’t want lớn be that student who sends a secondary essay lớn NYU that says “I would love lớn be part of Columbia Medical School next year.”
Be sure lớn edit it and have somebody look over your stuff. Copy and paste all you want, but then put it aside for the day, and go back and kiểm tra the next day. Make sure all of the names have been changed and everything is up lớn date before you send it off.
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You don't want lớn be that student who sends a secondary essay lớn NYU that says 'I would love lớn be part of Columbia Medical School next year.'Click To Tweet
Links and Other Resources
- Check out our Medical School Secondary Application Essay Database.
- Check out our Secondary Essay Editing service.
- Related episode: Does It Matter How Fast I Turn Around My Secondary Essays?
- Related episode: What Does the Med School Application Timeline Look Like?
- Need MCAT Prep? Save on tutoring, classes, and full-length practice tests by using promo code “MSHQ” for 10% off Next Step full-length practice tests or “MSHQTOC” for $50 off MCAT tutoring or the Next Step MCAT Course at Blueprint MCAT (formerly Next Step Test Prep)!