Prepping for secondaries

Congratulations! Your AMCAS is processing.

As I waited for my application to be released to medical schools, I decided to pre-write some secondaries before the flood of them in July/August. This preparation was helpful because it reduced the workload of sending back essays to schools within a two day to two week frame time. Most schools will invite to write secondaries, however, a few do screen. This part of the application requires a direct reflection on why you would be a good fit at the school. Secondary applications, unless you have fee waivers, will also cost you around $100 each — you’ll need to plan for that expense as well.

To pre-write secondaries, I looked at previous prompts, which have been collected well by other sites, for each of the schools, and determined if it there was some level of consistency. If a prompt was repeated each year, I wrote that ahead of time. If a school didn’t seem to have consistent prompts, I looked at their past prompts, wrote a few bullets points to brainstorm what my answers would have been had I applied that cycle, and moved on.

Few essays are common and typical, and I encourage you to write these ones ahead of time:

  1. Why do you want to attend our school?
  2. How will you contribute to the schools’s diversity?
  3. What challenges have you faced?
  4. How did you spend your gap year?
  5. Anything else?

While your answers should be unique to you, consider reflecting on how your answer can speak to the culture of the school. Ultimately, there are thousands of applicants — in this part of the application, I think you want to make a good argument why you would fit well. What this means is that you can be prudent and write a barebones essay for each of these prompts, but also leave room for personalization. Or you could write a specific one for each of the schools, if you have time for it.

As you wait for secondaries, I think you should also remember to take time for yourself and enjoy wherever you are too. I find that when I feel at peace with myself or reasonably relaxed, I write clearly and better.

Good luck! You’ve come a long way and this is just another step in the process.


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