If you’ve been following along with the last few MD Admissions Timeline blogs, August likely brings you to the next step of applying to medical schools - your secondary applications. Last month, I talked about some of the ways to prepare yourself for the barrage of secondaries that will come your way, and this month I’ll talk more specifically about receiving and turning over these secondaries in a timely fashion.
1. Consider timing
As I mentioned in the AMCAS primary post, there is always an advantage to completing components of the medical school application as early as you can (without sacrificing quality), and the same holds true for your secondary applications. That being said, don’t succumb to the pressure of trying to submit every application within 24 hours of receiving it. It is almost impossible to guarantee a quality application in such a short time span, and the difference of a couple days is simply not going to adversely affect your final outcome. When I was applying, my rule of thumb was to try to return applications to schools within 2 weeks of receiving them.
2. Don’t panic about when you get your secondary
One of the reasons it was feasible to maintain that 2 week turnaround was precisely because different schools send secondaries at different times. As I’ve mentioned in prior posts, many will send them automatically as soon as your AMCAS is verified. Some may have sent them even before verification, still more send them out on automatic schedules (ex. every other Friday), and a select few will review your primary application prior to extending a secondary. Schools are not ‘ranking’ you based on when they send their application, so don’t overthink it! Enjoy the extra time to finish up your essays.
3. Use your previous work
Last month’s post discussed questions to consider and possibly pre-write prior to starting to fill out these applications. Use that information as a jumping off point for your essays. You should always customize essays for each individual school and prompt, but the same concept can be spun out to answer slightly different questions. Additionally, go back and take a look at your primary application. You’ve already given schools some information in your extracurricular activities and personal statement, so don’t make the same points again in your secondary. If you are reusing essays, double and triple check that you are answering the correct question for the correct school - one of the easiest ways to get rejected from a medical school is to submit an essay with another school’s name.
4. Be strategic
Depending on the number of schools you are applying to, you could be writing a LOT more essays. Think carefully about how you’re choosing to fill them out; tackle the applications from schools that are really important to you first, so that if you get tired or delayed they don’t get held up. Start by working on the longer essays, as they are typically harder to write, and always spend a little extra time on the ‘Why Us” question.
Secondaries can be really tedious and frustrating, and they definitely take longer than they should. Remember that the next steps are much more fun - on interview days, schools are often trying to sell themselves to you! Good luck!
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