University of Pittsburgh 2013 Medical School Secondary Application Essay Tips

Patient InformationUPSOM places special emphasis on their collaborative problem-based curriculum and the fact that their medical students begin interacting with patients in their first year of medical school.  Providing the best care to patients through research, education, leadership and diversity is central to their mission.  In your own background, how can you demonstrate your commitment to service?  Have you experienced the patient side of medicine yourself or through family members?  How have these unique life experiences and the communities you have served contributed to your unique development and identity?

University of Pittsburgh 2013 Secondary Application Essay Questions:

  • Two short essays with 250 word limits are required.
  • Applicants should use single line spacing and 12 point size font.
  • Responses should be constructed strategically to highlight all of an applicant’s strengths and how they relate to the mission and values of UPSOM.

Application Tip: Check out the UPSOM admissions committee procedures and criteria:

The following are required in the Secondary Application:

  1. Tell us about a challenging problem you faced and how you resolved it. (Limit your response to 250 words or less.)

Given UPSOM’s focus on one-on-one patient interactions, use an experience in which you were able to resolve a professional conflict.  Emphasize the role that you played in finding a solution and the skills you employed to identify and implement a positive outcome that was mutually beneficial for all parties involved.  I recommend using an issue that has a clear positive resolution and one that is not personal in nature.        

2. UPSOM is a culturally diverse and talented community. How would you enrich/enliven the UPSOM community? The essay should discuss material that is not included in the rest of your application. (Limit your response to 250 words or less.)

To best address this essay, take your time to make a long list of your unique qualities, talents and experiences—the longer the better.  Cross out those items that you have already included in your personal statement.  Identify your top three on the list—as they relate to UPSOM’s mission and goals.  Explain how those three identifiers will allow you to connect with the community and how they represent you an individual.   

UPSOM Application Timeline:

AMCAS Application Due October 15, 2012
Secondary Application *December 1, 2012 (Strong recommendation: Submit within two weeks after receipt.)
Interviews Concluded December 14, 2012
Acceptances Begin January 31, 2013
School Begins August 201

If you would like professional guidance with your University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine application materials, please consider using Accepted’s Medical School Admissions Consulting and Editing Services, which include advising, editing, and interview coaching for the UPSOM application materials.

Alicia Nimonkar is an Accepted.com advisor and editor specializing in healthcare admissions. Prior to joining Accepted, Alicia worked for five years as Student Advisor at UC Davis’ postbac program where she both evaluated applications and advised students applying successfully to med school and related programs. Explore Accepted.com’s services to see how Alicia can help you achieve your professional dreams in healthcare.


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Harvard Medical School Secondary Application Essay Tips

Medical School TipsHMS is looking for students who will help find new ways to approach patient care through diversity, research, and a dedication to service.  In this secondary application, it will be important to include relevant leadership roles that you have held in which you were able to improve methods or outcomes.  Highlight your experience working with diverse communities and your own cultural background.  If you have recent research experience, discuss your contributions to the team.  Most importantly, describe any community service or volunteer roles you participated in and explain how your work impacted the community you served.  HMS is looking for applicants who can set themselves apart through the quality of their leadership, research, and community service experiences.     

Harvard 2013 Secondary Application Essay Questions:

  • Two 4000-character essays are requested, not required.
  • One additional essay is required for applicants interested in applying to the HST MD Program with a limit of one page.
  • Applicants should use single line spacing and 10 or 12 point size font.
  • Responses should be constructed strategically to highlight all of an applicant’s strengths.

The following essays are requested in the Secondary Application:

D. If you have already graduated, briefly (4000 characters max) summarize your activities since graduation.

This essay applies only to students who have graduated Spring 2012 or earlier from an undergraduate institution.  Using an updated copy of your resume, create a list of the activities that you have participated in since graduating.  You can discuss the activities in chronological order, present to past or past to present.  Or you can organize the list based on type of activity.  Select a method of organization—write it out as a list or draw circles grouping similar activities together.  Once you have decided the method of your approach, you can focus paragraph by paragraph on each activity in the order that you chose—providing details about the level of your responsibilities, what you are learning, how you are impacting the community you are working with and/or how the experience is influencing your life goals.  Provide clear and succinct summaries that are focused on demonstrating HMS’ core commitments as described above or on their website. 

E. If there is an important aspect of your personal background or identity, not addressed elsewhere in the application, that you would like to share with the Committee, we invite you to do so here. Many applicants will not need to answer this question. Examples might include significant challenges in access to education, unusual socioeconomic factors, identification with a minority culture, religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity. Briefly explain how such factors have influenced your motivation for a career in medicine.(4000 character maximum)

For a question like this, it is better to demonstrate the strength of your connection rather than describing it.  If you have a personal connection to any of the communities described above, describe your involvement in the community and any relevant community service or work related positions you have held to support the community.  The more long term your commitments, the more compelling your connection and identification with the group will be.  Have you assisted other diverse or minority communities?  How have you been involved?  How long has your commitment been?  What impact did you have on the community?  Be sure to provide a strong conclusion for this essay—focusing on how your life has been enriched by the diverse communities you have served.    

HST Essay:
The HST MD program draws on the combined resources of Harvard University and MIT to provide a distinct preclinical education tailored to preparing students for a career as a physician-scientist. The coursework in the HST program has an emphasis on quantitative and analytic approaches, centered on mechanisms critical for understanding diseases and therapies. Please explain how your prior experiences, including research, have prepared you for this challenging opportunity. In lieu of identifying specific HST faculty or research opportunities, please focus on your particular experiences, interests and aspirations. Please limit your comments to the equivalent of one page of single spaced text with a font size of 10 or 12.

The Health Sciences and Technology MD Program website provides a detailed description of their program for those students interested in applying.  As requested in the essay prompt, focus on describing your research background.  You can use an updated draft of your resume for reference.  Start by describing your research experience—the number of years you spent in each lab and the type of research you conducted.  What did you learn about yourself and scientific research through these experiences?  How did they influence your areas of interest?  What were the limitations of the research that you conducted?  How could you further develop those projects?  What are your long-term goals in research? 

HMS Application Timeline:

AMCAS Application Due October 15, 2012
Secondary Application Strong recommendation: Submit within two weeks after receipt.
School Begins August 19, 2013

If you would like professional guidance with your Harvard Medical School application materials, please consider using Accepted’s Medical School Admissions Consulting and Editing Services, which include advising, editing, and interview coaching for the HMS application materials.

Alicia Nimonkar is an Accepted.com advisor and editor specializing in healthcare admissions. Prior to joining Accepted, Alicia worked for five years as Student Advisor at UC Davis’ postbac program where she both evaluated applications and advised students applying successfully to med school and related programs. Explore Accepted.com’s services to see how Alicia can help you achieve your professional dreams in healthcare.


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University of Pennsylvania 2013 Medical School Secondary Application Essay Tips

With excellent ratings in research and primary care, UPENN is looking for students with strong communication skills who can articulate their motivations to study medicine and serve as community leaders.  Providing further information and insight in this secondary application about the reasons why you are motivated to study medicine at UPENN will be important.  Even better, if those motivations illuminate character and how your life goals have shaped you as a person and leader, you will impress the adcomm.    

University of Pennsylvania 2013 Medical School Essay Question:

  • One short essay with a 1,000 character limit is required.
  • Applicants should use single line spacing and 12 point size font.
  • Responses should be constructed strategically to highlight all of an applicant’s strengths, especially to demonstrate how they align with the UPENN mission statement and goals.

The following are required in the Secondary Application:

Please explain your reasons for applying to the Perelman School of Medicine and limit your response to 1,000 characters.

Since this secondary question requests a short essay, be succinct in your response.  Start by doing your research on UPENN; read their mission statement, standards for admission, and basic requirements.  Check out the structure and focus of their curriculum.  What excites you about their school?  Do you have a connection to their location?  Do they offer any special programs or specialties that you are interested in?  In what ways are the school’s goals similar to your own?  How will their faculty, curriculum, or special programs better prepare you for a career in medicine?     

UPENN Application Timeline:

AMCAS Application Due October 15, 2012
Secondary Application *November 15, 2012 (Strong recommendation: Submit within two weeks after receipt.)
Interviews Conducted Late September 2012 to mid January 2013
Rolling Admissions January 2013 to May 2013
School Begins Early in August 2013


If you would like professional guidance with your University of Pennsylvania Medical School application materials, please consider using
Accepted’s Medical School Admissions Consulting and Editing Services, which include advising, editing, and interview coaching for the UPENN application materials.

Alicia Nimonkar is an Accepted.com advisor and editor specializing in healthcare admissions. Prior to joining Accepted, Alicia worked for five years as Student Advisor at UC Davis’ postbac program where she both evaluated applications and advised students applying successfully to med school and related programs. Explore Accepted.com’s services to see how Alicia can help you achieve your professional dreams in healthcare.


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University of Michigan 2013 Medical School Secondary Application Essay Tips

UMMS is ranked in the top ten schools for excellence in primary care.  Given the school’s focus on self-directed learning and building on a strong science foundation, it will be important in your secondary essays to convey the level of your self-awareness in meeting your academic goals.  How did you approach challenging science courses?  In what ways have you demonstrated a commitment to lifelong learning?  How has your community benefited from this commitment?  For students interested in earning a MD/PhD, UMMS has a Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) Program.  As part of this program, students will be given the training to enter academic medicine and conduct basic science research.   

University of Michigan 2013 Secondary Application Essay Questions:

  • Two short essays with 250 word limits are required.
  • For MSTP applicants, a different essay prompt is provided for Essay #1.
  • Applicants should use single line spacing and 12 point size font.
  • Responses should be constructed strategically to highlight all of an applicant’s strengths, especially to demonstrate how they align with UMMS’ mission statement and goals.

Application Tip: Check out this helpful advice from the UMSOM Director of Admissions.

The following are required in the Secondary Application:

Essay 1
Tell us something you are passionate about and why. Do not exceed 1500 characters (about 250 words).

Based on the school’s goals for their medical education, I recommend selecting one academic interest that you can relate to medicine.  A talent or interest that has required significant effort and long term commitment would be an ideal choice.  Research, team building activities (i.e. clubs, health organizations, volunteer work, etc.), leadership roles that required teaching and/or mentoring others, and organized team sports are some activities that would work especially well for this essay response.  Most importantly, select a topic that you are excited about because your enthusiasm will be captured in your prose.  Once you have narrowed down your topic, create a list of reasons why this activity is important to you.  Review the school’s goals and decide which three reasons coincide with your own interests as well as the school’s.  Use this short list as your outline; start with the least important reason of the three you selected.

MSTP applicants: Instead of the above, briefly describe why you decided to apply to the University of Michigan MSTP. If you are interested in a specific department, program, or area of research for your Ph.D., please provide a brief explanation (we recognize that your interests may change).

This essay response will require that you complete significant research on the history and structure of the MSTP program and curriculum.  After reading their web pages, what features of the program stand out in your mind?  After reviewing a complete list of their departments, what areas interest you?  Have you completed research or a degree in any of these fields?  What attracted you to that research project or field?  Align your background and long-term interests with their program in your essay response.   

Essay 2
At the University of Michigan Medical School, we are committed to building a superb educational community with students of diverse talents, experiences, opinions, and backgrounds. What would you as an individual bring to our medical school community? Do not exceed 1500 characters (about 250 words).

This is a common general question on secondary applications; the response that you develop for this essay can be adapted for other applications.  An effective response to this question will provide an overview of the diverse talents and interests that you will share with the UMMS community.  Have you received awards or recognition in any of your fields of interest?  What has been your most long-term commitment—to music, science, volunteering, research, clinical experience, leadership or athletics?  What talents have you cultivated that you have shared with your community?  How many languages do you speak and how has your cultural background increased your connection with the community?  After you have selected those talents and activities that you feel best represent you—relate them back to medicine and how you will share or involve your classmates in these interests.  How will they enrich your classmates’ experience as well as your own?   

UMSOM Application Timeline:

AMCAS Application Due September 30, 2012
MSTP Application and
Secondary Materials Due
October 15, 2012
Secondary Application *November 30, 2012 (Strong recommendation: Submit within two weeks after receipt.)
Interviews Conducted September 7, 2012 to February 15, 2013
Rolling Admissions October 15, 2012 to March 2013
School Begins First Week in August 2013


If you would like professional guidance with your University of Michigan Medical School application materials, please consider using
Accepted’s Medical School Admissions Consulting and Editing Services, which include advising, editing, and interview coaching for the UMMS application materials.

Alicia Nimonkar is an Accepted.com advisor and editor specializing in healthcare admissions. Prior to joining Accepted, Alicia worked for five years as Student Advisor at UC Davis’ postbac program where she both evaluated applications and advised students applying successfully to med school and related programs. Explore Accepted.com’s services to see how Alicia can help you achieve your professional dreams in healthcare.


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UCSF 2013 Medical School Secondary Application Essay Tips

It is important to focus on your leadership roles and the diversity of your experiences and activities in this secondary application.  UCSF accepts students with highly competitive GPA’s and MCAT scores so it would be to your advantage to explain any decreases or irregularities in your academic records or test scores, if you have not already done so in your primary application.  Be sure to highlight the qualities, experiences, awards and scholarships that set you apart from other applicants.   

UCSF 2013 Secondary Application Essay Questions:

  • One 500-word essay with additional information
  • Two additional 500-word essays for students interested in applying to the Joint Medical Program, described below.
  • Applicants should use single line spacing and 12 point size font.
  • Responses should be constructed strategically to highlight all of an applicant’s strengths and research interests.

1) If you wish to update or expand upon your activities, you may provide additional information below. (500 word limit)

Use this essay as an opportunity to update the adcom on your current activities.  Focus on the diversity of your commitments—in leadership, volunteering, tutoring, mentoring, as well as your academic, cultural, musical, athletic and professional interests.  If you have long-term commitments to organizations, discuss your years of service and continued commitment.  What sets you apart as an applicant?  Strategically bring their attention on the strengths that you have not covered in the primary application.        

JMP Program Only

1) Please describe the basis for your interest in and your preparations for the MS with research thesis. Given the opportunity to pursue such a degree, what topics, questions or areas of research might you be interested in addressing? (limit 500 words)

The Joint Medical Program is hosted by UC Berkeley School of Public Health and UCSF.  It is a five-year program that allows participants to earn a Master’s Degree in health and medical sciences (HMS) as well as a medical degree.  Students are expected to complete at least 20 units of coursework and to write a thesis in addition to their medical education requirements.  To see a list of recent research topics, please see the invitation to the sixth annual UC Berkeley—UCSF Joint Medical Program Research Symposium.

Be sure to discuss in detail any research experience that you have.  Explain the projects that you participated in and the outcomes of your contributions—publications, poster discussions, panels, or workshops.  What was the level of your responsibility in the lab?  How long did you work on each project?  What issues did you encounter in your research and how did you find solutions these problems either individually and/or collaboratively?  If any of the topics that you covered are health-related, how could you further develop your ideas into a research project?   

2) Please describe the basis for your interest and experience with small group, case-based problem oriented learning. (limit 500 words)

You should focus on any experiences that you have working successfully in small groups in this essay response.  This could range from athletics to clinical experiences.  Describe the roles that you played within the teams you have participated on.  What were you able to accomplish as a team?  What did you as an individual contribute?  How would you benefit from a program that uses a case-based learning model? 

UCSF Application Timeline:

AMCAS Application Due October 15, 2012
Rolling Admissions January 2012 to April 2013
Alternates Accepted May 15, 2013 to August 1, 2013
School Begins September 2013

If you would like professional guidance with your UCSF application materials, please consider using Accepted’s Medical School Admissions Consulting and Editing Services, which include advising, editing, and interview coaching for the UCSF application materials.

Alicia Nimonkar is an Accepted.com advisor and editor specializing in healthcare admissions. Prior to joining Accepted, Alicia worked for five years as Student Advisor at UC Davis’ postbac program where she both evaluated applications and advised students applying successfully to med school and related programs. Explore Accepted.com’s services to see how Alicia can help you achieve your professional dreams in healthcare.

University of Washington 2013 Medical School Secondary Essay Tips

Given UWSOM’s top ranking in primary care, they will be looking for applicants with a strong interest in patient education and community health.  This secondary application will require that you provide an autobiographical essay and answer three to four short essay questions.  In constructing your responses, focus on highlighting those life experiences that will demonstrate your commitment to community service and leadership and reveal the depth of your maturity, compassion and integrity.  If you are from a rural background or Washington, Wyoming, Alaska or Montana, be sure to reference your life experiences in these areas since UWSOM has a special program called WWAMI that is designed to serve the needs of these communities.    

University of Washington 2013 Secondary Application Essay Questions:

  • One autobiographical essay, with no character limit, and three short essays with 250 word limits are requested.
  • One additional short essay is required for re-applicants with a 250 word limit.
  • Applicants should use single line spacing and 12 point size font.
  • Responses should be constructed strategically to highlight all of an applicant’s strengths, especially since the application will be reviewed holistically.

Application Tip: Check out this application advice from the Dean of Admissions at UWSOM

The following are required in the Secondary Application:

  1. An autobiographical statement which should include:
        • the origin and development of your motivation to be a physician
        • your prior experiences in health care
        • steps taken to explore a career in medicine
        • your eventual goals as a physician
        • and other issues of importance

    The Personal Comments section of the AMCAS application may be used to satisfy this requirement, or an additional autobiography may be submitted with your secondary materials. Your AMCAS personal statement will already be on file with our office.

This essay is optional.  However, to demonstrate your interest in their program, submit an additional autobiographical statement.  Be strategic in your approach—focusing on clinical or research experiences that you have not discussed in your personal statement.  It may be helpful to draft a timeline of your life experiences and to focus on those that you have not yet covered in detail.  Is there anything that you would like the admissions committee to know about how your interest in medicine developed or your approach to patient care in your clinical experience?  How will a medical education influence your life goals?  What unique experiences or talents do you have that will influence how you practice medicine?         

  1. 3 additional short essays (250 word limit each)
  • How have your experiences prepared you to be a physician?

Since you will be providing an in depth autobiographical statement that will complement your personal statement, I recommend providing a “big picture” summary in response to this short essay response.  It will be important to cover the number of years you have of relevant experience—community service, research, and clinical experience.  What did you learn from these experiences?  How did these activities influence your decision to pursue a medical education?  What did you learn about yourself as you became actively involved in community health?

    • How do you imagine your personal and professional lives intersecting 10 years from now?

For this essay response, it is important to focus on how your healthy lifestyle choices, talents and hobbies will impact your practice of medicine.  How do you create balance in your life between your academic responsibilities, family, friends and your other activities?  What talents and hobbies influence your connection to the community?  In what ways do you foster a commitment to lifelong learning?      

    • What obstacles to your goals have you experienced and how have you dealt with them?

Be sure to select a life experience in which you have actively worked to overcome challenges to achieve your goals.  Maintain a positive focus and provide all the facts relevant to the situation.  It can be helpful to establish a cause and effect relationship between the elements.  What were your goals?  What obstacles arose in the situation?  What approach did you take to address the issue(s)? What were the results? I recommend selecting a situation that has a clearly positive outcome as a direct result of your active efforts.        

For re-applicants: From your most recent application until now, how have you strengthened your application?

As a re-applicant, you are demonstrating the depth of your determination to attend medical school by reapplying.  Reiterate that determination in your response to this question.  Strategically focus on the improvements you have made to your application—your new GPA, MCAT score, and life experiences.  Focus on how the time you have spent improving your application has made you a better and more focused applicant.     

UWSOM Application Timeline:

AMCAS Application Due October 15, 2012
Secondary Application November 30, 2012 (Strong recommendation:Submit within two weeks after receipt.)
Interviews Conducted October 1, 2012 to March 15, 2013
Rolling Admissions October 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013
Alternates Accepted April 1, 2013 to August 31, 2013
School Begins August 15, 2013

If you would like professional guidance with your University of Washington School of Medicine application materials, please consider using Accepted’s Medical School Admissions Consulting and Editing Services, which include advising, editing, and interview coaching for the UWSOM application materials.

Alicia Nimonkar is an Accepted.com advisor and editor specializing in healthcare admissions. Prior to joining Accepted, Alicia worked for five years as Student Advisor at UC Davis’ postbac program where she both evaluated applications and advised students applying successfully to med school and related programs. Explore Accepted.com’s services to see how Alicia can help you achieve your professional dreams in healthcare.