Right now, most premeds are counting down the days until May 28th, when the 2021 AMCAS application will open. After you put the final touches on your application and click “submit,” how do you plan to spend your time?
- Rewatching all nine seasons of The Office on Netflix
- Perfecting your indoor hoops game
- Finishing that cross-stitch project you started in high school
- Pre-writing your secondary essays
If you answered (d), your future-self will thank you. Turning around secondaries is always one of the most stressful parts of the application cycle. It’s difficult to balance the quick turnaround time – less than two weeks – without sacrificing the quality of your answers.
But wait, you might say. Don’t I deserve some time off after all the stress of putting together my primary application?
Sure you do, but let me ask you another question: When your gym closed its doors in response to COVID-19, did you stop all your physical activity? And if you did, did you notice an unfairly quick decline in your physical state? I feel like it only takes a short while for my muscles to evaporate, and for that 30-pound kettlebell to feel like it weighs a ton!
Writing is similar. The more you write, the easier it becomes. And when you stop, it’s harder to pick back up.
But if you keep writing a bit every day, tackling some of the more common secondary prompts, you’ll be surprised at how fast you’ll build up an inventory of adaptable answers, and a strong writing muscle.
But what if the school changes its secondary essay questions? Won’t that waste all my hard work?
These are valid questions. Occasionally schools do change their prompts. This year, there will likely be some questions on how you coped or contributed or otherwise clung to normalcy during this pandemic. But here’s the thing: even if one school hasn’t asked a certain question, another will. There’s little chance that your writing will be wasted, even if it does need to be reworked.
I haven’t applied before. Where would I even find the secondary essay prompts?
Sources like StudentDoctor.net and ProspectiveDoctor.com have pages upon pages devoted to secondary prompts; here at Accepted, you can also find questions and tips for secondaries from the top medical schools. Looking back over the years will help you identify which schools tend to change their secondaries, while you’ll also start to notice some of the same questions appearing again and again.
It sounds like a lot of work.
It is, but the work doesn’t get easier if you wait. Starting to think about your answers now will make it much easier to tackle them in the deluge of secondaries. And if you want to keep up the fast pace – remember, you should return your answers within two weeks – then pre-writing will help you do it.
Get an admissions expert on your team
And our team of medical admissions consultants is here to help. We’ve been through this before, and we know which questions are likely to reappear, how to keep you organized, and how to make your answers stand out from the crowd. If you’re ready to get ahead, get in touch with us today.