Congrats! You’ve completed your AMCAS app and are starting to hear back from med schools. It’s not time to sit back on your laurels just yet. You’ve still got a lot of work ahead of you, and a great secondary essay is one of the keys to a med school acceptance. But how do you write that stand-out essay?
Here’s some advice for you from Accepted’s expert consultants:
1. Answer the Question
Probably the most basic – but important –tip comes from Dr. Herman (Flash) Gordon: Make sure you understand the prompt. You don’t want to spend your time and effort writing the wrong secondary!
2. Show That You Care
Consultant Jessica Pishko suggests that you take the time to write secondaries that show you really care about the school. Provide specifics that show you did your research and aren’t just repeating what you read on their website. A good source of info is the school’s Twitter feed.
3. View the Application Holistically
Additionally, Jessica reminds applicants not to duplicate information that already appears in their personal statement.
4. Don’t Skimp on the “Easy” Ones
Jessica’s last piece of advice is this: Don’t put off or skimp on the secondaries for schools where you’re likely to get an interview – put as much effort into the schools where you’re likely to get accepted as you do on your reach schools.
5. Demonstrate Your Unique Fit with the Program
Consultant Cydney Foote suggests that you find new aspects of the school that appeal to you. Writing about such areas as early clinical exposure, strong curricula, or student run clinics are very common, and thus almost meaningless. The school website’s news section is a great place to find out what the school is truly excited about. Talk to current students in person or in forums, and if you can, visit the school. Take every opportunity to determine what the school is about and how you fit. Another important tip that Cydney says should go without saying: Submit those secondaries quickly.
6. Stay Organized
According to consultant Dr. Barry Rothman, PhD, organization is key. Use a spreadsheet to keep your information straight. Include the name of the school, due date, and each question’s topic. “This facilitates using text from previous, similar answers and lessens duplication of effort,” he says.
7. Identify Shared Goals
Consultant Alicia McNease Nimonkar suggests that you take the time to identify where your interests overlap with the school’s specific goals and mission. Use this as a jumping off point for your secondary.
8. Follow Consultant Suzi Schweikert’s Three-Pronged Approach to Secondaries
a. Emphasize how you will add to the field of medicine; don’t talk about the state of healthcare in general.
b. Be careful when you cut and paste! Words and phrases used to answer one essay may sound off-topic in another. Don’t force your answer to fit.
c. Be consistent with who you are in your personal statement. Your secondaries should be in line with and complement the primary. Be sure not to duplicate it.
For personalized advice from a med school admissions specialist who will guide you through the secondary essays and conduct a mock interview, check out our secondary services.