4 Strategies for Successful Secondary Applications

August 11, 2017
Emily Hause

Follow these tips to make your secondary applications more manageable.

Secondaries are an important step in securing an interview invitation.

You’ve heard of the four seasons, right? What about the lesser-known fifth season—secondary application season? It’s one of the busiest times of year for medical school applicants.

How to manage your secondary applications

After submitting the primary application through AMCAS and waiting for it to be verified, you’ll get to the second round. Unlike with the primary applications, secondary applications differ for every medical school. This means that each school will have a different fee, a different form, and a different set of essays.

If you’ve applied to ten or more medical schools, keeping track of all of your secondaries can seem like a challenge. With the right approach, however, you can master the process and boost your chances of landing an acceptance.

1. Be highly organized

Create a spreadsheet or a document where you keep all the application links, essay prompts, passwords, usernames, due dates, and other secondary application minutiae. That way, you can quickly and easily keep track of all the information necessary to access your secondary applications.

You should also have a system for keeping track of your secondary application completion status. You don’t want to do all that hard work and then forget to hit ‘submit’ on an application.

2. Submit promptly

The majority of medical schools have rolling admissions. That means you’re better off submitting your application sooner than later. When that desire to procrastinate on your secondaries creeps in, think about all the other applicants who might be ahead of you in line for review if you submit tomorrow instead of today. Keep yourself motivated, be proactive, and complete those secondary applications as soon as you can without sacrificing quality.

3. Read ahead

Some medical schools will have past essay prompts available on their website. If they’re available, you can get a head-start by brainstorming essay topics and considering how you want to connect your experiences to their prompts.

You should also check out the school’s mission, values, and other information on their website. You want to be familiar with all relevant information about the program in which you hope to enroll. Knowing this information is key to successful secondaries—and will help during your medical school interview.

4. Set priorities

Even though they can be tedious and time-consuming, secondary applications should take top priority, and you should prioritize completing your secondaries based on the priority you give to your prospective programs.

Without a completed secondary, you’re unlikely to get an interview invitation. So, if there’s a school you’re particularly interested—or a “safety” school where your odds of acceptance are higher—you should prioritize the application for that school first.

Still building your primary medical school application? Sign up for one of our MCAT prep course options and secure the score you deserve.

Emily Hause Emily has been a teacher for Kaplan for over eight years; she's taught MCAT, ACT, SAT, SAT2 and tutored pretty much every subject under the sun in both the classroom and live online (aka Classroom Anywhere) settings. She's also worked for Kaplan in content development and teacher mentorship roles. Emily is currently a fourth-year medical student at the University of Colorado and is hoping to go into Pediatrics. She's involved in many campus opportunities such as being a Prospective Student Representative, admissions committee member, CU-UNITE member, and co-president of the Education and Teaching Interest Group. Prior to medical school, Emily got a BA in Biochemistry and Spanish from Lawrence University and a Masters in Public Health- Epidemiology from the University of Minnesota. In her free time, Emily enjoys dancing, baking, playing tennis and exploring her new Colorado home.

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