After an applicant has submitted their primary application, the majority of schools will request additional information in the form of the secondary application, or supplemental application.
Secondary applications are school-specific; the questions asked will vary from program to program. They generally intend to gain a deeper understanding of each applicant, as well as a sense of why an applicant is a good “fit” for the school.
Schools vary on exactly when they distribute secondary applications—some will be sent out shortly after submission of the primary application, while others can take over a month. Regardless of when the secondary is received, applicants should aim to complete their secondary applications within two weeks. Some schools use an applicant’s response time as a way to gauge their interest in the program, so secondaries should ideally be completed within a few days for top-choice programs.
To prepare for writing secondary applications, applicants should:
- Review each school’s mission statement and familiarize themselves with the core values of the school and what their priorities are when reviewing candidates (to view a comprehensive list of all mission statements for MD schools, visit the MSAR Mission Statement Report)
- Do some research into common questions that are asked in secondary applications so that general responses can be crafted in advance
- Plan answers around specific, illustrative examples for their candidacy—make sure to not repeat or copy directly from the primary application; rather, add in new details and elements that expand upon your responses
- Remain organized and create a plan to prioritize and submit your secondaries in a timely manner
To view an unofficial database of secondary applications for each school, visit Prospective Doctor. It’s a good idea to start pre-writing your secondary applications after you have submitted your primary and are waiting for it to be verified.
Note as well that just as there is a fee for filling out your primary application, there is also a fee associated with secondary applications. These fees are school-specific and will range, so ensure that you check each institution’s information about cost. You can also find information about cost and deadlines using the AAMC’s MSAR Report about Secondary Application Information.
For additional information, applicants can explore the AAMC definition of the secondary application as well as their Advising Corner: Preparing for Secondary Applications page. More resources can be found through The Princeton Review and Kaplan.