Secondary Essays

Looking at a sea of incoming secondaries - which I hope will amout to more than “Thanks for the $100, sucker!” - I’ve been wondering about the expectations for secondary essays.

One of my schools mentioned that they have 4 short essays that I should be able to complete in an hour. I was more expecting pretty much all of these to be essays that I would take my time on and thoroughly refine, so even if they were 50 word responses, I’d still be making sure I do my best with each and every one of them. I’m kind of a perfectionist, so I’ll probably end up doing that regardless, but…

Are we expected to thoroughly refine our secondary essays, or is it more of a “shoot from the hip” type thing? I suppose I can see the latter if the essays are considered “getting to know you” rather than “analyzing your skills” - it’s just not how I assumed I’d approach them.

Indulge your compulsive overachiever here, Adam. Don’t ever assume that anything related to the application process should be casual or shoot-from-the-hip. Polish that puppy… but don’t get STUCK on it, you do need to turn it in LOL.

Your secondary essays may ask you things like “Why Dr. Nick’s Hollywood Upstairs School of Medicine?” Your answer had better show that you’ve got more than a passing familiarity with the school, its curriculum, special features, unique programs, location, etc. etc. “Because I’ve always wanted to see Hollywood” is the sort of off-the-cuff answer that wouldn’t help you.


well I recycled most of my secondary essays since the topics were pretty repetitious. So I found it paid off to refine them as much as possible at the outset. Then I could tailor them to the specific school, sometimes just changing a word or two and other times writing several new paragraphs. The key thing is to make sure you change the name of the institution in the essay, and of course as Mary points out it needs ideally to be well researched and specific to the school.

It’s still a crap shoot, though. I find it ironic that most of the schools that I knew a lot about and really targeted, including visits, sitting in on classes, referencing graduates or affiliates, etc., didn’t even want to interview me, while the “unknown” schools that were kind of a shot in the dark that I had to struggle to think of specifics in my essays, gave me the most acceptances; go figure.

I’m finally working on my secondaries now. I submitted my primary app to AACOMAS very late - am prepared for total flogging now by all my fellow OPMers - and I find secondaries to be tedious. I applied to 14 DO schools and have thus far received 12 secondaries, two of which I finished. I agonized (agonized!) over every word, comma, syllable of the primary app and put so much into it that I don’t know what to write on secondaries. They all seem to ask “What are your healthcare experiences?” and “Why our school?” and “Why DO?” The first and last questions are easy, but I would love to be able to write “because I think your school may accept me” for the second answer. LOL.

Random secondary question: Several of my schools have branch campuses and for both schools I favor a certain campus over the other. Do I mention that in the secondary or not? I don’t want to hurt my chances at my least favored branch if that one is more willing to accept me than the other one.

Good luck to all in the current cycle!



If you’re talking about branch campuses like how U of I is set up, no, don’t talk about one vs. the other because you don’t always have a choice in which campus you go to.

If you’re talking about LECOM-Erie vs. LECOM-Bradenton type of branch, then each one should have its own secondary and you don’t have to worry about it.

You should never, ever, bad mouth another medical school or undergraduate/graduate school in your applications. The academic world is smaller than you think.

I agree with Meg. I think you should mention in your essay what you admire about the particular school, such as early clinical exposure, problem-based learning, emphasis on community, etc. Check for recent news about the school on-line and emphasize what sets them apart.

I have a friend who is still waiting for AACOMAS to finish processing her app and she applied to all the DO schools, so you are not alone. Just knock those secondaries out fast and wait for the

interviews to come rolling in!

Good luck Stacy!

Thanks Everyone! I have done 3 secondaries so far and should finish the 4th one today. I am going to just put why I like each school in each one. I applied to both PCOM campuses and both LECOM campuses and prefer certain branches (if I was actually lucky enough to choose!) but I think it is better left unsaid. There are reasons why I like each of those 4 campuses so I will just list those reasons. I would never “badmouth” a school. Then, just 8 more to go!

I’m trying to get the secondaries out as fast as I can since I was so late with the primary…but I also took the MCAT late too. I was only about a month late submitting it since AACOMAS holds on to these apps until the MCAT score goes in and then sends them out to the schools.

Good luck to those in the current cycle!



You really need to get going with those secondaries…specially for rolling admission schools…

Yeah, I agree w/ efex. But look at it this way - you got a nice four day weekend coming up. You should be able to knock out at least two of them.

I’m half done with my secondaries. 7 done, 7 more to go. but I’ll be gone Mon. and Tues. for an interview. Yeah!

Awesome! you can get a lot of writing done on the plane if you don’t bring anything else to read!