1. They receive them late.
Many medical schools will make their secondary application available to you (by mail or online) within a few weeks of receiving your AMCAS primary application. Submitting a late primary gives you a late start overall. Thanks to the reality of rolling admissions, if you postpone submitting your AMCAS until late summer or early fall, you'll start receiving secondary applications just as the first crop has finished interviewing and is starting to get acceptances. The number of seats available in next year's entering class has begun to drop, and by this time, the number of applicants competing for those seats has swelled.
2. They mail them back late.
Ideally, you want to return the secondary applications to medical schools within a couple of days of receiving them. Yes, you read that correctly! The quicker you return their secondaries, the more obvious your enthusiasm about attending their school. Now, you *could* put pressure on yourself to compose 2-3 pages of thoughtful, specific prose for each school within 24 hours of receiving each application. But clearly, the best way to turn them around immediately is to have your secondary essays practically done before the applications arrive. Fortunately, secondary essay prompts are widely available nowadays-just ask someone who applied to medical school last year, or consult a pre-med advisor.
3. They are late in other ways.
Tardy letters of recommendation can postpone the evaluation of your application indefinitely. If the letters of reference aren't already in your file at the medical schools by the time you mail back your completed secondary application, how can admissions evaluate your complete application and make a decision to offer you an interview? It may be your recommenders' responsibility to write the letters of reference, but the burden of making sure they follow through falls upon your shoulders alone.
4. They don't distinguish themselves in their writing.
Applicants feel that so much is at stake that they are afraid to take risks in their application; as a result, many of the essays we read are very "safe" (translation: unoriginal and not distinctive). The writing that you do for medical schools needs to focus on your unique attributes. Share your passion for medicine and healing with medical school, but be careful of blanket statements that are not backed up with specific experiences. Learn to craft an artful story.
5. They repeat themselves in the wrong way.
At INQUARTA, we advise our clients to create an image of consistency in their secondary applications by revisiting the Core Themes that they laid out in their AMCAS primary application. However, some applicants mistake our advice to accentuate Core Themes as permission to rehash the same stories from their personal statement. Just remember, you're continuing a conversation, not starting from scratch.Read More