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Does it Matter How Fast I Turn Around My Secondary Essays?

Session 15

After you submit your primary application, it’s usually time to write your secondaries. Does it matter how fast you turn around the secondaries and get them back to the schools?

[00:25] Submit Secondaries Within Two Weeks?

A lot of students see this mythical two-week turnaround time for secondary essays, and they’re confused about how they can actually finish all their essays in just two weeks. For some students who apply to a lot of schools, you just get inundated with secondary essays. You might have 10 or 20 different medical schools to write secondary essays for, and they all hit you at once.

You might have 10 or 20 different medical schools to write secondary essays for, and they all hit you at once.Click To Tweet

If you apply early in the cycle, there’s usually a window between when you submit your primary application and when the schools are notified that you’ve submitted and they send out secondaries.

[Related episode: What Does the Med School Application Timeline Look Like?]

But when you’re applying later in the cycle, that window is gone. You typically submit and then lots of secondary essays just hit you at once. So if you’re applying to a lot of schools, you’re just slammed all of a sudden with a lot of essays.

Plus, you still have other things to do—maybe still studying for the MCAT and your remaining classes, shadowing, or just living life in general. All these things can get in the way of writing all those secondary essays.

[02:03] When Do You Really Need to Turn In Your Secondaries?

Some schools will give you a deadline. They will give you thirty days to submit the secondary application. Can we trust that deadline? Consider that the normal deadline for primary applications is typically the end of October. But that doesn’t mean you should apply to medical school in October. You should apply in June or as soon as you can.

So you need to get the official deadline stuff out of your head. Submit early with both your primary and secondary applications because it’s not until you turn in your secondary application that it’s complete.

Submit early with both your primary and secondary applications because it's not until you turn in your secondary application that it's complete.Click To Tweet

[03:15] Medical School Rolling Admissions

Most of these schools are inviting people for interviews on a rolling admissions basis. And most schools are accepting students on a rolling admissions basis, as well.

When your complete application is finally in—with your primary, your secondary, your MCAT score. and your letters of recommendation—then you can be reviewed for an interview.

Hopefully, your personal statement and secondary essays are all good enough to get to that interview.

[Related episode: Secondary Essay Mistakes and How to Avoid Them]

[03:55] Secondaries Are Easier to Write!

Should you turn around your secondaries as fast as possible? Yes. But you should not sacrifice quality. They don’t have to be as perfect as your personal statement. And usually, they’re much easier to write than your personal statement.

You’re answering specific questions with secondaries, while your personal statement is like an overview of why you want to be a doctor. The secondaries would usually ask about the diversity you’re going to bring or a time you’ve advocated for somebody. Or they ask about why you want to come to their specific school.

So they’re very specific questions, making it much easier to write. And basically, schools ask the same things from you. So there could be a lot of copying and pasting that happens once you get further down the line.

The more secondaries you write, the easier it gets since you're basically writing the same things over and over for each school.Click To Tweet

[05:10] Do Schools Track Your Secondaries?

Some schools track how long it takes for you to submit your secondary application. And they’ll use that information to determine how interested you are in that school. This could give them data to figure out who they should invite for an interview.

Some schools track how long it takes for you to submit your secondary application, and they use that data to determine how interested you are in that school.Click To Tweet

These medical schools want to invite the applicants who are more likely to accept the interview invite and those who are more likely to matriculate once accepted. They try to figure out the number of people they have to interview for the total number of seats they have. And they try to determine how many people they have to accept to fill those hundred seats.

But the point is that some medical schools will use that data of how long it took you to submit your secondary essays to figure out how interested you are in that school.

[07:30] Takeaway Points

Number one: Turn around your secondary essays as fast as you can because it’s a rolling admissions system at most schools.

Number two: Submitting it as fast as you can shows the school that you’re very interested in going there.

Number three: Pre-write your essays as much as possible. The sooner that you apply for your primary application, the longer time you have to write your secondaries. This gives you less burden on the back end. Look up your schools in our Medical School Secondary Application Essay Library, and see what prompts that school usually sends in their secondaries. Then you can pre-write your essays, so when the actual secondaries come, you can just triple check your work and send it right back in.

The more you pre-write the secondaries, the sooner you can turn them around as they come in.Click To Tweet

Lastly, don’t sacrifice overall quality just for speed. You don’t need to send your secondary essays to a grammatical editor, but at least do a brief review. Use tools like Grammarly to get tips on how to improve your writing. It’s a great tool for your personal statement, as well.

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