Pre-Health Secondary Applications

Claire Cornell

FAQs - Secondary Applications

What is a secondary application? 

After submitting your primary application to schools, they may choose to send you back a secondary application. These supplemental essays can range in the amount and types of questions (from "Yes/No" to short essay), and can give schools more insight into you as a candidate and how you may be a good fit for their program. 

Will I get a secondary from every school I apply to? 

Not necessarily. Some schools may have screening processes before distributing secondaries, but they are not required to share this information. When making a school list, consider how many schools you are applying to and the maximum number of secondaries you may receive and have to return within the same time period. Our Pre-Med applicants from UVA typically apply to about 20 medical schools on average. 

Should I "pre-write" my secondary applications? 

You may choose to do some research on previous year's secondary application questions to start "pre-writing". It is not required, but can help some students feel more prepared for the multiple secondary applications they will receive at one time. Not all schools use the same secondary application questions from the last year though. So "pre-writing" could also end up being writing that does not actually answer the questions that a school poses in their secondary. 

 It can be helpful to research and write out why you are interested in each program you've applied to ahead of time so to not have a generic or a copy/paste answer to the question "why are you interested in ____ school/program". A common error that occurs from "pre-writing" is that students will copy/paste an answer about a specific school into another school's secondary. An error-free application is most important, so take your time in researching, re-reading, and adjusting your essays for schools' secondaries if you choose to "pre-write".

Are all secondary applications the same? 

No. Since secondary applications are sent to you directly by each school, they may not all look the same. In fact, some may be focused on the interests of each particular school. Doing research about each school can help you prepare for secondaries. Some common secondary questions we have heard from previous students are "Why are you interested in our program?", "How will you enhance our school's diversity?", "If you are taking a gap/bridge year, what will you be doing?", "Is there anything else you'd like us to know?" 

How much do secondary applications cost? 

This will vary by school, but can be anywhere from $30 to over $100. Check out this AAMC website for information regarding "The Cost of Applying to Medical School". If you need assistance in affording the cost of applying to medical schools, check out the AAMC Fee Assistance Program

What recommendations do Pre-Health Advisors have on how to write secondary applications? 

You should be succinct in your answers and not feel like you have to fill the whole space. If you complete a secondary and it appears to be a copy/paste - or appears that your word count is only lower because it is a copy/paste, that could be detrimental. Also, since you will likely receive multiple secondaries at the same time, you will want to remain organized to make sure that you are completing the correct secondary. You do not want to write about another program in a different program's secondary! 

Make sure that you are answering the question they are asking. Do not add words or repeat yourself in order to fill space - it is okay not to use it all. But make sure your answer is a genuine representation of you. 

When should I submit the secondary applications? 

We recommend submitting your secondaries within two weeks of receiving them. This goes for all the programs you applied to, so balancing your time and ensuring you are completing each secondary with intention is important!

Can Pre-Health Advisors review my secondary applications? 

Pre-Health Advisors can review a secondary application for one school you are applying to. Once reviewed, you should be able to apply most of the feedback to the rest of your secondaries. If you have specific questions about other secondaries, you can always schedule an appointment with a Pre-Health Advisor or email

To submit your one secondary for review, you may submit it to in Word Doc format.