If you’re considering applying to medical school, you’re probably acquainting yourself with all the terms. We get it! There’s a lot to understand about the medical school application process. In today’s article, we’re going to explain the difference between primary and secondary applications. We’ll cover the differences vs similarities and how they’re connected. Read on to learn everything there is to know about primary vs secondary applications.
What Primary and Secondary Applications Have in Common
- They both involve writing essays.
- They both involve filling out information about yourself.
- They both involve submitting applications.
How Primary and Secondary Applications Are Different
- You only fill out one primary application.
- You fill out a secondary application for many of the schools you apply to.
- Your primary application involves your personal statement. It’s more generalized.
- While all secondary applications share common themes, the essays are specific to each school.
- The applications often have different deadlines.
About Your Primary Application
Your primary application is your first step to applying for medical school. Where you apply to medical school determines which application you’ll fill out.
- Applicants applying to medical school in Texas will fill out their primary application via the Texas Medical and Dental School Application Service (TMDSAS).
- Applicants applying to medical school in any state other than Texas will fill out their primary application through the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS).
- Applicants applying to osteopathic medical programs will fill out their primary application by using the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS).
These applications all vary to an extent, but they have multiple things in common. Among those things are your personal statement, your work and activities section and your personal information.
The differences are mainly how each section is filled out, deadlines, and application specifications. We’ve written comprehensive articles on each application service, so click the links to learn more.
About Your Secondary Applications
Your secondary applications work differently from your AMCAS/AACOMAS/TMDSAS. While they all share common themes, they have elements that are unique to each school. You’ll select all the schools you want to apply to in your primary application. Then, some schools will send you a secondary application. You’ll fill out the secondary application for each school that sends you one. For schools that don’t, it’s their polite way of turning you down.
Your secondary application will include essay prompts that the admissions committee writes for applicants. They ask specific questions to gauge how prepared/ready you are to attend their school. The secondary essays, paired with your personal statement from your AMCAS, help admissions committees to decide whether they want to interview you. Because of this, they’re very important! Each school varies in what questions they ask, how many they ask, and how many words/characters they give you to answer the essay prompt.
So, how do I apply?
Begin your primary application.
You’ll begin the entire process by starting your primary application. AMCAS just opened their application cycle for the 2021-2022 school year. AACOMAS is open and so is TMDSAS. If you’re applying to medical schools in Texas and in other states, then you’ll most likely need to fill out both AMCAS and TMDSAS. Visit the official university website for the Texas medical school to which you’re applying to make sure they use TMDSAS.
Complete and then submit your primary application.
Primary applications take a long time to fill out. Besides your personal statement, they ask for your personal information, family demographics, criminal history, high school transcripts, coursework taken in college, and more. It’s very important to accurately and completely fill out your application. Take your time doing so. A thoroughly and carefully completed application should take you about a month.
The Waiting Period
After you’ve submitted your primary application, the medical schools to which you’ve applied will receive your application. Medical schools work one of two ways. They either automatically send out secondary applications to all applicants, or they review primary applications and decide to whom they will send secondary applications. This information should be listed on the medical school’s website.
It generally takes about two weeks to start receiving secondary application invitations. You’ll receive an email with a link to a portal. You’ll create an account in that portal to access the secondary application. If you don’t receive an email after several weeks, and if the medical school is selective about who they send applications to, it’s a safe bet that you won’t have an opportunity to attend medical school there. At least not for the current application year.
Filling Out Secondary Applications
Every secondary application is different. We’ve created a series on our blog full of definitive guides on getting into medical school. Out of all the medical schools we’ve examined so far, no two medical schools are the same. That’s why it’s important to review the university’s website for information specific to their application. If you need help along the way, consider International Medical Aid’s med school admissions consulting. We can help with wherever you’re stuck. We also recommend reaching out to the school with your questions. They have an entire admissions department dedicated to helping you. Chances are, they’ve answered your question before, and they’ll be happy to answer it again for you.
We also recommend checking out our blog! We’re working on creative a definitive guide to every single medical school in the United States to help guide you through your journey. Here are the schools we’ve covered so far.
- Baylor College of Medicine
- George Washington University School of Medicine
- Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
- St. George’s University School of Medicine
- Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (in Pennsylvania)
- Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University
- Wake Forest University School of Medicine
- Western University of Health Sciences (in California)
- Drexel University College of Medicine
- Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University Chicago
- Georgetown University School of Medicine
- Yale School of Medicine
- Perelman School of Medicine
- UCLA Medical School
- NYU Medical School
- Washington University School of Medicine
- Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
- Brown Medical School
After Your Submit Your Secondary Application Medical School
Once you’ve submitted your secondary applications (one to each school to which you’re applying), it’s time to wait again. This time, you’re waiting for interviews. Good luck!
Here at International Medical Aid, we want to see you succeed. We understand how complicated and confusing the whole application process can be. We hope this article has clarified the difference between primary vs secondary applications. This information, paired with med school admissions consulting, should have you well on your way to filling out your primary and secondary application medical school.
As complicated as the process might seem, primary vs secondary applications are designed to make the admissions process easier. The primary application prevents you from having to submit the same application over and over to every single medical school. Your secondary application medical school is designed to help each school get to know you better. The process is unique to medical school, as well as some dental and veterinary schools.
We hope you feel better prepared to begin your application process, now that you understand primary vs secondary applications. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re here for you, whether you have a question about primary vs secondary applications, or if you have a question about something else altogether. Our founders are Johns Hopkins graduates, and our staff are made up of experts who can help you through whatever stage of your application process you might be in. We wish you the best as you work toward attending medical school!