Once you submit your primary application, the secondary application process begins. At this stage, each school follows its own process of reviewing applications, interviewing applicants, and making offers to them, within certain guidelines set by the national organizations of medical colleges. Many medical schools have individual applications that supplement the primary application, referred to as secondary applications.
Most medical schools contact all applicants and automatically invite all of them to submit secondary applications, but some complete an initial review of the primary application before selecting only their top candidates to invite to submit secondary applications. Some medical schools may contact you by email and have you fill out an online secondary application, whereas others will send you secondary forms by postal mail. If you have questions you should check the school's website for additional instructions on their procedures, or call or e-mail the admissions office at the school.
You should be aware that many schools will not review your file until all secondary application materials, including letters of recommendation, have been received. In essence what this means is that you have not actually applied to the school until you have completed your secondary application, even if you selected the school months earlier on your primary application.
You should endeavor to complete the secondary applications as quickly as possible so that your application can be moved into the next stage of evaluation. Some schools may give you a deadline to return the secondary applications, but do not wait until the deadlines to submit materials. The sooner you return your secondary application the sooner you will move into the next stage of evaluation. Completing and returning the secondary application quickly signals your sincere interest in the school to the admissions committee. Remember that schools do not wait on late applications to fill their classes.
Many of the secondary applications will ask you to complete additional essays on topics related to your preparation for medical school and a career in medicine. Your premed journal may prove very valuable at this stage. You may find that you already have written material on relevant topics in your journal that can be expanded and incorporated into your essays for the secondary applications.
Many highly-qualified applicants do not do as well in the admissions process because they fail to follow-up in a timely manner. Applicants who submit their primary applications early in the summer often gain an advantage in the admissions process, but if you subsequently submit your secondary applications and letters of recommendation late, you have lost all the advantage you had in the beginning as an early applicant, as your application will now be reviewed after students who submitted their secondary applications and recommendation letters before you. It can really be to your advantage to follow-up in a timely manner and stay determined throughout the entire application process.