By: Alessandra Santiago

In our last article, we covered how to approach writing your Personal Statement and Activities Section of the primary application. This week, we will cover how to edit, who to ask to review your application, and other fine-tuning tips and tricks before hitting the submit button.

Proof-reading is the name of the game. With each aspect of the primary application (Personal Statement, Activities Section, and Coursework/Transcripts), applicants must ensure grammatical and spelling correctness in addition to providing accurate information. In particular, the Coursework/Transcript section is the lowest-hanging fruit in terms of catching inaccuracies that may slow down the processing of your primary application.

One of the recommendations by the AAMC is to order official transcripts from each of your post-secondary institutions in order to faithfully transcribe your grades and course descriptions. Delays to your primary application as a result of erroneous transcription could result in missed deadlines. To maximize this section of the primary application, be sure to follow the AAMC’s advice, and consider ordering your official transcripts at least one month before the primary opens to complete this section.

As you write your essays, consider who you will ask to serve as an editor or reader. It is common for students to request their pre-health advisor or other application counselors to gauge whether their language is succinct and compelling. Peers, family members, members of the healthcare profession, and mentors can personally gauge whether they understand what drew you to medicine and can speak to the accuracy of the personal narrative you have woven. Some students elect to purchase outside essay consulting services, but it is the prerogative of the student—and their budget—to determine whether such services are warranted.

Writing your primary app is a deep dive into your personal motivations to pursue medicine. This is your greatest opportunity to elucidate your academic journey and personal hardships that have contributed to a mature understanding of healthcare. As you read through your essay, ask yourself: what would an Admissions Officer take away about why you are suited for medicine? Weaving your story can be difficult, so writing a highly-personal narrative that hinges on one or two exemplary stories is key to creating a refined ‘flow’ in your application materials.

In the next few articles, we will begin to cover the secondary applications: how to strategize, your timelines, common essay prompts, etc. The secondaries are meant to answer the question: “Why choose this school?”. The primary app is about: “What makes you qualified for a career in medicine?”. 

For now, start writing about yourself. Reflect on your journey, and journal. Take short breaks from writing. Edit your essays with a fine-toothed comb, keeping tone, content, and overall flow in mind. Seek the input of those who know you well, and select what feedback you wish to incorporate into your new drafts.

Then, once you are satisfied with your story, submit your application with confidence!

Assignment #12: Begin mentally selecting your readers. If you haven’t started jotting down thoughts about the Personal Statement, begin to do so. Start by having brainstorming conversations with your support system about your strengths. Look into the official transcript ordering protocol at your institutions.

Up next: Secondaries. Before secondaries season hits, be sure to check out our next article in two weeks about preparing for onslaught of secondary essays.

If you want to learn more about navigating the Pre-Med journey, check out our Getting Into Med School: Tips and Tricks Blog.