Secondary Application Essay Prompt Themes

We went through all 2020-2021 secondary application prompts for MD and DO schools and curated a list of essay prompts that will help you prepare for this part of the admissions process.

For a Master List  in Excel format, see: 

Conquering Challenges

1) When have you failed at something other than an academic experience? How did you confront the failure and what did you learn from it?

2) Describe a problem in your life. Include how you dealt with it and how it influenced your growth.

3) Describe a situation in which you didn’t get something you felt you deserved.

4) What is the toughest feedback you have ever received; how did you respond to it and what did you learn from it?

5) Describe a time where you learned from your mistakes.

6) What has been your most humbling experience and how has that experience affect your interactions with others?

7) Give an example of personal feedback in the last few years that was difficult to receive. How did you respond?

8) Everyone needs help at various times in their lives. Describe a time you asked for help and what you gained from that experience that has influenced your approach to asking for help.

9) Recount a time when you made a decision you regret. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

Clinical/Community Service Experiences

1) Who is your most memorable patient? What did you learn from that experience?

2) Describe and share what you learned from an experience providing direct patient care.

3) What experience have you had that has given you insight into the patients you hope to eventually serve?

4) What was your most fulfilling community service experience? How did that experience help you grow as a person?

5) Give an example of what you have done to make your community a better place to live.

6) What does social justice mean to you?

Diversity

1) Have you ever felt different from others? What did you do with that feeling? How might that make you a better doctor?

2) How have you engaged with diversity? What effect has this had on your own growth and development?

3) Briefly describe a situation where you were not in the majority. What did you learn from the experience?

4) How can you play an active role in addressing and dismantling systemic racism?

5) What have you done to help identify, address and correct an issue of systemic discrimination?

6) How have you connected with someone whose culture was different than your own?

7) How have your cultural experiences shaped the way you see yourself contributing to the medical field?

8) Tell us about a time when you observed, personally experienced, or acted with implicit or explicit bias. Through either situation, what did you learn?

9) Describe briefly any experiences and/or skills that have made you more sensitive or appreciative of other cultures or the human condition.

10) Tell us about a time when you interacted with someone who is different than you. What did you learn? What would you do differently?

Leadership/Problem-Solving Skills

1) How would you describe your leadership style? Give an example of how you've applied your style as a leader.

2) Describe examples of leadership experience in which you have significantly influenced others, helped resolve disputes, or contributed to group efforts over time.

3) Describe a time when you were on a team that was dysfunctional in some regard. How did you address the situation?

4) Have you ever been in the middle of a situation where there was poor communication? What did you do to improve it?

5) Describe a time when you have "thought outside the box" to solve a problem.

6) If you were working on a small group project and you thought that another student wasn’t carrying his/her load, how would you handle it?

7) Describe a time that you demonstrated integrity.

8) Describe a time you worked on a team. What lessons did you learn from this experience?

9) Please discuss a situation where you had to use your leadership skills.

10) Describe an ethically challenging situation you have been in, and how you respond?

11) Please describe an experience/ situation when you advocated for someone else.

12) Tell us about a peer who is deserving of recognition but whose accomplishments may not be acknowledged adequately. Why do you think they were overlooked?

Medical School Goals

1) What are you most looking forward to in medical school?

2) What feature(s) are you looking for in a medical school?

3) What does a collaborative learning environment mean to you?

4) If you could present yourself to the Committee on Admissions, what would you want to make sure they knew about you?

5) How do you know you want to spend your life studying and practicing medicine?

6) If you could strengthen one area of your application, what would it be? What have you done, or what do you plan to do, to address it and improve going forward?

7) What one or two factors are most important to you in choosing where you wish to pursue your medical education?

8) What will be your support system while in medical school?

9) Is there a unique aspect of your application that should be considered by the admissions committee?

10) What are your career plans if you do not ever get admitted to medical school?

11) In the event you are accepted to two or more medical schools, what factors would be most important in determining which school would be the “best fit” for you.

12) What do you feel it will take for you to succeed in medical school?

Your Role as Physician

1) What personal qualities do you think you need to be a successful physician?

2) In what type of healthcare setting do you see yourself practicing medicine?

3) What do you see as the physician’s role in Public Health?

4) Other than work/life balance, what do you believe the biggest challenge you will face as a practicing physician will be and how do you anticipate responding to it?

5) In what field of medicine do you envision yourself working ten years from now?

6) What do you consider to be the role of the physician in the community?

7) What competencies and qualities do you feel a physician should possess?

8) Is there any aspect of medicine you think you do not like? If so, what, and why not?

9) How you hope to impact medicine in the future?

10) Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, what do you believe are major needs in health care and how have your expectations for your role as a doctor changed?

11) How would you, as a future physician, plan to address the social determinants of health?

12) What are your aspirations for your medical practice? Fast-forward to 15 years in the future: where do you imagine yourself?

13) What does health equity mean to you? How will you as a physician promote health equity and foster diversity and inclusion?

14) What would you like to contribute and be remembered for in medicine?

15) What do you think you will like best about being a physician?

16) What do you think you will like least about being a physician?

17) In which direction would you like to see healthcare progress over the next decade?

18) What breakthrough in clinical or research medicine would you like to see occur within the span of your career in medicine? Why?

Tell Me About Yourself

1) Create a superhero for your current city, town or municipality. What would they fight? Describe their appearance, name and special powers.

2) Describe specific steps you take to manage your stress and maintain wellness while balancing personal, educational, and professional responsibilities.

3) Reflect on a time in which you personally gained more from an experience than what was expected.

4) Describe an experience or situation which made you feel grateful.

5) How would you describe your identity? How it has impacted the development of your values and attitudes toward individuals different from yourself?

6) List three adjectives that characterize the community in which you grew up.

7) What, if any, has been your most significant travel experience? Why was it so meaningful?

8) What non-academic advice would you give to your younger self?

9) What is the most fun you’ve had lately?

10) How do you define respect?

Personal Achievements/Interests

1) What is the one most important honor you have received? Why do you view this as important?

2) What acheivement/accomplishment are you most proud of?

3) Tell us something you are passionate about and why.

4) Please tell us an interesting fact about yourself that a casual acquaintance may find surprising or interesting.

5) What do you consider the most important thing you have done to date?

6) What endeavors other than medicine have you abandoned or postponed in order to pursue your current path, and how did you make those decisions?

7) What is an area of intellectual exploration you are passionate about and have sustained over time? Why this interest?