After the submission of your primary application through AMCAS or AACOMAS, your application will either be formally rejected by a medical school or you will be asked for more information. This set of follow-up information is requested in the form of a school specific application known as a school’s secondary application.
Each medical school has its own secondary application questions. The secondary application answers the question, “why do you want to attend school X?” By answering the questions on the secondary applications, you are able to express what interests you have about a particular institution. The secondary application typically has an associated application fee. Fees from each school vary but typically range from $30 to $250 for the “top” schools. Many schools offer fee waivers for those from disadvantaged backgrounds. You should check with each school for fee waivers before you send back your secondary application.
The deadline for secondary apps tends to be around December or January. But again, every school sets its own deadline, so be sure to note this and keep your secondary applications timely and organized.
After reviewing the additional information provided by your secondary application, schools will decide whether or not to invite you for an interview.
A Word on Cost
Keep in mind that the cost of both the primary and secondary app add up quickly. For example the 2019 AMCAS (primary) application fee is $170 for the first school and $39 for each additional school. Secondary application fees typically range from $0 to $200. While it is possible to qualify for fee assistance programs and waivers to offset the exorbitant costs, the application process can take a big toll financially — we have to be honest about that. It can be a struggle. Many of us docs actually start accruing “medical school debt” as early as this stage.