Gw Medical School Secondary Essays

Below are the secondary essay prompts for the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, DC.

2017 – 2018

  • Please provide the Admissions Committee with a brief summary of your activities, academics, employment or other occupations to account for full-time activity (approx. 30-40 hours/week) for the 2017-2018 application cycle, or from the point of application through matriculation in 2018. (750 characters)
    • In narrative (sentence) form, talk professionally about what you do and plan to do during your application year. For those who are college seniors, explain your course choices and activities you plan to continue. For those who have just graduated, if you have a job lined up – fantastic – talk about it. If you do not, talk about any volunteering, clinical, research, or other activities that you plan to do. If you have space, you can mention any personal goals such as running a marathon, writing, etc. Be careful not to talk too much about traveling the world as you want to present yourself as productive during this period.
  • What is your most meaningful community service experience to date? (350 characters)
    • A straight forward response is perfect here (and all there is room for!). In narrative form, state the experience, your role, and why this was so important for you.
  • What is your most meaningful clinical experience to date, involving direct patient contact? (350 characters)
    • As with the above, be direct and concise. Give a context or backdrop for the experience (where was it? Clinic, hospital, etc) and why you sought this particular experience out, then say how you interacted with the patient(s) and what you most enjoyed.
  • What makes you a unique individual? What challenges have you faced? How will these factors help you contribute to the diversity of the student body at GW? (1000 characters)
    • Unique. I wouldn’t be surprised if this question goes by the wayside in the next few years but in the meantime, you can go in many directions with this response. Make sure you address each of the 3 questions in this response and that breaks it down into easier chunks to tackle ~ approximately 325 characters for each.
      Unique is really anything about you that you want to bring to their attention that has played a significant role in shaping you – an atypical family structure, sibling or parental influence, educational experience, job or resonsbility, personal illness or loved one’s illness, ethnic or cultural background. If you have dealt with an intensely difficult situation, you could write about this as both your challenge and uniqueness. If not, you may want to present them as different.
      In terms of how you will contribute diversity to the class, this should tie to your previous comments and should be presented as characteristics or personality traits that are your assets/strengths.
  • What is your specific interest in the MD Program at GW? What opportunities would you take advantage of as a student here? Why? (2000 characters)
    • Given the amount of space they have allotted, GW expects that you have some carved out reasons for wanting to be on their DC campus. First, within their walls – what is it about their curriculum or philosophy, teaching style, faculty and current student body that appeals to you? Next, think outside the walls more broadly to the DC area and what is going on that you could become involved with based on your career interests. Are you passionate about a cause or a population group? Interested in healthcare or health policy? Do you want to take an additional year during medical school to intern? Many umbrella organizations have a presence in DC and the NIH is just north in Bethesda.

2016 – 2017

  • Have you ever been convicted of, plead guilty, or plead no lo contendere (i.e., no contest, I do not wish to contend) to a criminal offense? Have you ever been arrested for a felony or misdemeanor? If yes, please provide a description here: (limit to 500 characters)
  • Did you indicate that you were the recipient of any institutional action on your AMCAS application? If yes, please provide a description here: (limit to 500 characters)
  • Please provide the Admissions Committee with a brief summary of your activities, academics, employment or other occupations to account for full-time activity (approx. 30-40 hours/week) for the 2014-2015 application cycle, or from the point of application through matriculation in 2015. (limit to 750 characters)
  • What is your most meaningful community service experience to date? (limit to 350 characters)
    What is your most meaningful clinical experience to date, involving direct patient contact? (limit to 350 characters)
  • What makes you a unique individual? What challenges have you faced? How will these factors help you contribute to the diversity of the student body at GW? (limit to 1000 characters)
  • What is your specific interest in the MD Program at GW? What opportunities would you take advantage of as a student here? Why? (limit to 2000 characters)

Last week, we looked at how to research med schools properly in order to help improve your chances of getting in. To recap, med schools only want to accept you if you would choose their medical school, even if you’re accepted to another school on your list. That’s why the most common secondary essay is “Why our school,” or better interpreted, “If we accept you, how do we know you will actually choose our school out of all of the ones on your list?”  

The "why our school" secondary essay is your chance to prove that you are indeed a good fit at that med school. Let's figure out how to tackle this tricky prompt.  

Here are some sample secondary prompts from schools that ask this question:  

  • George Washington: What is your specific interest in the MD Program at GW? What opportunities would you take advantage of as a student here? Why? (2000 characters)  
  • Miami: Why have you selected the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine for your medical education? Please be as specific as possible. (500 words or less)  
  • UPenn: Please explain your reasons for applying to the Perelman School of Medicine and limit your response to 1,000 characters.  

So how do you tackle this essay question? Well, we’ve got a formula that – if you execute it well – will help give you structure and purpose to your essay.  

Here’s the formula: A + B = C

  • A – what a med school offers
  • B – what I want from med school (as exhibited by past experience)
  • C – happy connection  

Let's break down the formula one letter at a time:  

A – what each med school offers There are two main sources of information on medical schools: a) the school’s specific website, and b) the MSAR (paid, $20 for a year’s subscription)   Use one (or preferably both) to try to find information about what each medical school offers. Remembering our list from last week, consider:

  1. Location – is the school located in an urban area with a diverse patient population? A rural area with more chances for hands-on interaction in primary care? Are there specific communities that you would be interested in getting involved with?
  2. Curriculum – how does the school teach its science classes? Organ-based systems? Is there small-group, problem-based-learning? Does the school offer an opportunity to get early patient contact? A research thesis as part of its curriculum?
  3. Residency placement – Looking at the residency match placement list for the school, do the results look good? Are there people in the areas that most interest you?
  4. Class size and student-faculty ratio – is the class small? Would you get a chance to interact with faculty?
  5. Student groups – looking at the list of student groups on the school’s website, are there specific ones that you could see yourself getting involved with?
  6. Research - are there research projects at the medical school that you think you could contribute to? Does the school have NIH funding in the areas that most appeal to you?
  7. Mission Statement – does anything appeal to you about the school’s mission statement?
  8. Overall – based on the school’s website, what are the things the school prides itself on? How does that match with what you want from a med school?

B – What I want from med school (as exhibited by past experience) B is a list of preferences about what you want from a medical school. Your list might look like something like:

  • I want a school in an urban environment with a diverse patient population that will prepare me to practice medicine in a similar setting. relate to past experience: my time volunteering in a free clinic for the homeless
  • I want a school with lots of radiology research dollars so that I can gain hands-on experience in the specialty that most appeals to me at the moment. relate to past experience: my undergraduate research project in a radiology lab
  • I want a school that offers Problem-based learning (PBL), since that’s the way I learn material best. relate to past experience: the group projects I did as an undergrad.

C – Happy Connection The happy connection exists when the two match up – what you want from a med school and what each med school offers.   Here’s the litmus test for whether you’ve answered this secondary question well:

Can you change the name of the school to any other medical school and have the essay still work? If so, then your essay is not specific enough.   A completed essay looks like 3 distinct reasons for why you would attend a given school, all tied to past experiences and in line with what you’re looking for from a medical school.  

So there you have it – a flexible formula to help answer the most common secondary essay. Happy secondary writing!

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