University of Massachusetts School of Medicine Secondary Essay Prompts

These are the secondary application essay prompts for University of Massachusetts School of Medicine. To put your best foot forward and maximize your chance of an interview invitation, visit our secondary application editing page.


Q1) Please respond to four of the following seven prompts related to competencies that are important for a physician to possess. (150 words/item, 600 words/total; please use the text box below for your answer, separate each of your four responses by writing the competency above/before your response; example: Teamwork – All teams have their struggles but they can be overcome…)

1) Describe a time when you have made a decision that was not popular and how you handled this. (Leadership competency)

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

3) Describe a meaningful interaction you have had with a person whom you have helped at work, school or another activity. (Empathy/Compassion)

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

5) Describe a time when you have “thought outside the box” to solve a problem. (Inquiry)

6) Describe a time when you suffered a setback. How did you respond to this challenge? (Persistence/Grit)

7) Describe a challenging time when you advocated for someone. (Advocacy/Cultural Competence)

Q2) Please discuss any part of your application that you feel requires further explanation – for example, grades or MCAT scores that do not reflect your true ability, a gap in time that is not explained elsewhere in your application. If you are reapplying to UMass SOM, highlight how you have strengthened your application. (250 word limit)

Q3) If you have participated in UMass SOM or UMass Memorial Health Care, or UMMS Baystate sponsored programs (SEP, Summer Research Program, Worcester Pipeline Collaborative, AHEC, BaccMD, HSPP, Academic Internships, BSEP, Summer Scholars) please describe how these programs helped you decide to apply to UMass SOM. (200 word limit)

Q4) Why are you interested in UMass SOM? What will you bring to your class and the SOM community? (200 word limit)

PURCH Track Only:
Please describe how a focus on population health, healthcare disparities and the community as a patient will benefit you in your training and/or career? Please limit your response to less than or equal to 500 words.


1) If you are reapplying to UMMS, please describe how you have strengthened your credentials since your last application. Limit your answer to 200 words

2) Have you ever worked/volunteered or otherwise participated in any UMASS Medical School or UMASS Memorial Health Care sponsored activities/programs (Example: Area Health Education Center (AHEC), Pipeline Program, Summer Enrichment Program (SEP), Research) If Yes, please describe. A letter of recommendation from your program supervisor is strongly encouraged. Limit your answer to 200 words.

3) What are your future medical career plans? Please describe your hopes for your chosen medical specialty, type of practice, and size/type of practice community. Limit your answer to 200 words.

4) Please explain any grades: o Lower than a ‘B’ in any prerequisite or science course o Any semester where you feel your academic performance was not representative of your true abilities Limit your answer to 200 words.

5) How did you study for the MCAT exam? Limit your answer to 200 words.

6) Please provide a description of a personal dilemma relating to ONE of the nine following personal compentencies that are important to success in medical education and physician practice. Limit your answer to 500 words. Any additional information beyond one page will not be evaluated.

Please check the competency of your choice:

Integrity & Ethics Competency

Behaves in an honest and ethical manner; adheres to ethical principles and follows rules and procedures; resists peer pressure to engage in unethical behavior and encourages others to behave in honest and ethical ways.

Reliability & Dependability

Consistently fulfills obligations in a timely and satisfactory manner; takes responsibility for personal actions and performance.

Service Orientation

Demonstrates a desire to help others and sensitivity to others’ needs and feelings; demonstrates a desire to alleviate others’ distress.

Social & Interpersonal Skills

Demonstrates an awareness of others’ needs, goals, feelings, and the ways that social and behavioral cues affect peoples’ interactions and behaviors; adjusts behaviors appropriately in response to these cues; and treats others with respect.

Capacity for Improvement

Sets goals for continuous improvement and for learning new concepts and skills; engages in reflective practice for improvement; solicits and responds appropriately to feedback

Resilience and Adaptability

Demonstrates tolerance of stressful or changing environments or situations and adapts effectively to them; is persistent, even under difficult situations; recovers from setbacks.

Cultural Competence

Demonstrates knowledge of social and cultural factors that affect interactions and behaviors; shows an appreciation and respect for multiple dimensions of diversity; recognizes and appropriately addresses bias in themselves and others; interacts effectively with people from diverse backgrounds.

Oral Communication

Effectively conveys information to others using spoken words and sentences listens effectively; recognizes potential communication barriers and adjust approach or clarifies information as needed.


Works collaboratively with others to achieve shared goals; shares information and knowledge with others and provides feedback; puts team goals ahead of individual goals.

The information below provides instructions on how you should write your description.

Step 1: Review each competency Carefully read each competency definition to be sure you understand what is important. Carefully reflect on each competency and think about a dilemma you encountered in your activities, experiences, or accomplishments and relate that to it.

Step 2: Choose what you will write about for ONE competency Choose one dilemma that best describes your demonstration of your chosen competency. The dilemma may be specific, such as a challenging person, situation or assignment. Alternately, it may be an example of a dilemma you witnessed, in which case your relay what your response would have been.

Step 3: Provide a narrative description of the dilemma Carefully describe the dilemma you have selected. Your response should clearly reflect your individual experience or understanding of this dilemma related to that competency. Your description must reflect the quality of your understanding of the dilemma including how it relates to the specific competency and its scope and impact. Specifically, you should describe:

a) the situation in which the activity, experience or accomplishment occured;

b) actions you took and the resulting consequences of those actions;

c) what you learned from the experience

Disclaimer: The information on this page was shared by students and/or can be found on the medical school’s website. Med School Insiders does not guarantee the accuracy of the information on this page.

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