2023 TMDSAS Secondary Application Guide


Your primary medical school application may be submitted, but the journey to medical school acceptance is far from over. While we’re sure you’re ready for a break, your TMDSAS secondary applications are headed your way.

Secondary applications are a chance to demonstrate to admissions committees why you’re a perfect fit for their program and why their program is a perfect fit for you. Learn how to create a stand out TMDSAS secondary application, including deadlines, costs, the types of questions asked, and secondary strategies.


TMDSAS vs. AMCAS Applications

There are three main application services for US medical schools: AMCAS, TMDSAS, and AACOMAS. AMCAS, the American Medical Colleges Application Service, is the most common by far, accounting for most US allopathic (MD) medical schools. TMDSAS, the Texas Medical and Dental School Application Service, is used by nearly all Texas medical schools.

Both AMCAS and TMDSAS are centralized online application services, meaning that you only need to prepare one set of application materials to submit to the service. The service then verifies, processes, and sends out your materials to the schools of your choosing. If you are considering applying to schools both inside and outside of Texas, you will need to use both services to apply.

While the application requirements of these three services are very similar, there are a few key differences to be aware of. Learn more in our guide to AMCAS vs. AACOMAS vs. TMDSAS Med School Application Differences.

90% of applicants accepted into Texas medical schools are Texas residents, which means there’s not much room left for out-of-state applicants. If you don’t live in Texas, you may want to reconsider applying to Texas medical schools, but if you do reside in Texas, you have an advantage.

If you are from Texas and want to attend medical school, attending a Texas medical school likely makes the most sense since the vast majority of the applicants you’re competing against are fellow Texans, so you won’t be competing with applicants from across the country.

Consider applying to Texas medical schools if:

  • You live in Texas.
  • You wish to attend a Texas medical school that uses TMDSAS.
  • You have extracurricular or work experience in the Texas medical system.

Learn more in our complete TMDSAS Application Guide, which covers the entire Texas medical school application process.


The TMDSAS Secondary Application

Your primary application is only the first step in a long application process. After you submit your primary application, which includes a personal statement, letters of recommendation, activities, GPA, and MCAT score, you will then begin receiving secondary applications.

Secondary applications may begin arriving as early as two weeks after schools receive your primary application. This means that as burnt out as you may feel after submitting your primary application, there’s still lots to do.

Secondary applications play a critical part in your acceptance to medical school, so they should not be overlooked. They demonstrate to an admissions committee why you’ll make an excellent student, why you’re interested in attending their unique program, and how you will specifically add value to the student body.

Although receiving a secondary used to be a sign that a school was interested in you, it’s now common practice for medical schools to send out secondaries to nearly every applicant. By having most applicants complete secondary applications, medical schools are able to receive hundreds if not thousands of secondary application fees, and they can also better gauge how interested an applicant is in their specific program.

Understanding the secondary application process and planning for it in advance will help ensure you are able to complete your secondaries in a timely fashion. We recommend you submit every secondary application within 7-14 days of receiving it. If you applied to around 20 different programs, which is what we recommend, you could potentially receive as many secondaries, so you’ll need to work quickly.


TMDSAS Secondary Deadlines and Timeline

TMDSAS applications open in early May for the following year’s medical school class. You can begin filling out your primary application at this time and should aim to have it completed by the end of May to early June, when applications can be sent to schools. If you plan on starting medical school in the fall of 2023, you need to begin the application process in the spring of 2022.

After you submit your primary application, expect to receive secondaries within two to four weeks. Your chances of being accepted to medical school decrease the later you submit your application due to rolling admissions. For your best chance of acceptance, stay on top of all deadlines and prepare to submit your primary and secondary applications long before the technical deadlines.

TMDSAS Medical School Application Timeline

Complete your secondary applications as soon as possible without sacrificing quality.

It’s vital that you submit quality responses within one-two weeks of receiving them. Considering the number of schools you applied to, this can be a lot of work. Preparing for secondary applications in advance is your best chance to stay on top of them as they continue to roll through in the weeks following the submission of your primary.

After you submit secondaries, it’s time for interview season. Interview invites arrive as early as late August or as late as spring of the following year. Since you may receive invitations at any point during this time, begin preparing for interviews well before interview season.

For more information about ideal scheduling, read our Medical School Application Timeline Guide.


TMDSAS Secondary Application Cost

Applying to medical school is not cheap by any stretch of the imagination. You will face fee after fee after fee—and secondary applications are no exception.

Unlike primary application fees, secondary fees are paid directly to the schools, which is why applicants receive so many secondary application requests. Secondaries are a win-win for medical schools since they can collect additional fees and better determine which candidates are most passionate about attending their program.

Since secondary fees are paid directly to the schools, the secondary fees vary. Secondary application fees can be anywhere from free (University of Texas Southwestern Medical School) to $100 (Baylor College of Medicine) in Texas, with the majority of schools charging $60.

Find out what each Texas medical school charges for secondary fees according to TMDSAS.


TMDSAS Secondary Questions

The questions, as well as the number of questions, you’ll be asked to answer for each secondary varies from school to school, but even though the questions are different, there are common themes you can expect. Knowing what questions are commonly asked will help you prepare in advance. Prepare answers to the most common questions ahead of time so that you can churn out your secondary responses quickly and effectively.

Example Secondary Prompts:

  • Why did you choose to apply to our program?
  • Why are you a great fit for our school community?
  • Please describe a moral or ethical dilemma that you experienced and what you learned from this experience.
  • Describe a challenge you’ve faced and what steps you took to overcome it.
  • Indicate any special experiences, unusual factors, or other information you feel would be helpful in evaluating you.
  • Do you have any immediate family members who have graduated from our program?
  • If you took a gap year or more time off since undergrad, what have you achieved in this time?
  • Describe an experience you had in interacting/relating with people whose backgrounds are different from your own. How did it change your perspective? What did you learn?

We created a Secondary Essay Prompts Database that is continuously updated.


TMDSAS Secondary Strategies

1 | Submit Secondary Applications Within 7-14 Days

Do not procrastinate on your secondary applications. Even though you will have a lot of them coming through all around the same time, you should aim to submit each of them within 7 to 14 days after receiving them.

The sooner you submit a secondary, the more likely it is you’ll receive an interview for that particular school. This is due to rolling admissions. The first premeds to submit their secondaries will be the first secondaries schools receive. Schools will send out their first interview invites based on this first round of secondaries, and they will continue to send out interview invites as they receive secondaries. The later you submit your application, the later you will begin receiving interview invitations, which puts you at a disadvantage when compared to other candidates who submitted their secondaries early.

Plan ahead so that you are able to submit quality responses as quickly as possible.

2 | Draft Responses in Advance Based On Common Questions

The best way to stay on top of all of your secondaries is to plan ahead. Even though you don’t know the exact questions you will be asked, it’s easy to determine what to expect because schools often repeat the same questions year after year.

Research common secondary questions and draft comprehensive answers for each of them well in advance. Since they rarely change their secondary essay questions from the previous year, you can research what the questions from each school will be—especially when it comes to the schools you’re most interested in attending.

Prewriting your secondaries is an essential preparation tactic that will help you submit each of your secondary applications within the recommended 1 to 2 weeks.

Visit our free Secondary Essay Prompts Database to get a better sense of what questions you may be asked based on the schools you’re applying to.

3 | Include the Correct School Name

Including the correct school name on each of your secondaries may sound like an obvious piece of advice, but writing down the wrong school happens more often than you’d think.

While drafting your secondaries in advance and repurposing answers to common questions is an absolute must, this strategy also means you run the risk of forgetting to change a school name.

You may have put painstaking effort into crafting ideal responses and reviewed your answers over and over to ensure they are absolutely flawless, but if you get hasty while submitting your answers, you could use the wrong school name or copy an answer you had originally crafted for a different school.

The solution is to take your time. Yes, it’s important to submit all of your applications within 7 to 14 days, but that timeline doesn’t mean you should sacrifice quality. Draft your responses in advance, then use your 7 to 14 days to adjust your answers accordingly, adding necessary details to tailor your response to the specific program.

Don’t rush through your secondary applications. Ensure you write an accurate, quality response to each question. Submitting the wrong school name will obviously not get you off to a great start with admissions committees.

4 | Do Your Research

No school will be impressed by bland and generic responses. In order to impress admissions committees, you need to do your research. The answers to your questions must be tailored to each specific school.

There will be portions of your answer you can repurpose from school to school, but the more you can tailor your answers to each school, the better. Do your research on each school so that you have an idea of what they are looking for. What do they value? What area of focus does the school specialize in?

You will very likely receive some form of the “Why Us” question on each secondary application. Although it appears generic on the surface, the question is asking much more than what the school’s own mission statement is.

Generic responses will not do. Be specific—Why are you a great fit for the school’s specific program?

Do some digging. What sets them apart from the other programs you’ve researched? Is there a physician at the school you’re particularly excited to work with? Is there an extracurricular they offer that you were once actively involved in? How do your past experiences embody the school’s values?

Leave no stone unturned in your research, especially for your top choice schools. Be specific and authentic with your responses, catering your answers to what you’ve learned about each school.

5 | Emphasize What Makes You Unique

Secondary applications are a chance for schools to get to know you better. They are choosing from a large pool of skilled and experienced candidates, so why should they choose you?

What makes you uniquely qualified for that school’s specific program? Why should they choose you over another equally qualified candidate?

While you may look the same on paper—your grades and MCAT score—you are a unique individual with your own set of values, principles, and life experiences. Highlight these differences throughout your secondary applications to illustrate your own personal journey and what makes you the ideal fit for that school.

6 | Plan the Order of Your Secondaries

Go into your secondaries with a plan. What secondary applications are the most important? Which order will simplify the secondary process?

Don’t simply tackle your secondary applications as you receive them. Instead, prioritize the schools you are most excited about attending.

Additionally, you may want to prioritize some secondary applications for schools you know will ask a lot of questions. By tackling a lot of questions all at once, you give yourself a lot of content to work with when you complete your other secondary applications.

Be strategic in how you plan out your secondary applications. This will be a busy time in your life, so use your time wisely.

How to Order Secondary Applications infographic

7 | Make Time for Revisions and Proofreading

We can’t craft a list of secondary strategies without highlighting the importance of revising and proofreading your work.

If you’ve just written out your responses for a specific school, let them sit for a day. Come back to them the next day with a fresh set of eyes. Is there anything you’d like to change? Is there something you thought sounded great yesterday that you now realize no longer works? Don’t rush through the process by trying to submit your answers as soon as you’ve written them. The editing and proofreading process is vital to the success of your secondaries.

Proofread your work for typos and grammar, and review all school names. We recommend using online editing apps like Grammarly to search for more obvious errors, but do not rely on these bots alone. Proofreading apps can catch obvious mistakes, but they lack the context required to catch every type of mistake. And they definitely won’t be able to tell you if you have the wrong school name.

Spelling and grammar mistakes are immediate red flags to admissions committees. They exhibit carelessness, which is never a good look for an aspiring doctor.

Never submit secondaries without triple-checking them first. If possible, ask a friend, colleague, family member, or mentor to review your work. If you don’t have access to someone who can review your secondary responses, consider hiring an editing service that can review your work while also providing critical insight into what admissions committees are looking for.

List of Medical School Secondary Best Practices


Secondary Application Editing With Med School Insiders

Applying to medical school doesn’t end after you submit your primary application. Secondary applications are time-consuming and exhausting—and they arrive just when most students are ready for a break. While we understand the struggle, it is vital that you focus and don’t give up during this critical time.

Med School Insiders can help. Our Medical School Secondary Application Editing services will help you craft stand out secondary applications that will get you noticed by your desired medical schools. Our doctor advisors have served on medical school admissions committees and have read hundreds of secondary essays. We know what it takes to succeed, and we’ll help you craft a stellar TMDSAS secondary application for each school you apply to.


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