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Primary vs. Secondary Applications

Your program may require you to submit both a primary and secondary application.

Not all schools send secondary applications. If they do, they typically send them without screening primary applications (although a small number of schools will screen the primary application first). Review this page for more information on both applications.

Primary Applications

Primary applications are centralized applications that allow an applicant to apply to multiple medical schools. 

Keep the following in mind when filling out your primary application:

  • Don't use the conversion chart on the AMCAS web site for the AMCAS application. Enter your courses into your AMCAS application as they appear on your transcript.
  • The AAMC Fee Assistance Program (FAP) assists MCAT® examinees and AMCAS applicants who, without financial assistance, would be unable to take the MCAT or apply to medical schools that use the AMCAS application.

Secondary Applications

Secondary applications, a.k.a. supplemental applications, are school-specific applications sent to an applicant after the primary application has been submitted. Secondary application questions are intended to elicit additional information about applicants and their fit for the school.

Keep the following in mind when filling out your secondary application:

  • Some secondary application will ask you to convert your Northwestern hours to semester hours (1 Northwestern course unit = 2.7 semester hours).
  • Make sure you tailor your answers for each secondary application to that particular school.
  • Some medical schools will request a "Certification by Current Dean of Students or Comparable Administrative Official" via their secondary application. You can request this document, known as a "Dean's Letter or Certificate," from the Northwestern Student Affairs Office of Student Conduct.

When to Submit

Aim to submit your primary applications by the end of June.

Aim to submit your secondary applications within one to two weeks after you receive them. Students who submit their primary application in June are usually completing their secondaries in July and August. Typically, the request for your letters of recommendation is part of a secondary application.